Responsive Ad Slot


Monday, May 21, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Once upon a time, there lived a very handsome young man called Sirate. He was known far and wide for his handsomeness. Even the spirits were charmed by his beauty. Phungnu, the demoness, was the one who could not pass her days without seeing Sirate. Phungnu loved him so much that she wanted to marry him at any cost.

One day, Sirate and his younger sister were heading towards their jhum. Phungnu transformed herself into a full blooming flower and stood just on the road-side to draw the attention of Sirate’s sister. When Sirate and his sister were about to pass by the flower, his sister asked him to go and pluck the flower. As soon as Sirate stretched out his hand to pluck the flower, which was no other than Phungnu herself, Phungnu caught hold of him and carried him away to her abode, leaving behind his sister.

Phungnu’s joy knew no bounds. She made Sirate stay at home all the time. One evening, she told him that she would go out to collect some vegetables. Sirate thought of a plan to escape from Phungnu. No sooner had Phungnu gone out then he also ran away. On the way, he came across an old man who was carrying a bundle of bamboos. The old man could not catch up with other villagers who were also returning from their jhum. So desperate as he was, Sirate stopped the old man and said, “Grandpa, please help me. Phungnu is running after me”. The old man replied, “You know, my son, I am a very old man. How can I help you?” Sirate’s request and said to him, “Well, what else can I do for you, my son? Kill me and take off my skin and put it on. If you do like this, Phungnu will not be able to recognise you”. The old man thus offered his life and Sirate put on the old man’s skin.

In the meantime, Phungnu came flying and stopped just in front of the disguised old man carrying a bundle of bamboo. With a coarse and angry voice, Phungnu asked, “Have you seen my Sirate? His footprints have just stopped right here.” “How can I know? I am an old man and I cannot recognise anybody”, replied the disguised old man. Phungnu then said, “No, your voice is the voice of my Sirate:. So saying, she started smelling the body of the disguised old man, touching the bead neckless of Sirate. At this, the disguised old man said to Phungnu, “Oh! You are going to break my bones and ribs. Please leave me alone. I know not who Sirate is!”

After searching for Sirate in vain, Phungnu went away. Sirate felt so relieved. He walked and walked. At dusk he reached on small village. As it was raining, he was shivering with cold and was taking shelter under the raised floor of one house. In order to draw the attention of the house-owners, he chirped like a newly hatched chicken. In the house, there were two young girls living with their parents. The older girl shouted, “What a poor chicken! Why did you leave it behind?” She went out to see and to her utter surprise, she saw the old man shivering with cold. Going back into the house, she shouted.” There is no chicken at all. He is a poor old man.” At this, the younger girl said to her sister, “Why don’t you ask him to come inside the house?” Saying so, she herself went out and took him inside the house. She made him sit near the fire and also offered him whatever left-over food they had.

The father of the house assigned the task of a watchman to the old man and sent him to their jhum to watch over the ripe paddy. The younger girl was instructed to go to the jhum-hut and to give food to him everyday. The disguised old man did not like to disclose his real identity and said to the younger girl, ‘Whenever you come to the jhum-hut, first make some sound by beating bamboo above the jhum.” As instructed, the girl used to make sound whenever she went to the jhum-hut. One day, she thought to herself, “Why all this? I must find out the reason why I have to make sound before reaching the jhum-hut stealthily. And lo! To her pleasant surprise, she saw the real Sirate, the most handsome young man she had ever seen in her life. Whenever Sirate was alone in the jhum-hut, he used to put off his old man’s skin. The girl went back and beat the bamboo above the jhum as she used to do before and then proceeded to the jhum-hut. But Sirate never realised that the girl had already seen him unaware.

At home, the two sisters uded to do several domestic works. Sometimes, they went and fetched water from the village pond. Many times, they idled away their time and took much time to fetch the water from the nearby pond. Their father was very angry and annoyed. He wanted to teach them a lesson and said, “Go and fetch the water from the village pond. Whoever comes late this time, I will marry her with old man.” The elder sister virtually ran to the pond, filled her bamboo-tubes and came back home in no time. Because she did not like to marry the old man at all. Whereas, the younger sister deliberately took much time, doing unnecessary things on the way and washing her legs and hands for a long time at the pond. Their father was a man of his words and forced the younger sister to marry the old man. To the utter surprise of all, Sirate now undressed himself, putting off the old man’s skin.Everybody in the village was stunned and charmed by Sirate’s handsomeness.

Soon there arose a quarrel between the two sisters because the elder sister felt jealous of her younger sister. At this, their father intervened and decided that Sirate had to make his own choice between them. Obviously Sirate chose the younger sister, saying, “From the very time I came here, the younger sister took pity on me. She took me inside your house. She made me sit near a fire when I was shivering with cold. She fed me when I was hungry.”

The whole villagers also rejoiced in Sirate’s marriage with the younger sister. But still Sirate had some premonition. When Phungnu came to know the news of his marriage, she would come flying and create trouble for him. However, all the young men of the village assured him of help and protection from any danger whatsoever. As anticipated by Sirate, at that moment, the villagers began to see a black object on the far horizon and came flying nearer and nearer. It was no other than Phungnu herself. As she was flying overhead, the whole villagers at once speared Phungnu and killed her. The body of Phungnu was then cut into many small pieces and, according to Hmar legend, the wild mosquitoes ate the small pieces of Phungnu’s flesh.

Source: Prof.(Dr.) Lal Dena,Hmar Folk Tales, Scholar Publishing House, New Delhi, 1995.
Don't Miss
© all rights reserved
made with by Simon L Infimate