The House Bonga

: Part IV
: 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 v
llagers 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.