Neula Gapa

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Prasanna Kumar Biswal

[M 28. Tribe: Bathudi. Village: Tankasahi, Udala, Mayurbhanj. Date: January 31, 2000. Interviewer: Fani Bhusan Puthal. Cassette No. 205, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 8334-8378. F.N. Mbj. 3, p 2. Transcriber: Fanibhusan Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing; editorial explanations and additions in square bracket). Type: Tale.]

Translator: Basant Kumar Tripathy.


A king had two queens. One of the queens, [the elder one] had two children. The youngest queen had a mongoose-child. When the king learnt that his younger queen had given birth to a mongoose, he felt annoyed.

He said, ‘How can a human being deliver a mongoose? No, I won’t allow her to stay with me. It’s beneath my dignity. I’ll banish her.’ The eldest queen had two children. The king loved them most while he did not like the younger queen’s child. Rather, he hated it [and the mother] when they were at sight, let alone loving them.

One of the princes said, ‘Brother! How long will we be sitting at home? Let’s clear some forest somewhere and prepare land for growing vegetables. We can have some money by selling them.’

The mongoose, while sitting at a window at the back of the palace, heard everything. He heard the talk that went on between his two brothers.

Then he said to himself, ‘Let me go, then. Both of my elder brothers will go. Why shall I not I clear the forest, prepare land, grow vegetables and earn money?’

After meal, when they left with spades, sickles, and choppers, the mongoose, too, set out with spade, axe etc. after having his meal. They were tired of chopping. Both the princes sat down. Being a mongoose, how much could he chop? A big tree came on his way. Though it would take a whole day to cut it down, he would not be able to roll it away. He gave the tree a couple of strokes. At the third stroke, the axe got stuck in the tree. He could not release it. So he said, ‘If I’m truly the son of my parents, I’ll cut the tree down. Let me have three "batis" [1 bati = 20 acres] of land before I do it.’

Then the axe fell. The area of land he had mentioned was cleared of trees and plants, when it was cleared, the mongoose said, ‘Brothers! Won’t you have your meal? Let’s go and have some food. I’m very hungry.’

Those two human children told him, ‘Hey! How many twigs did you lop off? How much land did you clear that you feel hungry? Why, we don’t feel hungry!’

‘Oh! You may not be hungry. But I am. Well, you don’t go. I’m leaving.’

‘Wait!’ they told the mongoose, ‘Wait! We’ll go together, why are you in a hurry? Let’s go and see how many twigs you’ve cut?’ Then they found that it would be at least three batis [60 acres] of land.

The two brothers talked about it among themselves. ‘Brother! In spite of being human beings, we could not clear as much forest as he did. Look! A mere mongoose has cut down so much forest converting them to plain land. What’ll our father say when he hears about it? Well, he may say anything. He worked hard and cut the trees. We couldn’t work hard, so we couldn’t cut many trees. What’s there in it?’ The eldest one told the youngest one.

They returned home. They took their food and sat there. The mongoose, by force of habit, would sit at the window at the back of the palace after he finished his meal. He would listen to whatever talk went on between them. The two brothers were talking between themselves, ‘We have the land. Now we’ll plough it. We’ll buy some seeds to sow, why should we delay? Let’s start. We’ll plough tomorrow.’

The mongoose, on hearing it, told his mother, ‘O mother! I’ll also plough my land tomorrow.’

His mother said to him, ‘You’re a mere mongoose. How can you plough?’

He replied, ‘Hm! Can’t I plough? I’ll surely go with a plough. My elder brothers are taking it. They can till the land. Why can’t I? I’ll also take it.’ He did not listen to his mother. Not obeying his mother, he took the plough and went away to plough his land.

While ploughing, the ploughshare got stuck in some hard soil. He could not pull it free. When he could not pull it out, he said, ‘I’m tired of ploughing. It’s stuck to the hard soil and I can’t get it out. How can I plough any more? Well, I vow that if I’m the son to my parents, all the land that belongs to me, shall be ploughed.’ Then the ploughshare came out. The bullocks, too, freed themselves and pulled away happily. He went to his eldest brother with the plough on his shoulders. He said, ‘Elder brother! Did you finish ploughing? Let’s go home. I’m hungry.’

‘Tush! You’ve so much land. How could you plough it so soon?’

‘Oh! Let the ploughing not finish. Let’s fill our belly first; we much have food first, then the rest. What can one do when the stomach is empty? You can work only when your belly is full. Do you wish to work when your stomach is crying?’

His elder brother said, ‘You always talk too much. Let the work for which you’ve come remain unfinished, but you think of eating, first. Well, let’s find out how much land you’ve ploughed?’ They found that he had ploughed all his land. Then they told him, ‘Even though we are two, we couldn’t finish ploughing. You did it all alone! Then you are cleverer than we are. How do you plough?’

‘Ah! I’m ploughing the same way as you do,’ the mongoose told his brothers.

Then they said, ‘Let’s go home.’

They returned home. After the meal, they went to bed. The two brothers were having a talk between them. ‘Brother! We’ll go to the market tomorrow, then. We’ll buy all kinds of seeds and sow them.’

On hearing that, the mongoose told his mother, ‘O mother! Give me some money tomorrow. I’ll go to the market. I’ll get all kinds of seeds and sow them where I’ve ploughed.’

His mother said, ‘Take money when you leave for the market.’ When they started for the market, the mongoose, who used to hear and see everything, went to his mother and said, ‘Mother! Give me money. I’ll go to the market.’

Those human children, the princes, also set out for the market. He [the mongoose] followed them. He bought the same seeds as his brothers did. They sowed it. So did he. When it bore fruits, it was found that he had as many fruits as the leaves of the plants whereas they [his brothers] had only one fruit in each plant. While they were picking fruits one by one with their hands, he plucked a cartload of fruits.

Then he said, ‘What to do with so many fruits? We’ll be rich now. I’ll sell all of it in the market. It’s true, our father gives nothing to us. We’ll not ask him for anything any longer. We’ll have everything. I’ll take it to the market for sale,’ the mongoose told his mother. Then they went to the market to sell the fruits.

His mother asked, ‘How much can you carry with you? Can you take five of them?’

‘No. If not five, I can take at least two. Well, how to price it then? Let’s see.’

The mongoose said to the people in the market, ‘Brothers! Though I’m selling pumpkins, they’re filled with wealth – diamonds and jewels. If you think I am lying, you can see it for yourself by cutting the pumpkin open.’

Then people said, ‘Let’s see, whether the mongoose speaks the truth or not.’ When they cut it open, the substances inside it turned into money. Then the people said, ‘So much money comes out of a pumpkin! What’ll we do, then? We’ll buy pumpkins from him.

The mongoose replied, ‘Well, brothers! You may have them.’

All his pumpkins were sold out. He did not go for the second time to sell it. He said, ‘Why should I? There’s money inside my pumpkins. If I keep them at home, I can use it by cutting the pumpkin open.’ He told his mother, ‘No, we’ll not sell it.’ He kept them at home. He built a house out of the money he got from the pumpkins. It was a big house. Who would thatch it? He said, ‘I can’t thatch it alone. Let me wait and hear what my brothers are planning! Then we’ll think about the house.’

He went and sat at the [window] at the back of the palace. He heard his brothers say, ‘Brother! We did everything, but we couldn’t have a bride. We’ll go and find a bride tomorrow.’

On hearing that, the mongoose told his mother, ‘Mother! My brothers are leaving tomorrow to fetch a bride. Won’t it be nice if I got one for me?’

His mother replied, ‘You’re a mere mongoose. How can you manage a bride? Who’ll offer you a bride?’

He said, ‘What! Can’t I maintain a bride because I’m a mongoose? See, whether I’m bringing one or not.’ His brothers went on horseback. He went on foot. He had to walk and creep among plants and creepers. Yet, he was ahead of them.

Each time the horse saw the mongoose coming out before him, he galloped away in fear. He turned about and ran homewards. The mongoose thought, ‘It’s true. It’s exactly what my mother had said. Who’ll choose me to offer a bride?’ Then he thought over again and said, ‘As I’ve come out for it, I must fetch a bride by hook or by crook.’

He saw a girl at the end of the village, drawing water from the well to fill her brass pitcher. Then he said to himself, ‘I’ll make her my bride and run away with her. How much more shall I travel? The bride is right here.’ He ran towards her and caught her. He grabbed the bucket and the rope and threw them away. He dragged her away with him.

There was a tree trunk lying there. He pushed the girl into the hollow trunk. He shut both sides of it with bundles of leaves and closed the opening. The girl could not come out. She remained inside. He left for home immediately. He arranged a bullock cart and came back with it. He told the cart man, ‘Brother! I don’t need any thing else. Just carry this log of wood home. I’ll pay you whatever you want. Load this log on the cart. We’ll carry it home.’

The cart man thought, ‘Well, as he promises to pay any amount of money, I must carry the thing that he is asking for.’ Then he asked, ‘What’ll you do with this log of wood?’

‘No. Whatever it may be, wood or anything else, carry it to my house. I’ll give you whatever you demand.’

The cart man said, ‘Then we’ll load it on the cart.’ They loaded it, brought it home and dropped it there.

Then he paid the cart man. The cart man went away.

His mother said, ‘Hey, son! You had been to fetch a bride. Have you brought this log of wood instead of a bride?’

The mongoose replied, ‘No mother! I’ve fetched the bride. Do you think I’ve brought the trunk of a tree only?’

‘Where is she? I saw you throwing the log of wood at the doorway; where’s the bride?’

‘Mother! You don’t know. You’ll see the bride coming out.’ He cleared the bundle of leaves from the sides of the log. He opened one of the sides and brought the bride out. He showed her to his mother and said, ‘Mother! You don’t believe me. Now, see, I’ve got the bride.’

Then his mother thought, ‘My god! He’s been clever enough to get a bride. Well, let him do whatever he thinks right. I’ve nothing to say to it. I needn’t prevent him.’ She said to her son, ‘Son! It’s good that you’ve brought the bride. Well. Where is the room for the bride to stay?’

‘No, mother! I’ll also build a house. I’ll do everything. Just see.’ He had left the house unfinished. It was not thatched. He said, ‘I’ll wake up in the morning tomorrow. I’ll thatch the house. The bride will stay there.’ He said this to his mother.

‘You can’t climb on to the roof. How will you thatch it?’

He replied, ‘Mother! You just see. Why are you so anxious?’

It became morning. He woke up early. He told his bride, ‘I can’t climb on to the roof. Do one thing. Hold me and fling me like a bundle of straw. I’ll catch the roof when you throw me. Then I’ll stand there. When I stand, throw the hay. I’ll thatch the roof.’ His bride agreed. Then she held the mongoose and threw him to the roof like a hay bundle. The mongoose stood on the roof.

He said, ‘Throw the hay now. I’ll thatch the house.’ His bride passed the hay and the mongoose thatched the roof. When the king heard about it from his sons, he did not believe it.

The princes said, ‘Father! Come and see how our mongoose brother is thatching his house.’

The king replied, ‘Fie! Being a mongoose he is thatching the house! He has built a house! Have you seen it? Have you seen it with your own eyes or are you dreaming?’

The prince said, ‘No, father, I’m not dreaming. If you don’t believe it, come with me, you’ll see yourself.’ Then both the father and the sons went together and saw the mongoose thatching the house. His bride was passing hay to him. The mongoose was thatching the house. The king was astonished to see it.

He said, ‘All right! Call him to our house this evening.’ The king said this to his sons and left the place.

When the mongoose prince climbed down after thatching the house, his elder brother told him, ‘Younger brother! Don’t mind. Father has sent for you, I don’t know why. Come to our house today.’

The mongoose said, ‘Pooh! Being a mongoose, I’ll go to the palace! After all, it’s the king’s house. Won’t the king’s prestige go down? He drove me out of the palace as it was beneath his dignity. Why, then, does he call me today? What for?’

‘No. We don’t know that. You come. You have to come.’

He answered, ‘All right! You go. I’m coming. You go first.’ Then he told his mother, ‘Mother! The king has sent for me. Shall I go or I not.’

His mother said, ‘Whatever it may be, forget the past. He is your father. Won’t you go when your father calls you? Won’t you meet your father? Go, see your father and come back.’

On hearing his mother’s words, the mongoose went forth. When he reached the palace, the king was delighted to see him. He asked him to come near him. He said, ‘Come, son! Come to me.’ When he got closer, he pulled him to his lap in joy. He said, ‘I’m happy that despite being a mongoose, you’ve achieved more than what the two human children born to me could do. I’ll keep you with me from today. I won’t allow you to stay in that thatched house. Now onwards you’re also my son. You’ll stay with me.’

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