The Cooing Of The Doves
Source: Folk-tales Of The Khasis
Of all the birds there are none that keep themselves more separate
than the doves. They do not peck at other birds as the crows and the
vultures do, but, on restless foot and wing, they quickly withdraw
themselves from every presuming neighbour.
The Ancient Khasis say that at one time the doves sang like other
birds, and the following story tells how they ceased their singing
and came to express their feelings in the plaintive "Coo-oo" for
which they are noted throughout the world.
Once a family of doves lived very happily in the forest, and its
youngest member was a beautiful female called Ka Paro. Her parents and
all the family were very indulgent to her, and never permitted her
to risk the danger of the grain-fields until they had ascertained
that there were no hunters or wild beasts likely to attack her;
so Ka Paro used to stay in the shelter of her home until they gave
a signal that the land was safe and clear.
One day, while waiting for the signal, she happened to go up into
a tall tree on which there were clusters of luscious red berries
growing. As the doves usually subsisted on grain, Ka Paro did not
pay much attention to the berries; she sat on a branch, preening her
feathers and watching other birds who came to pick them.
By and by there came a smart young Jylleit (a jungle bird with gorgeous
green and gold feathers) who perched to pick berries upon the very
branch on which Ka Paro sat. She had never seen such a beautiful bird,
and to please him she sang to him one of her sweetest songs. U Jylleit
was quickly attracted by the sweet voice and the gentle manners of
the dove, and a pleasant intimacy grew between the two. Ka Paro came
to that tree to preen her feathers and to sing every day, while the
Jylleit admired her and picked the berries.
After a time U Jylleit sent to the dove's parents to ask her in
marriage. Although their young daughter pressed them hard to give
their consent, the parents were wise, and did not want to trust
the happiness of their pet child to a stranger until they had time
to test his worth; they knew too that marriages between alien tribes
were scarcely ever a success. So, to test the constancy of the young
suitor, they postponed the marriage till the winter, and with that
the lovers had to be content. The parents remembered that the berries
would be over by the winter, and it remained to be seen whether the
Jylleit would be willing to forgo his luxuries and to share the frugal
food of the doves, or whether he would fly away to some other forests
where berries were to be found. Ka Paro was so much in love that she
was very confident of the fidelity of her suitor, but to her sorrow,
as soon as the berries were finished, U Jylleit flitted away without
even a word of farewell, and she never saw him again.
From that time Ka Paro ceased to sing. She could only utter the
longing and sorrow that was in her heart in sad and plaintive notes,
so the doves are cooing sadly even in their happiest moments.
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