Old Couple

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Radha Sisa [F 50. Tribe: Gadaba, Village: Tusba, Lamtaput, Koraput, Date: December 27, 1997. Interviewer: B. K. Tripathy and E. Raja Rao. Cassette No.16A continuing. O. Tr. Pp. 12-21. F.N. Kpt.; p. 19. Transcriber: Smita Rout. Status: As told (minor editing and emendations; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Tale.]

Translator: Banabasini Debi

(Q: What is your Name?)

‘Wait, wait a while.’

(Q: Your name please?)

Our name? My name? Sisa Radha, yes Radha Sisa.

(Q: Yes, you tell your story)

    One old man and his wife were there. They used to maintain themselves by digging "kanda" [a type of wild potato] and catching fish from the river or pond. One day they said, ‘Today what shall we eat? Today what shall we give our children to eat? Today we will again go for digging kanda in the forest.’

    After saying this, both the old man and his wife went to the forest for digging kanda. They searched for a long time. They dug at many places. They did not succeed in getting anything. The old man said, ‘Hey old lady, I am feeling very tired. I am dying in hunger and am having pain in the chest.’ He said it again and died. The old woman said, ‘Oho, the old man has come and died. What shall I do?’ The old woman then fell into a ditch they had dug and died.

    They had one young daughter. When she saw, they had not returned, she said, ‘My father and mother went for digging kanda. They have not eaten anything. If they will bring kanda potato, we will boil it and eat it. With thirst and hunger, where have they gone? I have searched. Let me search again.’ Saying so, she went.

    While searching, she met one "dhangda" [tribal young man] and went with him to his house. Then she said, ‘Oho, I am having a brother at my residence. How he must be staying alone? What was he eating?’ After ten days she went. She was thinking to stay. Then she went home. She saw her brother at home. She said, ‘Oho, how thin you have become? How pale you look? How are you eating? O’ Babu, I have come to take you, come with me.’

    He said, ‘No, I won’t go with you. I shall stay here alone.’

    Again she insisted with her brother to come with her. But he refused. Then she


    Our mother died in kanda ditch,

    Our father died on pain in chest and hunger,

    Our sister went away with an enchanter,

    O, my child, o my little one, what to do?

    [The narrator sometimes says, two daughters, sometimes one].

    The boy then cried:

    Our mother died on kanda ditch

    Our father died on pain in chest and hunger

    Our sister went away with an enchanter

    O, my father, I am here alone dying with hunger.

    His sister said, ‘Do not cry. Now it is getting dark. Don’t cry babu, now it is getting dark.’

    Again she said:

    Our mother died on kanda ditch,

    Our father died on pain in chest and hunger,

    Our sister went away with an enchanter,

    I went to forest.

    ‘O’ Babu, don’t cry. O’ Babu, don’t cry. Do not cry,’ she said. ‘If you cry, I won’t take you. I shall take my brother with me. He got lots of punishment, lots of pain. I shall take him home.’ She said.

    She then took her brother to her home. She could not find her way to her home. She searched, but could not find her way home. Then she said, ‘Today it seems "Chaiti paraba" [festival for moth of Chaitra that is March-April] or "Pusa parab" [festival for month of Pausa that is between December-January], I cannot know, please wait.’ She went to a goat seller and asked.

    The goat seller said, ‘Today is a festival. You stay for audience of the Goddess.’ He brought one goat, some white rice, and one new cloth and started festival rituals for the Goddess. After that he told the boy to go and bow his head before the Goddess. Then he sacrificed the boy before the Goddess. His sister was cooking food inside. Then she asked, ‘O Babu, hey master, where is the cutting knife? Where is my brother? We have come from a long time.’

    The goat seller said, ‘He was on the door side. He sacrificed the goat before the Goddess. He has gone to wash the cutting knife. He will come soon.’

    Then again she asked the goat seller. He gave the same reply. Then she said, ‘Oho, my brother is not here. I had brought him. He was saying not to come with me. Has somebody killed him? He has not been seen anywhere. Today this man has cooked rice and mutton curry. He has also brought "Mandalai Mada" [expensive wine]. He has taken everything and is intoxicated. Probably, he has killed my brother. It is going to be dark; where has he gone? Why have you given him cutting knife to wash? Why have you given so much pain to my brother? You have eaten well. Let me go and search for him.’

    She went on this side and could not find him. She went on that side and could not find him. She was crying and searching for her brother. Then she asked for a sickle to bring jackfruit from the tree. Then she said ‘How can I do it? My brother has not come yet.’ She said, ‘I do not know, whether he has gone with the boys of this village? Who knows what type of boys they would be? After all he is a child. What was on his mind I do not know. Let me go and search for him again.’

    Her brother had become a gourd plant and was growing with the support of a tree on the roadside. One big gourd was hanging from the tree. A hermit came. He saw the gourd hanging from the plant. He said, ‘I shall pluck this gourd.’ He plucked the gourd and kept it in his bag and went for begging. While begging, the gourd was saying from his bag:

    ‘Our mother died in a kanda ditch,

    Our father died of pain in chest and hunger,

    Our sister went away with an enchanter,

    I went to forest.’

    Again the gourd inside the bag was making ‘Tuma’, ‘Tuma’ sound. The hermit went home. At home also the gourd said inside the bag,

    ‘Our mother died in a kanda ditch,

    Our father died of pain in chest and hunger,

    Our sister went away with an enchanter,

    I went to forest.’

    His sister, who was searching for him, heard this song. She said, ‘Oho, this seems to be my Babu. He is singing about our father and mothers’ death.’ Then she came to the hermit. When the hermit saw her, he said, ‘O my child, you have come. Then cook for both of us. Put the pot on the oven.’ The hermit dug a hearth. He gave a pot for cooking. He gave rice, dal, spinach for cooking. The girl cooked "Jau" [thick puree adding rice, dal, spinach]. Both of them ate.

    Then she opened the bag in the absence of the hermit. Brought out the gourd. She put two pups inside the bag and tied it. The hermit came back. He said, ‘My child, I am going for begging.’

    ‘Yes, you go,’ she said. The hermit went with the bag for begging. In the village he sat on someone’s verandah and said, ‘I shall make you listen to a song.’

    Then he pushed the bag. Both the pups said, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’. Both the pups barked, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau’, ‘oau;’ like that.

    The house owner said, ‘Hey, man, where is your singer? Where has he gone?’

    The hermit said, ‘No.’

    The hermit came back on the way, he said, ‘Let me see what is inside the bag?’ He opened the bag. The pups being hungry bit him all over. The hermit died there. The pups went away.


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