Sujan Harbola: Summary, Glossary & Explanations Magnolia Class 5

Sujan Harbola (Extract from The Magic Moonlight Flower and Other Enchanti Stories by Satyajit Ray, translated by Arunava Sinha) is an enchanting tale of Sujan Harbola, a remarkable harbola mastering the art of mimicry. From the calls of birds to the roar of a tiger. Embrace the harmony of nature through Sujan’s mimicry skills and witness the magic unfold in this educational blog post celebrating passion, talent, and the beauty of the natural world. 🐦🎶 Click here for Q/Ans of this lesson “Sujan Harbola”


Here’s a detailed summary of the story “Sujan Harbola”:

Sujan, an eight-year-old boy, discovers his talent for mimicking bird calls when he hears a robin in a drumstick tree behind his house. Despite being sent to school, Sujan’s passion for imitating bird cries leads him to become a harbola. His unique ability to mimic not only birds but also animals and even inanimate sounds sets him apart.

After three years of minimal progress in formal education, Sujan’s father, Dibakar, is advised by the schoolteacher, Haran, to withdraw him from school. Recognizing Sujan’s talent, Dibakar supports his son’s decision to pursue a career as a harbola.

Sujan expands his repertoire, mastering the cries of domestic animals and even mimicking musical instruments. His skills surpass those of an experienced harbola named Kartik. Sujan’s abilities attract the attention of a king during an encounter in Chanrali, a dense forest. The king is astonished by Sujan’s mimicry of a tiger’s roar, leading to an invitation to perform at the king’s daughter’s wedding in Jabarnagar.

Sujan, after seeking permission from his family, accepts the king’s invitation. The story encapsulates Sujan’s journey from a boy fascinated by nature’s sounds to a celebrated harbola, showcasing his exceptional mimicry skills and the unique path he takes in pursuing his passion.

Explanation of the story “Sujan Harbola”

  1. Drumstick tree: A tree that produces drumstick-like pods, commonly known as moringa tree.
  2. Robin: A small bird with a red or orange breast, known for its melodious song.
  3. Imitate: To copy or mimic someone or something, in this case, replicating the robin’s call.
  4. Pathshala: A term used in South Asia for a traditional school or learning centre.
  5. Palm-leaf notebook: A notebook made from palm leaves, commonly used in traditional settings.
  6. Grocer: A person who sells food and other household items.
  7. Cries of birds: The distinct sounds or calls made by birds.
  8. Recite: To repeat aloud from memory, in this context, the recitation of the multiplication table.
  9. Five times table: A mathematical table where each number is multiplied by five.
  10. Boxed his ears: Administered a light punishment by hitting or slapping the sides of his head.
  11. Nightingales: Small, highly melodious songbirds.
  12. Brainfever birds: Refers to birds that are known for their loud and distinctive calls, often associated with the onset of the monsoon.
  13. Cormorants: Aquatic birds known for their diving and fishing abilities.
  14. Pathshala: A term used in South Asia for a traditional school or learning centre.
  15. Eagerly: With enthusiasm or keen interest.

The story begins by introducing Sujan and his fascination with a drumstick tree behind his house, where a robin lives. Sujan discovers his talent for imitating bird calls. Despite going to school, he finds more joy in listening to birds and practicing their sounds than in studying.

  • Behind Sujan’s house, there was a tree with drumstick pods, and a robin bird lived in it.
  • When Sujan was eight, he heard the robin singing and was amazed at how beautiful it was.
  • Sujan wondered if he could sing like the robin, so he started trying to imitate its call.
  • After some time, Sujan successfully mimicked the robin’s song, and even his mother was impressed.
  • Sujan was happy that he could make bird-sounds like no one else.
  • Sujan’s father, Dibakar, was a grocer and sent Sujan to a school run by a teacher named Haran.
  • Instead of paying attention to studies, Sujan would sit with a palm-leaf notebook and listen to bird calls.
  • When the teacher asked him to recite the five times table, Sujan gave incorrect answers and got punished by getting his ears boxed.
  • Even though he got scolded, Sujan didn’t stop. He continued to daydream about bird calls and eagerly waited to practice them after school.
  1. Withdraw: To take someone out of or remove them from a particular situation or place.
  2. Mimic: To copy or imitate the sounds or actions of something or someone.
  3. Banyan Tree: A large, spreading tree native to India and other tropical countries.
  4. Harbola: A person who can imitate the sounds of various birds and animals, often for entertainment or as a performance.
  5. Devoted: To give all of one’s time, energy, or attention to a particular activity or cause.
  6. Fields and Woods: Open areas and forests.
  7. Beasts: Wild animals.
  8. Imitating: Copying or reproducing the sounds made by birds and animals.
  9. Danced in Delight: Felt extremely happy and excited, as if his heart was celebrating.

Sujan, realizing that traditional education wasn’t his path, decided to become a harbola—a person who mimics the sounds of birds and animals for a living. He found happiness in walking through nature, listening to the sounds, and imitating them, especially when the real animals and birds responded to his calls.

  • After three years of little progress in studies, Sujan’s teacher, Haran, went to his father Dibakar’s shop.
  • Haran told Dibakar that even the gods couldn’t give Sujan an education and suggested withdrawing him from school.
  • Dibakar asked Sujan what he had learned in these three years, and Sujan proudly said he had learned the calls of 22 different birds.
  • Dibakar, intrigued, asked Sujan if he wanted to be a “harbola.” Sujan didn’t know what that meant.
  • Dibakar explained that a harbola is someone who imitates the sounds of various birds and animals and earns a living by performing for audiences.
  • Sujan decided to become a harbola and devoted himself to it.
  • He loved wandering in fields and woods, listening to the cries of birds and beasts, and imitating them.
  • When the birds responded to his imitations by calling back, Sujan felt immense joy.
  1. Mastered: Became very good at.
  2. Cries: Sounds made by animals.
  3. Calves: Baby cows.
  4. Mooing: The sound a cow makes.
  5. Huts: Small, simple houses.
  6. Brayed: The loud sound a donkey makes.
  7. Neighing: The sound a horse makes.
  8. Zamindar’s house: The house of a landowner or landlord.
  9. Groom: A person who takes care of horses.
  10. Varieties: Different types.
  11. Nightingales: Small birds known for their melodious songs.
  12. Tailor-birds: Small birds that are known for their nest-building skills.
  13. Cuckoos: Birds with distinctive calls.
  14. Pigeons: Birds often found in urban areas.
  15. Doves: Birds similar to pigeons.
  16. Parrots: Colourful birds known for their ability to mimic human speech.
  17. Mynahs: Birds known for their ability to mimic sounds.
  18. Snipes: Long-billed birds.
  19. Woodpeckers: Birds that peck at tree trunks.
  20. Barn owls: Nocturnal birds often found in barns.
  21. Mistook: Confused or thought wrongly.
  22. Mimicry: Imitating or copying the sounds of animals.

Sujan’s talents expanded to imitating various animals, not just birds. His realistic imitations of cows, donkeys, and horses often fooled people and animals alike, showcasing his extraordinary ability as a harbola.

  • Sujan’s skills extended beyond imitating birds. He mastered the cries of cows, calves, sheep, and goats.
  • His realistic mooing would make people come out of their homes, thinking a lost calf had returned.
  • Even the washerman’s donkey got confused and responded with brays, wondering where the supposed lost donkey was.
  • Sujan also mimicked the neighing of horses near the zamindar’s house, making the groom wonder about the mysterious horse.
  • When it came to birds, Sujan was a master, having learned the calls of at least a hundred varieties, including nightingales, tailor-birds, cuckoos, pigeons, doves, parrots, mynahs, snipes, woodpeckers, barn owls, and many more.
  • His imitations were so convincing that even the birds themselves sometimes got confused, mistaking his mimicry for the real thing.
  1. Harbola: A person who can imitate the sounds of different birds and animals, often performing for audiences.
  2. Accompaniment: Playing or making music that goes along with the main sound or melody.
  3. Tabla: A traditional Indian percussion instrument, similar to drums.
  4. Jealous: Feeling or showing envy or resentment towards someone else’s achievements or advantages.
  5. Apprentices: People who are learning a skill or trade from a more experienced person.
  6. Palace: A large and impressive building, often the official residence of a king or queen.
  7. Reward: Something given in return for good behaviour or as a token of appreciation.
  8. Please a king: To make a king happy or satisfied.

Sujan’s father took him to meet Kartik, an experienced harbola. Despite Kartik’s years of experience, Sujan’s diverse talents impressed him. Kartik, somewhat jealous, shared his own journey, highlighting that performing for a king can be a significant milestone for a harbola’s career.

  • Sujan’s father decided to take him to meet Kartik, a seasoned harbola in the neighbouring village.
  • Kartik had been working as a harbola for 20 years, but when Sujan showcased his skills, it became evident that Sujan knew more cries than Kartik did.
  • Sujan’s talents went beyond imitating animal sounds; he could mimic musical instruments like the shehnai, play tabla accompaniment, imitate the sound of a trumpet, and replicate the jingling of dancers’ anklets.
  • Kartik, feeling jealous and astonished, didn’t say much but mentioned that he didn’t take apprentices.
  • Sujan, eager to learn, asked Kartik how he got started, hoping for guidance.
  • Kartik shared his story, revealing that he began performing as a harbola at the palace of Jantipur when he was thirteen.
  • The king was pleased with Kartik’s performance and rewarded him, leading to his fame.
  • Kartik suggested to Sujan that pleasing a king could be a good start for a harbola.
  1. Chanrali: A dense forest near Sujan’s village, Khira.
  2. Mastering: Becoming very skilled or good at something.
  3. Approaching: Coming closer or moving nearer.
  4. Bellowed: Shouted loudly and deeply.
  5. Bowing: Bending the upper part of the body forward as a gesture of respect.
  6. Roaming: Moving around without a specific purpose.
  7. Hunt: A chase or search, often for the purpose of capturing or killing animals.
  8. Kind: Showing a gentle and caring nature.
  9. Pause: A short period of time during which something stops before continuing.
  10. Cupping: Holding or shaping like a cup with one’s hands.
  11. Flash: Something happening very quickly or suddenly.
  12. Response: An answer or reaction to something.
  13. Proof: Evidence or confirmation that something is true.
  14. Exists: Is real or has actual being.
  15. Leaned forward: Bent the upper body towards the front.
  16. Deep breath: Inhaling a large amount of air into the lungs.
  17. Surprised: Feeling astonishment or wonder.
  18. Kingdom: The land or territory ruled by a king.
  19. Perform: To do or carry out a task or activity.
  20. Wedding: A ceremony where two people are united in marriage.
  21. Spend the night: Stay overnight or sleep at a place.
  22. Early: In the morning or before the usual time.

Sujan, while in the forest mastering bird calls, encounters a king on a hunt. The king, impressed by Sujan’s ability to mimic a tiger’s roar, invites him to perform as a harbola at his daughter’s wedding in Jabarnagar. Sujan agrees and is asked to return early the next morning for the journey.

  • One day, Sujan went to Chanrali, a dense forest near his village, Khira, to master the calls of three unknown birds.
  • As the sun began to set, Sujan noticed a king approaching on horseback.
  • The king questioned Sujan, asking who he was and expressing concern about tigers in the forest.
  • Sujan, bowing, introduced himself and mentioned he wasn’t afraid of tigers.
  • The king revealed he was on a hunt and inquired about tigers in the forest.
  • Sujan offered to make the king hear a tiger’s roar but questioned whether the king would kill the tiger without harm done to him.
  • The king, a kind man, agreed not to harm the tiger without reason but asked for proof of its existence.
  • Sujan cupped his hands around his mouth, roared, and received an immediate response from the forest.
  • Impressed, the king recognized Sujan’s amazing gift and invited him to his kingdom, Jabarnagar.
  • The king explained that Sujan would perform as a harbola at his daughter’s wedding to the prince of Ajabpur.
  • Sujan, considering the offer, mentioned he needed to inform his family.
  • The king instructed him to go home, spend the night there, and return early the next morning for the journey to Jabarnagar.

Character Sketch

The characters of the story with the protagonist ‘Sujan’ collectively contribute to the development of the story, highlighting themes of passion, unconventional talents, and the appreciation of unique skills.

Sujan Harbola:

  • Background: Sujan is an eight-year-old boy with a keen interest in mimicking bird calls. He is the son of Dibakar, a grocer.
  • Passion: Sujan’s fascination with the sounds of nature leads him to become a skilled harbola, adept at mimicking various sounds, including birds, animals, and even musical instruments.
  • Personality: Determined and passionate, Sujan shows resilience in pursuing his unique talent despite facing challenges in the traditional education system.

Dayamoyee (Sujan’s mother):

Supports and appreciates Sujan’s unique talent, acknowledging the beauty of his bird calls.

Dibakar (Sujan’s Father):

  • Occupation: Dibakar is a grocer.
  • Supportive Parent: Despite Sujan’s unconventional interests and struggles in formal education, Dibakar recognizes and supports his son’s passion for mimicry.

Haran (Schoolteacher):

  • Role: Haran is Sujan’s schoolteacher who advises Dibakar to withdraw Sujan from school due to his limited progress in formal education.

Kartik (Experienced Harbola):

  • Profession: Kartik is an experienced harbola, having worked in the profession for 20 years.
  • Encounter with Sujan: Despite his years of experience, Kartik is astonished and possibly envious of Sujan’s superior mimicry skills.

King (Encountered in the Forest):

  • Curiosity: The king becomes curious about Sujan’s presence in the forest and questions him.
  • Kindness: The king displays kindness by accepting Sujan’s offer to mimic a tiger’s roar and refrains from harming the tiger.

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