There lived a barber in a village. Shaving the people was his job. He had a bad habit. He could not keep any secret. Whatever he heard here he would tell it there.
Once the royal barber fell ill. The king called him to do the job. He went to the palace and started cutting the hair of the king as it was the day for the king’s hair cut as well. The barber discovered that the king had ears like that of an ass which normally were invisible being covered by the turban or the crown.
Afterwards the king gave him money and warned, ‘What you have seen here, you shall tell no one. You know the secret of my ears. If you reveal this secret to anyone, I will get your tongue cut off and you shall be whipped naked. Take this precious necklace as a reward for keeping the secret.’
When the barber reached home he was having butterflies in his stomach. He wanted to tell about the king's ears to his wife. But the fear of losing tongue made him keep quiet. All night he tossed in bed restlessly.
The wife wanted to know why he was so restless. He didn't answer. Next day, one of his friends came to his shop for a shave.
He wished to tell the secret to his friend. But the king's warning frightened him. He didn't want his tongue cut off and getting whipped.
But he was getting very restless. He must tell it to someone. The barber visited one of his relatives and tried to whisper the secret in his ears. But the fear didn't let words come out of his mouth.
The loose tongue barber was feeling sick with a secret in his chest. He was sick. His stomach churned and ached. His stomachache was gradually increasing. Tears were coming to his eyes as he gritted his teeth. He didn't know what to do.
In confusion he ran to the jungle. He thought that the trees and plants were dumb. Therefore there was no harm in telling them the secret. After some thought he went to a tree and said in a low voice, “The king has donkey ears' The king has donkey ears!'
The barber felt great relief. His stomach no more ached. He came back home. The same day, a woodcutter came to that jungle. Incidentally, he decided to cut a big branch of the same tree the barber had talked to.
He brought the wood home and a tom-tom was made out of it. The first use the tom-tom was put to was at a marriage ceremony where woman sang songs. But the tom-tom was not making the sound a drum should make when played. It was sounding, 'The king's donkey ears' The king's donkey ears!'
The people were puzzled. But the tom-tom went on repeating it.
The rumour spread that the king had donkey ears. The people would hire that tom-tom just to hear it say, "The king's donkey ears1’
The king learnt about the news. The king knew that the culprit was no one else but the barber. The barber was summoned. He came frightened to death. The king said, 'You have violated my order. You will be punished. Your tongue will be cut off.’
The barber fell at the feet of the king and begged, 'Please don't cut off my tongue. I just told it to a tree.'
The king took mercy at him. He asked the soldiers to spare his tongue but asked them to give him whipping to make him learn a lesson.
The barber was lashed 100 times and he took a vow that he would no more be a loose tongue.