Saturday, June 28, 2014

Santal: The Jackal and the Crocodiles

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Jackal and the Crocodiles

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had an only son. As the boy grew up, his father sent him to a school to learn to read and write.

One day on his way back from school, the boy sat down by the road side to rest and placed his school books on the ground by his side. Suddenly a jackal came along and snatched up the bundle of books and ran away with it, and though the boy ran after it, he failed to catch the jackal and had to go and tell his father how he had lost his school books.

The Raja told him not to mind, as it was a very good omen and meant that he would grow up as clever as a jackal, and so the matter ended as far as the boy was concerned, and his father bought him a new set of books.

But the jackal ran off to the side of a tank and, taking a book from the bundle, sat down and began to read it aloud. He kept on saying over and over again “Ibor, obor, iakoro sotro” . . . “Ibor obor iakoro sotro.”

Hearing the noise, a crocodile who lived in the tank poked his head out of the water and began, “Well, nephew, what is that you are repeating?”

“I am only reading a book, uncle.”

“What, nephew, do you know how to read and write?”

“Yes, certainly I do,” answered the jackal.

“In that case,” returned the crocodile, “would you mind teaching my five children?”

The jackal was quite willing to be their master, but a difficulty struck the crocodile; the jackal lived on high land, and the little crocodiles could not go so far from the water. The jackal at once suggested a way out of the difficulty: let the crocodile dig a little pool near where the jackal lived and put the children into it. Then the jackal could take the little crocodiles out of it when he was giving them their lessons and put them back again when they had finished. So it was arranged, and in two or three days the crocodile dug the pool, and the jackal began the lessons.

Each morning the jackal took the five little crocodiles out of the water and told them to repeat after him what he said, and then he began, “Ibor obor iakoro sotro” . . . “Ibor obor iakoro sotro.”

But try as they might, the little crocodiles could not pronounce the words properly; then the jackal lost his temper and cuffed them soundly. In spite of this, they still showed no signs of improvement, till at last the jackal made up his mind that he could not go on with such unsatisfactory pupils, and that the best thing he could do would be to eat them up one at a time.

So the next morning he addressed the little crocodiles, “I see that you can’t learn when I take you in class all together; in future I will have you up one at a time and teach you like that.” So he took one out of the water and began to teach it, but the little crocodile could not pronounce its words properly, so in a very short time the jackal got angry and gobbled it up. The next day he took out another, which soon met the same fate as its brother, and so things went on till the jackal had eaten four out of the five.

When there was only one left, the crocodile came to see how the lessons were getting on. The sight of him put the jackal in a terrible fright, but he answered the crocodile that the children were making very fair progress. “Well, I want to see them. Come along and let us have a look at them.”

This was awkward for the jackal, but his wits did not desert him; he ran on ahead to the pool and, going into the water, caught the one little crocodile which remained and held it up, saying, “See, here is one.”

Then he popped it under the water and brought it up again and said, “See, here’s another,” and this he did five times and persuaded the crocodile that he had seen his five children.

The crocodile pretended to be satisfied, but he was not quite easy in his mind and would have preferred to see all the five little ones at once. However, he said nothing but made up his mind to watch the jackal, so the next day he hid himself and waited to see what happened.

He saw the jackal take the little crocodile out of the water and begin the lesson — “Ibor obor iakoro.”

Then when the unfortunate pupil still failed to pronounce the words, the jackal began to give it cuffs and blows. At this sight, the crocodile ran forward and caught the jackal, crying out ,“Show me my other four little ones; is this the way you treat my children?”

The jackal had no answer to give, and the crocodile soon put an end to his life and took back his one remaining child to the tank where he lived.

(900 words)








No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.