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The Deaf Family

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Formerly Santals were very stupid and much afraid of Hindus; and once
a Santal was ploughing at a place where two roads met and a Hindu
came along and asked him, in Hindi, where the two roads went to; now
the Santal did not understand Hindi and was also deaf and he thought
that the Hindu said "These two bullocks are mine,"--and he answered
"When did I take your bullocks?" The Hindu sat down and repeated his
question; but the Santal did not understand and continued to assert
that the bullocks were his and were named Rice eater and Jaituk [2]
and had formed part of his wife's dowry; the Hindu kept on asking
about the roads and at last the Santal got frightened and thought
"perhaps my father-in-law took the bullocks from this man and at
any rate he will beat me and take them by force"; so he unyoked his
bullocks and handed them over to the stranger; and the Hindu when he
found out what was meant went off with them as fast as he could.

Soon after the Santal's mother brought him out his dinner and he
told her what had happened about the bullocks! And she also was deaf
and thought that he was complaining that the rice had no salt in
it; so she answered, "Your wife gave it to me like this; I cannot
say whether she put salt into it; come, eat it up." After he had
eaten his dinner the old woman took the dishes home; and she found
her husband cutting out a rice pounder; and she told him how their
son had scolded her because there was no salt in the rice; and the
husband was also deaf and he thought that she wanted to know what
he was making and he answered crossly "It may be a rice pounder and
it may be a rice mortar." And as often as she repeated her story he
made this answer and told her not to worry him. Then she went to her
daughter-in-law who was also deaf and sat spinning in the verandah;
and she scolded her for not putting salt in the rice; and she answered
"Who knows what I am spinning; the thread may be all knotty, but
still I reel it up." And this is the end of the story. Thus the man
lost his bullocks through cross questions and crooked answers; and
as the whole family talked like that they soon became poor.

Next: The Father-in-law's Visit

Previous: The Backwards And Forwards Dance

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