Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

This is one of my favorite Butanese folktales. In my opinion, it should become their national folktale!


Meme Haylay Haylay and His Turquoise
A Traditional Folktale from Bhutan retold by Steve Evans

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.

Well, because of his good fortune, he decided to stop working and go home. 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, Meme Haylay Haylay put forth a proposal, “Will you exchange your horse for this stone?” “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, if you are for the trade, take this turquoise 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 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 trade your ox for this horse?” “I certainly would,” the man with the ox replied, and the man went away with the horse feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way feeling happier.

Then Meme Haylay traded the ox for a sheep, and the sheep for a goat, and the goat for a rooster. And after each transaction, the others walked away feeling happy, but Meme Haylay Haylay walked away feeling happier. Finally Meme Haylay Haylay heard someone singing a beautiful song, and tears of happiness filled his eyes as he listened to it. “I feel so happy just listening to the song,” he thought. “How much happier I would be if I could sing it myself.” Just then the singer spied Meme Heylay Heylay and asked, “Hey, Meme Haylay Haylay, what are you doing there?” “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, 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 your song. I like it 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.

Views: 322

Replies to This Discussion


That is a beautiful story. I would love to retell it. Do you have sources for the story? And how do you pronounce Meme? Is it "MEH-meh?" I have a similar story from India called "The Boy Who Wanted a Drum." Beautiful story, Steve. Thank you for sharing.

Hi Dianne.

This is a traditional tale, cited in many of the books on Bhutanese folktales. So, it is open game!

It's a delightful tale - I love it and tell it often.

The word is pronounced: meh (short e and a little drawn out but not much) - may...

Happy telling and best wishes to you...! STEVE

I'll have to post my story "The Boy Who Wanted a Drum," so you can see the similarities. I just love stories! And thanks!

BTW, do you have any recommendations for specific Bhutanese folktale collections?

Warmly, Dianne
Hi Dianne, just caught your reply to Steve about the drum, the Indian Story. I have close contacts with quite a few different Indian websters, and I also receive the "Dimdima" , which is an Indian magazine for children, arranged by Bhavan's . When the magazines get to about 6 months old I take a few of the available stories for my children's sites. I do find the stories very, how can I say it without sounding biased to "Dimdima". The stories and the pictures are beautiful, but the content, not so beautiful. Very class presented and always reading more like a fable, than a genuine happy story. I can never write them out verbatim, for here in the UK. I would be taken to task I think by the Indian community. Maybe it is just me, with having to be so careful with mine being for the kids everywhere, I may be getting more conscious of how people take things. I am going to write to my friend and ask him I think, :) Funny how we suddenly think of something. hm, Seligor. Hugs xxx
Steve Evans, I really like this simple and easy to tell folktale. Do you sing a song that Meme Haylay Haylay to hear in the story. It would be fun to have a song for the audience take with them home and they would be happy too. Thanks Gary Wittmann
Hi Gary. It is a great story - one that I love and love to tell. You know, sometimes I have sung a little song to go with it, but rarely. It goes something like this:

In my heart there's a song
that I sing all day long --
I'm happy...happy...happy!

Not much, but it works sometimes. It would be great for others to develop songs too!

Best wishes to you. STEVE
Steve, I loved the song. The more I read the story the more meaning I got out of it. I thought I could tell a business audience about the value of their worth. Don't sell your self short just for a song but know your value. OR We can have value in the simple things in life just like a song we hear. Priceless or worthless does it matter. Thanks Gary Wittmann
Hi Gary. I hope you do find this story useful. I like your conclusion: Priceless or worthless what does it matter. Happiness is the moral of this story!
Hi Steve, Love the story. I haven't got anything Bhutanese, at least I don't think so. But, if you don't mind, I will copy your copy and say thanks. I am part of the Professional Storytellers, but my husband's mum has had a massive stroke and we have a lot of unsettled thought in our home. Not good vibes for writing stories by I'm afraid. But I am trying to compile a folk-story etc for every country in the world. That keeps my mind on different things. Trouble is I get carried away and find places like China, Japan, Asia especially have more folk tales than up to date ones.
I wish everyone a big "Hope you're all keeping well," and look forward to bringing in a contribution or two soon. Hugs and Kisses. Seligor, XXX aka Dorothy Milnes Simm.




© 2019   Created by Don 'Buck P' Creacy.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service