When my mom first told me this story, I had to break the news to her that it sounded awfully familiar to me, and that it wasn't an Indian story at all, but an Aesop's fable. Incredibly, she had never heard of the story of 'The Boy Who Cried 'Wolf'.
"How could that be? My father told me this story," she said, truly surprised.
I just told her that I guess the story was so good it must have traveled around the world. She is never going to believe it originated anywhere other than India, so I didn't bother arguing with her.
Anyway, here's my grandfather's version of the famous story, strangely fresh because of a slight change of characters:
THE BOY WHO CRIED 'TIGER'
Once upon a time, there was a young goat-herd. Everyday, he took his goats to graze in the jungle. His father, worried about his son's safety, warned him to call from a tree if ever he saw a tiger in the jungle and all the people in the village would come to his rescue.
Well, one day, the goat-herd became very bored watching his goats graze lazily in the jungle and an idea sprang into his mind. He climbed up into the nearest tree and when he reached the top, he began to yell, "Tiger! Tiger!"
The people of the village heard his distress call, and--fearing the worst--came running with sticks in their hands ready to beat a tiger off of the boy. But what they found were just all the goat-herd's goats grazing peacefully at the base of a tree, while the goat-herd sat giggling up in the tree. They got very angry at the boy, yelled at him, and turned around and went back home.
The boy found all the excitement very entertaining and the very next day, he tried it again. Again the villagers, fearing the worst, came running. And again, they found just the mischievous boy and his herd all safe and sound. Again, they chastised him and turned around and went home.
But the day after that--wouldn't you know it--a real tiger appeared! He attacked some of the goats and caused the rest to scatter while the boy sat crying in the tree. He called and called "Tiger! Tiger!" but not a single villager came to his rescue.
In the evening, the goat-herd's father wondered why the boy hadn't returned. He asked the villagers if they had seen him. They told him that they had heard his foolish boy yelling hours before but had ignored him because of the pranks he had pulled the two days before. When he told them he hadn't returned from the jungle, they all went together to look for the boy. They found him all alone in the tree weeping.
The boy sobbed, "There really was a tiger today! I called 'Tiger!' and nobody came. Why didn't anybody come?"
His father helped his son down from the tree, put his arm around him and tried to comfort him as they walked back home.
"Son, nobody believes a liar...even when he's telling the truth."