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C The Divorce

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a man who had reason to suspect his wife's
faithfulness. He first tried threatening and scolding her; but this
had no good effect, for far from being ashamed she only gave him
back harder words than she received. So he set to work to find some
way of divorcing her without making a scandal. One day when he came
home with a fine basket of fish which he had caught he found that his
father-in-law had come to pay them a visit. As he cleaned the fish
he grumbled at the thought that his wife would of course give all the
best of them to her father; at last an idea struck him. As he handed
over the fish to his wife he told her to be careful not to give her
father the heads of the mangri fish nor the dust of tobacco, as
it was very wrong to give either of those things to a visitor. "Very
well," she answered; but to herself she thought "What does he mean by
forbidding me to do these things? I shall take care to give my father
nothing but the heads of the fish" for her pleasure was to thwart her
husband. So when the evening meal was ready she filled a separate plate
for her father with nothing but the fish heads. As her husband heard
the old man munching and crunching the bones he smiled to himself at
the success of the plot. When his father was about to leave he asked
for some tobacco, and the woman brought him only tobacco dust which she
had carefully collected out of the bottom of the bag. The old gentleman
went off without a word but very disappointed with his treatment.

A few days later the woman went to visit her father's house, and
then he at once asked her what she meant by treating him as she had
done. "I am sorry," said she: "I did it to spite my husband; he went
out of his way to tell me not to give you the heads of the fish and
the dust of tobacco, and so I picked out nothing but heads for you
and gave you all the tobacco dust I could collect because I was so
angry with him." From this her father easily understood that husband
and wife were not getting on well together.

Time passed and one day her mother went to visit the troublesome
wife. As she was leaving, her daughter asked whether there was any
special reason for her coming. Her mother admitted that she had come
hoping to borrow a little oil to rub on the cattle at the coming
Sohrae festival, but as her son-in-law was not there she did not like
to mention it and would not like to take any without his consent. "O
never mind him!" said the woman and insisted on her mother taking
away a pot--not of cheap mowah or mustard oil,--but of ghee.

Now a little girl saw her do this and the tale was soon all over the
village; but the undutiful wife never said a word about it to her
husband, and it was only after some days that he heard from others
of his wife's extravagance. When it did reach his ears he seized
the opportunity and at once drove her out of the house, and when
a panchayat was called insisted on divorcing her for wasting his
substance behind his back. No one could deny that the reason was a
good one and so the panchayat had to allow the divorce. Thus he got
rid of his wife without letting his real reason for doing so be known.

Next: The Father And The Father-in-law

Previous: The Thief's Son

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