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Buonhlei and the Fairy

Sunday, March 3, 2013

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Long long ago, there lived a king in the eastern country. His name was Hrangrum. He was well-known for his wisdom and just rule which made his subjects really happy. His younger brother was called Buonhlei who was a professional hunter. He was so successful in hunting that there was no end of feast at their courtyard to celebrate his success in the chase. In no time, Buonhlei mastered all the arts of warfare and taught the young men of the village how to dance with shield and how to shoot an arrow. After having learned all kinds of warfare and war, the young men of the village under the leadership of Buonhlei began to raid their neighbouring villages and captured many captives. They also amassed a lot of wealth out of the booties. As a result, Hrangrum’s fame spread far and wide. He became a powerful and rich king. Almost every day, there would be dances or feasts held to celebrate the heroic acts of his subjects. But all these achievement and honours did not make Hrangrum happy because he was heirless.

One day while Buonhlei was roaming about hunting in the thick jungle, he happen to come across a fairy weaving a cloth on a ledge of the face of a rocky cliff. The fairy was so beautiful that Buonhlei was soon captivated by her beauty. Buonhlei was courting her and enjoyed every moment of his stay with her, quite oblivious to the setting sun. The fairy said, “Buonhlei, the sun is about to set and it is becoming dark. Should you not leave for home?” Unwilling to go alone, Buonhlei insisted that he should go home with her. “No, no. I am a spirit. How can I live among human beings? Go alone and when you reach at the outskirt of your village, you will shoot a wild full-grown mithun,” replied the fairy. But Buonhlei still refused to go. The fairy said again, “We shall not be able to marry. Go and come tomorrow again at this place. But do not bring anyone with you. Do not bring with you even a dog.”

But Buonhlei remained unmoved. The more he looked at the fairy, the more he loved her and could not leave her behind. The fairy was at loss what to do and it was getting late. She then let a couple of hornbill fly just over their heads and while Buonhlei was looking up, the fairy threw dust into his eyes and then secretly escaped through the small hole of the rocky cliff. Buonhlei felt so depressed and put his point-finger into the hole where the fairy entered but was if no avail. At last with a heavy heart, he left for home.

As promised by the fairy, when Buonhlei reached the outskirt of his village, he saw a very big mithun and shot it down. Next morning, there would be feast and dances to celebrate his success in the chase and the whole village people became really excited. But Buonhlei lost his heart to the fairy who escaped through the small hole of the cliff. Buonhlei had none other in this big world than the fairy to long for. To miss her even a day was too long for him.

The whole villagers came to the courtyard of the chief with their sweetest home-brewed rice-beer, headgear and started dancing happily; but Buonhlei felt so lonely that he secretly went out to court the fairy. His sisters who came to put headgears on his head, would not find him and more puzzled was his elder brother, Hrangrum.

The fairy was weaving a cloth at the same place. Buonhlei’s joy knew no bounds when he saw her. He wanted to marry her very much. But the fairy repeatedly told him that she dared not live among human beings. For Buonhlei, the glory of this world, honours and praises were nothing and he counted even a short happy moment with the fairy more important than anything else. The fairy bid him farewell again and blessed him that he would shoot a big rhinoceros at the outskirt of his village.

When Buonhlei reached home, his elder brother chided him like anything, saying, “Buonhlei! Tell me where you have been today! Such a huge crowd came to celebrate your grand success in the chase. But you were not to be seen! Your heroic deed and successes in chase have brought to our family embarrassments and shames.” Buonhlei felt awkward to disclose everything and kept mum. Later on, he said, “Yes, I am guilty. Please forgive me. But remember, we have to inform all the villagers to carry the flesh of rhinoceros which I shot at the outskirt of our village.” His brother was really taken aback because rhinoceros was a very rare animal.

Next morning, the villagers came together again to celebrate Buonhlei’s success in chase. Some came with their sweetest rice-beer and wanted to offer it to Buonhlei. His sisters came with headgears, but alas! Buonhlei was not to be seen around. “how come, Buonhlei is always absent whenever we have festive celebration. This is really strange,” murmured the crowd.

Buonhlei spend his happiest moments with the fairy the whole day. When evening came, the fairy said, “When you reach the outskirt of your village, you will shoot a wild elephant.” But Buonhlei turned down the fairy’s blessing, saying, “If I kill a wild animal, it ought to be celebrated and I am bound to joint it. But the sweetest rice-beers and praises and honours are nothing to me without you. I have been chided by my brother like anything on the previous day also as I did not join the celebration. If I kill another wild animal, my brother would be angry again with me and then turn me out.”

Again, when he reached home, his brother chided him again. But Buonhlei dared not disclose his romantic affairs with the fairy and pleased for forgiveness.

Buonhlei was really mad for the fairy. He went to court her every day. He lost his appetite and energy. He stopped killing wild animals. He became weaker every day. His good physiqye and handsomeness which was the talk of the people had turned pale. Even his close relative and friends felt concerned for his health.

One night, Buonhlei had an unusual dream. In his dream, he met a priest who looked very old. The priest told him how he could marry his beloved fairy and disappeared again.

Next morning, he went towards the direction where, he thought, he met the priest in his dream. After going a long distance, he saw an old man, who looked like the priest in his dream, sitting on the way. Going closer to him, he asked, “Sir, where do you come from? Where are you going?” The old man replied, “I am a priest. I am wandering from place to place.” Buonhlei was very excited because he thought that the old man could possibly be the priest whom he met in his dream and began to tell him how he fell in love with the fairy. The old man grinned, cleared his throat and asked, “Do you really want to marry her?” Buonhlei immediately replied, “Yes, indeed. I am ready to spend anything and face any hardship if I shall be able to marry her.” At this, the old man, pointing his finger towards the lake below, said, “Do you see the lake down there? That beautiful lake is the pond of fairies. Every evening just before sun-set, fairies will come to the lake and take their bath. Keep a watchful eye on them and if you can take their ring and necklace, then you will be able to catch them. As long as you do not give their rings back to them, they will not bring you a lot of hardship. Take the bunch of that amarthant flower and hide yourself behind it.” So saying, the old man bade him farewell.

Buonhlei was apprehensive of what he was asked to do. So he asked the old man first to help him catch his fairy and then leave. The old man obliged. The two went to pluck the amarthant flower and hid themselves behind it on the bank of the lake. The lake and its surroundings were really romantic, filled with the sweet fragrance of beautiful flowers. The flowers and plants were dancing in the gentle breeze. When the sun was about to set, the fairies at last came down, burst into laughter and soon undressed themselves and then jumped into the lake. The fairy queen took time to undress herself as she put on a lot of beautiful clothing. Buonhlei knew that the fairy queen was the girl whom he visited every day. In a twinkling of an eye, Buonhlei jumped out of the bust of the flower and all the fairies quickly dressed up and flew away. But behold! The fairy queen was still in the water because Buonhlei took all her clothing. When the fairy agreed to marry him, he gave back all her dresses except her ring. She also requested Buonhlei never to disclose that she was a fairy.

When they reached home, every one hotly talked about the beauty of Buonhlei’s wife. Buonhlei celebrated his marriage with great pomp and grandeur. They lived happily for some time, Buonhlei did not have a slightest doubt that his wife would go away. One day he was away to jhum, the fairy went away. When he checked up the inside bottom of his basket at the corner of his house, the necklace was no more there. He was convinced that his wife had really gone back to her parents.

With a broken heart, Buonhlei set out in search for his wife. He did not know where to go. At times, he wept bitterly. Sometimes, he went to the cliff where he used to court the fairy but in vain. After wandering for a long time, he thought that he should look for the old man who had helped him before. At last, he met the old man. The old man knew his problems, and said, “I have already warned you of this before. You are a human being and she is a spirit; so she will always bring you trouble. Whatever might be, take his water and when you drink it, you will turn yourself whatever you like and you will be able to find out your wife again.”

Buonhlei was again roaming about from place to place in search of his wife. He became so tired and hungry. At one place, he sat against a tree and drank the water which he got from the old man. He became drowsy and was half asleep. At that moment, one crow came flying and sat on the branch of the tree over his head. After sometime, another crow also came and sat near the first crow. The first crow asked, “Comrade, where do you plan to go today?” The second crow replied, “Today, one famous king is preparing a grand feast to celebrate the return of his daughter whom he had missed for some time. I am thinking of joining the feast. Moreover, there will be arrow-shooting competition on this occasion and the topper among the competitors will marry his daughter.” “In that case, let me also come with you,” said the first crow. Buonhlei was listening to their conversation intensely and fancied that this princess could perhaps be his crow. The two crows were flying high up in the sky and from there, Buonhlei could see the rocky cliffs where he used to court the fairy and the holes I the cliff were all beautiful houses. He thought to himself, “What a poor fellow am I! I really do not deserve to be the husband of the princess of such beautiful and vast city!” There was a beautiful lake near the city. He got down near the lake. In a moment, a group of young girls (fairies) were come to the lake to fetch water. Buonhlei asked, “For whom you are fetching this water?” The young fairies replied, “For our princess. She is to take bath with this water.” Buonhlei then dropped the ring of his wife into the jar of the last fairy. The princess had her bath and emptied the jars one after another. At last, as she was watering herself, the ring was falling upon her lap. She took and looked at it intensely and came to know that it was her own ring. She then immediately summoned the young fairies and asked whether they had seen any man near the lake. They replied in the affirmative. She was convinced that the man was no other than Buonhlei and said to herself, “Oh, no! He had been looking for me even in this spirit world!” She really felt pity for him and ordered the young fairies to go and bring the man to her immediately.

When Buonhlei reached the palace, the fairy princess met him at the gate. No words can describe how happy were the two loves! They fairy first asked how Buonhlei could enter the spirit city. Buonhlei narrated all the hardships he had encountered right from the beginning and the fairy really pitied him. She took him inside the palace and offered him the most delicious food and they spend the night together happily. The next day was the day of grand feast for which even all the flying creatures in the sky were invited.

The shooting competition was to begin and Bounhlei was also to join the competition. All the people were assembled together to witness the great competition and the fairy princess who was on her best dress was being seated on her chair. The target for the shooting competition was the seed of hog plum fruit (spondias mangifera) placed within a small circle on the other side of the hill-lock. The young competitors came one after another and shot their arrows. But none of them could hit the target. At last, Buonhlei came out and the fairy princess was restless, fearing that he might also miss the target. He took his position, aimed properly and with all his might, released the arrow and hit just in the centre of the seed and broke it into two equal parts. All the spectators stood up and applauded Buonhlei’s extraordinary feat. The fair princess was also so excited that she went out to embrace Buonhlei. Thus, the king married his daughter to Buonhlei as per his royal proclamation. Buonhlei was exceedingly happy because he could bring back his wife home.

As time passed by, Buohlei and his wife had a beautiful son and live happily. But their happiness did not last long because Hrangrum felt jealous of his younger brother and wanted to marry his wife. He made a secret plot to kill him and instructed one of his military officers, saying, “Go to the bounded of our counter under the leadership of Buonhlei on the pretext of enquiring whether our enemies are encamped. Bill Buonhlei, but bring back his dress stained with blood and say, “He had been killed by a tiger.” Accordingly, the soldiers under the command of Buonhlei left for the boundary. As they reached the spot, the military officer dared no kill Buonhlei and disclosed the secret plot of the king against him. Buonhlei then said, “This cunning fox! I have made him great and famous. As he wanted to marry my wife, he made all these dirty tricks. I shall not come back again. Neither will he marry my wife.” They killed a deer and stained the Buonhlei’s dress with the blood and all the soldiers left for home leaving behind Buonhlei. When it was reported that Buonhlei was killed by a tiger, Hrangrum wept bitterly. Seeing their king weeping like a child, people whispered, “Oh! How much he loved his younger brother!” But the soldiers who knew his dirty tricks were boiled with anger.

After having performed the funeral and condolence rite, Hrangrum tried all possible means to win over the heart of his brother’s wife but in vain. Buonhlei’s wife suspected that Hrangrum must have been involved in the death of his husband directly or indirectly. At last, Hrangrum sent a final word to Buonhlei’s wife, saying, “I am sending men to take you to my palace tomorrow. Be ready.” Buonhlei’s wife could not sleep that night. She embraced her child again and again and practically bathed it with her tears. She decided to go back to the abode of the spirit-world at dawn. Embracing and kissing her beloved baby she exclaimed, “Oh, my beloved child! You are too young to understand things. Your father died just to keep my honour. You are a human being and it is not possible for you to come to the abode of the spirit-world. Tonight is the last night we are spending together. Baby! Think of my agony.” Her tears rolled down like a heavy downpour of rain in the thick of raining season. She slowly laid the baby on the bed and flew out through the window, she looked back from a distance and came back to kiss the baby. She did like this several times till dawn. When it was dawn, Buonhlei’s wife was no more.


Source: Prof.(Dr.) Lal Dena,Hmar Folk Tales, Scholar Publishing House, New Delhi, 1995.

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