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Hmar Folk Tales,

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Once upon a time there lived two sisters. The younger one was called Tawtaw. She was quite greedy and selfish. They had a garden nearby where they sowed some seeds of cucumber. The older sister asked Tawtaw to go and look after cucumber in the garden. Tawtaw went into the garden and told her sister that her cucumber plant had just sprouted but her sister’s had not yet sprouted. The older sister asked Tawtaw to go and look for cucumber again. Tawtaw went and replied that her cucumber had begun to creep on the ground and her sister’s had just sprouted. In this way, days and even months had passed. Tawtaw all the time claimed that her cucumber plant had always grown faster than her sister’s. If her cucumber had put forth flowers her sister’s would put forth buds. When Tawtaw’s cucumber had borne fruit, her sister’s would just put forth flowers. Finally, Tawtaw told her older sister that the fruit of her cucumber was as big as her thigh and her sister’s as big as her calf.

At this, the older sister asked Tawtaw to pluck the cucumber. When asked to share it, Tawtaw was not willing. Her sister insisted that they would cut with their daddy’s dao. Tawtaw made an excuse that the dao was dirty because it was stained with their daddy’s shit. The older sister again proposed that they could use their mummy’s sickle. Tawtaw again said that the sickle was stained with their mother’s menstrual blood. Unable to bear Tawtaw’s selfishness any longer the older sister said, “Tawtaw, since you are not willing to share your cucumber with me at all, I shall rather get myself buried inside the mound in our garden”. So saying, Tawtaw’s sister went to the mound, she was chanting thus:
“Let the mound cover me,
And cover me soon;
My sister’s not willing to share
Her cucumber with me,
Let the mound cover me
And cover me soon”

Tawtaw went to the mound and asked, “U*, how deep is it now?” Her sister replied, “Up to my ankle”. So saying, she was chanting the same song again. Tawtaw asked, “U, how deep is now?” “Up to my knee” was the older sister’s reply. She was chanting the same song again. After every interval of the song, Tawtaw’s sister got buried inside the mound bit by bit till she got completely buried.

In the evening, Tawtaw’s parents returned from their jhum. They asked Tawtaw about her elder sister. Tawtaw was trying to bluff her parents. She cooked up many stories, “She might have gone to our neighbour’s house up there. Or, she might have gone to our neighbour’s house down there.” Her parents looked for her in vain. At last, unable to make any more excuses, Tawtaw confessed and told her parents that her sister got buried inside the mound in their garden as she did not want to share her cucumber with her.

Soon they went to the garden. They started digging the mound. In no time they dug out the skull and later the shin-bone of Tawtaw’s sister. Playing with her sister’s skull and shin-bone, Tawtaw said boastfully to her friends, “Look here! I am having an iron brass and iron stick.” On hearing this, her friends were mocking at her saying, “Those arenothing but the skull and shin-bone of your sister.” Getting annoyed, Tawtaw complained to her parents that her friends teased her. Tawtaw’s parents intervened saying, “we simply called her sister’s skull and shin-bone as iron brass and iron stick to make children happy.” As they continued digging the mound, they at last found the toes of Tawtaw’s sister. Out of anxiety, they were trying to pull out the toes all at once. Alas! Some of the toes were broken and left behind inside the mound. The Hmar legend says that the mushroom which comes out of the mound seasonally is believed to be the toes of Tawtaw’s sister.


* U is a form of address among Hmars to an elder sister or brother or any other person older than the addresser.

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

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