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The House Bonga

Category: Part IV

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there was a house bonga who lived in the house
of the headman of a certain village; and it was a shocking thief;
it used to steal every kind of grain and food, cooked and uncooked;
out of the houses of the villagers. The villagers knew what was going
on but could never catch it.

One evening however the bonga was coming along with a pot of boiled
rice which it had stolen, when one of the villagers suddenly came upon
it face to face; the bonga slunk into the hedge but the villager
saw it clearly and flung his stick at it, whereupon the bonga got
frightened and dropped the pot of rice on the ground so that it was
smashed to pieces and fled. The villager pursued the bonga till he
saw it enter the headman's house. Then he went home, intending the
next morning to show the neighbours the spilt rice lying on the path;
but when the morning came he found that the rice had been removed,
so he kept quiet.

At midday he heard the headman's servants complaining that the rice
which had been given them for breakfast was so dirty and muddy that
some of them had not been able to eat it at all; then he asked how
they were usually fed "Capitally," they answered "we get most varied
meals, often with turmeric and pulse or vegetables added to the rice;
but that is only for the morning meal; for supper we get only plain
rice." "Now, I can tell you the reason of that" said the villager,
"there is a greedy bonga in your house who goes stealing food at
night and puts some of what he gets into your pots for your morning
meal." "That's a fine story" said the servants: "No, it's true" said
the villager, and told them how the evening before he had made the
bonga drop the rice and how afterwards it had been scraped up off
the ground; and when they heard this they believed him because they
had found the mud in their food.

Some time afterwards the same man saw the bonga again at night
making off with some heads of Indian corn; so he woke up a friend
and they both took sticks and headed off the bonga, who threw down
the Indian corn and ran away to the headman's house. Then they woke
up the headman and told him that a thief had run into his house. So
he lit a lamp and went in to look, and they could hear the bonga
running about all over the house making a great clatter and trying to
hide itself; but they could not see it. Then they took the headman to
see the Indian corn which the bonga had dropped in its flight. The
next day the villagers met and fined the headman for having the
bonga in his house; and from that time the bonga did not steal
in that village, and whenever the two men who had chased it visited
the headman's house the bonga was heard making a great clatter as
it rushed about trying to hide.

Next: The Sarsagun Maiden

Previous: Lakhan And The Bongas

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