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An Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise using Joseph Campbell's Model of the Hero's Journey Evans, A. Steven 2006

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 An Analysis of "Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise"
using Joseph Campbell's Model of the Hero's Journey
A. Steven Evans*
At a cursory glance, the Bhutanese folktale "Meme Haylay
Haylay and His Turquoise"1 might be sideUned as a simple
wisdom (or idiotic) tale unworthy of in-depth investigation
and analysis. A closer look, however, reveals how much the
tale reflects the very psyche of Bhutan. It is only as the story
is considered in light of its symbolic meaning that CampbeU's
'hero's journey' framework becomes evident and aUows for a
fuller understanding and appreciation of the tale. In brief, the
story is about a poor old man who goes to his fields and
uncovers a valuable turquoise stone. On the way home, he
trades the stone for a horse, the horse for an ox, the ox for a
sheep, the sheep for a goat, the goat for a rooster, and the
rooster for a song. He continued home feeling the happiest,
richest and most successful businessman in the world.
This analysis of the tale wiU look at it from multiple vantage
points: (a) the folktale itself; (b) the symbolism found within
the tale; (c) a rendering of the story in light of its symboUsm;
(d) the folktale and its symbols through the structure of
Joseph Campbell's Tiero's journey'; (e) a comparison of the
tale with other stories of a similar type and motif; and (f) the
application of the folktale and implications to its cultural
setting from which it came.
Symbols in "Meme Haylay Haylay"
One of the first questions to be asked concerning this tale is if
Steve A. Evans is a research associate and communications
specialist affiliated with the International Center for Ethnographic
Studies, Atlanta, USA
1 The folktale in its entirety can be found in the appendix of this
paper.
84
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
there is any significance to its title and the name of its
principle character.
Meme in my dialect actually means grandfather while in
Dzongkha grandpa is known as agay. Haylay Haylay' I think
it is just a name like Johnny Johnson or Peter
Kinney. Actually, if I am not mistaken, the name is supposed
to be "Meme Khelay Khelay", which means limping grandpa.
My grandmother used to tell me this story and she told me
that grandfather in the story was actually lame. So he was
known by the way he walked...limping...limping. That's my
version.2
Next, consideration was given to anything else in the story
that might have symboUc significance. There was no picking
and choosing of symbols to fit personal biases and the same
source was used for all. Primary symbolic meanings were
identified and applied, with secondary symbolism used to
infer possible but significant variations in interpretation.
Figures 1 and 2 below indicate the primary and secondary
symbolic meanings found in Jobes' volumes on symboUsm
and appUed to the "Meme Haylay Haylay story.
Figure 1: Primary Symbolic Meanings in the Story
Old Man: happiness in a family
Lameness: ineffectiveness
Field: sphere of action or opportunity
Turquoise: wealth
Road: happiness
Horse: success, wealth
Ox: abundance, quiet happiness
Sheep: good omen
Goat: fertility, agility
Rooster (Cock): success
Song: joy, happiness
Source: Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols by G. Jobes
2 Ngawang Phuntsho, Personal Communication, July 10, 2006.
85
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
Figure 2: Secondary Symbolic Meanings in the Story
Old Man: an unproductive state
Lameness: mark of a sacred king
Field: fertility, freedom, lack of restraint; [but is also be symbolic of
death]
Turquoise: a sign or pledge of friendship
Road: adventure, experience, progress, knowledge, learning
Horse: endurance, freedom, fertility, generosity, strength, triumph,
abundance
Ox: life-power, strength, usefulness, wealth
Sheep: emotional stability, innocence, simplicity, sacrifice, gregarious
Goat:
Rooster (Cock): exaltation, victory
Song: voice of a deity, transforming magic
The Number Seven: adventure, perfection, completion, endurance,
stability, victory, strength, wisdom
Source: Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols by G. Jobes
A Symbolic Retelling of the Story
In Ught of the symboUc interpretations found in figures 1 and
2, it is significant to reteU the story of Meme Haylay Haylay
and insert symbolic meanings where appropriate.
One day poor old Meme Haylay Haylay (a grandfather-the
symbol of happiness in the home, but Umping, someone in an
unproductive state) left home to work in the fields (a place of
opportunity, freedom and even fertiUty; and possibly a place
of death). While digging, the poor old man discovered an
immense turquoise stone (a symbol of great wealth). No longer
poor, but rich, he walked toward home (down the road of
happiness and adventure, the road of experience and
knowledge, the road of progress). He traded his immense
wealth for a horse (symboUc of success, wealth of another
kind, generosity, freedom, endurance, strength and even
fertUity). He then traded this for an ox (abundance, strength,
usefulness and quiet happiness). He traded the ox for a sheep
(symbol of a good omen, emotional stabiUty, innocence,
simpUcity and an object of sacrifice). He traded the sheep for
a goat (agUity and, even, fertUity), and traded this for a rooster
86
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
(success, victory, exaltation). Meme Haylay Haylay finally
heard a song (the symbol of transforming magic; the voice of
deity, the voice of the divine, the epitome of happiness) and
traded the rooster for this ultimate happiness and joy.
Here is now a journey of restoration, completeness or
wholeness, a journey back to a rightful and productive state
of happiness. On the journey, Meme Haylay Haylay shed the
material and assumed the ethereal or spiritual. Sobol said,
'The hero's journey is the hero called on a journey to redeem
a loss or good and to bring it back to community.3
Figure 3: Meme Haylay Haylay's Call to Adventure
MEME HAYLAY HAYLAY
(A Folktale of Bhutan)
The symbol of happiness, but entering a
period of unproductiveness, Meme Haylay
Haylay's heeds his "Call To Adventure"
Meme Haylay Haylay
enters the field (of death
or opportunity?) and
discovers treasure
Meme Haylay Haylay faces a series
of trials by trading his treasure
"down" with "helpers" but becoming
happier in the process
The elixir-the song:
happiness restored
Meme Haylay Haylay
encounters a "divine bearer" of
the song of "happiness"
After his divine encounter,
Meme Haylay Haylay
returns with the song -
renewed happiness
Derived from Joseph Campbell's
"The Hero with a Thousand Faces"
3 Dr. Joseph Sobol, Personal Communication, July 26, 2006. should
Dr. Joseph Sobol be identified as a storytelling professor of East
Tennessee State University.
87
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
It is interesting to note that there are seven 'objects' involved
in the trades: turquoise, horse, ox, sheep, goat, rooster, and
song. In many cultures seven is a number of significance and
is considered auspicious, and this is true of the Buddhist
Bhutanese culture. Here the number seven symboUzed
adventure, perfection, completion, endurance, stabiUty,
victory, strength and wisdom. The series of trades involving
seven objects culminated in a sense of completion, victory,
perfection and wisdom, among other things.
The standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero
is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of
passage: separation—initiation—return: which might be
named the nuclear unit of the monomyth.
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a
region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there
encountered and decisive victory is won: the hero comes back
from the mysterious adventure with the power to bestow
boons on his fellow man.4
Meme Haylay Haylay, representing the very psyche of the
coUective, is the symbol of happiness, but he is Umping—old
and unproductive—so he heeds the call to adventure not
knowing whether he faces a field of opportunity or the field of
death. If of opportunity, how shaU he return? Wealthy?
Strong and virile? Or shaU he return the bearer of renewed
happiness, once again whole, complete, and no longer
limping. On his journey—his road to happiness—Meme
Haylay Haylay encountered helpers who guided him along the
way—not pointing out the direction, but presenting him with
various material and/or physiological options. He always
bartered for something of lesser material value, but his
happiness increased with each trade. FinaUy, Meme Haylay
Haylay encounters the divine bearer of happiness
encapsulated within a song, who bestowed this 'inner wealth'
of  ultimate,   extreme   and   renewed   happiness   upon   him,
4 Campbell, J. (1949) The hero with a thousand faces, Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, p.30
88
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
dispensing of any material satisfaction he had been receiving
or any physical rejuvenation that might have been implied.
'The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the
unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of
the world," CampbeU said. "The miracle of this flow may be
represented in physical terms as a circulation of food
substance, dynamicaUy as a streaming of energy, or
spirituaUy as a manifestation of grace".5 In a sense, through
Meme Haylay Haylay's call to adventure and his successful
return, the collective psyche is restored and that which has
been thrown off balance was once again put on even keel. The
aU-important ethos of happiness was once again 'circulating'
within the embodiment of the Buddhist cosmos.
The first stage of the mythological journey—which we have
designated the "call to adventure"—signifies that destiny has
summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of
gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.
This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be
variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom
underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret
island, a lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is
always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings,
unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible
delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to
accomplish the adventure....6
Why would a limping old man go to the fields to prepare it for
planting? Could it merely be that he was poor and had no
choice if he was going to eat? Maybe. It might be, however,
that his call to adventure was more of an emotional or
spiritual tug rather than a physical one. Maybe he went to the
field in order to feel useful and productive, to see what he
could do or accomplish in spite of his age, physical condition
and limitations? Even though the field meant either
opportunity or death,  Meme Haylay Haylay stiU had to go,
5 Ibid., p.40.
6 Ibid., p.58.
89
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
regardless of the outcome. What he couldn't do is stay where
he was, rnaintarning the status quo, or worse, see aU that was
important to the emotional and spiritual weU-being of the
'coUective' diminish and slip away.
Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a
dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where
he must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase
of the myth-adventure. The hero is covertly aided by the
advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper
who he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be
that he here discovers for the first time a benign power
everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage.7
At this point in the story, Meme Haylay Haylay has heeded
the call to adventure and entered into the "zone unknown", as
Campbell calls it. He then encountered a series of Tielpers',
who led him further down the road of happiness by
exchanging with him that which symbolized not only wealth,
but strength and virUity as well—aU things that would be
appeaUng to a 1) poor, 2) old, and 3) man.
It is here, though, that the "Meme Haylay Haylay folktale
deviates a bit from Campbell's standard Tiero's journey'.
Instead of encountering "strangely fluid and polymorphous
beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds and
impossible delight", Meme Haylay Haylay encountered normal
men with normal possessions. However, two elements of the
Tiero's journey' are stiU evident, even within the deviation:
trails or tests; and the assistance of Tielpers', folks famUiar to
him. Every potential trade is a temptation to keep that which
is of greater material or physiological value and is a test, as
well, to see if he would indeed make a trade that would lead
him one step closer to the ultimate 'prize', that which initiated
the caU.
The series of tests and trails, aided by the helpers along the
way,   epitomized   the   "purification   process"   described   by
7 Ibid., p.97.
90
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
Campbell:
And so it happens that if anyone—in whatever society—
undertakes for himself the perilous journey into the darkness
by descending, either intentionally or unintentionally, into the
crooked lanes of his own spiritual labyrinth, he soon finds
himself in a landscape of symbolical figures (any one of which
may swallow him).... In the vocabulary of the mystics, this is
the second stage of the Way, that of the "purification of the
self," when the senses are "cleansed and humbled," and the
energies and interests "concentrated upon transcendental
things"; or in a vocabulary of more modern turn: this is the
process of dissolving, transcending, or transmuting the
infantile images of our personal past. In our dreams the
ageless perils, gargoyles, trials, secret helpers, and instructive
figures are nightly still encountered; and in their forms we
may see reflected not only the whole picture of our present
case, but also the clue to what we must do to be saved.8
Meme Haylay Haylay was in the process of shedding the
material and physiological in favour of the spiritual. He was
refining his motivations, balancing his psyche, to be more in
tune with the cosmic coUective. He entered the land, was put
to the test and underwent the purification process. By these
standards, he favoured weU, but the journey was not
complete, for he hadn't fuUy achieved what he has set out to
do. "The ordeal is a deepening of the problem of the first
threshold and the question is stUl in balance: can the ego put
itseff to death?" CampbeU said.9
The question now arises: Could Meme Haylay Haylay truly
accomplish the final leg of the journey on his own, even with
the aid of the helpers he has encountered along the way?
Obviously, the answer is "no". Meme Haylay Haylay was
merely at the point or stage in the journey where he was
ready to take the next, but all important, step.
The ultimate adventure, when all the barriers and ogres have
8 Ibid., p.101.
9 Ibid., p. 109.
91
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
been overcome, is commonly represented as a mythical
marriage of the triumphant hero-soul," Campbell said. "This is
the crisis at the nadir, the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of
the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle
of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber
of the heart.10
At this point in the story, Meme Haylay Haylay heard the
song and was struck by its beauty and emotional impact it
had on him. The song—the symbol of transforming magic, the
voice of deity and the divine, the epitome of happiness—
intervened as the final test and as the ultimate prize. It
completed the purification process, rejuvenated and
empowered the enfeebled old man, and sent him on his way
as a bearer of a renewed ethos of the psyche. 'The hero in his
triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is
then expUcitly commissioned to return to the world with some
elixir for the restoration of society," CampbeU said.11
Genre, Tale Types, Motif, Versions and Variances
The genre of the folktale "Meme Heylay Heylay" probably falls
under the 'fool' or 'idiot' stories category, but with opposite
emphasis. In many cases wisdom is seen in the guise of
fooUshness, while sometimes the opposite is true—fooUshness
cloaked as wisdom.
There is one such story, a "Jack Tale" from the American
Appalachian Mountains, called "Jack Seeks His Fortune",
where the boy Jack headed out to seek his fortune and
received a lump of gold in payment for work. Because it
became too heavy, he traded it for a horse. A series of trades
then took place untU Jack finally ends up with a flat rock,
which he determined can be used as a doorstop. WhUe
drinking water from a well, the rock fell in and Jack lost it for
good.  'That's great," Jack thought, "now I have nothing to
10 Ibid., p. 109.
11 Ibid., p. 197.
92
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
weigh me down as I seek my fortune!'
12
There is another traditional folktale motif from England caUed
"Hedley Kow". This story is classified as tale type 1655 (The
Profitable Exchange) and/ or 170A (The Fortunate Exchange)
by Aarne-Thompson. It is in MacDonald's motif index as E
427.1. Hedley Kow stories originated in the area of Hedley,
and the motif refers to a mystical creature with magical
powers known as Hedley Kow. He is thought to bring good
luck, and to encounter him is considered auspicious. The
story "Hedley Kow" teUs of a poor old woman who discovered
a pot of gold on the side of the road. As she travels home with
it, the pot of gold changed into a lump of silver, which
changed into a lump of iron, then into a large stone. With
each change the old woman considered herself better off (for
various reasons told in the story) than she was with the more
valuable preceding object. Finally the stone turned into the
Hedley Kow, and the woman exclaimed, "I do be the luckiest
body hereabouts! Fancy me seeing the Hedley Kow all to
myseff...." She returned to her cottage, sat down by the fire,
and contemplated her good luck.
The Traditional Ballad Index cites several baUads with motifs
similar to the "Meme Haylay Haylay, "Jack Tale", and
"Hedley Kow" stories. The Swapping Song by Richard Dyer-
Bennet and The Foolish Boy by S. Baring-Gould are two such
baUads. At least a dozen others are Usted, including the
German Hans in Luck tales and songs.
A Yiddish version of the story teUs of a son-in-law entrusted
with some money to make purchases in town and spends half
of it on an incomplete song. He then spends the remaining
funds to learn the rest of the song. When he returned home
with nothing but a song, the father-in-law said, "What an
idiot".13
12 Sobol, Personal Communication, July 27, 2006.
13 Sobol, Personal Conversation, July 27, 2006.
93
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
In addition to the differing versions of "Meme Haylay Haylay
discussed above, there are differing variations of it as well.
One is cited earner in this paper, differentiating between the
name "Meme Haylay Haylay and the name "Meme Khelay
Khelay. One variance, pubUshed in India, has the valuable
stone being a ruby rather than a turquoise, which speaks to
Indian culture and values. Bhutanese researcher and
folklorist Dorji Penjore said that some locaUy told variations of
the story have Meme Haylay Haylay walking down the road
with his last trade—either singing the song or playing a
flute—and he steps in cow dung, falls to the ground, and
either forgets the song or forgets how to play the flute. Meme
Haylay Haylay then becomes the fool or idiot who ends up
with nothing. 'The audience's reactions to the story are mixed
since there are many versions of the story," Penjore said.
"Variations resulted more from how people preferred to
interpret and less from their frail memory."14
One final observation should be made in this section on
genre, tale types, motif, versions and variances. CampbeU
Usted several roles from which the hero could play on his
hero's journey, including that of warrior, lover, emperor, and
tyrant. The last one mentioned, though, is saint, aesthetic, or
world-renouncer [sic].15 In many ways, Meme Haylay Haylay
filled that role. At the end of the story he was stiU old and
feeble, stiU materially poor, but he returned spirituaUy rich.
Sobol said, "The unconscious is Uberated within the sphere of
the divine." There is interplay between "the wisdom of the
earth and the knowledge of the divine," he said.16
The Royal Kingdom of Bhutan and Its Folklore
The art which the folktales are narrated could be the same all
over the world but what is interesting on the Bhutanese
context is that the stories, strictly speaking, are not narrated.
14 Penjore, Dorji (2005) p.49.
15 Campbell, 1949, pp.334-354.
16 Sobol, Personal Conversation, July 27, 2006.
94
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
In Bhutan, the folktales are not told but released (tangshi in
Dzongkha). Here, it is very significant to note that the verb
tang can mean to "release", "untie" or "set free". In effect, if
the folktales of Bhutan are not told or narrated but released,
set free or untied it is tempting to assert that it is tied or
attached to the collective memory of the Bhutanese. This
could then imply that the Bhutanese and the folktales are
inextricably interwoven that it wouldn't be wrong to comment
that they are found one inside the other. The folktales contain
the traits and aspects of the Bhutanese. In the memory of the
people dwell the folktales ready to be "untied" at an
appropriate time.17
Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom nestled in the Himalayan
Mountains, founded in the eighth century A. D. It is known as
the Land of the Thunder Dragon. A dragon is emblazoned
across it national flag, its dominant people are the Drukpa or
People of the Dragon, and its king is known as the Dragon
King.
According to Bhutanese history, in A.D. 747 the Guru
Rimpoche flew from Tibet to Bhutan on the back of a tiger
and estabUshed the Tantric school of Buddhism stiU foUowed
in Bhutan today. It is said that he subdued a dragon spirit
that dominated the country through the construction of
numerous strategic monasteries and fortresses.
Today the Drukpa teU countless stories about Guru Rimpoche
and Pema Lingpa, a saint and a reincarnate of Rimpoche.
These stories include those of demons being harnessed by
magic to buUd the many dzongs or fortress-monasteries
around the country. There are numerous evidences, as well,
that indicate a centuries-old endeavour to appease and
subdue the dragons and demons. Painted on every house are
the symbols designed to assure this, resulting in happiness,
peace and harmony of aU: colourful yet freakish faces of
demons painted on waUs; astrological markings above
doorways; and graphic phalUc renderings (along with carvings
Dorji, Tandin, 2002, p.7.
95
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
hung on the four outer corners of the homes) which
supposedly drive away demons.
Happiness, peace and harmony have been the ethos or
psyche of Bhutan for centuries. The national folktale, "Four
Friends", a tale where four animal friends (elephant, monkey,
rabbit, bird) quarreUed and disrupted the harmony of the
community, agreed to devise a way restore the peace.
Regardless of size, it would be the oldest who would be in
charge and oversee the maintenance of peace and harmony.
The bird ended up being the oldest, therefore the wisest, and
was put in charge, even though it is the smallest of the four.
This Buddhist phUosophy, along with appeasing the dragons
and demons, has been the very soul of the nation for
centuries, from its very inception. Countless folktales reflect
these themes.
In 1972, the present king, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, ascended
the throne at age 16. At that time Bhutan became an official
nation for the first time and was placed on the roster of the
United Nations. It opened its borders to outside influences for
the first time ever. Tourists, a market economy, and Western
media and entertainment flooded the kingdom, instigating a
shift in the values of the country's citizens.
In 2008 the king will abdicate the throne in favour of the
Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. But, in his
waning years as king, His Majesty instituted a program of
Gross National Happiness, emphasizing that happiness is as
important to the kingdom as its Gross National Product, or
more so.
One can ask, is this just some wild-hair idea of an aging
king? Probably not. The King of Bhutan seems to be the very
embodiment of the psyche of the Kingdom, the product of
generations and centuries of the Buddhist concepts of peace
and appeasement, but he feels aU of this sUpping away. As
with folktales,  Sobol said, "The king is usuaUy a coUective
96
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
dominant whose job is to resist the new".18 Here is the hero's
journey being lived out in real life, even paralleling the "Meme
Haylay Haylay story.
Could it be that the national folktale will shift from that of
"Four Friends" to the one of Meme Haylay Haylay? Many
recognize that the nation's folklore should have a role in
revitalizing the kingdom's collective psyche, but most want to
take the folktales, pin them to a board Uke a beautiful
butterfly, put them under glass, gas them, and preserve
them. The coUection, compilation and publishing of Bhutan's
folktales only began in the mid-1990s and there are only a
half dozen books or so in the market. This endeavor to
preserve only, however, goes against the very soul of the
Bhutanese folktale, if what was said is true: Stories are not
told—they are released; the folktale is in every Bhutanese and
every Bhutanese is in the folktale.
It is in the releasing of the story that national happiness can
return.
References
Aarne,  A.,  Thompson,   S.   (trans.)   (1964)   The types  of folklore:  a
classification      and      bibliography,      Helsinki:      Suomalainen
Tiedeakatemia
Campbell, J. (1949) The hero with a thousand faces, Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press
Choden,   K.   (1994)   "Mimi   Heylay   Heylay,"   Folktales   of Bhutan.
Bangkok: White Lotus Corporation Limited
Dorji, T. (2002) "Folktale Narration: A Retreating Tradition," Journal
of Bhutan Studies, 6 (2002): 5-23
Jacobs, J. (1916) "Hedley Kow". European Folk and Fairy Tales, New
York: G. Putnam's Sons
Jobes,   G.   (1962)   Dictionary  of mythology,  folklore  and  symbols,
Volume 1 & 2, Landham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
MacDonald, M. R., Sturm, B. (2001) The storyteller's sourcebook: a
subject, title, and motif index to folklore collections for children,
1983-1999, Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group
18 Sobol, Personal Communication, July 26, 2006.
97
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
Penjore, D. (2005) "Folktales and Education: Role of Bhutanese
Folktales in Value Transmission." Journal of Bhutan Studies, 12
(2005): 47-73. ["Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise," pp.
48-49]
Propp, V. (1968) Morphology of the folktale. Austin, TX: University of
Texas Press
Thomas, R. (1998) "Grandpa Heylay Heylay," Folk Tales of Bhutan.
New Delhi: Learners Press
Von Franz, M. (1970) The interpretations of fairy tales. Boston:
Shambala Publications, Inc.
98
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
Appendix
Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise19
Once upon a time, there lived a poor old man named Meme Haylay Haylay.
One day he went to his fields to prepare them for planting, and as he
uprooted a clump of very stubborn weeds, he found a huge, round, bright
blue turquoise stone in the dirt. It was so heavy that a man his age could
hardly lift it with one hand.
Well, because of his good fortune, he decided to stop working the fields
and go home. So he put the heavy valuable stone in the basket on his back
that so many ofthe common working people used.
On the way he met a man leading a horse with a rope. "Hey, what are you
doing there, Meme Haylay Haylay?" the horseman asked.
"Today I am no longer a poor old man," Meme Haylay Haylay replied,
"because today I struck it rich! As I was digging in my fields, I found this
huge valuable turquoise." But before the horseman could utter a word in
response, Meme Haylay Haylay put forth a proposal, "Will you exchange
your horse for this stone?"
The horseman stood speechless, for who in the world would barter a
valuable turquoise stone for a plain ok horse? "Don't joke with me, Meme
Haylay Haylay! Your turquoise is priceless, and in comparison my horse is
worthless," the horseman replied.
"Priceless or worthless, you talk too much. Let there be less talk. If you are
for the trade, take this stone and hand over the rope," Meme Haylay Haylay
said. The horseman lost no time in throwing over the rope and went his way
carrying the stone, feeling happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way
19 Read Dorji Penjore: "Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise,"
p.48-49, in "Folktales and Education: Role of Bhutanese Folktales in
Value Transmission", Journal of Bhutan Studies, Vol. 12, Summer
2005.
99
 Journal of Bhutan Studies
feeling happier than the horseman.
But that was not the end of Meme Haylay Haylay's business. On the way,
he met a man with an ox. "Hey, Meme Haylay Haylay. What are you doing
there?" the ox-man asked. "Today I am no longer a poor old man, but a rich
man" Meme Haylay Haylay replied. "As I was digging in my fields, I
found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I traded it for this horse."
He then asked the ox-man, "Would you barter your ox for this horse?" "I
certainly would," the ox-man replied, and the ox-man went away with the
horse feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way feeling
happier than the ox-man.
Then, Meme Haylay Haylay met a man with a sheep. "Hey, Meme Haylay
Haylay. What are you doing there?" the sheepherder asked. "Today I am no
longer a poor old man, but a rich man" Meme Haylay Haylay replied. "As I
was digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I
traded it for a horse, then I traded the horse for this ox."
He then asked the sheepherder, "Would you barter your sheep for this ox?"
"I certainly would," the sheepherder replied, and the sheepherder went
away with the ox feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way
feeling happier than the sheepherder.
Then, Meme Haylay Haylay met a man with a goat. "Hey, Meme Haylay
Haylay. What are you doing there?" the goat-herder asked. "Today I am no
longer a poor old man, but a rich man" Meme Haylay Haylay replied. "As I
was digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I
traded it for a horse, then I traded the horse for an ox, and the ox for this
sheep."
He then asked the goat-herder, "Hey, would you barter your goat for this
sheep?" "I certainly would," the goat-herder replied, and the goat-herder
went away with the sheep feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went
his way feeling happier than the goat-herder.
Then, Meme Haylay Haylay met a man with a rooster. "Hey, Meme Haylay
Haylay. What are you doing there?" the man asked. "Today I am no longer
a poor old man, but a rich man" Meme Haylay Haylay replied. "As I was
100
 Analysis of Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I traded it
for a horse, then I traded the horse for an ox, and the ox for a sheep, and the
sheep for this goat."
He then asked the man, "Hey, would you barter your rooster for this goat?"
"I certainly would," the man replied, and the he went away with the goat
feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way feeling happier
than the man.
At last he met a man singing a beautiful song. Tears of happiness swelled
Meme Haylay Haylay's eyes as he listened to the song. "I feel so happy by
merely listening to the song. How much happier I would be if only I knew
how to sing it myself," he thought. The singer spied Meme Heylay Heylay.
"Hey, what are you doing there?" the singer asked.
"Today I am no longer a poor old man, but a rich man" Meme Haylay
Haylay replied. "As I was digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable
turquoise stone and I traded it for a horse, the horse for an ox, the ox for a
sheep, the sheep for a goat, and the goat for this rooster. Here, take this
rooster and teach me how to sing. I like your melody so much."
After learning the song, Meme Haylay Haylay gave away his rooster and
went home singing the song, feeling the happiest, richest and most
successful businessman in the world.
101

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