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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 629


The Cure for Laziness

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

There was once a man who lived happily with his wife, but she was very lazy; when work in the fields was at its height she would pretend to be ill. In June and July, she would begin to moan as if in pain, and when every one else had gone off to work she would eat any rice that they had left over; or if there were none, would cook some for herself; Her father-in-law decided to call in some ojhas to examine her and if they could not cure her, then to send her back to her father: so he called in two ojhas and told them to do their best, as he did not want the woman’s relations to complain that she had not been properly treated.

So the first ojha felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and the second ojha felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and when the father-in-law asked them if they knew what was the matter, they answered that the illness was very serious and medicines must be applied; the father-in-law said “Yes; but you must get the medicines or tell me exactly what is wanted and I will arrange for it;” this conversation took place before the woman; the ojhas said “Very well, we will do what you want but before applying the medicine we shall have to do some incantations;” the father-in-law answered “Do whatever is necessary to make a good job of it. Don’t spare anything; try and get everything ready by to-morrow: for we are in great difficulty; I do not like to leave the patient alone in the house and yet I cannot spare anyone to look after her;” the ojhas promised and got up and went out with the father-in-law, and in the village street they told him that laziness was all that was the matter with the woman, but that they knew a medicine which would cure her; so they went to the jungle and dug up two very big tubers of the tirra plant, as big as pumpkins, and in the evening they went to the man’s house and told him that they had found the medicine, and that the whole household was to come to the cross roads at the end of the village very early the next morning with the patient and they would exorcise the disease and apply remedies.

At cockcrow the next morning the two ojhas brought the two tubers and put them down at the end of the village street, and then went to the house where the sick woman lived and awoke the inmates, and they borrowed a pot of water and some vermilion and an old winnowing fan and then they all went to the place where the tubers had been left, and the ojhas made the patient sit on the winnowing fan facing the east and painted her with vermilion; then they waved pig’s dung round her head and tied the two tubers round her neck and told her to walk up and down the village street three times; and that would remove the spell that was on her. So the woman began to walk up the village street and every one laughed at her and the children ran after her and smacked her and jumped and shouted for joy and the ojhas called out to her “You must not take off the tubers until you are cured.”

The woman walked up and down twice, but then she was so ashamed at being laughed at that she threw away the tubers and ran off home; then they all laughed the more; and followed her to the house, and the ojhas asked whether she was cured that she had taken off the remedies they had applied; she only smiled in answer and they told her to take care because if she ever got ill again they would apply the same remedy; but from that day the woman completely recovered and did her fair share of all the work.

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