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Saturday, May 30, 2015

/ Published by VIRTHLI
Once upon a time, there lived the most beautiful in the eastern land. Her name was Vanchunglaizuor. At the same time there was also a very handsome young man called Tlumte. He lived in the western land.

Tlumte and a group of young men used to visit her. They had to go through many villages on the way. The other young men were very conscious of Tlumte’s good look, and made him walk in the last. As they were passing through the villages, the villagers crowded around them. “We’re visiting Vanchunglaizuor and who is the most handsome one among us,” they asked. “The one who is in the last,” said the villagers pointing at Tlumte who was in the last. They walked on and passed another village. The other young men put flowers on their ears. But Tlumte put a bud on his ears. “Of the youngmen among us visiting Vanchunglaizuor, who is the most handsome one?” they asked the onlookers. “The one who put the bud on his ears,” they all said in unison pointing at Tlumte. They were now convinced that Tlumte was no match for them. They therefore asked him not to accompany them. Despite the fact that his friends did not like him to go along with them, Tlumte still walked behind them. The other youngmen reached the village earlier and visited the girl. Sometime later Tlumte also arrived. He could not get proper seat in the house and simply sat near the doorstep where bamboo-tubes containing water were kept. When Vanchunglaizuor saw Tlumte, she loved him at first sight. But she did not show any sign of her love to him openly and greeted all her suitors equally well.

They used to visit her many times from distant village because each one felt that he was the best and most prospective suitor. One night, as they were sitting in her house and helping her weaved and spinned threads, one of them advanced a proposal, saying, “It’s not good that all of us are hopeful. She cannot marry us all. Therefore, let her choose only one amont us and the rest shall go home.” They all agreed and asked her to choose her suitor. They asked her to light their smoking pipe from the hearth one by one. So they all gave her their pipes. One by one she lighted the pipes with live fire-wood and gave them back. But on the pipe of Tlumte she pot amber carefully and gave him back. From that moment, they all knew that Tlumte was the choice. So they all left him behind. Tlumte stayed back for some time and their love increased every day. He informed the parents of Vanchunglaizuor about his desire to marry their daughter. The parents agreed with certain conditions. She was the only maiden in the family. She carried water and fire-wood everyday. If she was not there, there would not be anyone to take her place. Domestic affairs should be completely in a mess. So they insisted that firewood which would last their life time should be piled up in front of their house. They also insisted that Tlumte should make a neverdrying fountain by the side of their house. Tlumte was very sad because he did not know what to do. For it was impossible to fulfil their demands. He sat down and started to cry. A group of monkeys saw him and asked, “Tlumte, why are you crying? Tlumte told them of his problems. The monkeys said that they would help him. Tlumte made friendship with monkeys. Hundreds of monkeys came to his help and brought dry wood from forest and stocked them in heaps. Soon there was enough firewood to last the parents’ lifetime. The parents of Vanchunglaizuor were indeed satisfied. But Tlumte’s next problem was the fountain. He thought of a plan and started digging up a well and filled it with water, but the next day it dried up. He tried and tried but could not succeed. One evening, he was sitting near the river. He thought of his Vanchunglaizuor and of his problems and was very sad. A group of crabs in the river came and comforted him saying, “Don’t worry, we shall do the job. You dig a well and put many stones in it. There we shall take shelter and produce water.” He was really happy.

He dug a good well by the side of the house and put stones in it. At night crabs came in a body and took shelter. Throughout the night they produced their saliva and in the morning water sprang out of the well. The parents of Vanchunglaizuor were satisfied.

At home the rejected suitors spread the news like wild fire that Tlumte would bring Vanchunglaizuor, the paramour of eastern beauty. The whole village was excited and was fully prepared to receive and welcome the most beautiful bride at the outskirt of the village. At the same time, Tlumte took his new bride and set out for home. They covered a very long distance. As they were passing through a thick jungle with a small pond nearby, Vanchunglaizuor said, “O! I have forgotten my comb. I could not do without it. Let me go back.” “No, you can’t your parents may hold you back. I will go instead”, said he. But he felt that to leave a girl alone in the thick jungle was not safe. So he constructed a resting place on the tree just above the pond, and instructed her not to climb down under any circumstances. Tlumte went back running. After sometime, a vampire came and looked herself in the water. She saw the image of Vanchunglaizuor with many necklaces and bracelets on her neck and wrists into the water. “My real neck does not have necklaces, my real wrist does not have bracelets, but my image has so many necklaces and bracelets,” so saying she patted her buttock and at the same time was hopping in wild excitement. At first, Vanchunglaizuor laughed in her sleeve, but as the vampire repeated her acts in a more excited manner, she could not restraint herself and burst into laughter.

The vampire at once looked upward and saw the beautiful girl on the tree. “Tell me how to climb,” she demanded. Vanchunglaizuor was in the grip of fear and was trembling. After repeated demands, Vanchunglaizuor said to the vampire, “Turn your head upside down, and you will climb it?” The vampire tried but nearly broke her neck. She grew more angry and said, “If you don’t tell me the truth, I will come and eat you up.” Vanchunglaizuor was more afraid and told her how to climb up. So she climbed up and saw the tender flesh and skin of the girl. Her mouth was watering. “You look for lice on my head,” ordered the vampire. Vanchunglaizuor had to oblige and when she looked at the vampire’s hair it was full of hairy catterpillars and her hair stood on end in fear. She dared not touch them with her finger. However, she could convince her that she had killed many of her lice. “Now, it’s my turn”, said the vampire, laying her ugly and rough hands on the Vanchunglaizuor’s head. As she parted the hair in search of lice, she saw the white, soft and tender skin and her mouth was watering. With her sharp nails she cut the skin and blood oozed out. Vanchunglaizuor cried in pain but “I’m catching the lice with my nails”, said the vampire. As she kept on sucking her blood, Vanchunglaizuor was crying in great pain. Still the vampire pretended to be catching lice. So she sucked out all her blood and at last swallowed her up and pot on her necklaces in her necks and bracelets in her wrists. In the meantime, Tlumte arrived and saw vampire sitting in place of his wife. Her look was as different as night is from day. He knew that she was not his wife, but he did not see his wife either. “O my! How different you are,” he exclaimed in amazement. Your nails are sharp and pointed and your eyes are shrinking,” said Tlumte. “My nails are sharp for pointing to the direction of your coming my eyes shrank for eagerly looking to your coming,” replied she. “But you’re not my wife. Vanchunglaizuor,” repeated Tlumte. “I am,” she insisted. Tlumte knew that the vampire was not his wife but he did not see his wife either. So he commanded, “Get down, take the lead, if you don’t know the right path, you are not my wife. That’s a good proof.” She got down, took the lead and set off. At every crossing she was at a loss as to which path to take and took the wrong path. “I mean we’re visiting our grand mother’s village,” she excused herself.

The people were eagerly waiting for the arrival of the bride and the bridegroom. When they reached the village outskirt, people thronged the areas, but when they saw the bride, they were very disappointed and angry. Is this the paramour of eastern beauty whose fame spread far and wide? Shame, shame on you,” jeered the curious crowd. Tlumte was full of shame. They were passing through the crowd towards their home. She did not know her husband’s house and entered the wrong house. “If you are Vanchunglaizuor, you will know my house, but you don’t know it. So you are not Vanchunglaizuor but somebody else,” said Tlumte again. At this the vampire said that she entered somebody’s house knowingly just to see whether they are alright. So they lived as husband and wife reservedly. The vampire had a bad and dirty habit. At night she used to pass her stools near the house. In course of time a gourd creeping into the house and a tender gourd, the size of a baby’s head was hanging on the wall. Inside of the gourd was the spirit of Vanchunglaizuor. Tlumte and his wife went to their jhum every day and came back only at dusk. During their absence, Vanchunglaizuor came out of the gourd and cooked food and did all the domestic works and entered back into the gourd. Whenever they returned from jhum, they found their food cooked and ready and the house very clean. But they could not guess who had done all these things every day for them. They were in utter amazement.

One day, Tlumte thought to himself, “I will find out who did it.” So he pretended to be indisposed and sent his wife alone to jhum. When evening was approaching, he hid himself at the corner of his bed and kept a watchful eye. When evening came, Vanchunglaizuor jumped out of the gourd, lighted the fire, swept the floor and started cooking. Like a lightning, Tlumte jumped out and caught hold of his beloved wife. He was eager to know the circumstances leading to such situation and asked her many question one after another. Vanchunglaizuor narrated the events from the beginning to the end. Tlumte was full of anger against the vampire and began to sharpen his dao. Evening came, the vampire arrived and was standing at the door with basket on her back full of leaves for pigs. “Open the door,” she shouted. “Yes” came the reply from within but no action. She shouted at her husband in anger for his delay. Impatient, she broke open the door, rebuking him with abusive words. He jumped at her and vut her in two with his sharp dao. One portion he threw down to backside of the house and the other to the frontside. The portion thrown to the backside sprouted into a broad leaf plant and the one thrown outside the house turned into a big rock.

Tlumte and Vanchunglaizuor now lived happily for some time. He was now really proud of his wife and wanted everybody in the village to see her face to face. One day he told all the village women that his wife would visit each house in search of broad leaves for wrapping cooked rice. At the same time, he also instructed them not to give her any leave even if they had. So, one morning, Vanchunglaizuor visited one house after another in search of leaves, but each house hold woman expressed regret. So, she visited all the houses in that morning. All women were really amazed at her beauty. She returned home, tired and dazed. “If you don’t get any leave, you just wrap it with your apron,” said Tlumte. So saying he went ahead to their jhum thinking that his wife would follow him soon. She looked through the window and saw broad leaf plant standing by the back of the house. “Ah, that leaves are good for the purpose,” said she and went down to take it. Inside the plant was the spirit of the vampire. As she was cutting it, the plant swallowed her up. Tlumte was waiting for her in the jhum. He was very much worried about her since she did not follow him. He returned home from the jhum full of misgivings. He was looking for her every nook and corner. In anger he cut the plant at the back of the house and found her out encaged within the bud of the plant. Since that time onwards, Vanchunglaizuor looked pale and sickly. She fell ill almost daily. But Tlumte had to leave her at home alone. One morning she basked herself on the rock inside which was the spirit of the vampire. The rock swallowed her up again. Evening came. Tlumte was looking for her every nook and corner. At last he suspected the rock. He piled up woods on the rock and set on fire. As the smoke was billowing forth, he saw his paramour flying away upward in the thick smoke.

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