Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Flycatcher’s Egg, The

ONE day a herd boy found a flycatcher's egg and he brought it home and asked his mother to cook it for him, but she put it on a shelf and forgot about it. His mother was a poor woman and had to go out all day to work; so before she started she used always to cook her son's dinner and leave it covered up all ready for him. No sooner had she gone to work than a bonga girl used to come out of the flycatcher's egg and first eat up the rice that had been left for the herd boy and then quickly put water on to boil and cook some rice with pulse; and, having eaten part of it, cover up the rest, ready for the herd boy on his return. Then she used to comb and dress her hair and go back into the egg. This happened every day and at last the boy asked his mother why she gave him rice cooked with pulse every day, as he was tired of it. His mother was much astonished and said that some one must have been changing his food, because she always cooked his rice with vegetables. At this the boy resolved to watch and see who was touching his food; so one day he climbed up on to the rafters and lay in wait. Presently out of the egg came the bonga girl and cooked the food and combed her hair as usual. Just as she was going back into the egg, the herd boy sprang down and caught her. "Fi, Fi," cried she "is it a Dome or a Hadi who is clasping me?" "No Dome or Hadi," said he: "we are husband and wife:" so he took her to wife and they lived happily together.

               He strictly forbade her ever to go outside the house and he said incantations over some mustard seed and gave it to her, and told her that, if any beggars came, she was to give them alms through the window and, if they refused to take them in that way, then she was to throw the mustard seed at them; but on no account to go outside the house. One day when her husband was away a jugi came begging; the bonga girl offered him alms through the window but the jugi flatly refused to take them; he insisted on her coming out of the house and giving them. Then she threw the mustard seed at him and he turned into ashes. By superior magic however he at once recovered his own form and again insisted on her coming outside to give him alms, so she went out to him and he saw how beautiful she was.

               The jugi went away and one day he went to beg at the Raja's palace and, talking to the Raja, he told him how he had seen a girl of more than human beauty. The Raja resolved to possess her, and one day he took the form of a fly and flew to the house and saw the beautiful bonga; a second day he came back in the same form and suddenly caught her up and flew off with her on his back to his palace, and in spite of her weeping shut her up in a beautifully furnished room on the roof of his palace. There she had to stay and her food was brought to her there. When the herd boy came home and found that his beautiful wife was missing he filled the air with lamentations and leaving his home he put on the garb of a jugi and went about begging. One day he came to the palace of the Raja who had carried off his wife; as he begged he heard his wife's voice, so he sang:--

"Give me, oh give me, my flycatcher wife,     
Give me my many-coloured wife."

                Then they offered him a jar full of money to pacify him, but he threw the rupees away one by one and continued his lament. Then the Raja called for his two dogs Rauta and Paika and set them on the man and they tore him to death. At this his wife wept grievously and begged them to let her out since there was no one to carry her away, now that her husband was dead.

               They prepared to take away the corpse to burn it and the bonga girl asked to be allowed to go with them as she had never seen the funeral rites of a jugi: so they let her go.

               Before starting she tied a little salt in the corner of her cloth. When she reached the burning place, she sang to the two dogs:--

"Build the pyre, Rauta and Paika!     
Alas! The dogs have bitten the jugi,     
Alas! They have chased and killed the jugi."

                So the two dogs built the pyre and lay the body on it. Then she ordered them to split more wood, singing:--

"Cut the wood, Rauta and Paika!     
Alas! The dogs have bitten the Jugi,     
Alas! They have chased and killed the jugi."

                So they split more wood and then she told them to apply the fire, singing:--

"Light the fire, Rauta and Paika!     
Alas! The dogs have bitten the Jugi,     
Alas! they have chased and killed the jugi."

                When the pyre was in full blaze she suddenly said to the dogs "Look up, Rauta and Paika, see the stars are shining in the day time." When the two dogs looked up, she threw the salt into their eyes, and, while they were blinded, she sprang into the flames and died as a sati on the body of her husband.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Flycatcher’s Egg, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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