In a forest there lived a jackal who gained the respect of the other animals. He did this by telling them about his travels to other towns and villages where he was liked by everyone and had many friends. The other animals were impressed with his tales of different places whilst they had never even left the forest. They started to praise him and think more highly of him. The jackal told stories of big houses and places where he was given free Indian sweets (ladoo). The youngsters were impressed and started to call him chacha (uncle jackal). This made him very happy and encouraged him to exaggerate even more.
Impressed by his adventures, one day the younger child animals asked him to take them with him so they too could enjoy themselves and eat sweet treats. The baby elephant said he’d take a bath somewhere as it had been a long time. The jackal assured him that he could have one where they were going where water would flow continuously. The elephant said that this would be very nice and after his bath he would surely look so handsome that no one would recognise him. The deer said she was scared to go and the jackal told her and the others that they should not worry as he was their uncle he would look after them. He then asked them to hurry up and get ready and to tell their parents they were going out, so that they could make the most of the day. He told them they would enjoy themselves by having lots to eat and would play with other young animals.
The young animals started following the jackal but there were dogs gathered on the city boundary which started barking at them. The jackal told the youngsters to run for their lives as the dogs had gone mad. They ran. They reached a dyer’s house with large vats of coloured dye. The jackal told them that they needed to jump into the tanks in order to save their lives. They did as they were told and came out of the vats in bright colours. Confused by this the dogs retreated and the young animals were safe.
The jackal considered himself to be very lucky. None of the animals had eaten and were told to return home by the jackal. He told them that they would all go back out again some other time. On returning home the parents didn’t recognise their painted children. The jackal asked them to wash their children’s faces and bodies. The parents were happy to have their children back and kissed and hugged them.
The next day the youngsters started talking about uncle jackal as a big liar. They said there was “Nothing beyond the forest. He’s scared of the dogs. We had to run for our lives and we never had any jaggery (unrefined sugarcane) or a bath.” They thought he was a liar and was very cunning.
They decided to go and see the king of the forest to see what he could do to punish the jackal. The king suggested the jackal be thrown to the wild dogs to see how his lies could save him from that.
The jackal was frightened for his life but somehow managed to save himself from the dogs. Humbled by his close shave, he promised never to boast or tell lies again. By doing this he lived happily amongst the others.