Youngest of Seven Sons: A Juang Story

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

A Juanga Story from Gupta Ganga, Keonjhar, Orissa


Teller: Bikram Juanga


[M 50 (blind).Village: Gupta Ganga, Bansapal, Keonjhar. Date: 9 Oct, 1998. Cassette No. 55, Side A-B; Oriya Transcript Pp. 3782-91. Status: As told (minor editing & emendation). Type: Tale; Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy. Transcriber: Fani Bhushan Pothal]

In a kingdom there was a king, an old sadhaba, a propertied man. He had seven sons, sir. Of these sons, he finally got the youngest one married. All his other son’s wives were good-looking and healthy. But the youngest one’s wife was dark, black like the bottom of the earthen cooking pots. Very black, indeed. That son was bemoaning this: this bloody woman is so black, doesn’t suit me at all! What shall I do? And the woman is pregnant! Advanced she was, sir, only a few days left for childbirth. What he thought, he thought of a way: let me ask her to come with me to cut wood in he forest. There I shall hack her dead and go away.

He said to his wife, ‘Let’s go cut some wood in the forest.’

His wife thought: the man’s asking me to go with him after so long; so let me. So thinking, she went with him.

After they had gone a little distance, the woman was tired and said, ‘Sit down here with your legs stretched, I want to sleep a little while with my head on your thighs.’

So, this seventh son sat down with both his legs stretched and she slept with her head on his thighs. After a while, he noticed a large black bumblebee flying about with several things grabbed in its legs. It held a white flower in one leg, with another it held a red one, yet with another it held a blue one, and with the fourth it held a black flower. Four kinds it held in his legs. The bumblebee flew around in front of him.

This youngest son thought: this insect has flowers of many colours, yet it also holds a black flower, which is much blacker than my woman. Why should I bloody well kill my woman then? No, I shall not. It will be a sin, murder. No, I shall not kill her. Let her sleep.

When she got up from sleep, she said to him, ‘You wanted to kill me, why didn’t you?’

‘How did you know?’ he asked in surprise.

‘No, I had a dream that you were asking me to come for cutting wood to kill me. Didn’t you ask me for this purpose?’

‘Yes, I did,’ he said.

‘Do you like me now or what?’

‘Yes, I do.’

‘How come? When you brought me for this, why didn’t you kill me?’

‘No, I had a dream too. I saw an insect, a bumblebee, flying about holding flowers of many colours in its leg and one of them was blacker than you. So, I thought this was only an insect, and it was happy to carry a black flower along with others and it appeared to me that I should not kill you.’

‘So, now, let’s cut some wood and go away somewhere. Aren’t you thinking this?’

‘Yes, that’s what I was thinking.’

But as they were going, the night fell and the woman went into labour. She gave birth to child, but she died. The mother was dead, what should he do with the child? Who would take care of it? I can’t bloody well suffer for this. Thus thinking, he hid the child under a tree. Let it die if that’s what must happen. Without doing anything else, he left as soon as it was morning.

Soon after this, an old man and an old woman were passing by that path, going somewhere. They heard a cry coming from under a tree.

‘It sounds like an infant. Let’s see, let’s see,’ they said.

They went and saw that it was indeed an infant boy lying under the tree.

‘Oho,’ they said. ‘No, we must take this boy and take care of him, bring him up.’

So, sir, what happened was that they took that boy. They took care of him. But, when he was old enough to run about and tend goats, the old man died. When the old man died, only the old woman was left. What to do?

‘No,’ the old woman said, ‘you must go and do something now, maybe tend someone’s goats. Can you herd goat?’

‘Yes, I can.’

So, he became a goatherd. Some days passed tending goats. One day he told the old woman that he wanted to earn some money and bring it home.

‘You want to earn money, do you?’


‘Okay, go.’

So, he started earning money. With his income he started cultivating paddy. He bought the seeds and sowed them. The rains came down. He did all the chores on the field. The paddy grew into a huge crop. It was super.

When the paddy was ripening, he told the old woman, ‘Mother, unless you bring me a bride, I shall not watch the crop on top of the machan, day and night, all alone.’

‘My son,’ his mother said, ‘this is not the right time as everyone is busy in cultivation. Who will give us a girl now?’

‘No, no, you must. I won’t work otherwise.’

‘Okay, okay, all right,’ she said.



What the bloody hell,

the mother thought. What shall I do? She thought deep.

Next day, she told her son, ‘The paddy’s near ripe, now. Flocks of pigeons will descend and eat away all the grain. Go, watch the field.’

‘I’ve been telling you to bring me a bride. Have you done that?’

‘Yes, I have,’ she said. ‘Go and see. I have put her on the machan.’

‘You have put her on the machan?’

‘Yes. Go, take your rice to eat and go.’

He took rice, water etc. for two people and went away quickly.

‘I have wrapped the red sari around her. I have dressed her up nicely and made her sit on top of that machan. With great care she has veiled herself.’

When he looked up at the machan from a distance, he saw the deep red colour up on its platform. He felt greedy looking at that sight.

When he reached the place, he said, ‘Come, my darling, let’s eat rice. Come, get yourself down. Come.’

But she did not come down. Thinking that she was, perhaps, feeling shy of him, he thought he should eat his rice and leave her portion for her. When be called her after eating, she did not come down. He thought: what the hell, she’s not bloody coming.

‘Okay, you woman, just you wait,’ he said. ‘I’m coming up with your rice so as you’ll eat. Isn’t that what you want?’

She could reply only if she was a human being. But she was only a statue.

He took the food up and said, ‘Take and eat. It’s getting to be night already.’

But she said not a word. Not even a whisper.

‘Come, eat now.’

But she did not say a thing.

No, is it because I am sitting here, she is feeling shy, since she is a new bride. Let me go inside the little room.

So thinking, he entered the little enclosure on the machan and said, ‘Okay, now, eat up, it’s night already. Let’s sleep.’

Still she said nothing. He was very annoyed. What a silent woman! I shall bloody kill the bitch. Then he gave her a hefty kick, whereupon she fell with a thud on the ground below.

‘O, my woman’s running away, my beautiful woman,’ he cried. Quickly descending from the machan, he started searching for her in the darkness, running this way and that blindly. He searched for her very hard. All night long he kept running in search of her. By the time it was morning he had reached another kingdom. In front of him was a big pond. Oho, their place for water, he thought. They will come here as they have dug this pond here. Okay, woman, just you wait. You’ll come here, surely, to bathe.

He gathered a bunch of the thorny branches of kana-berry bushes to thrash her with when she came. Soon he saw a woman coming.


he thought, that must be her. So thinking, he pounced upon her when she reached him and started thrashing her, not knowing it was none other than the princess of the kingdom.

‘Bloody bitch,’ he shouted as she fell to the ground, ‘where do you think you are running away, hein? Running away, being my woman! Running about all night long, bloody hell, my feet are bleeding like nobody’s business! You want me to run after you, hein? No, siree! Bloody, woman, you want me to pay money and salute the pimp? Bloody well, cheating me!’

In no time a huge crowd gathered. A hubbub arose. People shouted, ‘What’s this fellow? Is he a demon or a madman? He’s beating our princess and calling her "my woman?"’ They tried to grab him and separate them. But the fellow was not leaving her. Finally, the minister was called. It is said, sir, that if the king is wise, the minister is wiser,. So, the king called the minister.

The minister said, ‘Whatever it is, the man is a bridegroom, looking for his bride whom he surely wants very much. So, let us give the princess to him. Now, let us leave them alone.’

So, the crowd left him and dispersed. Everyone went away leaving the man and the princess who lay on the ground. The princess had applied many fragrant things to her body, things that girls apply. On top of it she was a princess. When the smell reached the man’s nose, not knowing what it was, he thought that the girl smelt because she was dead and rotting away. She looked good only because she was clad in good clothes. He was sad, but started thinking of disposing her off profitably. In the mean time, a man came along with a horse.

The young man said to him, ‘Horseman, sir, will you take this beautiful woman in exchange of your horse?’

The man with the horse readily agreed.

The young man went on his way with the horse wondering what use was the horse to him. Perhaps, he had the worse of the bargain. At this time, a man came by with a bullock.

The young man said to him, ‘Bullock man, sir, will you take this good horse for which I have no use and give me your bullock?’

The man with the bullock readily agreed and went away riding the horse. The young man thought, on the way, that he should give his bullock a drink. So he took him to a pond. As the bullock drank, it started pissing. The young man thought: my god, I have been cheated. This bullock has a leak in its belly. It’s useless. What shall I do with it? As he was bemoaning his fate, he met on the way a man with a basket full of brinjals (egg plants).

On seeing him, the young man asked, ‘What are you carrying?’


‘Will you take my bullock in exchange for your brinjals?’

The brinjal man was relieved that he did not, now, have to sit all day long selling his brinjal. So, he agreed. The young man thought he should wash the brinjals clean. So he went to a pond and put the brinjals in the pond. The brinjals floated on the water. The young man thought: ha, these are floating. They must be worm infested. I’ve had a bad bargain. So he left the brinjals floating and ran back straight home.

When his mother saw him, she said, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be watching the paddy?’

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but what kind of a mother are you? The woman you brought for me ran away somewhere. All night I spent running about every which way, looking for her. I found her finally when it was morning, 7 or 8 or thereabouts, but she was smelling something awful. Her body was rotting, surely, for it smelt so! So I left her in that village.’

The mother said on hearing this, ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ Where did he leave her, if it’s a woman, he’s such a fool?

So they went walking fast all the way. On the way, her son said, ‘Mother, I have left her, your daughter-in-law, with a man in exchange for a horse. And the horse I exchanged for a bullock for there was a hole in its belly. Water leaked away from it when it drank. So I exchanged it with a brinjal man for his basket of brinjals. But the brinjals, mother, were worm infested, for they floated in the water. Rotten, mother. So I left them floating.’

‘So okay,’ his mother said, ‘just you lead me to it.’

When they reached the pond, the brinjals were still floating. They gathered it from the water and arranged them in the basket.

‘Now, you carry the basket,’ the mother said.

He carried the load and took her to the man to whom he had sold the bullock.

His mother said to the man, ‘This my son is a fool, a big fool. So, please, keep your basket of brinjals and give us our bullock.’

‘O, all right, take your bullock.’

They gave the brinjals and took their bullock. Then they went to the horseman. There also they succeeded in bringing the horse back by returning the bullock. Then, having got the horse, they went to the man to whom the son had given the girl. Returning his horse to him, they got back the girl, the daughter-in-law.

Back home, they performed a regular marriage. They ate and drank and lived happily and freely.

The brinjal leaf is dead and my story is ended.

Photograph by Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

ISSN: 2249 3433


The word tribe is variously used in literature to denote a community on the basis of homogeneity. Originally many autochthonous communities who were identified by similar culture, social organisation and governance, living away from the main stream life of a country, were mentioned as tribe by their colonial rulers and Western scholars. Many such communities have moved towards the mainstream lifestyle so that they may no longer be identified as secluded, underdeveloped people with queer customs. This has happened to all areas of the world where tribal communities live. Still, many tribal communities lead their lives in very primitive ways devoid of the techno-economic glamour of contemporary civilization. These communities are labeled as "Primitive Tribal Groups". Indian Government has identified such tribal groups to give special attention to their development, whereas in the Indian Constitution all the tribal groups are recognized as "scheduled tribes".


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