Rumors have a unique way of traveling. They move with such speed that can even outstrip hurricanes.
Next day while waiting in a bus queue, Mrs. Y nudged me and asked if I had heard about a report which had been around for a while and narrated the same story with more garnish.
Third day, I met Mrs. Z on the sea beach. Before exchanging any pleasantries, she opened the conversation by inquiring whether I knew the news and reproduced the entire episode with added morsels.
Every time the presentation magnified and took a different twist. To find out the facts, I called Mrs. Q, who is usually well informed in such matters. She too had heard about it but could not prove its veracity. However, she evinced keen interest in finding out what I had heard was most striking.
In a short time the news spread all over the town. It grew into alarmingly large shape and became a story with several versions. When the report assumed this form, it lost its credibility as well as the punch. Soon it vanished into thin air with the same swiftness as it had made its entry.
Rumors generate curiosity and interest in spite of the fact the content they convey is often baseless and inaccurate.
During my childhood, we played a simple but very entertaining game. I do not recall the name of the game. It was a sort of whispering game that demonstrated how rapidly rumors circulate.
A dozen more children would sit in a circle. The chosen leader would write a sentence on a piece of paper and seal it. The leader would then whisper the sealed sentence to the person sitting next to her. The second person would pass it on to the third member, and so on till the entire group completed the cycle of relay. It was then the turn of the last member to declare loudly the message she had received which made everyone burst into laughter. Because, the last sentence, invariably would be a total distortion of the sealed one! The warped version was sometimes due to communication being not clearly audible. But, more often than not, it was a deliberate effort by participants to make the game more lively and amusing although it was against the rules.
Whispering game is an apt analogy of evolution of rumors in circulation in the adult realm.