Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Stupid Tiger

Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a fox with red fur. He used to live near the King’s palace, on the outer side of the fort-wall. On the other side, the King’s goats would rest at night. They were fat and yummy. 

Whenever the fox looked at them his mouth drooled. But, he had never had a chance to pounce on one. The goats were always under tight protection, by the herdsmen, day and night. 

One night, too hungry, he could not keep his patience anymore,  and started digging a tunnel to the other side . At the end of the tunnel he reached the barn. But, no hope was in sight.

All the herdsmen, unfortunately, were there at that time. They caught him, and tied him up, to a pole. They did not have time to beat the pulp out of him. So, they left him in that condition, whispering to one another, “Now it’s already too late. Tomorrow let’s have some fun with this vermin, and after that kill it.”

So, they left and the fox sat there, tied up, stooping his head. At that time, a tiger was passing through,  and through the peep-hole on the wall he saw the fox sitting like that. The tiger got very surprised and asked the fox, “Hey nephew! What’re ya doing here like this?”

The fox said, “ Oh uncle! I'm getting married!”

The tiger got even more surprised, and asked, “Getting married? This way? Where’s the bride? Where’re the guests?”

The fox replied, “The Princess is the bride! People have gone inside to bring her here.”

The tiger asked again, “But why’re you tied up to the pole?”

The fox said, “You see, I was not eager to marry. They have tied me up like this, so that I can't run away.”

Hearing this, the tiger got even more surprised, “Really?! You don’t wanna marry?”

The fox said, “Seriously, uncle! I don’t wanna marry at all.”

Now, the tiger became restless. After a pause, he said, “I have a plan. Why don't you tie me up in your place and run away?”

The fox joyously said, “Sure! Untie me. Then, we'll swap.”

The tiger was really happy at the prospect of marrying the Princess. He jumped over the wall, and immediately untied the fox. The fox, in turn, tied the tiger tight to the pole, and said, “Remember uncle! Your brothers-in-law will come and make fun of you. Don’t get irritated.”

The tiger said, “Oh! Don’t worry! I won’t get irritated. Do you think I’ve no sense of humour?” The fox laughed out loud, and ran away. And the tiger sat there dreaming about the bride.

Next day, early morning, the herdsmen returned. The tiger saw them and thought, “Aha! Here are my brothers-in-law. Now they’ll poke me ‘n have fun. I must enjoy and laugh out with them too.”

Those herdsmen were prepared for the fox. Now they found the tiger instead. There was a big hue and cry for a few minutes. Some of them wanted to run away, others stopped them saying the tiger was tied. Finally, they brought rods, bamboo sticks, spades and spears.

First, a herdsman threw a big brick at the tiger.

Being hit, the tiger said, “Heeh! Heeh! Hihi! Hihi!”

Then another poked him with a spear.

And the tiger responded, “Hoho! Hawhaw!”

Then another beat him with a bamboo rod.

And the tiger said, “Oooooooooooooooohoho! Hehe! Hahahaha! I’ve got it! You’re my brothers-in-law.”

Then, again they poked him with the spears.

Now the tiger got angry. He tore the ropes apart and said, “Duuh! I don’t want to get married like this.” And he strode off to the forest.

Inside the forest, there was a place where woodcutters frequented most. That day, some of them left a huge tree trunk partially split, with a wedge in the cleft. The tiger came there and saw the fox taking rest on that tree trunk.

As the fox saw the tiger, he was alarmed. But, he calmly asked “Hey uncle! How did your marriage go?”

The tiger replied, “Ney nephew! They joked too much. So, I left that place.”

The fox said, “That’s fine. Let’s sit here and chat for awhile.”

As the fox spoke, the tiger jumped on the trunk and sat exactly where the cleft is kept apart by the wedge. His tail hung through the cleft.

The fox noticed that, and he thought it would be a funny thing to take the wedge out. So, he kept the tiger busy with nonsense ramblings and slowly moved the wedge out. After few minutes, the wedge came to such a position that it would come out of the gap if it moved anymore, and the cleft would join and grip the tiger’s tail. At this moment, the fox suddenly cried out, “Oooo uncle! I’m dead! And flicked the wedge out, and started rolling on the ground.

And the tiger? You can imagine what happened to him. As soon as the gap joined and smashed his tail, he let out a high-pitch shriek and bounced upwards. And his tail, like a rope, tore up into two. The tiger too began rolling on the ground, in pain.

He growled, “Nephew! I’m done for. My tail is torn.”

The fox replied, “Uncle! I’m dead. My hip is broken.”

They kept rolling on, for sometime, until they reached a poisonous berry bush. The tiger could not move anymore. But, the fox had nothing damaged, he was just lying from the beginning.

Inside that bush, there were lots of frogs. The fox caught and ate them up, lying there. The tiger was so numb in pain that he could not see that. After one day he was so hungry that he felt almost dead. He saw the fox eating. But, he could not make out,the details, from the distance. He asked the fox, “Nephew! What are you eating?”

The fox said, “Only berries, and now I have stomach pain.”

Seeing no other option, the tiger started chewing those poisonous berries. In a few minutes, his throat and face got infected, and inflated like a baloon.

The fox noticed everything. Now, he asked, “Uncle! Have you eaten anything?”

The tiger said, “I have. But my throat has got infected. You had stomach pain. Then why do I have my throat affected?”

The fox replied on that, “That’s because I’m a fox and you’re a tiger.”

The tiger had so much ache all over his body, throat and tail that he could not get over it in less than sixteen days. He became thin like a rope by starving for these sixteen days.

On the seventeenth day, when he saw the fox sprucing up his fur-coat and going away, the tiger got surprised. He asked the fox, “Hey nephew! How did you get well so soon?”

The fox turned back and said, “Uncle! I forgot to tell you. I discovered a very good way of recovering health. I chewed my hands and feet out, and immediately I got relieved from all pains. In a moment I got new hands and feet too.”

Hearing this, the tiger said, “Really?! Why didn’t you tell me so long?”

The fox said, “Can you chew your hands and feet out like me? I don’t think so. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”

The tiger became angry now. He said, “You can do that being a fox and you think I, a tiger, can’t?”

The fox said again, “You gave up such a grand marriage for few jokes! How could I know you’re able to chew your hands and feet out?”

The tiger angrily said, “See if I can!”

 He chewed  his limbs out. And after three days, he died of gangrene.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Keu Katha Rakheni

Nobody Kept Promise PAinting Anirban Lahiri

Nobody kept promise for thirty-three summers… nobody

I was in school when
A chantress stopped her Passover song…
She promised me the rest before
The fullmoon day…
Scores of scores of moonless nights
Came and passed by.
The chantress did not come.
Twenty-five years.
I sit in wait for her.

My uncle’s rowman Nader Ali said,
Grow up little master,
I’ll take you to the three-phase water canal
Where hornets and snakes play
Together on lotus.

Nader Ali, how bigger must I grow?
Will you show me the three phase canal
When my head breaks through the roof
And touches the sky?

I could never buy a single Royal marble
Kids from the Pawn brokers’ house always
Bought and licked the flavored icecream.
I had to stand at the village Lord’s palace-gate
For an experience of the Easter blasts inside
In fountains of champagne n colors,
All the white ladies’ golden hands.
They were not for me!

Papa once touched my shoulder, and whispered in my little ears,
“Look up my sonny! One day, we’ll too…

Papa is blind now, we never looked up
Those Royal marbles, the icecream stick, those Easter days
No one will return them anymore!

She kept her scented scarf on my chest,
Varuna! She said,

“The day you’ll really really love me
My breasts will pour out scent like this!"

What didn’t I do after that? I staked life for love
Tied red band over the wild bull’s eyes
Ransacked the whole world to get
One hundred and eight blue lotuses for her…

She kept not her promise.
Only the smell of flesh in her breasts now
Still she is any woman, carnal, vulgar…

Nobody kept promise… thirty-three summers passed, nobody keeps promise.


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Strange Dog from London

Most of you love dogs. Maybe more than your human friends. And a few among you fear them -- always keep a distance from our furry neighbors. I used to be scared by them too... well until mid-youth. I would always try to avoid visiting friends who kept dogs. Then, in London, everything changed. A dog really got me surprised by her behavior. Since then I do not avoid a dog in a friend's house. I call her (or him), make friends, scratch her neck.

I toured a lot all over the isles, in my student days. I made a lot of friends from all over the world, saw a lot of marvels here and there. Today, when I try to remember, I find I have forgotten most of them.

Even those friends, with whom I played, studied, made fun, hitchhiked on the weekends. I need to make an effort to remember their names. Those faces have become hazy with time.

Only one face still comes bright. I can see her when I try to, closing my eyes. I can not forget her. She is Nip. Not a human girl, she was a dog.

So many years have passed. But, when I rest in my armchair at the end of the day, memories spark in my mind. Suddenly I see her -- the bright eyed, long-eared, snouty-nosed Nip. I see her waving her black tail and smiling at me. Even in the evening chorus of city noises, I hear her welcome bhou-wou. Again I ask myself, what really was Nip? A dog or a human girl?

And when I see Nip, closing my eyes, I see Paul too. Paul was her little Master. When I saw him first, he just turned nine. It was Paul who told me, Nip was not a dog, but a human girl. Paul, the mentally retarded child. I laughed at his words that day.

Well... let me start from the beginning...

It was a perennial problem for us, newcomers, to get a good accommodation in London. After trying for weeks, finally I got a new place to stay, in the beginning of April. Few kilometers from the city proper, Finsbury Park station. From there, an hour by bus. Wavy roads, like a hilly incline, arcaded by trees on the sides. All the houses in my new neighborhood looked alike. Same pattern, same color, with similar garden in front. A lot many times, I mistook someone's house for my own.

I saw the advertisement in India House, and immediately fixed my stay there for the next two years. The locality was ideal for my study, away from the madding London crowd. A typical British household, the landlord's name was William Hall, and his wife's, Anne. A young couple, they were very hospitable. They loved India and her people too. Often they asked me about India -- myths, culture, people.

Within few days only, I got accepted in their family. We started dining together, planning weekends together... I gave them new names .. William the Conqueror and Queen Anne. Both of them were very pleased with the names.

Besides Anne and William, two more members were in the family. Paul, Anne's nine year old son. And the other one was... Apple of Paul's eyes -- Nip.

But, Nip was not a human being. She was a dog, although Paul did not believe that. He thought Nip was a human girl only.

On my first day there, Paul told me that. When I first met them, to please Paul, I said, "Aha! That's a lovely dog you have!"

On that, Nip firmly stared at me and grrrred. And Paul? His face saddened. A few seconds later he tried to correct me. "Nip is not a dog. Nip is a girl. She is my daughter. You don't call her dog. I'll cry then --- waaaaaaaaaa"

Really Paul started crying. And I got dumb by such behavior. I could not see what heppened, and what to do. Paul kept crying, and maybe to teach me a lesson, Nip kept on barking aloud, "Bhouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu grrrrrrrr bhouuuuuuuu wouuuuuu."

I was sitting stiff, fear-struck. I had no idea what I had done on my first day in that household. However, Anne did not take long to run to the spot.

As she came, I stood up and apologized, "I'm so sorry Mrs Hall! I don't know what I've done."

Anne smiled at me and then asked Paul, "What happened? Why are you crying?"

Paul kept crying and barely managed to tell his mom what happened. "He called Nip a dog. See! She's crying too."

I did not at all like such foolishly nonsense behaviour from a nine-year old kid. I wanted to give him a good slap. But, that was out of question. So, I looked at his mom's face and silently soliloquied, "Spoilt brat!"

Anne told Paul, "Uncle is new here you know? That's why he couldn't recognize Nip."

Then she turned to me and winked. "You really don't know. Nip is a girl -- Paul's daughter."

I did not take a moment to say, "Yes! Of course I know. She's a girl indeed. A very lovely girl."

Hearing me, Paul stopped crying and laughed in a strange way. "Heeheehee..."

Then he turned to Nip. "Uncle is really sorry. He is new here.. and made a mistake. OK Nip? Now you tell him thank you."

Nip came to me and obeying Paul raised face and said "Wouu."

Then they both ran out to play. I was about to go out too, but Anne asked me to stay. It seemed she wanted to say something.

She looked sad. In a disturbed voice Anne said, "You must be thinking all sorts of things! Please forgive Paul..." She stopped for a moment. I looked out of the window. The light outside had dulled a bit, sky had cast a shadow over the field -- soon it was going to rain. My room was on the first floor. Through the windows, I could see the garden behind. It was summertime in the isles. Lots of colours bloomed in the flowers all around. And among those, I could see Paul and Nip running around and playing.

Anne was also watching them, outside. Now she looked at me and lowered her voice. "You've come to stay with us. We mustn't embarrass you. But.. I think.. I should tell you something..."

I had no idea what she was to say. But, I tried to ease it out. "You needn't be so formal Anne. Please say what you want to."

Anne said, "You please don't mind Paul's behavior. He's not normal. He only grew up from outside. Please forgive him. Sometimes, when I think about him, our only son, I feel so silent."

I heard the British had a heart of stone. Tears don't come to their eyes. But, in one moment, Anne changed my ideas. I realized all mothers are the same -- British or  Indian.

To console her, I said, "Don't think so much Anne. New discoveries are made everyday. Someday Paul will be normal like you or me."

"Pray to God for that."

I slightly stressed on the words. "It'll happen. You see."

Anne took a pause to control herself. "Paul is now much better than before. All because of Nip..." Anne faintly smiled, "Paul's daughter. He's so happy to have her. Before she came, Paul was always in himself, sometimes spoke not a single word for days. Strange he can't mix with people at all, not even wuth boys n girls of his age."

I asked, "Doesn't he go to school?"

"There're special schools for boys like him. We admitted him there. but he doesn't want to go. Next year, we'll try again."

I assured Anne, "He'll be normal. Nip will help him, you see. Please don't lose hope."

Anne agreed. She told me that Nip had already made Paul far more normal than ever before. Now he could cross the road alone, and go to the shop to buy things.

"But", Anne said, "Nip never let him go alone. You'll see how intelligent she is. She knows Paul's condition very well. So, she always protects him. If he goes out to the street, she always pushes him to the side, and always cries aloud if a car comes." Anne heaved out. "Really, I see Nip as a human girl too. I feel so secured now that she takes care of him."

Within a week, I came to realize how dumb Paul was, and how intelligently Nip protected him. Anne did not exaggerate a bit. Let me narrate few such incidents to you.

On the way to the first floor, there was a wide wooden railing on the staircase. Paul always wanted to horse ride and slip down on that. But, Nip never let him. Whenever Paul tried to sit on the railing, Nip stood with her two legs on the railing, and pushed Paul away from that, and barked loudly. So, Paul's plan got foiled. Nip very well knew that such activities might injure Paul. So, she kept at her duty.

Another day, in the winter, Paul burned his hand in the fireplace. It happened before my eyes only. You all know, in winter, every house in England is kept warm by heating. In those days, they used coal or gas fires. Under the mantelpiece, the fire blazed all night. By its side, a heap of coal was kept. Whenever the fire got low, new servings of coal was fed to it.

It was a chilly winter that year. I was sitting in the sofa, reading a book, in the evening. For the previous four - five days, it had been continuously snowing outside. And off and on there was chilly wind that cut through the flesh and bones, and made my teeth rattle. On such an evening, we all were inside, drinking coffee and doing our chores. Anne was knitting a sweater for Paul. William was reading a novel. Nip trying to take a nap on the carpet, and sometimes raising her head and watching Paul.

That dreary winter apparently took no effect on Paul. He was running here and there, jumping and sitting on Nip sometimes, and then came to me and said, "Will you go outside? Sshhh. Snow queen is waiting outside. If it was summer we could go out and catch her.."

Anne stopped knitting, and rebuked him, "Uncle is studying Paul. Don't disturb him."

"Uncle! what're you reading? I can also read." Paul started near my ear...

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again."

-- and he laughed out and dropped dead on the carpet like Humpty Dumpty. Seeing him fall Nip ran to him, and saw that he was only acting. So, she showed Paul that she realized the joke, and took out her long tongue and waved her tail.

William smiled a little and said, "Paul you go and play with Nip on the corner. Don't disturb uncle."

I also smiled. "No no. He's not disturbing me at all."

We returned to what we were doing. And then it happened. Probably looking at the mantelpiece, Paul thought the fire was going to die down. So he came near the mantelpiece to give more coal to it, and tipped down over something on the burning coal. And then he gave a loud shriek. The room filled with his crying noise.

Anne threw her wools, William jumped up. We all ran to the mantelpiece. Nip had pulled Paul out of the coal, and was making a muffled sound.

Paul also stood up crying. William took him in his arms. The burn was not anything serious. But, for protection, Anne smeared medicinal cream to Paul's hands-- where he burnt himself.

No one else noticed the only non-human member of the house. No one, except me. And I don't know, somehow I could understand her feelings that evening. Upstairs, Anne and Williams were busy with Paul. He stopped crying by then. I quietly came down to the lounge.

The lounge was silent now. Only Nip was running across the room like mad. She was trying to enter the fire under the mantelpiece. Why? Did she burn herself too?

I went to her and kneeled down. I caressed her and patted her head, and called her name. "Nip?"

She looked at my eyes. I could see her grief, her guilt, in one glance. It was as if her eyes were talking to me. I saw she was burning inside, and could not stay steady. I saw she was deeply ashamed.

It was very clear to me that Nip took herself responsible for this accident. She could not forgive herself. She was telling me that she fell in a nap and that is how Paul had burnt his hands. That she failed to do her duty.

I felt a deep sympathy for Nip. I called her again. And she raised her head and looked into my eyes. You would not believe me, but do you know what I saw? I saw tears in her eyes. I am not ashamed to admit to you, that evening I forgot Nip was a dog.

After this, there was no more escapade for Paul. At least none to the fire. Whenever the fire was on, Nip sat there guarding Paul. If Paul took a step to the mantelpiece, she cried aloud "Beware! Beware!", and push Paul away from that.

Paul was dumb, but he did not make a mistake to call Nip human. You can also see that if I tell you another story. I was taken aback that day by Nip's behaviour. Police from Scotland Yard could have landed up that day to our Finsbury Park house.

Just after reaching London, I started smoking because of the severe cold weather there. New habit. So, sometimes I crossed limit. Twenty-five to thirty cigarettes per day. Anne and William did not like my smoking so much. They used to regularly advice me on this. "You don't know our climate. This is a different cold. You will get chronic cough by bad habits. You're from so far away... don't smoke so much. Some bad disease will take you..."

I liked the advice from them. That was as if from my own elder brother and sister-in-law. But, who cared. They got tired only advising me. I kept on buying cigarette packets, and smoking in a chain.

Then, one day, a strange thing started. I kept losing my cigarette packets. In the beginning, I could not see what was going on. then, it became clear that someone was misplacing the packets -- obviously Anne or William. I laughed inside. They thought I could not see their tricks. I also did not ask them anything about this.

So, one night, after supper, I came to my room and saw the cigarette packet was gone. It was a weekend dinner. A little heavy. In such happy moments, cigarette was a must, especially for a new addict. So, I felt a little annoyed by this sudden vanishing act of the cigarette packets. But what to do? After moving around in the room for awhile, I decided to go out and to buy a new pack. Although it was quite late, I might get some retail at a restaurant, at the turn of the road.

As I was to open the door, Paul saw me and asked, "Uncle, uncle! going out?" Nip was also there.

I replied in an annoyed tone, "To catch a thief."


"Everyday someone steals my cigarette packs..."

Without letting me utter a single word more, Paul ran to the phone, and dialed. "Calling Scotland Yard. Hello, hello! Scotland Yard?"

I was stunned at first, then tried to stop Paul. Nip started barking very loudly and jumped on Paul. Seeing all this, Paul had to hang up, and slapped Nip. "What happened? Why are you shouting?"

Nip drew me to the back of the sofa, by the corner of my coat. Paul followed too. From the back, she brought all the lost packs, one by one, in her mouth. That day, I was really taken aback.

Why she stole my cigarette packs? Did she follow what we kept arguing about? On my smoking habit? Did she also know I could have got some disease by excessive smoking?

You are also taken aback like me. No?

Nip always protected Paul like her son... but things came to a halt one day. A sinister cloud accumulated over the house at Finsbury Park. Nip stopped barking any more in this house. Some days she was not seen at all. In which corner of the house she hid herself, I could not know. Anne kept sitting in the sofa, expressionless, tears running on her cheeks. William became so pale and old suddenly that I could not look at him.

What happened in this family? You must be thinking about that. Well... listen then.

Since I moved in to this house, I heard Nip waking up Paul every morning. Very early morning, in fact. Then, they both would run out to the road and greet the joggers, the old morning-walkers. Sometime later, would come the milkman's coach rattling the loose stone chips on the concrete road. They delivered our milk everyday, and picked up the empty bottles from the doormat. Those days the milk-coaches were pulled by stallions. I never saw such big stallions before.

That morning, it was a dense fog all around. Very few people were out on the road. Slowly the sky was growing color. I heard the gigantic stallions coming from far away, in half-sleep.

Nip woke up Paul like everyday. And He ran out in the mist. Nip followd behind. But... maybe she was a bit late, may be Paul slipped... we could not know what really happened... When we knew it was too late.

Paul was run over by the milkman's coach. His little body was crumpled, smashed and severed under those big heavy hoofs. That morning, before sunrise, Anne and William lost their only child for ever.

Anne took to bed. William stopped working. But, the British don't cry aloud. It was Nip who cried. I have never heard someone cry like that.

I had seen many deaths. But, this one shook me so much that I thought to move somewhere else. But, finally I stayed back at the Finsbury Park house.

You know, man gets over the heaviest grief with time. They say, time is the biggest healer.  Gradually Anne came back to normal life, I saw smile in William's face. But, Nip?

She kept normal. She ate, came to us, roamed around. Sometimes she barked too. But... from time to time, she went mad. She searched for someone... something... from corner to corner. She ran out to the street... and then came back and started crying for hours. Hearing her cry, Anne started crying too. Nip came to her feet and dropped herself there twitching in some unknown pain.

Days passed. Study pressure increased too. I saw Anne and William become busy with the daily chores. It seemed Nip also became steady with time. I hoped the family would now get back to some normalcy at last.

Slowly, the next winter knocked the door. Mercury dropped every night. Trees had shed their leaves. Morning started in dense mist. Sometimes, when I woke up in the early morning, I heard those hoofs rattling on the road. Milk coaches coming. No Paul now to attend them. But, Nip did not forget her job. She started barking every morning, waking Anne or me up, and drawing us out to the road. There, she kept shouting at passers by --- Beware! Beware! Milkcoaches are coming!

So early morning, we never needed picking up the milk bottles. But, Anne went out everyday with Nip. Until she opened the door, and went out with her, Nip would not stop barking.

It was such a morning, not  so misty that day. But, winter had come. Anne stood on the doorsteps. Nip was in front of her, glancing at her from time to time. Today she was too silent, as if she forgot to beware the passers by.

As the milkman's coach turned the road, Nip ran out to the road like mad. A few seconds later we heard her scream... and then silence again.

The milkcoach had stopped. We all ran out. Nip was lying under the wheels. Exactly like Paul. Her tongue was hanging out. Blood oozing out from her neck. She was not alive.

The milkman told Anne in a grieved voice, "Please believe me. We couldn't stop. We see her everyday. She's so careful, so intelligent..." The man stopped for a moment. "She directly ran into my wheels..."

Anne's lips were trembling. She even forgot to cry. She was looking at Nip's dead body in a peculiar, fixed gaze. Then she looked at me and I saw in her eyes... as if she wanted to tell me, "Can't you see? Paul is here! Paul and Nip are playing in the garden!"

Police came and took Nip away. People from the neighborhood came and sympathized. After everyone was gone, William took me to the side. Before he said anything, she looked around to make it sure that Anne was not near.

William said in a very wet voice. "Do you think Nip's death is an accident?"

I said, "Yes... why?"

William faintly smiled, "Do you know today's date? November 10."

I nodded, "Yes, I know."

"Last year on this date Paul passed away."

Everything suddenly turned around me. I could not believe it.  Nip ran to the wheels very consciously? Exactly one year later? How could she remember the exact date?

I still think about it. Even after this fifty years. It is still a mystery to me. What do you think? Do you know the answer?

Kazi's Judgment (Kazi = Civil judge in ancient Islamic kingdoms)

Ramkanai was a good man like you or me -- simple in thought and deed. Jhootharam was a bad man, on the other hand. One day the two met on the road. Jhutharam told Ramkanai, "Brother, why do we carry our luggage like stupids? Let's have them on one shoulder. You carry my sack now. On return journey, I'll carry yours. So that we both can relax on one side of the journey."

 Ramkanai agreed to that like a good man.

Near the village, they both felt very hungry. Ramkanai told Jhootharam, "Let's eat. What do you say?"

Jhootharam said, "Ya. But, let's do one thing. Let's not open both our lunch-boxes. We can't eat so much now. It'll only rot that way. Now, let's both eat from yours. On the return journey, we'll share mine."

So, Ramkanai opened his box, and they both shared from that.

As they were eating, Jhootharam asked Ramkanai, "Bhai! Who are all there in your family?"

Ramkanai began talking about his family, his father, mother, sister, wife, son, daughter -- about everyone. How tall his daughter has grown, how intelligent his son has become etc etc.

As Ramkanai kept chattering on his family, Jhootharam asked him more details and took the food in gulps. Ramkanai was too happy talking talking about his family. When he finally noticed, there was only two-three grains of rice left in his box.

Jhootharam washed his hands and then very sombrely came to Ramkanai and said, "Bhai! I must tell you something. The food you gave me was so rotten and bad, I've no words to say. I never imagined you're such a bad guy. After this, I don't want to talk to you. I'm going."

Saying this, he lifted his lunch-box and sack. And quickly left for the village.

Poor Ramkanai was so hungry and tired that his head was turning. Now that Jhootharam took the other lunch-box with him, there was no hope that Ramkanai could eat something. He had no energy to move any more. So, he sat there and started crying.

Meanwhile, the Kazisahib was passing through there with his entourage. Seeing Ramkanai in such a pathetic state, he asked his people to stop and enquire what happened.

As Kazisahib's people came to him, Ramkanai told them everything. So, they took him to Kazisahib.

Ramkanai told the Kazisahib everything again. Hearing that, Kazisahib started laughing, "Hahahahahahahohohohohohawhawhaw.... never heard such a funny story before! He used you as a donkey, then ate your food and all and then left you! Where was your brain? Hahahahahahahohohohohoho... Oye who's there? Call Jhootharam!"

The sentry ran to catch him, other people ran along with him too. Within five minutes, they presented Jhootharam before the Kazisahib.

Kazisahib said, "Aha! Wait wait! Call the village headman, the village baniyas, call the head-police, doctor, village priest, head-master. Call everyone. Let them see the fun." So, within minutes everyone whoever was in and around the village, came there. It became a crowd indeed.

Then Kazisahib asked Jhootharam, "So, Jhootharam! Now you tell me what happened."

Jhootharam was already trembling in fear. He somehow mumbled, "Sir! That paaji, bad fellow knows all. I really don't know anything. He tried to poison me by giving bad food. Even now I'm feeling sick."

As he finished, Kaji got very angry and shouted, "Badmash! You spoiled my funny story! Ate food and felt sick? Is it a funny thing? Hey sentry! See what he is carrying. Seize it all. Salaa totally humorless insipid fellow! Give all his things to that Ramkanai. Whatever he said, true or false, is funny like anything. Arre.. hahahahahohohohohawhaw."

Tigerovorous foxcubs

In a dense forest near the sea, there lived a fox and a lady fox. They had three very small cubs. But they had no place to live in.

As the rainy season came nigh, the fox thought, "What to do now? If we don't find a hole or a tunnel now, our cubs will fall sick n die." So, he and his wife searched for two days. As the sun set on the second day, they found out a big cave in the deep of the jungle. But, looking carefully around in the dim skylight, the lady-fox said, "Dear! It's a tiger's cave. How can we stay here?"

Hearing that, the fox said, "What can we do? We searched the whole forest. Now, at last we got a cave. We must stay here."

The Lady-fox said, "What shall we do if the tiger comes back?"

The Fox said, "Then you pinch our kids hard so that they start crying aloud. I'll ask you then, why they're crying. And you then tell me, they want to eat the tiger.

So, the lady-fox said, "OK. Got it." And she happily took her kids inside the cave. And, they started living there.

One week passed like that, and nothing happened. Then, as the ninth day rolled into the tenth, in the dark of the evening, the lady-fox saw the tiger coming. Quickly she held her cubs in one paw, and with the other paw started pinching them hard. And the way the cubs cried was really remarkable in loudness and pitch.

The fox was watching the whole thing. Now, he cracked his voice, and in a coarse tone asked, "Honey! Why are the kids crying?"

Lady-fox replied in a similar coarse voice, "Honey! They want to eat tiger. That's why..."

The tiger was happily returning from a feast at his cousin's. Suddenly he heard all the noise and the words, "they want to eat tiger." He was so stunned that he started sweating. He thought, "God! Who these creatures are inside my cave! They must be very dangerous ogres. That's why their kids want to eat tiger!"

While the tiger was thinking all that, the fox said again, "Where can I get a tiger now? Whatever I could get last week I brought them."

On that, the lady-fox replied, "No way now. Bring one tiger today however you can. Or, they won't stop crying." And she started pinching them harder.

And the fox said aloud, "Aha! Hush hush! I see there's a tiger coming right here. You give me my crockey... I'm going to do it frockey."

Now, there is nothing called crockey or frockey. All that were the fox's creation. But, the tiger's heart stopped hearing that crockey and frockey. He thought, "Let me save my skin in time before they attack"."

And he did not wait a second there. The fox peeped out a little and saw the tiger running out of the place without looking back. Then, he and his wife breathed out in relief.

Meanwhile, the tiger was so scared that he ran out of jungle losing all breath.

A monkey was sleeping peacefully on a mango tree. As the tiger came there running he woke up by the sound and wondered, "It's strange! I've never seen in my ten years on earth a tiger running as if for life! Must be something serious happened" So, he shouted from the treetop, "Hey hey tiggy-bro! What happened? Why are you running like that?"

The tiger lost all his breath by then. So, he stopped with his tongue out, and managed to say, "Running for life brother. Or, by now they'd have eaten me alive!!"

Totally confused, the monkey asked, "Eat you alive? Is there such an animal? I never knew!! You must have mistaken."

Tiger said, "Had you been there you'd have known. Anybody can comment from a treetop."

Monkey replied, "Had I been there I'd have showed you that there was nothing. You're stupid, that's why you got scared."

The tiger got very angry hearing this.

So, he said, "So I'm stupid? And you are very intelligent? Very well. Go there and show me."

Monkey said, "Of course I'll. But, you've to carry me on your back."

On that, the tiger said, "Very good. Come. sit on my back." And he fearfully started back to the cave.

There, the cubs already fell asleep when the fox saw the tiger coming back with the monkey on his back. Quickly he woke up his wife, and she started pinching the kids.

And they started crying like ghost-kids.

When the tiger was near the cave's mouth, the fox changed his voice, and said, "Aha! Stop stop!! Don't cry so loudly. You'll fall sick!"

Lady-fox said,"I told you. If you want them well, go and bring a tiger immediately. Until they eat a full tiger they won't sleep."

Fox said, "But I asked their uncle to bring a tiger long ago. He must be on the way with the meat.

Aha! Here he is! Ai my little toona moona! Stop crying. I see your monkey-uncle has brought a tiger for us. Give me my crockey to make it a frockey."

The monkey held back his courage through all these, but as he heard crockey and frockey, he leapt up a tree and vanished from the scene.

And what to say of the poor tiger! The way he ran out of that forest, he could have easily gone to the tiger's olympic and set a record for the sprint.

After that, the foxes had no trouble. They happily lived there ever after.

Fingé and Kukro

There was a giant, his name was Fingé. He used to roam around with a four-fifty feet long baobab wood-rod. There was another giant, his name was Kukro. He punched cast iron dumbbells flat.

Whichever other giants were around, Kukro beat them all flat on all fours.Only Fingé was left. Now, he began searching for Fingé all around the globe.

One morning, he heard Fingé had gone to seaside. So, he went there too.
But before Kukro reached, Fingé got the news and fled to his house over the mountain top.

As the house was on a mountain top, anyone could see ten days' walk from there. So, Fingé thought if he stayed there Kukro could not suddenly attack.

Seeing Fingé come back hurriedly, his wife Oona got scared. She asked, "What happened?"

Fingé pointed to the sea and said, "Kukro is coming. That guy smashes iron dumbbells in a punch. This time I'm done for."

Oona looked at the sea and saw Kukro coming. But, he seemed to be very far, at least three-four days' walk away. So, she told Fingé, "You don't worry. Just sit n relax. Leave this to me."

But, could Fingé breathed a relief on such false hopes? He kept shivering on thinking about the pains that he would get after Kukro's beating.

While Fingé was trembling in fear sitting in his chair, Oona was arranging things. She went to the village houses and gathered all discarded blades, spades, spears, bolts, rods, hammers and nails in baskets. Then, for two days, she baked pies and cakes, stuffing all those things in them.

Fingé could not understand a thing, and he kept asking her.

But Oona said,  "Don't bother yourself about this. Just sit and watch."

After the pies were ready, she prepared three tubful of cheese. Then, she repeatedly taught Fingé what to do once Kukro came.

Next day, before lunch, Kukro reached the house. As soon as he climbed to the top, he growled like thunder, "Where's Fingé?"

Oona came out and said, "He's not home. Some newbie braggart called Kukro was boasting about his prowes. so, Fingé became very angry and went out to kill him with the baobab rod. If Fingé can catch him, that poor guy won't be in single piece."

Hearing this, Kukro got so surprised that he sat down and said, "But, that's me only. I'm Kukro. I came here to fight him."

On that Oona almost died laughing. Then she observed Kukro for a long time, with wrinkled nose, and said, "You'll fight Fingé with such a lizardly body? You're a kid. You don't know him. Why do you want to lose life so soon? Follow my advice n you'll get back alive.

"Do something meanwhile. Too much windy now. Fingé is not home. Who'll rotate the house? Do it if you can."

Kukro thought, "My god! Fingé rotates this house to stop wind? Now, if I say no, these people will laugh at me."

So, he clicked his mid-finger knuckle very well. This knuckle held all his power, he was nothing without that. After the knuckle was clicked, he hugged the house and rotated it so much that the mountain top rotated too.

Fingé was lying inside, under a blanket, as if he was Oona's baby boy. He started hiccup seeing all these.

But, Oona seemed to be very pleased with Kukro. She told him, "Good boy you are! But, there's not a single drop of water in the room. How can I give you sweets? There's lots of water under the mountain. When Fingé is here, he pushes the mountain and gets the water for us. But, he's not home now, what'll I do? Could you please push the mountain a little so I can get water?"

Kukro again clicked his knuckle, and went downhill. There he pushed the mountain so hard that a hundred feet deep lake appeared from nowhere. Seeing this, Oona almost cried out in awe. But, she was too wise for that. So, he controlled herself, and said, "Well done. Now sit here. I'll give you pies to eat."

He sat on the table as Oona served him with the pies and cakes. So greedy was he, that he took ten of those pies together. As soon as the pies went into his mouth, the whole house shook by his loud ouch. The asbestos ceiling almost whiffed away by that sound. Oona saw his four teeth dropping out from a bleeding mouth.

She said, "Hey! Don't cry so much! Baby is asleep. I thought you were a strong man, you'd love this pie. Fingé n baby eat this pie everyday."

As she spoke, the baby bellowed like a bull, "Ayannn! Gimme cake. Gimme pie."

Fingé almost jumped from the chair hearing that unworldly sound. But, he kept himself calm. Oona made some normal pies for the baby. She gave him some from that store. But, Kukro did not know that. He saw the baby eating the pies that broke his four teeth. He then thought, "By Odin! If the baby eats such pies so easily, what can his dad do! I'm lucky he's not home."

Meanwhile, the baby finished his pies, and said, "Gimme my stone. I play."

Oona gave the baby handful of cheese and Kukro a white lava stone, and said, "All the time he plays one thing. Squeezing water out of stone. You too try on this one."

Kukro's stone was so strong that he could do nothing even after pressing it with all his effort. But, the baby's cheese released lots of water. Now, Kukro started trembling in fear and thought, "My gosh! I must run away in time. If his dad returns I'll be nowhere. Only, I'm too curious to check the bay's teeth. I must see how are those teeth with which he eats such pies."

Thinking that, he quickly poked his fingers in the baby's mouth. And the baby bit them off from the base, in a quicker manner.

Kukro had all the power in his finger. So, he lost all his strength immediately and dropped to the floor. And without delay, "the baby" grabbed his four-fifty feet long baobab rod and broke Kukro's bones in no time.

The Hunchback & the ghosts

There was a guy called Kanai. He had a very big hunchback.

Kanai was a really nice, helpful guy. He used to look after old people in times of need, gave money to the poor, always stood by people's side in need. But, no one loved him for his hunchback.

Kanai was a weaver of cane wickers. No one in town could weave like him. So, other wicker-makers were jealous of him, and always backbit him to the town people. Hence, the town people used to think that Kanai was a really bad guy, and no one wanted to talk to him except on severe need. Kanai was so sad for all these reasons...

Kanai could not freely walk with his big hunchback. One day he went to sell his wickers to a far-away village, and could not return home in daytime. On the road it got dark, and he was already so tired he wanted to take rest. The spot where Kanai stopped, was a haunted place. Even in daytime, people tried to avoid that place. They said ghosts were everywhere around that area. But, Kanai was so severely tired that he decided to sit there and rest.

Sitting there in the dark and among mosquitoes, Kanai almost fell asleep. Suddenly he heard in half-sleep a sound coming from the old building where on the steps he was sitting. It seemed many voices, in chorus, were singing. And aha! what a divinely harmonious melodious tune that was! Kanai got relieved of all weariness. He forgot everything. Only kept listening to the music.

The tune was strangely beautiful, but it had only one line! "Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai!"

Kanai was so engrossed in the music that he automatically joined the chorus on high voice, "Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai!" After singing this much, suddenly more words came to his mind. So, he kept on the top voice:

"lasoon hai, mirchi hai, chang bang shootki hai!" (chang bang = snake-frog; shootki = dried fish)

Kanai sang so loudly that his voice reached inside the house and went to the ethereal singers there, no doubt. Those singers, however, were ghosts. They became so happy hearing the new words that they ran out to find Kanai, without delay.

They came out, took Kanai in with themselves, and entertained him like a King. They fed Kanai with strangely delicious foods and sweets. Then, all together, they started dancing and singing the two lines in a choir.

"Loon hai, tel hai, imlee hai, hing hai,
Lasoon hai , mirchi hai, chang bang shootki hai!"

Kanai also started merrily with them. Suddenly he found himself dancing without any effort. And he was so surprised what to say of that. He thought, "Strange! I can't even walk with this big hunchback! How am I dancing?!!" As he said he tried to touch his back and ... what a big surprise! There was no hunchback anymore!!

One ghost noticed all this, and said, "Whatta look there for, buddy? It's not there any more. See, it's lying on the floor!"

Indeed, the hunchback was no more on his body. It was lying separated on the floor. Aha! Kanai was so happy seeing that! And he felt so easy and light, that he fell asleep there on the dusty floor in seconds.

When he woke up the next morning, he saw he was lying on the garden outside the house; and that he was wearing a very fashionable colorful new dress.

He quickly got up and reached home. There, nobody was able to recognize him, he had a long time to convince them that he was indeed the same Kanai, only without the hunchback, thank to the ghosts.

Very rapidly, Kanai's story was known across the whole land. Whoever heard that got amazed. Now, no one ignored him, everybody wanted to talk to him only. Every night, people invited him to listen to the story of his transformation from his own mouth. So many people came to buy his wickers just to listen to that story only. Kanai became a rich man selling wickers.

This way, days passed. One day, while Kanai was weaving wickers in his shop, a very old woman stopped and asked him, "Hey boy! Which way to go to Kebalhati?"

Kanai said, "This is Kebalhati. who do you want?"

So, old woman said, "Is there someone called Kanai whose hunchback was cured by ghosts? I came here to learn the magic chants from him, so that I can cure my Manik's hunchback too."

Kanai said, "I'm that Kanai. The ghosts cured my hunchback only. But, that was not by any magic chant. They were singing all night, I was lying outside their house and heard them, and added a new sentence to their song. So they became happy and cured me and gave me new dress."

The old woman then learnt all details by asking Kanai, and then blessed him and went home.

Her son, Manik had a hunchback even bigger than Kanai.. But, that fellow was such a rogue that neighbours always avoided him. So, his familymen took him one night to the haunted house where Kanai got cured. Manik lay there in the darkness and thought when would the ghosts start singing, he would add words to that, and they would cure him.

That night, when the ghosts started, "Loon hai, tel hai, imli hai...", without letting them finish Manik cried out in broken voice, "Gurcharan modak ki dukan ka gulabjamoon hai." Thus, the singing got totally off beat, and some ghosts started vomiting by hearing the word gulabjamoon. Ghosts hate all such sweet things. They cannot even hear their names.

So, they snarled with all teeth out and ran out to see who made such a cacophony. The head ghost slapped Manik for two hours continuously and said, "Who're ya uncultured dumbass? Tonedeaf, beatless uncouth animal, you dare spoil our song??!! Let us show u!"

Saying this, he brought Kanai's hunchback and set that on the top of Manik's own one. It fixed itself there so permanently that nobody could tell he was not born with two giant hunchbacks below his shoulder.

Next day, when Manik's familymen came, they were so shocked and sad by seeing him... But, the villagers all said, "Good punishment for such a rogue!"

A Bird's Tale Or How the Female Bird Stopped Singing (Tagore's Totakahini)

Once upon a time, in a Kingdom beyond the seven seas, there lived a bird. She was ill-read. She sang spontaneously, hopped from leaf to leaf; but never cared to read scriptures. She flew from tree to tree, pecked at all mellow fruits in joy of heart; but never showed a discipline in behavior.

So, the King said, "Such a bird is good for nothing. It only damages the fruit market and State revenues by pecking at fruits."

He ordered the Minister, "Educate that bird!"


King's nephews took on the duty of educating the bird.

Pundits were appointed for that. They discussed a lot on education. The most important question was, what could be the reason for such ignorance in the bird.

Finally they came to a decision. A nest made with mere grass and junks could not hold much wisdom. So, they decided, first there should be a proper cage for the bird.

Everyone became happy with the decisions. And the pundits got very high payments for that.


This world lacks in everything but cynics. They said, "The cage is getting improved. But none cares for the bird."

Their whispers flew on air to King's ears. He called for the Nephew. When he came, the King asked, "Nephew! What's this I hear?!"

Nephew said, "My King Sire! If you want to know the truth, call the goldsmith, the pundits, the copiers. Call the dusters, the cleaners, the polishers. Those cynics eat nothing, so they malign."

The King got it very clearly from the nephew's answer. Immediately he gifted the nephew with a big golden chain.


One day, the King thought of visiting the cage to see how the education was going on. So, he came there with his sidekicks, banters, guards and sycophants.

On the gate, started a big ovation for the King. All conchs, bells, drums, brasses, trumpets raised a hullabaloo like anything. Pundits stood hands clasped and started chanting in full voice. Dusters, cleaners, goldsmith, copiers, supervisers and nephews filled the air with "Long live the King".

Nephew said, "My King Sire! Don't you feel wonder?!"

The King replied, "Real wonder! What big sounds!!"

Nephew said, "Only sound? Billions already spent behind all these!"

The King became so happy that he turned back to get on his elephant . But, the cynic was there somewhere hiding in the bush. He whispered from there, "My King Sire! Have you seen the bird?"

The King now remembered. He said, " Aha! I forgot that  in all these things. Let's see the bird."

He returned to the bird's education house, and asked the pundit, "Show me your method of educating the bird"

And he saw. He became extremely happy by what he saw. The method was so bigger than the bird that she was not seen at all. It seemed that there was no need to see her.

The King understood everything was going correctly. Nothing was lacking. He saw no fruit, no water near the bird, only heaps of pages torn from the scrolls and scriptures and books were stuffed by the pen nibs through the bird's mouth into her body.

The King became happy to see that she could no longer sing, there was even no place in her mouth to chirp or shout.

"What a sight!", he felt. In happiness and joy, the King's body shivered.

This time, before getting on his elephant for home, King asked the head-boxer of his court to box up the cynic well.


The bird, as usual, withered away as days passed. Her self-imposed guardians felt hope for her. But, out of her natural instinct, on some mornings, she looked in the way of light and very badly fluttered his wings. Even, once in a while, she was seen to be trying to cut the rods of her cage with her thin beak.

The head sentry saw that and said, "What an audacity!"

Then, iron smith was called with his bellows and fire and hammer to the education house. And what a hammering he did! Iron chain was made and the bird's wings were cut.

The Kings' brother-in-laws frowned and said, "In this Kingdom, birds not only lack wisdom, but gratefulness too!"

Then, pundits resumed with renewed spirit, pen in one hand, and sword in the other. People had to say, "Yes! This is called education!"

The ironsmith got such a reputation and practice that his wife built a toilet studded with diamonds. And the head sentry was promoted over many people by the King.


The bird died. When, nobody knew. The bad cynic spread the rumor, "The bird has died!"

The nephew was summoned. King asked him, "Nephew! What is this I hear?!"

Nephew replied, "My King Sire! Her education is complete."

King asked, "Does she hop and leap anymore? "

Nephew relied, "By jove! Nooooooooo."

-- "Does she fly?"

-- "No."

-- "Does she shout for fruits?"

-- "No."

Then, the King said, "Bring the bird. Let me see how she is."

The bird was brought. With her, the head-sentry came along with guards and horsemen. King pressed the tummy of the bird.   For the first time, she did not respond. Only in her tummy, the dry pages of the scrolls moved and ruffled.

Outside, the southern wind of new spring passed sighing among the new leaves under the Sun.

Gyanghasur (Titan Gyangha)

Long long ago, in a land far far away, there was a King who had a daughter. She was his only daughter and she was sick from the birth. Doctors, witches, quacks -- all were tried on her without success. Phials of drugs and potions heaped in a mound under her window, but all in vain. She kept reducing as years rolled on. King lost sleep. All the time, he was seen thinking about Princess' disease and her relief.

Moons after moons passed like this. One day, an old monk appeared in the King's court. Hearing about the Princess' sickness, he told the King, "Sire! Your daughter will be cured after eating a lemon."

A lemon! Which lemon, how it looks, where in whose garden it can be found -- the Monk said nothing about that. Before the King could ask him all these, he just vanished in the crowd. Seeing no other option, King publicly announced, "Whoever can cure my daughter with lemon from his tree, will get my daughter and half of my kingdom."

But, there was a problem. There was no lemon tree in that kingdom. Only one farmer had a single tree which he had brought from the far Eastern kingdom. After nine years, that tree brought forth lemons just few days earlier. And what lemons they were! Just like 'rasgulla'. Whoever saw them got awed by their size. You never saw or ate such lemons in your life. Neither did I. Had I seen any such thing, I surely would have tried.

This farmer had three sons -- Jodu, Goshtho and Manik. Hearing King's announcement, farmer gave a wicker-basketful of lemon to Jodu and told him, "Quickly go to the palace. If Princess gets cured by eating these, you can marry her".

So, Jodu started for King's palace with the basket on his shoulder. On the road, he met a one foot high, bald old man with three-feet beard. That man asked him, "Hey ya! What're ya carrying in your basket?"

Jodu replied, "Frogs."

The old man said, "Is it? OK. Be it so."

When Jodu reached palace, the guards very happily took him to the King. The King himself opened the basket's hood; and immediately three-four frogs jumped out and landed on his crown. Jodu saw all the lemons had turned to frogs. So, he lost his chance to be the Princess' groom. In fact, it was his good luck that he came back alive with only a few beatings and kick-marks.

Then, the farmer asked Goshtho to go. And Goshtho met the same old little man on the road. And he replied that he was carrying cucumber seeds.

The old man said, "So be it!"

Guards did not let him in easily. They told him, "The other day, another fellow came and soiled the King's crown. We won't allow you to repeat the show!"

After much ado, Jody could go inside; and you surely understand what happened to him.

Now, everyone considered Manik a dummy. So, no one asked him to go to King's palace after his brothers' failure. But, he himself got ready with a basketful of lemons, and almost forced out his father's permission for the trip.

On the road he also met that one foot man.

The one foot man asked him, "What's in your basket?"

Manik said, "There are lemons inside. King's daughter will get cured if she eats them"

The old man said, "Good! So be it."

It was almost impossible for Manik to enter the palace. Guards softned after he showed them that he was really carrying lemons. And they remained lemons even in King's court. King became very happy to see those. Quickly he sent the basket inside, and asked the servant, "Inform me what happens after she takes them." Not even five minutes passed, the Princess herself came to the court with the news of her cure. Only one slice of the fruit she ate, and all sickness vanished.

So, the King almost started jubilation on this. But, he remembered the promise. He felt sick with the thought, "Ah! What have I done! Now I have to marry her off to this farmer's son!" He decided to somehow evade this promise.

Manik could not see any of this. He was thinking, "Now I'll marry the Princess and take her to my hut." His thoughts broke when King said, "My boy, you've done this job well. But, it's not so easy to marry a Princess. You have to finish another job. Then, we'll think about you. I want a boat that goes with the same ease in water as well as on land. If you can make such one, you have some hope."

Manik gave his word to the King and came back home to tell everything.

Back home, nobody considered Manik worthed anything. So, they thought if Manke could cure the Princess so easily, then anyone would make such a boat. So, Jodu took an axe and went to the jungle for wood. When he was cutting down a big tree and planning how he would transform that into a big luxurious boat, that one foot man appeared from nowhere.

He asked Jodu, "Hey Jodunath! What're you making?"

-- "Washing tumblers"

-- "Nice! Let them be good ones."

Saying this, that one foot man disappeared in the leaves and Jodu continued with his work. But, soon he saw, howsoever he tried, that cursed wood somehow took a round shape like tumbler. Despite all his effort, he could make nothing but a set of tumblers. However, those tumblers were really nice. So, at sunset, Jodu returned home with five such tumblers on his head.

Next day, Goshtho went to the jungle to make the boat. He also returned home at sunset with five very fine quality wood clubs in hand.

So, at last Manik could go to the jungle. As he just cut off a big portion of tree trunk, that little old man appeared.

-- "Hey! Is that Manik? What're you doing?"

-- Manik replied, "King asked me to make a boat that could move easily on land as in water. If I can do that, I'll be able to marry the Princess."

-- "Is it? Nice! So be it."

As soon as that old man went away and Manik struck on the wood with his axe, that wood started moving on its own. It was not just a piece of wood anymore. It was a very colorful boat now. Such a boat that needed no rower, no driver, no helmsman. It automatically goes to its destination depending on the rower's mind. And such lavishly was it decorated and upholstered inside! All the materials that furnished the boat were from that one foot man's land. Nobody here ever saw or heard about such fine things.

The King was sitting in the court with his ministers when Manik's boat came and stopped. Everyone was almost mesmerized seeing that boat. Everyone praised Manik so much. The King was also thunderstruck. But, he did not show that and told Manik, "Not yet. You've to do one more work. I want a bunch of plumes from Ghyanghasur's (the famous Titan Ghyangha) tail, for my crown. If you can bring that, I'll give my daughter to you."

Manik thought for a moment, then promised the King that he would bring the plumes within three months.


Half bird - half lion, ash-faced, goblinish gait, ghyanghasur lived one moon and a half distance away, in his golden castle in the unknown city beyond nameless river. He was famous for his irritated temperament, immense knowledge and countless wealth. He loved to eat human beings in one gulp. Manik set out to bring plumes from such a Ghyanghasur's tail! But, he did not know the proper directions. So, he kept asking people on the road as he continued on his journey. At night, he took shelter at some stranger's house, and resumed his walk in the morning.

Whoever on the road heard that Manik was going to Ghyanghasur's place, showed him very good hospitality and respect. One night, he became guest at such a stranger's house. After supper, the host said, "My boy, you're going to Gynghasur's place. I heard he knew many things. I've lost my locker's key. If you ask Ghyangha where it is, I'll be highly benefited."

Manik said "Sure Sir. I'll get the information."

Another night, he stayed at a rich man's place. That rich man's daughter was very sick. Nobody could find out from what she was suffering. But, that girl got thinner day by day. That rich man fed and entertained Manik very well. Then he asked, "Well, my boy! Will you be able to find out the reason for her sickness from Ghyangha?"

Manik said, "Of course Sir! You rest assured."

Like this, after one moon and half's walk, Manik reached the nameless river, and saw Ghyanghasur's golden palace on the other side. And how wild a river that was! It's water was golden-red, and it was willowing like sea-waves from within.

Manik saw no boat to cross the river. A very thin old man used to carry anyone whoever came to this side, on his shoulder. He carried Manik too. After Manik set his feet on the other side, that old man said, "My boy! Can you please ask Ghyangha how my misfortune will be over? I'm doing this since childhood without sleep or food. Carrying people on my shoulder. Now I've grown old. Can't I retire from this?"

Manik assured him, "Don't worry. I'll surely ask him."

Without much hesitation, Manik entered Gyangha's golden palace. At that time, Gyangha was not there. His wife, Ghenghi, saw Manik and said, "Hey dear boy! Run away now! If Gyangha comes he'll eat you up!"

Manik replied, "But, I want a bunch of plumes from gyangha's tail. How can I run away without getting that? And also, I've to ask him about the locker key of that person; and also about that rich man's daughter and how to cure her. There's that old man of nameless river too..."

Ghenghi said, "What kind of boy is this! When it's time to save your life you ask for Ghyangha's plumes and all nonsense information! Who are you boy?"

Manik said, "I'm Manik. If I return without plume, the King won't give his daughter to me."

Now, after all, Ghenghi was woman. She took pity on Manik and said, "OK. Then hide under our bed. If you're lucky, you'll get what you need."

In the evening, Ghyanghasur came back home. Ghenghi quickly gave him water and washed his feet, and then served him food on golden platters. Ghayngha was in his usual irritated, cynical mood. As he sat down to eat, he breathed and sniffed heavily.

-- "I get human smell. Where is it coming from? Yep! Human smell. Yum yum! You have human? Give me to eat."

Manik got pale under bed hearing this. Ghenghi's palpitation started too. But she managed to make it up that a man came, and ran away when it heard Ghyngha's name."

Hearing this, Ghyangha somewhat calmed down and finished his meal.

After eating,Ghyangha went to bed for sleep.While he was sleeping his tail slipped from the bed to floor. On that, there was such royal-looking rainbow color plumage as none had ever imagined on earth. As soon as Manik saw it hanging, he swiftly tore a loose bunch from that. Immediately, Gyangha jumped out of his bed and shrieked, "Ay Ghenghi! Someone pulled my tail. Yum yum! Human smell I get."

Ghenghi quickly ran to his side and said, " No no. You must have dreamed. And, such a big plumage! God knows where it got stuck under the bed. And I told you a man came. It must be his smell still lingering. So many things it talked about. That locker key of that businessman...

Before Ghenghi could finish, Ghyangha pitched in, "Ya, ya! I know! That iron locker's key! Their toddler kid has stuffed it inside the green mattress."

Ghenghi said again, "And that rich man's daughter has a strange sickness..."

And Ghyangha replied, "Big frog has taken away her hair. At the room's east corner is its hole. If they get the hair from there, it'll be cured."

Again ghenghi said, "And that old man of nameless river..."

And Ghyangha told her, "That old one is a full stupid. Why doesn't it drop another man in mid-river from its shoulder? Then easily it can leave the work, and the other one takes its job. Whoever it drops in mid-river, will start carrying people on its shoulder."

Thus, Manik got everything he wanted. Now, he waited for the sunrise. At dawn, Ghyangha went out for morning walk, and Manik also came out from under the bed. Ghenghi saw him off after feeding him with very delicious meat of koikoi bird.

On the way back home, he first met the old man at the nameless river's bank.

The man asked, "Did you ask him about me?"

Manik said, "I'll tell you later. First carry me to that side. I'm in a hurry."

As he reached the other side, Manik landed on the ground and told him, "Next time you carry someone, drop him in the mid-river. You'll be free then."

The old man blessed Manik over and again and said, "Brother! I'm so grateful to you! I wish I could serve you more by carrying you on my shoulder."

Manik smiled and replied, "It's enough you've done to me. I don't want to tax an old man like you more. I'll go back home now."

After four days' walk, Manik arrived at the rich man's house. His host very interestedly asked him, "Ghyangha said anything about my daughter?"

Manik said, "Yes." And immediately he went to the corner of the room and took out the hair from the frog's hole. As if by magic, the girl who was deadly sick on bed jumped up and cheerfully danced through the house like a very healthy person.

All her relatives became so happy by this, that they gifted Manik with ten camels' load of gold and silver.

Same thing happened at the key-loser's place too. They also gave Manik loads of money and gems.

Manik returned home with all the gifts, and went to the King's court to give him Ghyanghasur's plumes. All his countrymen highly praised him and applauded his courage and feat on this. Everyone told the King that it was not a royal thing to have taxed Manik so much, and that he should marry off the Princess to Manik without further delay.

The King had no choice now. He had to agree with his subjects.

Then, one fine day, the Princess married Manik and there was a grand party which continued for several months.

Manik was already so much richer than the King himself that he was not in any need. He lived very happily with his newly wed Princess. But, the King became very jealous at this. He thought, "If Manik could bring so much wealth from Ghyanghasur's land, then why can't I?"

So, the King started for Ghyangha's land. But, finally he could not make it there. No sooner had he reached mid-river on the lean old man's shoulder had the man dropped him and ran away. The King first got surprised, then became red in anger, then started shouting at the old man, and then began requesting him. But, the old man had no time to listen to him. He ran away as soon as he was free. He even forgot to tell the King the secret to escape. So, the King is carrying people to and fro in the nameless river to this day.

Anyone among you, who're reading this tale, if you ever chance to visit Ghyanghasur's land, please tell that poor King the trick to his freedom. But, don't tell as long as you're safely on this side. Otherwise, you could be trapped too.


When the earth was not so crowded, the air not so dense, there was a fairy called Matariki. Sky was her abode and she had a star like all other fairies. But, she loved her star so much that she never forgot to clean that with the morning dew. It was the brightest star in the evening sky. Whoever saw it got spellbound. That made the other fairies so jealous.

And Tane? He was the god of plants. He gave juice to the fruits, life to the leaves and color to the flowers. When he looked at the greens he created, he became proud of his own work and thought, "No one would ever look at anything else after seeing such wonderful things".

But, people always looked at Matariki's star in the evening sky over the tree tops, and praised that. So, one day Tane felt angry. But, he thought, "OK. It's one single star after all. Very soon it'll grow old n blurry, and then it will die."

That did not happen, however. Matariki's star grew brighter as days passed to evenings. And people appreciated its beauty more and more.

When the world went to slumberland, in the deep of night, Tane whispered to the ears of two jealous fairies, "Let's unite! Let's knock down Matariki and steal her star." The fairies whispered back, "Hush hush! Matariki is awake. Not now. When her eyelids will be dropping in the fullmoon dreams, come back at that time.

No one heard those whispers, except the little daughter of the King of Seas. Every night, after darkness fell over the earth, she played with the reflection of Matariki's star in the water, and fell asleep dreaming of Matariki and her star . Princess' eyes watered in sadness hearing this.

At that time, the southern wind was buzzing around over the Princess' house. She started whispering to the wind, "Oh Southern wind! Do you know they want to kill Matariki." Wind started crying hearing that. But, the Princess suggested something. She asked the wind to tell Matariki about the conspiracy and to tell her not to sleep, on that night.

Wind suggested they should go together. Then night broke into dawn, and Southern wind had to leave. Sun had just taken his vermilion bath and appeared on his golden chariot. The Princess requested to him, "Please take me to the sky!" And Sun spread one of his golden beams to her path.

The Princess moved up through that beam, shrouded by the wind so that no one could see her. This way, she reached Matariki's home and told her everything.

Matariki listened. But, she was helpless. What could she do? She said, "Where else can I go? I'll protect my star here with my life."

The Princess came back with a sad mind to her water palace.

Then, after one week, came that dreadful shining night. Tane and his team of jealous fairies came out to steal Matariki's star. Matariki ran and ran hugging her star... Under the galaxies, in the shadows of dark stars, she ran and ran. Her hide n seek, with Tane and his team, for life. Southern wind silently saw everything, the Princess saw it from under her water. But, they were weak. They could not help Matariki. All other sky-fairies saw it too. But, everyone shooed away Matariki. Nobody gave her protection.

After running for hours, Matariki lost breath. She could not run any more. She thought, "The daughter of Water-King loves me so much. Better take shelter to her." Matariki drowned in the water with her star. Below water, under the cold darkness of shadowy algae, she hid herself. The Princess covered her with all the planktons she had.

All the jealous fairies were searching for her, meanwhile. Where is Matariki? Where could she go? Suddenly, one fairy saw a gleam of the star, and said, "She is there! Under water!"

Tane grunted, "Who has hidden her there?" The Princess' little heart beat in fear. But, she kept silent. Then Tane said, "Very well. I know how to get her out." He came to the verge of water, and spread all the plants' roots deep inside. Like a hissing dragon, the plants started sucking up the sea.

Then, Matariki sprang out of the water. All her wearies were gone after resting under water. No one could catch her now. All jealous fairies were tired and night was to end now. They said, "Let her go."

But, Tane bubbled up in rage. "Let her go! Impossible." He looked around and saw an idle, old star forsaken on the corner of the road. Tane picked it up and threw it at Matariki's star.

And suddenly there was a flash and a long din. Matariki cried out in sorrow. Everyone saw in wonder, the brightest star in the evening sky was now broken in seven splinters. Tane ran over them and kicked them away and laughed out, "Now people see how beautiful are trees! My trees!" Jealous fairies grinned and giggled and laughed.

So many years have passed since then. But, if you still go to the land of Southern Wind you will see the seven broken pieces of the brightest star of evening sky blinking in the same corner of the sky. The King's daughter still plays with their reflections before sleep. And on fullmoon nights you still can hear Matariki's long sigh...