A Bathudi Tale


Teller: Prasanna Kumar Biswal

[M 28. Tribe: Bathudi. Village: Tankasahi, Udala, Mayurbhanj. Date: January 31, 2000. Interviewer: Fani Bhusan Puthal. Cassette No. 220, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 8,874-8,908. F.N: Mbj 3, p.13. Transcriber: Fanibhusan Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing & emendations; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Tale.]

Translator: Basant Kumar Tripathy.

    There were seven brothers, six of whom had gone away on business. They had asked the youngest one to come with them, but he did not go. He spent his time in taking care of the buffaloes.

    One day his sisters-in-law said, “Hey! Won’t you marry? If you go out on business, like your brothers, you’ll bring a lot of money.”

    He replied, “What for? For whom shall I do business? I haven’t married. Had I married, I would have gone.” He looked after the buffaloesand took them out to graze everyday.

    One day his sisters-in-law found a mark of turmeric on his clothes. They asked, “Hey, idle one! You must have a wife. Who smeared turmeric on your clothes?”

    He blushed and said, “Where’s it?” When he checked it, he found a mark made of turmeric. Then he said, “I’ll find out the one who has done it!”

    Next day he left the buffaloes to have their dip in water and went to sleep quietly. [But he was not asleep; he was watching surreptitiously]. He saw the Sahada [a tree] girl coming out and smearing turmeric on his clothes. He caught hold of her and asked, “Why did you apply turmeric to me? My sisters-in-law are discussing it.”

    His brothers asked him to marry. They were looking for a bride. The youngest brother said, “I’ll marry that Sahada tree.”

    His brothers were surprised. They said, “Will you marry the Sahada tree? Are you not ashamed of saying so?”

    He replied, “No. I’ll marry that tree. I won’t listen to anybody.”

    Then, his brothers married him with the Sahada tree. After the wedding, they cut down the Sahada tree, carried it in a wagon and threw it at the threshold of their house. She was the Sahada girl who came as a bride to the house and stayed there. Waking up at night, she would finish all household chores and return to the hollow of the Sahada-trunk before daybreak.

    The eldest sister-in-law would say, “It’s me who woke up at night, finished all the household works and kept tooth-brush and water at each one’s side while others were sleeping like donkeys. I have done everything.” The idle brother [the youngest one] could not tolerate those words.

     One day he said to himself, “Let me find out at what time she [the Sahada girl] comes out! I’ll see her one day.” Once, while she was busy in household works [at night], he poured ghee on the tree-trunk and set fire on it. The Sahada girl was left outside. She was angry with that.

    His brothers said, “O idle one! Won’t you go with us on business?”

    He replied, “Yes, I shall. But she does not say what to bring and what not to.”

     “Go back and ask her again. You’ve to bring whatever she says.” She stood holding a pillar. He said, “O pillar! Tell me, what shall I get for you.” She said nothing.

    His elder brothers asked, “Did you ask her?”

     “She doesn’t say anything.”

     “Go and ask her again.”

     She was standing with a broom in her hand. He asked, “O Broom! What’ll I get for you?” She said nothing.

    His elder brothers asked, “Did she say anything?”

    The youngest brother replied, “No, Brother! She says nothing.”

    His elder brother said, “You stupid! Go and ask her: ‘O mirror! Tell me what I should get for you?’”

    The idle one asked her, “O mirror! What shall I get for you?”

    Then she answered, “Bring me a silk sari and a pair of tinkling ‘kapas’ [ear rings].” Then they left her.

     After they left for business, those six sisters-in-law created troubles for the Sahada girl’s bath. She never went to the river to take her bath. She used to take bath in the pond. They mixed the pond-water with cow dung so that she could not bathe there.

    She said to her elder sisters, “Sisters! Let’s go to the Yamuna for a bath.”

    They replied, “Why the Yamuna? We’ve a pond near our house. Why don’t you take your bath there?”

    She replied, “No. The pond-water smells of cow dung. So I can’t have my bath there.”

    Her sisters-in-law did not give her company to go to river Yamuna. She told her husband’s youngest sister, “Dear Sister! Let’s go to the Yamuna for a bath.”

    Her sister said, “When we’ve a pond near our house, why do we go to the Yamuna to have a bath?”

    The Sahada girl said, “The pond smells of cow dung.” Then she went to the Yamuna with her to take bath.

     While taking bath in the river, one of her hairs fell off. She said, “If I throw the hair on the ground, the cattle will get entangled in it and die. If throw it into water, fish and other aquatic animals will be tied in it and die. What’ll I do then?” At this time, a fig fruit came floating by. She said, “Dear Sister! Could you pick that fig fruit floating on the water?” She picked it and gave it to Sahada.

    Sahada said, “If I am a true born child of my parents, the fig fruit will open into two halves when pressed, and will be one again when the rolled hair is filled inside it.” [It happened like that]. Then she dropped the fruit into water again.

     The Telenga King [Telenga – a man of Andhra] was taking his bath at the lower “ghat” [river stairs, marking a place for bathing or berthing of boats]. All his soldiers were with him. He saw the fruit that looked beautiful. He told one of his soldiers, “See, what’s that fruit aloft. It looks beautiful. Get it and let’s see what’s there inside it.”

     The soldier fetched the fruit from the water and gave it to the king. The king said, “Crack it open. We’ll see what’s inside it.” When parted, a hair came out of it.

    The king said, “Measure the length of the hair.” They measured it. It was seven hands long.

    They told the king, “Your Majesty! The hair is seven hands long.”

    The King ordered, “Go and see who is having her bath at the upper ghat. The soldiers hurried away to find two women taking their bath at the upper ghat.

    Coming back, they reported, “O King! [She is so beautiful that] your crown is equal to the sole of her feet.”

    The king was frightened. Finishing his bath, he sat on his elephant and went to them. Stopping the elephant in the middle of the road, he gazed at them. While the two sisters were returning after having their bath, they saw the king standing on the road. He was not making way for them to go. He said,

                 “Raise your head and speak

                 O Beautiful!

                 I’ll give you clothes

                 That fit your waist the best.”

    The Sahada girl replied,

                 “What shall I do with clothes

                 That fit my waist the best

                 When I have my Sadhaba boy?”

    The king said once again,

                 “Raise your head and speak

                 O Beautiful!

                 I’ll give you a necklace

                 That fits your neck the best.”

    She answered,

                 “What’ll I do with a necklace

                 That fits my neck the best

                 When I have my Sadhaba boy?”

    The king spoke many things of that kind, but the beautiful Sahada turned down each of his request. Then the Telenga king lifted her to the elephant forcibly and went away. Her husband’s sister came back home weeping,

                 “Our Sahada, the Smart one,

                 Went to the Yamuna for a bath

                 The Telenga King having his bath

                 At the lower ghat

                 Lifted her on his elephant.”

    She returned home and told everything to her sisters-in-law.

     Those seven brothers, who had been away on business, returned home. Their wives received them with ritual worship and brought them home. Only the youngest brother did not get down from his horse.

    He asked, “Sister-in-law! Well, where’s my Sahada? She’s not to be seen!”

    They answered, “She is suffering from fever. She can’t come. You come along.” But he did not obey them. He rather said, “Go and send her.” Then his mother arrived and persuaded him to come home. When he did not listen to her words, she left him.

     She sent his younger sister to call him back. The youngest brothers burst into tears when he saw her. He said,

                 “I beg you, my younger sister!

                 Tell me

                 Where did Sahada go?”

    She replied,

                 “Your Sahada has a fever

                 Who lies on bed now

                 At home.”

    He did not get down from his horse when she said that for the first time. He asked her again.

                 “I beg you, my younger sister!

                 Tell me

                 Where did Sahada go?”

    When he asked that repeatedly bursting into tears, his younger sister said,

                 “Your Sahada, the naughty one,

                 Had been to the Yamuna for a bath

                 The Telenga King

                 Taking bath at the lower ghat

                 Lifted her on his elephant.”

    Having heard that, he jumped down from his horse. He made a bundle of the saris and other articles he had brought with him. He made a kendara [a bow and string musical instrument] out of the pair of kapas. Instead of going home, he set out to beg. While begging, he sang,

                 “How long shall I play the Kendara

                 I have become a yogi

                 For the Sahada girl.”

    Singing thus, he reached the king’s palace. On seeing him, the king said to his men, “Give him alms and send him away.” When alms were given, he did not accept it.

    He said, “No. I’ll not take alms from you. I’ll go away in peace if the new queen offers me a grain of rice through this hole.”

    The king said, “Well. Ask the new queen to give him a handful of rice through the window. Let the yogi go away.” Then he told the yogi, “Come near the window. Our new queen will give you alms.” Then the yogi went there.

(Side A ends) (Side B starts)

     While his eyes were fixed on her face, he stabbed himself to death. The soldiers said, “O king! The yogi has died.”

    The king ordered, “Burn him, then.” The soldiers burnt him.

    The new queen said, “O King! I’ve seen many people being cremated. But I’ve never seen the cremation of a yogi. Let’s go and see how a yogi burns!”

    The king said, “Tell the mahunta [elephant driver] to get the elephant ready, we’ll go on it to see the cremation of the yogi.”

     The king sat on the elephant. So did the queen. They reached the cremation ground. The new queen said, “O King! Do you see how the black drongo is basking in the smoke coming from the yogi?”

     When the king lifted his eyes to see, the queen jumped into the fire. The queen was burnt with the yogi. The king followed suit and was burnt to death. Then the other queens sang,

                 “The yogin died for the yogi

                 But why did the king die?

                 He made seven of us widows

                 And passed away.”

    They went on weeping. There was a parrot in the king’s palace. He said, “All right. I’ll pick the bones. Let me out.”

     They freed him from the cage. He picked up the bones. He collected the bones of the yogi, the king and the yogin separately. The yogi turned into a man, the yogin into a woman and the king into a dog. The yogi went begging, the yogin followed him with the dog barking behind them. When the yogi used to beg alms by playing his kendara [small string instrument], the king, being a dog went on barking.

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