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Saturday, April 4, 2015

/ Published by VIRTHLI
Long long ago there was an ugly young man named Riengtepa. He was so ugly that no girl of the village wanted to marry him. However he was a good hunter. Whenever he was out hunting he returned successful.
One day he was out hunting. He found fresh footprints of a stag. He started following the foot-prints. One fairy also was following the same animal. As they met each other all of a sudden face to face, Riengtepa caught hold of the beautiful fairy. She was struggling hard but he gripped her hand so firmly that she could not run away. “You are a beautiful lady and I am a bachelor; so I will take you home to be my wife”, said Riengtepa excitedly. So, he took the fairy home to be his wife. She was a shy lady and requested her husband not to tell anybody of the village about her. He agreed to her request and named her Sakhilawngdar.

She was a witch and could perform miracles. Through her ingenuity, the village was transformed beyond recognition within a short time. The people also prospered in all their works. In course of time the people made Riengtepa their honoured chief.
The new chief was held in high respect by his subjects and wherever he went he killed pigs goats and cows. Within a short time he was completely spoilt and became a habitual drinker. He used to stay away from home many a time quite impervious of his duties as head of the village. Once he visited a house where local wine was sold and stayed the whole night with his drunken friends. His wife got annoyed and sent her little daughter to call him. The little girl went running and from the door, “Pa pa, Mummy sends me to call you”, she said innocently. He did not take any heed and kept on drinking. For the second time she sent the girl. The girl said the same thing. “Yes, I’ll come”, said he, but kept on drinking. For the thir time she sent the girl and Riengtepa shouted at the girl, “That Sakhilawngdar, let her go back, I don’t mind”. The girl returned home running and reported the father’s angry words. So they left home to the forest on that very moment in anger and humiliation.
After two days, Riengtepa came home and found the house deserted and empty, he felt lonely and miserable. Thus he became his old self again. There was none to look after the domestic affairs. Slowly he became poorer and poorer and soon became a wandering vagabond. Sakhilawngdar and her daughter looked down from the sky and saw him wandering in hunger and thirst. The little girl took pity on him and said to her mother, “Mummy I pity my daddy, let us give him food.” “Drop him your little pot”, said the mother. She dropped him the little pot filled with cooked rice. The pot could not go empty. Riengtepa was very happy now because whenever he felt hungry he easily poured enough rice from the pot. He carried it wherever he went.
One day he visited a big village and the headman was Vailal. He was cunning, proud and overbearing. He saw Riengtepa’s never-go-empty pot and challenged its miracle. So, he proposed a bet as to who had more of cooked rice. He commanded all his servants to cook as much rice as they could. On the appointed day before the crowd, they began pouring out the cooked rice. When all the pots were emptied from the Vailal’s side, Riengtepa’s pot remained full. So they snatched the little pot from him and beat him right and left, and bound him from head to foot.
On the following day, Vailal would ask Riengtepa three puzzles. If he could not solve them he would be put to death. A messenger was sent to him about the decision and was given one hour time for deep meditation. After the lapse of an hour, Vailal and his council members arrived at the scene and Riengtepa was mentally prepared for any eventuality. Vailal taunted jeeringly, “you sloth Riengtepa, I will ask you only three questions. If you can answer correctly, I’ll let you free, if you don’t you are doomed.” “Yes” said Riengtepa with calm resignation.
All the council members and the entire village people gathered together forming a ring around Riengtepa with unsual excitement. They brought before him two women (One was the mother and the other her daughter, but looked equal in age) and asked him to point out the mother. He looked at them and they looked so equal that he found it impossible to point out the mother. So he took a stick and inflicted a hard blow to one of them. She cried, “Ma, Ma, how painful!” At once he recognised the other on was the mother. He proved correct. They all appreciated his presence of mind. Then they wrapped a cow with cloth in such a way that it was impossible which side was the head and which side the hind. The put it before him and was asked to point out the head portion. He at once thought out a plan. He took the same stick and inflicted a heavy blow and the cow jumped out. So, easily he pointed out the head portion. They all praised his presence of mind.
They again wrapped a cat in such a way that it was impossible to differentiate between the back and the front. The chief said, “This is a cat, you have to tell me which side is the back side. If you can’t, you will be put to death outright,” Riengtepa took the wrapped cat and dropped it from overhead. The cat stood on four legs. So easily he told the impatient chief the back side of the cat. They all appreciated his presence of mind. So, they set him free with his little pot.

It is said that within an hour of his meditation, his fairy wife had told him the solutions.
Source: Prof.(Dr.) Lal Dena,Hmar Folk Tales, Scholar Publishing House, New Delhi, 1995.
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