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Hmar Folk Tales,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Once upon a time there were seven brothers. They went to the forest to fell tree for jhumming. On their way home they saw a big creeper (Entana Scandan). One of them wanted to show off strength and proposed a bet that the one who could not cut the creeper with dao in one stroke should be laid on the tiger’s path the whole night. They all nodded. So started from the youngest the great competition. The father came last. He could not cut it in one stroke. He was to be laid on the dangerous path in the forest. The father kept his word and laid himself on the path.

At night the tiger came and saw someone lying on his path. “Who, who is sleeping?” asked the tiger. “I am who’s the father of seven brothers; my teeth, the size of fanghra*; and my head, the size of chicken coop.” “Oh! My! How frightening!” said the tiger and withdrew. After sometime, the tiger took courage and came again. The tiger asked the same question to which the man replied, “I am, who’s the father of seven brothers, my teeth the size of fanghra; and my head, the size of chicken coop.” The tiger withdrew again in fear. He came for the third time. This time the man’s courage faltered and his trembling voice made the tiger more courageous. So the tiger killed the man and dragged him away.

The seven brothers came to know that the tiger had killed their father. They were filled with rage and prepared themselves to take revenge. They carried their spears and started for the tiger’s den in the forest. On the way, they met a man who was carrying a basketful of mustard seed. He asked them where they were going, “To avenge the death of our father and demolish the fencing of the tiger,” replied the seven brothers. “I’ll empty my basket on the way-side and if you can collect back all the seeds without a single grain missing, you will succeed,” said the man. “We will try,” replied the brothers. He emptied his big basketful of mustard seed on the way side. They started collecting it back to the basket. They tried their best, but one was still missing. They could not recover it. So, the man cautioned, “I’m afraid you will succeed.” Paying no heed to the man’s warning, they continued their journey. On the way, they met a man who was carrying a wooden mortar on his back. “Where’re you going?” asked the man. “To avenge the death of our father and demolish the fencing of the tiger,” replied the seven brothers. “I’ll cut my wooden mortar in two. If you can join them again as original one, you will succeed,” proposed the man. They nodded. He cut the wood in two equal parts with his axe. They tried their best to join them, but failed, “Best of luck,” cautioned the man. As they were going along, they reached a small village where a widow kept a very big pig which was her real pride. On hearing the purpose of their journey, the widow said to them, “If you could kill my pride pig with one stroke, you will succeed in your mission.” So, she gave a call and the pig came grunting. The selected man from among them threw his spear at it but the spear could not penetrate the pig’s thick skin. “Best of luck,” cautioned the widow.

They reached the village of the tiger. They put up in the house of the tiger and he knew the purpose of their mission. He gave them food and drink. They saw their father’s bone and flesh dried up and kept above fire in the hearth. The tiger prepared a dish out of the flesh and asked them to eat, but they refused. They stayed a night. That night, the tiger ordered the rats to go and bite and spears of his guests and make them blunt. The seven brothers were fast asleep and towards dawn the cock started to crow:

“Cock-o-doodle doo, host good luck,
Guests ill luck.”

The way the cock crowed really annoyed the seven brothers. But the tiger was very happy and gave the cock a morsel of food. The morning food was over and they said to the tiger: “you’re the host and we the guests; we are now going home and please see us off at the outskirts.” The tiger agreed. When they reached a woody place, one of them said, “Will you imitate how you killed our father.” “No, you will be frightened.” “No, if we’re afraid, there are many trees here we shall climb on them.” The tiger agreed. So, they all climbed the tree. The tiger showed his true nature and roared. The brothers, who climbed the tree, threw down their spears at the tiger. But alas! Their spears were blunt. Their fate is doomed. The tiger pulled them down one by one and killed them all. He carried their bodies home. He extracted their fats and preserved it in bamboo tubes. He dried up their flesh and hung them above the fire in the hearth.

The seven brothers had only one sister. She was the youngest. When she heard the news of her brother’s death, she was filled with grief and despair. She took no food and drink. One day as she was sitting on the roof alone weeping away her time, a gooseberry was dropped on her from above. “What fruit is this? Where does it come from?” She enquired in wonder. “I will eat it.” So, she at it up. After sometime, she became pregnant.

One day there was a heavy thunderstorm. On that very day the girl gave a birth to a lovely baby boy. As soon as he came out of his mother’s womb, he slipped through the hole of the floor to be ground below. On the ground he collected a bean seed for his plaything and on coming home, “Ma, I have collected this plaything for me,” he said proudly. The mother was wonder-struck but helpless. The baby was named Tekabereisuon.

The baby grew up as a lovely boy. He used to play with his friends in the open air. His friends used to break his bean with which they were playing. One day he returned home crying, “Ma, my friends have broken all my playthings.” “In that case, you have to go up in the sky to get a new bean from your father,” said the mother. So, he followed lightning and took the bean from his father in the sky. With this new bean he broke the beans of his friends easily. His friends were angry and movked him saying, “This survivor of tiger’s victim.” Tekabereisuon was very annoyed with their remarks but he did not know the meaning. So, whenever he broke the beans of his friends, they repeated the same remarks.

The innocent boy at last brought the matter to his mother. “Mother, my friends used to taunt me as survivor of tiger’s victim. What does it mean?” “When your height reaches rap* I will tell you,” replied the mother calmly. Months and years passed. So, when he reached rap, he asked the mother the same question. “When you reach Zarluong** I will tell you,” said the mother again. Months and years passed and he reached Zarluong. So, he insisted his mother to reveal her secret. His mother then narrated the story of how her father and seven brothers were willed and eaten up by the same tiger. So, she concluded that she was the only survivor in their family. That was why his friends taunted him. Tekabereisuon felt like being pierced through his heart with a sharp knife. He could not take rest. He was in a revengeful mood and at once said, “I’ll revenge the death of my uncles without fail.” “You would not be able to kill him unless you had a spear from your father in heaven,” said the mother. “In that case, I have to go to heaven for that.” So, he followed a lightning and took his father’s spear. It was a shinning iron spear.

Tekabereisuon set out to avenge the death of his uncles. On the way he met a man who carried mustard seeds in his big basket. The man asked, “Tekabereisuon, where are you going?” “I’m going to avenge the death of my uncles and destroy the fencing of a tiger,” replied Tekabereisuon. “I’ll empty my basket on the roadside, if you can recover them all without missing even a single grain, you’ll succeeded in your mission”, said the man. So, he emptied his basket on the roadside. Tekabereisuon employed a group of small birds to pick up all the seeds and recovered every grain to the basket. But the man said, “One is missing.” So, they searched every nook and corner for the missing one. But no grain was left on the ground. At last, Tekabereisuon forced open the mouth of each and every bird. At last they found it at the corner of the throat of the bird and took it back. The man said, “You will succeed in your mission.” Tekabereisuon continued his journey. On the way he met a man carrying a newly finished wooden mortar on his back. The man asked, “Tekabereisuon, where are you going?” Tekabereisuon replied, “I’m going to avenge the death of my uncles and demolish the fencing of the tiger.” “I will cut my mortar in two, if you can make them join again, you will succeed,” said the man. So, he cut it in two with his big axe. Tekabereisuon joined them again with special adhesive brought from his father. It became as good as original. “You will succeed in your mission,” blessed the man. After sometime, Tekabereisuon reached a small village. He put up in a small widow’s thatched house. “Where are you going?” asked the widow. “I am going to avenge the death of my uncles and destroy the fencing of the tiger.” Then, the widow told him that she had a very big pig which was her pride. She further said that if he could kill with one stroke, he would surely succeed in his mission. She called the big pig and it came grunting. The pig was so big and so fat that it could hardly walk. There were two women sitting on the open porch nearby. Tekabereisuon warned them, saying, “You, two women, please move aside that my spear may not touch you.” “Shame on you, how can you spear reach us this far?”, jeered the women. Then Tekabereisuon took a good aim at the pig. The spear went through the heart of the pig and pinned down the two women from their back side. The widow threw a big feast that day and Tekabereisuon also stayed another one day. The widow extracted oil out of the pig’s fat and put it into a bamboo tube. “You take the pig’s fat and put it into a bamboo tube. “you take the this pig oil and the meat with you for your food.” The widow also gave him some good advices, saying, “When you reach the tiger’s village, he will prepare meat for you. But don’t touch it, it is your uncle’s flesh. Go, in peace, you will succeed”, blessed the widow.

At last he reached the tiger’s village. The tiger hosted him nicely. Night came. He sent the rats to eat away the spear of his guest. As it was a steel, they could not damage it. The rats went back to the tiger and murmured, saying, “Our teeth got tired.” The tiger was very angry. Dawn came, the cock started to crow, “Cock-a-doodle doo. Good luck to guest, bad luck to host.” When the tiger heard it, he was filled with rage and went to the coop and twisted the neck of the cock. In the morning, the tiger and Tekabereisuon sat down to have their morning food. The tiger brought a dish of meat, but Tekabereisuon knew it was the flesh of his uncles, and so he didn’t touch it. Instead he took the pork which the widow gave him. After food, it was time for Tekabereisuon to go back and sk his host to see him off up to the village outskirt. They reached a woody place and Tekabereisuon said, “Uncle, Tiger, will you re-act the drama of how you turned wild and killed all my uncles?” The tiger said, “You’ll fear me.” “No, I will not fear, please.” Insisted Tekabereisuon. “Alright, you first climb the tree for your safety,” said the tiger. He climbed the tree and the tiger said, “Are you ready?” “Not yet,” replied Tekabereisuon. Then, he peeled off the skin of the tree. He broke his oil bamboo tube and applied all around the tree to make it difficult for the tiger to climb. The tree was really greasy now. He poised his spear ready for the attack. When he was fully prepared, he shouted at the tiger saying, “I’m ready now.” The tiger showed his true nature, and turned wild and tried to climb the tree. The tree was so slippery that he slipped down. He tried again and again. But he could not catch his victim. In each attempt he fell down again. At last, he was very tired now. He opened his red mouth wide with thirst but persisted in trying to climb. At this moment, Tekabereisuon, summoning all his strength, threw his spear at the opening mouth of the tiger below and pinned him down to the earth. He waited and watched from the tree. He thought that the tiger might still be alive. He requested a fly to see whether he was dead or alive. The fly entered the mouth and came out from the rectum. He did it three times and he found no sign of life. “{The tiger is really dead,” reported the fly. Tekabereisuon climbed down from the tree and chopped off the tiger’s head and carried it on his back. Thus, he avenged the death of his uncles.

In the meantime, Tekabereisuon’s mother was at home alone, waiting for her son’s return anxiously. During his absence, the local young men used to tease his widow mother. At night they used to knock her door imitating the voice of Tekabereisuon, saying, “I’m your son, I have come with the head of the tiger.” Thinking that it was really her son, she opened the door, but the young men ran away and she found none. Many times they teased her. At last, she was so fed up with them that she sworn not to open the door again.

Tekabereisuon finally arrived at night. He knocked at the door, saying “Mother, open the door, I have come with the head of the tiger.” But his mother did not open the door, saying, “You’re not my son, I’m not going to open the door. You are rather unmannerly young man. I know you for sure.” He was helpless. He waited and waited at the door. Then he told her that as she was not willing to open the door, he was going back to his father in heaven. He put the tiger’s head on the wooden mortar and advised his mother not to caress the beard of the tiger which was deadly poisonous. So saying he left for his heavenly abode. In the morning she woke up, opened the door and saw the tiger’s head lying on the mortar. She was overwhelmed with sorrow and grief. She wept bitterly and unconsciously caressed the tiger’s beard, forgetting her son’s warning. The strands of the beard cut her finger and the poison infected her blood and died instantly.


*Rap: it is a bamboo construction of four feet high above the hearth to dry paddy, corn and meat.

*Zarluong: It is a construction at six feet high just above rap to put baskets stc. It is something like a store room.

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