The Bonga's Cave

There was once a young bonga who dwelt in a cave in the side of a

hill in the jungle; and every day he placed on a flat stone outside,

a pot of oil and a comb and a looking glass and some lamp black or

vermilion; any woman who went to the jungle could see these things

lying there; but they were never visible to a man. After a time the

girls who went to the jungle began to use the comb and looking glass

and to dress and oil their hair there; it became a regular custom for

them to go first to the flat stone before collecting their firewood

or leaves.

One day five girls went together to the jungle and after they had

combed and dressed their hair it happened that one got left behind;

and seeing her alone the bonga came out of the cave and creeping

up quietly from behind threw his arms round her; and although she

shouted to her friends for help he dragged her inside the cave. Her

companions were just in time to see her disappear; and they begged

and prayed the bonga to let the girl go for once; but the bonga

answered from within that he would never let her go but was going to

keep her as his wife; and he drew a stone door over the mouth of the

cave. News of the misfortune was sent to the girl's parents and they

came hastening to the place; and her mother began to sing:

"My daughter, you rubbed your hair with oil from a pot:

My daughter, you combed your hair with a comb with one row of teeth;

Come hither to me, my daughter."

And the girl sang from within the cave:

"Mother, he has shut me in with a stone

With a stone door he has shut me in, mother

Mother, you must go back home."

Then her father sang the same song and got the same answer; so they

all went home. Then the girl's father's younger brother and his wife

came and sang the song and received the same answer and then her

mother's brother and father's sister came and then all her relations,

but all in vain. Last of all came her brother riding on a horse and

when he heard his sister's answer he turned his horse round and made

it prance and kick until it kicked open the stone door of the cave;

but this was of no avail for inside were inner doors which he could not

open; so he also had to go home and leave his sister with the bonga.

The girl was not unhappy as the wife of the bonga and after a time

she proposed to him they should go and pay a visit to her parents. So

the next day they took some cakes and dried rice and set off; they were

welcomed right warmly and pressed to stay the night. In the course of

the afternoon the girl's mother chanced to look at the provisions which

they had brought with them; and was surprised to see that in place of

cakes was dried cowdung and instead of rice, leaves of the meral

tree. The mother called her daughter in to look but the girl could

give no explanation; all she knew was that she had put up cakes and

dried rice at starting. Her father told them all to keep quiet about

the matter lest there should be any unpleasantness and the bonga

decline to come and visit them again.

Now the girl's brother had become great friends with his bonga

brother-in-law and it was only natural that when the bonga and his

wife set off home the next morning he should offer to accompany them

part of the way. Off they started, the girl in front, then the bonga

and then her brother; now the brother had hidden an axe under his cloth

and as they were passing through some jungle he suddenly attacked the

bonga from behind and cut off his head. Then he called to his sister

that he had killed the bonga and bade her come back with him; so the

two turned back and as they looked round this saw that the bonga's

head was coming rolling after them. At this they started to run and ran

as hard as they could until they got to the house and all the way the

head came rolling after until it rolled right into the house. There

was a fire burning on the hearth and they plucked up courage to take

the head and throw it into the fire where it was burnt to ashes. That

was the end of the bonga but eight or nine days later the girl's

head began to ache and in spite of all medicines they applied it got

worse and worse until in a short time she died. Then they knew that

the bonga had taken her away and had not given her up.

The Bonga Headman The Bonga's Victim facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail