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The Two Witches

Category: Part VI.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There were once a woman and her daughter-in-law who were both
witches. One night during the annual Sohrai festival the men of the
village were going from house to house singing and getting rice beer
to drink; and one young man named Chandrai got so drunk that when they
came to the house where the two witch-women lived he rolled himself
under the shelf on which rice was stored and fell asleep. Next morning
he came to his senses but he did not like to come out and show himself
for fear of ridicule so he made up his mind to wait till a party came
round singing again and then to slip out with them unperceived.

He lay waiting and presently all the men of the house went away to
join in the danka dance; leaving the mistress of the house and
her daughter-in-law alone. Presently, the two began to talk and the
elder woman said "Well what with the pigs and the goats that have been
sacrificed during this Sohrai we have had plenty of meat to eat lately
and yet I don't feel as if I had had any." "That is so," answered her
daughter-in-law; "fowls' and pig's flesh is very unsatisfying." "Then
what are we to do?" rejoined the old woman, "I don't know unless you
do for the father of your grandchild." When he heard this Chandrai
shivered with fright and hid himself further under the rice shelf,
for he saw that the two women must be witches.

That day was the day on which a bullock is tied to a post outside each
house and at noon the husband of the younger witch began to dig a hole
outside the house to receive the post. While he was working Chandrai
heard the two women begin to talk again. "Now is your opportunity,"
said the younger woman, "while he is digging the hole." "But perhaps
the ojha will be able to discover us," objected the other. "Oh
we can prevent that by making the ojha see in the oiled leaf the
faces of Rupi and Bindi--naming two girls of the village--and we can
say that my husband had seduced them and then declined to marry them
and that that was why they killed him." The old woman seemed to be
satisfied, for she took up a hatchet and went out to where her son
was digging the hole. She waited till he bent down to throw out the
earth with his hands and then cut open his back and pulled out his
liver and heart and brought them into the house. Her unfortunate son
felt a spasm of pain when his mother struck him but he did not know
what had hurt him and there was no visible wound. The two women then
chopped up the liver and heart and cooked and ate them.

That night when the village youths came round to the house, singing,
Chandrai slipped out with them unperceived and hastened home. Two or
three days later the bewitched man became seriously ill; medicines
and sacrifices did him no good; the ojhas were called in but could
make nothing of the illness. The villagers were very angry with them
for the failure and the headman told them that they must ascertain
by means of the oiled leaf who had caused the illness, or it would
be the worse for them. So the ojhas went through their ceremonies
and after a time declared that the oiled leaf showed the faces of
the two girls Rupi and Bindi; and that it was they who were eating
up the sick man. So the two girls were sent for and questioned but
they solemnly swore that they knew nothing about the matter. No one
believed their protestations and the headman ordered that filth should
be put into their mouths and that they should be well beaten to make
them confess. However before any harm was done them Chandrai sprang
up and called out to the headman: "You have proof that these girls
are witches, but I will not let you beat them here. Let us take them
to yonder open field; the token of their oath is there and we will
make them first remove it. If we beat them first they will probably
refuse to remove the oath." "How do you know about their oath?" asked
the headman. "Never mind, I do know." The villagers were convinced by
his confident manner and all went with the two girls to the open field.

Chandrai's object was to get away from the witches' house for he was
afraid to speak there; but when they were out in the open he stood up
and told the villagers all that he had seen and heard the two witches
do; they remembered that he had been missing for a whole day during
the Sohrai festival and believed him. So the sick man's wife and
mother were fetched and well beaten to make them restore the sick
man to health; but his liver and heart had been eaten so that the
case was hopeless and in a few days he was dead. His relations in
revenge soon killed the two witches.

Rupi and Bindi whose lives had been saved by Chandrai went and
established themselves in his house, for they declared that as they
owed their lives to him it was plain that he must marry them.

Next: The Sister-in-law Who Was A Witch

Previous: Witch Stories

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