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Home » Children's Stories » The Boy with The Long Name

 

The Boy with The Long Name

A Chinese folktale

Retold by Susan Dickinson

 

Once upon a time, a long time ago, it was the custom in China to give firstborn sons great, long, important names. Second sons were given only little, short names.

In a small village there lived a mother with two sons. The second son was called Chang, which means "little or nothing". But the first son was called Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip pen pembo, which means "the most wonderful boy in the whole world".

Every morning the mother went to the river to wash the clothes and her sons went with her. Near to the river was a well, and here the boys liked to play. Their mother said to them, "Do not play near the well, or you will fall in." But the boys did not heed her.

One day, when they were playing around the well and even walking on the well, Chang fell in! Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo ran to his mother and said, "Oh, honoured mother, Chang has fallen into the well."

"Speak up, my precious son. I cannot hear you," said the mother.

"Chang has fallen into the well," shouted Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo.

"Chang has fallen into the well," repeated the mother. "What a foolish boy. Run to the Old Man With the Ladder and he will get him out," said the mother.

So Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo ran to the Old Man With the Ladder.

The Old Man was sleeping beneath a tree and Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo shook him awake and said, "Oh, Old Man With the Ladder, Chang has fallen into the well. Please will you come and get him out."

The Old Man stood up, fetched his ladder and went to the well. He put the ladder into the well and climbed down step by step by step until he found Chang. Then he carried the boy up out of the well, step by step by step. He laid Chang on the ground and pushed the water out of him and pumped air into him and soon Chang was the same as he had always been.

The brothers vowed they would not play near the well again.

But several months later, after the Festival of the Eighth Moon, they went to the well to eat their rice cakes. They were sitting on the edge, dangling their legs, when Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo slipped and fell in.

Chang ran to his mother and said, "Oh, honoured mother, Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo has fallen into the well!" "I cannot hear you. Speak up more clearly," said the mother.

"Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bad ruchi pip peri pembo has fallen into the well," said Chang.

"What!" said the mother. "Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo, my precious son, the most wonderful boy in the world, has fallen into the well! We must do something at once. Go to the Old Man With the Ladder and ask him to help."

So Chang ran to the old Man With the Ladder who was sleeping peacefully beneath a tree.

"Oh, Sir," shouted Chang."Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo has fallen into the well."

"What is this noise that disturbs my sleep?" said the Old Man.

"Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo has fallen into the well," repeated Chang.

"Somebody has fallen into the well?" said the Old Man. "What did you say his name was?"

"Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo, my brother," said Chang again. "Please come and help to get him out."

So the Old Man rose from the grass and fetched his ladder and went to the well with Chang.

He put the ladder into the well and he climbed down step by step by step until he found Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo.

Then he carried the boy up out of the well, step by step by step.

The Old Man laid Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo on the ground and he pushed the water out of him and pumped air into him and pushed the water out of him and pumped air into him until Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bari ruchi pip peri pembo opened his eyes. But because Tikki tikki tembo nosa rembo chari bah ruchi pip peri pembo had been in the water for so long it was many moons before he was the same as he had always been.

And nowadays you will find that people in China give all their children little, short names instead of great, long, important ones.

 

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