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Monday, February 23, 2015

/ Published by VIRTHLI
Once upon a time, there lived a famous, king called Lalvung. He had seven sons and one daughter.  The youngest son was called Tlumte and the daughter was called Sawrlai. Lalvung was so rich that there was nothing on earth which he did not possess. He wanted to have the stars of the sky. So he and his seven sons confabulated and decided to go up in the sky to take the stars. They thus started their adventurous journey in space leaving behind Sawrlai alone in their palace.

Being the youngest, Tlumte used to go down every day to take seven packed food and curry from his sister Sawrlai. The palace had eight layers of wall which could be opened from inside only. Whenever Tlumte got down to the palace, he used to knock the door, saying, “Dear sister, Sawrlai. Give me seven packed food and curry. Let the eight layers of the wall be opened.” Whenever Sawrlai heard Tlumte’s voice, she used to open the door for him and gave seven packed food and curry for her father and brothers.

On one occasion, Vawmpahrawng happened to see Sawrlai by chance and the manner in which she gave food to her brother Tlumte by opening the eight layers of the wall. He became restless and wanted to marry her. Getting to the palace’s gate early next morning Vawmpahrawng knocked the door as Tlumte did. But Sawrlai could easily distinguish his coarse voice from her brother’s and did not like to open the door for him. Vawmpahrawng was so disappointed but was still trying to find out other means by which he could somehow reach Sawrlai. One day he went to a widow who lived down in his village and sought her advice as to how he could imitate Tlumte’s voice. The widow told Vawmpahrawng to lick the urine of Tlumte every morning for several days and his voice would be like Tlumte’s voice. Having done as he was advised, his voice sounded exactly like the voice of Tlumte and proceeded towards the palace. Getting to the door, he knocked, saying, “Dear sister, Sawrlai. Give me seven packed food and curry and let the eight layers of the wall be opened.” Sawrlai could no longer differentiate the voice of Vawmpahrawng from Tlumte’s and then opened the door. In no time, Vawmpahrawng caught hold of Sawrlai and forcibly took her away to a far off place.
After sometime Tlumte descended from the space as usual and knocked the door as he used to do before. But alas! There was no more response. Disappointed, he went up again in the sky and informed his brothers about what had happened in their palace. Lalvung and his seven sons put their heads together and decided to go back to their palace. On arrival, their father first tried to force open the door by throwing a long wooden rod on the wall. But it boomeranged and hit just on his forehead and died instantly but leaving one layer of the door opened. Then the oldest brother also tried as their father did but met the same fate, of course, leaving the second layer of the door opened. All the brothers threw the rod at the door in turn and died one after another, but each time, one layer of the door was opened. At last Tlumte’s turn came and threw the wooden rod at the last layer of the door. The door opened and Tlumte entered the palace. Seeing that Sawrlai was no more there, he sobbed bitterly. He arranged the dead bodies of his father and brothers on the long wooden plank in order of seniority. Closing the door, he went up on the terrace of their palace at night and laid flat on his back and kept on weeping. After sometime, he became so thirsty but there was no water. Looking up desperately, he said, “Oh! What a fool we are? We have been trying to take stars only for our own destruction. I am the only one who is surviving now. I feel so dejected and must die of thirst. Oh! God of Heaven and God of Earth, come and help me!” Then and there, a few drops of dew fell right into his mouth and he felt quite refreshed. Mastering all his strength, he got up and set out to search for his sister Sawrlai.

By transforming himself into a dove, he flew hither and thither knowing not which direction to fly to. At last, he saw a cultivator clearing weeds in his jhum from a distance. He was flying towards him and asked, “Did you happen to see my sister Sawrlai?” “Yes, I have seen her. But she must have crossed over big and high mountains by now,” replied the man. Afterwards, he was flying towards two persons weeding their jhum. Tlumte was told to go to three persons, four persons and so on. At last, he came across ten persons weeding their jhum and asked them whether they have seen his sister. They said to Tlumte, “Fly to the woman there in the village who is weaving and talk to her.” All of a sudden, Tlumte was flying again in full speed towards the woman and sat on the branch of a tree in front of the women and asked, “Have you seen my sister Sawrlai?” The woman happened to be Sawrlai. She then said to the dove, “If you are really my brother Tlumte, come and sit on the rail of my Tlangkhang*, Then the dove descended and sat on the rail. Sawrlai said again, “If you are really my brother, come and drink the water in my bowl.” Again, the dove went down and drank the water. At that moment, Sawrlai caught the dove and kissed him, saying “Baby, how do you manage to come to this far-off place just to search for me? I love you so much!” The dove replied, “Set me free, I am really afraid of your husband. Had he seen me, he shall surely kill me.” Sawrlai assured him that no harm would be done to him. She then covered him with a basket and hid him in one corner of the house.

Vawmpahrawng returned from his jhum in his house. One day during the absence of Vawmpahrawng, the dove prompted his sister to ask her husband about the technique of dealing with fire and flood. When Vawmpahrawng returned in the evening, he disclosed all his secrets to his wife, adding that “the pigeon above us is my life and soul. Its legs are my legs and its wings are my arms.” The next day when Vawmpahrawng was away from home, Sawrlai and her brother ran away with the pigeon and Vawmpahrawng’s magical box containing the seeds of creeper, fire, water and forest.

When Vawmpahrawng came to know that Sawrlai ran away, he ran helter skelter. He suspected that Sawrlai must have run away with her brother and he soon ran after them. Realising that they were being chased by Vawmpahrawng, Sawrlai and Tlumte threw the seeds of creepers. But Vawmpahrawng passed through the thick creepers easily. They then threw the seeds of fire, flood and forest one after another. Still Vawmpahrawng could pass through them without much difficulty. When Vawmpahrawng was about to overtake them, a voice from above said to Sawrlai and Tlumte, “Break the wings of the pigeon.” Then, Tlumte broke both the wings of the pigeon.” Then, Tlumte broke both the wings of the pigeon and immediately Vawmpahrawng’s arms also were broken. Again, Tlumte broke both the legs of the pigeon and Vawmpahrawng collapsed and died.

Secure and safe, Sawrlai and Tlumte had collected seven hnathiel leaves along with seven bamboo pipes full of holy water on which no birds had ever passed their stool. On reaching their palace again, they rearranged the bones of their father and brothers on the seven wild leaves. They then sprinkled the holy water on the bones. Alas! The bones started moving and joined one another. They sprinkled the holy water again on the bones and the bones were covered with flesh. For the third time, they sprinkled the water again and the dead bodies began to sneeze and rose again. In this way, the family lived happily as ever before.

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