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Palo






Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a man named Dhuju, and he had sons named Ret Mongla,
Saru Sama and Chapat champa; and their wives were named Chibo, Porbet
and Palo.

One rainy season the family was busy with the ploughing: Ret Mongla
used to take the plough cattle out to get some grazing before the sun
rose; and his two brothers took the ploughs to the fields a little
later and the old father used to look on and tell them what to do. It
was their practice when they wanted to attract each other's attention
to call out: "Ho!" and not "Ya!" or "Brother." One day it had been
arranged that they should sow gundli in a field; but when the
eldest brother arrived at the place with the bullocks ready to plough
he found that his two brothers had not turned up with the ploughs;
so he began to call "Pal, ho!" (Pal = plough share).

Now just then the wife of the youngest brother, Palo, had gone towards
that field to throw away the sweepings of the cowshed and she thought
Ret Mongla was calling her name; this surprised her and made her
very angry; and she made up her mind to pay him back and then if she
were scolded for not paying proper respect to her husband's eldest
brother to explain that he had insulted her first. So that morning
when she took out their breakfast to the men working in the field,
she pretended to be in great hurry, and putting down her basket near
the place where the three brothers were ploughing, called out to them:
"Come, stop ploughing," and then with scarcely an interval: "Look
sharp and come and eat; or if you don't I will take your breakfast away
again." So the brothers stopped their work and ate their breakfasts.

But when Palo had gone back and they were sitting having a chew
of tobacco, the eldest brother began: "Did you notice how that girl
behaved to me just now; she spoke to me in a most rude way as if I were
not a person to whom she owed respect." The other two said that they
had noticed it themselves, and her husband Chapat Champa said that he
would punish her for it when he got home. Directly he got to the house
he began scolding her and she made no answer, but that night when they
were alone together she told him that what she had done was because
Ret Mongla had insulted her by calling her by name. The next day her
mother-in-law took her to task but Palo gave the same explanation.

Then Ret Mongla's mother went to him and asked him whether there was
any truth in this counter-charge; he saw at once what had happened
and explained that he had never called out his sister-in-law by name;
he had called out for the plough; "Pal ho! Pal ho!" because his brothers
had not got the ploughs ready; when Palo understood what a mistake she
had made, she was covered with confusion and they brought water and she
washed Ret Mongla's feet as she had done on the day of her marriage,
and they salaamed to each other and peace was restored. But if the
mistake had not been explained Palo would have been turned out of
the family.





Next: The Women's Sacrifice

Previous: Ram's Wife



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