Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Good Daughter-in-Law, The

THERE was once a very rich man who had seven sons and the sons were all married and lived with their father. The father was a miser: he lived in the poorest manner in spite of all his wealth and hoarded all his money. His eldest daughter-in-law managed the household and she alone of the family did not approve of the miserly way in which the family affairs were conducted.

               One day a Jugi came to the house and asked for alms. The eldest daughter-in-law happened to be away at the time, fetching water from the stream. Those of the family who were at home flatly declined to give the poor beggar anything and turned him away from the house. So the Jugi went away, cursing them for their miserliness. On his way he met the eldest daughter-in-law coming back with her jar of water and she asked the Jugi why he seemed so angry. When she heard how he had been treated, she at once besought him to return to the house and explained that she was the housekeeper and that that was the reason why none of the others had ventured to give him alms.

               The Jugi returned with her and she gave him a seer of rice to put in his bag. At first the Jugi refused to take it, on the ground that she was only giving it for fear of his curses but she assured him that she never refused alms to anyone who begged. So the Jugi took the rice and then asked what boon she would accept in return. The woman at first said that she was in want of nothing, but, on the Jugi pressing her, she said that she would like to be able to understand the language of birds and beasts and to see the disembodied souls of men. Then the Jugi took a feather from his bag and drew it across her eyes and blew into her eyes and ears and she found herself possessed of the powers for which she had asked. But before he left, the Jugi told her that she must never reveal to any human being the boon he had conferred on her, for if she did she would die.

               Years passed and nothing happened but then it chanced that a Chamar who lived at the end of the village died, and as he had been a good and kind man his family wept bitterly at their loss. The woman saw the spirit of the Chamar being taken away in a grand chariot and she also wept for the death of so good a man. Her family became very suspicious at her showing sorrow for the death of a stranger of another caste.

               A few days later the miserly father-in-law died and the woman saw three beings dragging him out of the house by his heels, and she laughed to see him treated so for his sins. But the family were shocked by her laughter and concluded that she was a witch and had killed her father-in-law by her witchcraft; so after the funeral they held a family council and called on the woman to explain why she had laughed. She assured them that if she told she would die, but they insisted and at last she told them of the boon conferred on her by the Jugi, and what she had seen, and then she lay down upon her bed and died.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Good Daughter-in-Law, 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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