Monday, May 27, 2013

Folktale from Punjab

I was quite young when Biji, my grandmother, would tell me this story. But I can still almost smell those afternoons- the winter sun, the woolen shawls, the soil in the garden and the mango tree. This is how it went, sort of:

There was once a Chidhi, a sparrow, somewhere in Punjab who decided that she would like to grow a field of wheat for herself- a kitchen garden of some sort. That way she wouldn't have to go on everyday searching from one place to another for food. The next morning she got ready and as she stepped out from her home, she met her neighbour, the Kaa- the crow. Thinking it will be good to have some help in the field- the Childi asked the Kaa if he was interested to pitch in his work in the field for half the share of the produce.

The Kaa replied, haan Chidiye- yes sparrow! And sang-

Pairi mojhe paunda haan,
thumak thumak aunda han,
tu chal mai aya.

On my feet  I will wear socks,
Swaying I will come,
You go and I will follow!

The Chidhi went to the field, waited for the Kaa and when the Kaa didn't turn up - started ploughing the land by herself- ppoint by point.
The next day, Chidhi met the Kaa again and said - Kaavan, come today for sure- your help will be much appreciated, we have to seed the field! The Kaa smiled and sang-
Pairi mojhe paunda haan,
thumak thumak aunda han,
tu chal mai aya.

On my feet  I will wear socks,
Swaying I will come,
You go and I will follow!

Chidhi went and started the putting the seed in the ground, one at a time. The Kaa never showed up again!
Some days had passed and the field had sprouted. The rain hadn't fell in a few days and the wheat was thirsting for water. Kaa's big beak would be very helpful, it could carry much more water than mine- Chidhi thought. And she requested the Kaa agian- Kaavan, the field needs water, would you please come and water it with me. And so the Kaa replied again:
Pairi mojhe paunda haan,
thumak thumak aunda han,
tu chal mai aya.

On my feet  I will wear socks,
Swaying I will come,
You go and I will follow!

The Chidhi started watering the field, a few drops at a time. The Kaa - yes you guessed it- never came!
By this point, the story would become a rumble which meant that the sun was slowly caressing Biji to sleep. Even though, I knew what happened next- I wanted to hear it from my Biji. And so, I would- pretty guilt freely- shake Biji out of her sleep;
Fer ki hoya? What happend next ?
And a few more days passed, the field was now golden and ready to harvest. The Chidhi harvested the wheat, seperated the grain from the chaff and straw, put them in separate bundles and somehow - with great pulling and pushing- got them home. There stood the Kaa, the might strong Kaa, and he demanded from the Chidi that fairness be done. She had promised him, has she not, that the Kaa will get half of the harvest! The Chidhi was perplexed, but you didn't even help one little beak, she said. But the Kaa eventually got his way. He said he was being fair in dividing the harvest exactly in half- he took all the grain and gave the Chidhi all of the straw and the chaff! The chidhi was quite sad, all her food had been lost- all that hard work!
They say that night there was a big storm, it rained and it hailed. While the sparrow took shelter in the heap of straw and chaff and was very well protected, the Kaa took refuge in the grains of wheat. The grains couldn't hold a roof for the Kaa and all of them spilled and slipped off of him. And sadly, he got very cold and shivered and shivered and died.
This is how the story would end I think! And now Biji could finally nap a bit, before it was time for the daily cha or  our tea ritual- glucose biscuits dunked in steaming hot tea and quite a bit of chat!

*Do you have any stories that your grandmother told you?

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