Three Brothers One Flower

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Kanda Nayak

[M 40. Tribe: Bathudi, Village: Ghagra, Khunta, Mayurbhanj. Date: Oct. 10, 1999. Interviewer: B.K.Tripathy and team. Cassette No. 103, Side-A. O. Tr. Pp.: 5428-5457. F.N: Mbj 2; p. 5. Transcriber: Fanibhusan Puthal. Status: As told (Minor editing & emendation; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Tale]

Translator: Bishwabandita Guru.

   In a tribal village, there were three brothers and a mother living in a family. Their mother was tribal. She worked in others’ houses as a maid and fed her children.

   She also worked in an Oriya family just next to her house. She was doing hard toil there to earn her livelihood and feed her children. There was a girl in their neighborhood. Her name was Phula [Flower]. These three brothers had no sister. Phula used to visit their house and help the mother in her work. When the old mother left for work, Phula cooked food and serve it to the three brothers.

   The elder brother then understood his responsibility. He went out and dug the land to loosen it for cultivation. He could dig only two gunthas. He had to work hard to do this. He could do it because he was a tribal boy who could labour hard.

   He started ploughing the field then. He then bought bullocks also and started cultivation. He toiled hard there. He decided to leave his younger brother to study because he realized that the society was rapidly advancing. ‘If we won’t develop and educate ourselves, then we would remain like frogs inside a well. But if we develop, my mother can also live in peace.’

   The names of those brothers were Ram, Rakesh and Ratan. Ram started educating his brothers. All the three brothers loved Phula very much, more than any blood relation. They thought her as if their mother had given birth to Phula.

   Phula’s father was a politician. She was a bit better off socially than the family of brothers. After completing her nursery education she studied U.P. in her village. Then she went to the High School, after which Phula got enrolled in a city college.

   Rama anyhow managed to bear his brothers’ study expenditure. The brothers also studied hard and got promoted. Rakesh could not manage with the small amount sent by his brother. He was very food loving. He left his education and went to another land. There he worked in a fruit orchard.

   A wide variety of fruit trees like mango, banana, apple trees were there in the fruit orchard. He could not suppress his hunger and ate those fruits raw. Doing that regularly he developed his muscles like a fighter. He had plenty of fruit juice. Phula continued her study in the town. Ratan studied seriously and after facing various examinations, became a magistrate. He wanted some money for that. He told his brother to send him an amount of Rs.400/-. He wrote to his brother: "Dear brother! Please send me Rs. 400 only. After this I’ll be a magistrate. We won’t have further scarcity to live. I’ll earn money after that and take care of our family.’

   But his brother did not have anything to give to Ratan. He then decided to mortgage their land of 2 gunthas to the village chief and got money to send to his brother. He mortgaged the land at an amount of Rs.400/- and sent it to his brother. Ratan then passed the examination and became a magistrate. He told Ram that they would refund the money after he got his first salary and told him to give back the mortgaged amount and get back their land.

   Ram did the same after a month. But previously at the time of mortgaging the land, the village chief had made him sign on the paper that he had sold out the land in his name. Ram, because of his illiteracy, could not know what had been written in that paper.

   He had an argument with the village chief on this matter. When the chief flung some harsh words at him, he threatened to hit him with the hoe he had in his hand. When the chief again said "no", he hit him and he died. Ram never got angry, but once if he got angry, he never left anybody to live. This is the tendency with the tribal people.

   The news spread everywhere that Ram had killed the village chief. Then all the politicians of that village gathered and had Ram arrested.

   Phula was a simple college girl. She was not much into boy friends. A gang of boys once commented indicating her. She retorted to them. Then the boys commented on her that she was the magistrate’s Godsister. They said, ‘Ok pick her up.’

   At that time Rakesh had come to that village on tour with his boss. He was then a very healthy and strong person. He was in a car with his boss and friends and he saw a gang of boys lifting up Phula and running away. When Phula could see and recognize Rakesh, she shouted, ‘Rakesh Bhai! Please save me.’ Rakesh then came out of the car and ran after the boys. After some time when he reached there, Phula was senseless. Rakesh fought with the gang of boys. In his first fight, Rakesh was beaten up. Then he showed his fruit juice strength and landed 50 slaps with his firm hand.

   Anyway, he managed to save Phula from them and put her in a hospital. He then was arrested because he fought with those boys. He was kept in the same prison where his brother Ram was kept. Both the brothers’ cases were to be decided by their younger brother Ratan.

   The old mother’s health was gradually deteriorating day-by-day, thinking about her sons and Phula. She was not even in a position to go to others’ houses and work. After some days she gave up her ghost, lying on her bed. All the tribals of the village transferred her to another place. Nobody was there near her at the time of her death. Ram and Rakesh were there inside the jail. Ratan was the deciding authority of the people and Phula was in the hospital.

   Rama had been awarded the death sentence and Rakesh was awarded 12 years’ imprisonment. The other judges had already given their judgements on these brothers. Ratan was the final deciding authority. When Ratan saw their Crime Registers, his eyes filled with tears.

   He thought: how could he give his elder brother, who had made him what he was that day, the death sentence. How could he do like this to a brother who had toiled so much to make his life what it was.

   None of the brothers and sisters had met each other at that time. Their mother used to sing a song when they were very young. Sister Phula used to come and dance in front of them.

   The song started like this:

"Three brothers and one flower,

   At one place makes the place so beautiful."

   The meaning is: "If anywhere there are three brothers and one sister, that place is better than the heaven."

   Ratan remembered the song.

   On his chair, he asked Ram if he had anything to tell to the court or any explanation to give and gave him five minutes’ time.

   Ram started his story in a trembling voice that he had two brothers. ‘I was not their brother but their father.’ Ratan then thought, ‘How can I give this brother the death sentence?’

   Then Ratan asked Rakesh what he had to tell to the court and gave him a little time to think.

   Rakesh started thinking that he had a sister Phula. What would mother be doing at home? He then started crying.

   Both the brothers were kept in separate cells. They were crying remembering everything. At that time Phula was completely well. She knew that that day was the judgement day for Ram and Rakesh. She knew the case of Rakesh very well, but not about Ram. After sometimes Rakesh was going to be punished. She reached the court at the last moment. She requested the magistrate to be allowed her speak a few words. She also assured him that she would tell the truth. She told that whatever tribal people say, they say the truth. These days they had started lying. But earlier they used to tell the truth.

   She said, ‘I’m Phula. My village is a hilly village named Mundasuta.’ Then Ratan’s heart palpitated. He wanted to know who that girl was. Phula answered she was the neighbour of Ram-Rakesh-Ratan and they were her neighbourhood brothers.

Side A ends

Side B starts

   Ratan got astonished. He asked Phula, who she was. She replied that she was their neighbourhood girl, their god sister. They love her very much.

   She explained why Rakesh went to the jail. That was in order to save her from a notorious gang. She indicated their presence at the court. She mentioned that Rakesh was innocent.

   The Magistrate said, ‘Who are the culprits then?’

   She replied, ‘Ramesh and Rahul. They are the sons of financially well to do families. They were taking me away forcibly. At that time Rakesh came and saved me. If you could arrest them, I would be very happy.’

   Immediately the court ordered to arrest the duo and freed Rakesh.

   Then came Ram’s turn. Here Phula explained, ‘I shall tell you why had Ram murdered that man? It was because the village chief frauded him by making a sales deed, whereas he had only mortgaged his land. When he protested, the chief abused him and refused to give his land back. So Ram killed him. So better to give him some days imprisonment in place of the death sentence.’ Then Ratan could take his decision properly.

   From the above tale, we conclude that, although being a tribal girl, Phula studied and solved the tough problem. She saved somebody from a jail term and somebody from the death sentence. So like Phula, if every girl became educated, the corruption from this society will vanish.


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