One day, I was busy working at my desk , when Rahul and Priya , two of my brightest team leads came and stood hesitatingly near my desk. I looked up to smile at them but one look at their faces and I put my laptop away and asked them to sit.
"Hey ! What is the matter ? What happened ? Why are you looking as if someone has died ?"
I tried to lighten the atmosphere.
"Er ... " Rahul faltered.
Priya was the outspoken one .
"We have been hearing certain things and we are worried ... " she blurted out.
"Well ... Tell me ... what is eating you up .. " I sensed things were a bit serious .
"We heard that our organization is planning to wind up this India facility from next month . Is that true ? " Priya was anxious.
I was flabbergasted.
"Who said that ? I have not heard of any such thing. .... !"
After a lot of probing, I realized that a big rumour has infected our office ... just like a virus.
It had stemmed from the fact that as an expansion plan, we were opening another centre and it was nearing completion. Some of the departments were planned to shift there and arrangements were being made .
After understanding, I laughed and took them out for a cup of coffee. Over the cuppa, I told them the following folklore from Bengal , a place in the eastern regions of India.
Here it goes ....
A person crossing a field felt that there was something in his mouth and spat it out. It turned out to be a heron's feather. He could not understand how it had got into his mouth and it perplexed him a great deal. When he reached home he told his wife about it but asked her not to tell anyone lest somebody put a bad interpretation on it.
His wife was even more intrigued by the strange occurrence and felt the need to confide in someone. So she swore her neighbour to secrecy and told her what had happened.
Perhaps it was the way she told it, but her neighbour got the impression that several feathers had come out of the person's mouth. She was shocked. However, she assured the woman that such things could happen and advised her not to worry about it.
"Please don't tell anyone," said the wife.
"My lips are sealed," said the woman. But she was longing to tell someone and when she saw the washerman's wife going past, called her in and told her the whole story. Only, she made it sound as if a whole heron had come out of the person's mouth.
"Never have I heard of such a thing," said the washerwoman's wife, her eyes popping with excitement, "and he being a vegetarian and all that, but one can never tell..."
She went away promising not to tell anyone but on the way she met her friend and the whole story sort of tumbled out of her mouth. Perhaps in her excitement she said 'herons' instead of 'heron' or perhaps her friend just imagined she had said herons but when she told her husband the story sometime later, she was emphatic that a whole flock of herons had come out of the person's mouth.
And as the story spread "herons" became "herons and other birds" and then "hundreds of birds of all shapes and sizes".
By evening the whole village and several other neighbouring villages had heard the story and people began to arrive in droves at the person's house to witness the miraculous happenings there.
The poor fellow steadfastly denied that any bird had come out of his mouth but nobody would believe him and everybody begged him to demonstrate his wonderful power of producing birds from his mouth.
Finally in exasperation, he asked them all to sit in front of his house and when they had done so ran out of the back and hid in the jungle where he remained several days till the excitement had died down and the people had realised that the news was false.."
"So , you see Priya and Rahul ... it is the same situation here... But you did the right thing that you came and clarified this ... " I smiled.
They were happy again !
"You know what rumors are like--like a jar full of moths. Once they escape, they're all over the place." RHYS BOWEN