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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 588


Another Lazy Man

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

Once upon a time there was a man named Kora who was so lazy that his brothers turned him out of the house and he had to go out into the world to seek his fortune. At first he tried to get some other young man of the village to keep him company on his travels but they all refused to have anything to do with such a lazy fellow, so he had to set out alone. However, he was resolved to have a companion of some sort, so when he came to a place where a crab had been burrowing he set to work and dug it out of the ground and took it along with him, tied up in his cloth.

He travelled on for days and weeks until he came to a country which was being devastated by a Rakhas who preyed on human beings, and the Raja of the country had proclaimed that any one who could kill the Rakhas should have one of his sisters in marriage and a large grant of land. Kora however knew nothing of all this and that evening he camped for the night under a tree on the outskirts of a village. Presently the villagers came out and begged him to come and spend the night in one of their houses, as it was impossible for a man to sleep safely in the open by himself. “Do not trouble about me,” said Kora, “I am not alone: I have a companion and we two shall be quite safe together.” The villagers saw no one with him and could not understand what he was talking about, but as he would not listen to them they had to leave him to his fate.

Night came on and as usual Kora untied the crab from his cloth and soon fell asleep. About midnight the Rakhas came prowling along and seeing Kora sleeping alone made towards him. But the crab rushed at the Rakhas and climbing up his body seized his neck with its claws and slit the windpipe. Down fell the Rakhas and lay kicking on the ground. The noise awoke Kora, who seized a big stone and dashed out the brains of the Rakhas. He then cut off the tips of the ears and tongue and claws and wrapped them up in his cloth and lay down to sleep again with the crab in his bosom.

At dawn the chowkidar of the village, who was a Dome, came on his rounds and found the Rakhas lying dead. He thought that it would be easy for him to obtain the credit of having killed it: so he cut off one of the legs and hurrying home told his wife and children to clear out of the house at once: he had nothing more to do with them, as he was going to marry the Raja’s sister and become a great landowner. Then he rushed out into the village, shouting out that he had killed the Rakhas. The villagers all went to see the dead body and found it lying near the tree under which they had left Kora to spend the night. They were not quite convinced that the Dome’s story was true and asked Kora who had really killed the Rakhas. He declined to answer but asked that he and the Dome might both be taken to the Raja, and then proof would be forthcoming as to who was really entitled to the Reward.

So the villagers took up the dead body and carried it off to the Raja, taking Kora and the Dome with them. The Raja asked what proof there was as to who had killed the Rakhas: and first the Dome produced the leg which he had cut off; but Kora unrolled his cloth and showed the ears and tongue and claws of the Rakhas. It was at once seen that the leg which the Dome had brought wanted the claws, so his fraud was clearly proved and he was driven from the assembly with derision and had to go and humbly make his peace with the wife whom he had turned out of his house. But the nuptials of Kora and the Raja’s sister took place at once and they were given a fine palace to live in and a large tract of country for their own.

Kora never allowed himself to be separated from his faithful crab and this led to his life being saved a second time. A few nights after he was married, Kora was lying asleep with the crab upon his breast, when two snakes began to issue from the nostrils of his bride: their purpose was to kill Kora but when they saw the watchful crab they drew in their heads again. A few minutes later they again looked out: then the crab went and hid under the chin of the Princess and when the snakes put out their heads far enough it seized both of them with its claws: the snakes wriggled and struggled until they came entirely out of the nose of the princess and were dragged to the floor where the crab strangled them. In the morning Kora awoke and saw what the crab had done: he asked what he could do to show his gratitude to his faithful friend, and the crab asked to be set free in some pond which never dried up and that Kora would rescue it if any one ever succeeded in catching it. So Kora chose a tank and set the crab free and every day he used to go and bathe in that tank and the crab used to come and meet him.

After living in luxury for a time Kora went with a grand procession of horses and elephants to visit his industrious brothers who had turned him out of their home for laziness, and he showed them that he had chosen the better part, for they would never be able to keep horses and elephants for all their industry: so he invited them to come and live with him on his estate and when they had reaped that year’s crops they went with him.

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