A boy takes such a small amount of grain to the mill that the milled flour suffices for just one flatbread. But the miller envies him even this and suggests to the boy a wager for the flatbread as to who can tell the best yarn. The boy agrees and the miller begins to tell yarns. However, the boy exceeds him by far with the absurdity of his stories. He begins by telling how he had counted his bees and found that one was missing because it had been harnessed in a plough by the farmer. The boy continues with the description of climbing up to the sky over a blade of grass on the occasion of his father’s birth in heaven. The envious miller has to admit that he has been beaten by the boy’s art of spinning yarns.
Rights held by: Tomislav Nikolić (work/reading) — Mozes F. Heinschink (recording) | Licensed by: Tomislav Nikolić (work/reading) — Phonogrammarchiv – Austrian Academy of Sciences | Licensed under: Rights of Use | Provided by: Phonogrammarchiv – Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna/Austria) | Archived under: B35755 (excerpt)
In the Indian and Oriental tradition of storytelling in those Balkan countries that came under the influence of the Ottomans, tall tales serve to show the narrator’s imaginative power. The stories are easily recognised as fictional: the absurd course of action of an acknowledged ‘tall tale’ (‘Jeg xoxaimaski paramič’) demonstrates the narrator’s creativity and does not claim any logical context – on the contrary, logic and ‘realism’ would not be considered artistic in this case. Thus, the popular motive of a wager involving telling yarns does not aim at disguising fiction as realistically as possible as ‘being true’ (in contrast with some of the yarns of the Kalderaš), rather at taking absurdity to the extreme in an entertaining way and with sudden turns of events and by using as few non-absurd, ‘realistic’ developments in the plot as possible. The boy in ‘Jeg xoxaimaski paramič’ clearly succeeds in doing this, and that is why he is the winner of the flatbread.
Fennesz-Juhasz, Christiane; Cech, Petra; Halwachs, Dieter; Heinschink, Mozes F. (ed.). 2003. Die schlaue Romni. Märchen und Lieder der Roma / E bengali Romni. So Roma phenen taj gilaben. Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag (transcript and German translation: pp. 108–13)