Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Kachari tale: THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS (Elementary- Intermediate level)

An old man and an old woman had a son. But the father died while his son was yet a child, and the mother brought up her boy by begging from house to house. When he was big enough he begged his mother to let him engage himself as a cowherd. But she said "As long as I live, I must not let you undergo any trouble." But the gallant boy would not listen, and went and took service as a cowherd. But the other cowherd boys would not let him go out herding with them, and hated him, and beat him, in spite of the help of a good old man who took him into his house, so, being unable to stay any longer for grief and vexation, he went away into foreign lands.
And as he went his ways, he met Simli Bîr, the hero of the simul tree, and when he saw him he said "Ah! here is a hero indeed, seeing that you bear a whole silk-cotton tree on your shoulder." But the other replied "Whom do you call a hero? I am no hero at all. If you want a real hero, look out for Gilâ Charan." But the lad said "As for Gilâ Charan, why, I am Gilâ Charan." On which Simli Bîr got leave to go with him. And as they went they met Dhop Bîr, and to him they said "You are something like a hero. Why, you are carrying a whole dhop tree all by yourself." But the other said "My brothers, of what account am I? The man they call Gilâ Charan, he is a hero if you like." Then Gilâ Charan said "But I am he." On which Dhop Bîr said "Let me come with you too."
And, so saying, he too joined the party. And in like manner they were joined by other four champions, namely, Mustard, Monkey, Ocean, and Fire, six in all, besides Gilâ Charan.
And when they had gone some way, one of them went into the house of a Râkshashani to beg fire for cooking. But when the old wretch saw that it was a man, she desired to devour him, and to that end lay still, pretending to be ill, and said to him in a weak voice "The fire is quite close to me. Come and blow it up!" and when he came close, she gave him a kick and sent him flying into a pit; and, seeing that he did not come, another champion went on the same quest and was treated in like fashion. Then Gilâ Charan guessed that something out of the way had happened, and went there himself; and, perceiving that the old woman was a vampire, took her by the throat and shook her well. But she cried "Do not kill me, and I will show you where your friends are." Then the old woman got a ladder and released the two champions from the pit. Whereupon they killed her, and went on their way rejoicing.
And presently they came to a place where Rakshashas dwelt. But, not knowing this, they left Simli Bîr to cook rice and the rest went hunting. And when the rice was ready, two Rakshashas came and gobbled it up, so when the rest returned, hungry, for food, Simlî Bîr said he was very sorry. He had quite forgotten to cook, being very busy watching a beautiful white butterfly. But Gilâ Charan at once saw that was only a pretext. So he bid the rest go, and, staying behind, he cooked rice afresh. On which the two Rakshashas came up roaring, and said "Here, my son, hand over that rice." "But," said Gilâ Charan, undaunted, "we are hungry ourselves and have no rice to spare!" "What!" cried they "shall a scarcely weaned child speak to us like this?" and they ran at him to eat him. But he seized them by their necks and threw them a field's length. And when they attacked him afresh, he slew them with his sword. And in like manner each of the Bîrs slew each his Rakshasha, and then each married a fair Rakshasha girl, and lived happily ever afterwards. And that's all!

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