Long, long ago, when the lake left the valley of Kathmandu, there lived in a rhododendron forest a jackal and a bulbul bird. These two animals were not fond of each other but they roamed about in the same forest and they often met while searching for food.
One day the jackal said to himself, “If I become a ‘meet(friend)’ to that bulbul bird, I will have a good excuse to follow him about all day. Then when the hunting is poor and I can find nothing else to eat, I can have my little ‘brother’ for dinner.” He laughed aloud at his own cunning.
The next time the jackal saw the bulbul bird, he called out in a voice full of feigned affection:
“Oh, little bulbul, you work too hard. Come down here where it is easy to pick up the seeds that have fallen to the ground.” He added: “It is a pity two gentlemen of such good taste do not see each other more often. We should become meets and dedicate ourselves sharing the finer things of the forest together. What do you say to that, my friend?”
Now the bulbul was sure he did not want to become a “brother” to the jackal. But to refuse such an offer would be an insult the jackal would never forget, and to be eaten by a jackal was not a very pleasant prospect.
“I am flattered that you should want me for a meet,” answered the bulbul, without emotion. “Of course I can do nothing but accept.”
So the jackal and the bulbul exchanged silver rupees to consummate their brotherhood and began immediately to call each other by the respectful title of “Meetjyu (very close friend)”
“Now, Meetjyu,” began the jackal, whose mind was never at rest when he wanted something, “our life in the forest is hard enough. We must help one another as much as we can. As long as we meet, why don’t we build a house and live in it together as real brothers should?”
“This,” thought the bulbul, “is going too far!”
“What kind of a house would it be? I would die if I had to live in a den,” said the bulbul, giving the jackal something to think about. “And you would not certainly want to keep the house in a nest! Perhaps we should compromise. You build a den to suit your needs on the ground and I will build my nest in a tree above it. In that way, we can still look out for each other. “
“Good!” said the jackal, satisfied for the moment that he would always know where to find the bulbul. “You are such an intelligent fellow. But that, after all, is why I am proud to call you Meetjyu!”
He tried to make his smile look very sincere, yet all the bulbul could see where the jackal’s two long rows of shiny white teeth.
The two meets finished building their living quarters by nightfall. They had planned to go hunting the next day, but when the jackal was getting out of bed, he found that the bulbul was up and ready to leave.
“Oh, Meetjyu,” called the jackal. “Where are you going today? I will join you when I have finished my breakfast.”
“I am going to the east side of the river,: the bulbul called back. “See you there!” And off he flew into the forest.
As soon as the jackal had eaten his cornmeal mush he went to the east side of the river to find the bulbul bird. But he could no find him anywhere. He searched until sundown without catching anything good to eat. That night he was so exhausted he settled for a supper of cold cornmeal mush and went unhappily to bed.
The next morning the bulbul again was up and ready to go to the forest long before the jackal.
“Where are you going today, Meetjyu?” the jackal called out after the bulbul bird.
“I am going to the west side of the river, Brother Dear,” the bulbul shouted back. “Come along when you are ready!” And he disappeared into the jungle.
The jackal hunted all day long for the bulbul on the west side of the river, but he had no more luck this time than he did the day before.
The next morning when he heard the bulbul getting ready to leave, he raised himself up from the bed and called out: “Oh, Little Brother! Where are you off to, today?”
“I think I shall go back to the east side of the river again,” answered the bulbul. “The hunting is excellent there. Why don’t you join me?” And off he flew, without waiting for an answer.
“This time I will!” shouted the jackal, lying back on his bed. Then he added to himself: “And this time the hunting will be excellent!”
But now the Jackal knew that the bulbul was deceiving him. If the bulbul said he was going to the east side of the river, he would surely be flying to the opposite side. The jackal got out of bed with great determination and went no to the east side of the river but to the west side. There he found the bulbul bird on the ground, eating berries.
Out of the bushes jumped the jackal, shouting:
“Little Brother, I will eat you now for deceiving me!”
But the nimble bird was too quick for the jackal. Up he flew, into the berry bush-the jackal’s jaw snapping the air behind him.
“Oh, Meetjyu, you are right!” admitted the bird quickly, to the great surprise of the angry jackal. “I have deceived you and that is the very worst thing anyone could do to his beloved meet.” His voice was full of penitence. “For punishment, I deserve to be eaten, but it would make my next life easier if I give myself up rather than allow you to catch me. You will gain great favour with the Gods, yourself, if you grant me this last, small request. Open your mouth and I will fly in. But be sure to close our eyes, because I cannot bear to have you see me die this way.”
The obliging jackal sat on his haunches, closed his eyes, and opened his mouth as wide as possible. But the bulbul bird, instead of plunging to his death, picked a big cluster of sour berries from the bush, flew over the jackal’s mouth, and dropped them in. The jackal gagged on the sour berries; his body doubled up as he coughed and choked.
When the bulbul looked back and saw the success of his little trick he laughed so hard his eyes turned red, and they have been red ever since.
The jackal, who was never able to catch his Meetjyu, howled at his own helplessness. He can still be heard howling on a warm, dark night.