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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 677


Witch Stories (III)

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

In the village of Mohulpahari there was a youth named Jerba. He was servant to Bepin Teli of Tempa and often had to come home in the dark after his day’s work. One night he was coming back very late and, before he saw where he was, suddenly came upon a crowd of witches standing under a hollow mowah tree at the foot of the field that the dhobie has taken. Just as he caught sight of them they seized hold of him and flung him down and did something which he could not remember – for he lost his senses when they threw him down. When he came to himself he managed to struggle free and run off. The witches pursued but failed to overtake him and he reached his home in a state of terror. The witches however had not finished with him for two or three days after they caused him to fall from a tree and break his arm. Ojhas were called in but their medicines did him no good. The arm mortified and maggots formed and in a few days Jerba himself told them that he would not recover; he told them how the witches chased him and that he had recognised them as women of his own village and shortly afterwards he became speechless and died.

My own brother-in-law lived at Mubundi. One night he and several other men were sitting up on the threshing-floor watching their rice. In the middle of the night they saw lights shining and flickering in the courtyard of my brother-in-law’s house and he went to see what was the matter. When he got near, the lights went into the house: he went up quietly and as he looked in found the house full of women who extinguished the light directly they saw him and rushed out of the house. Then he asked my sister what the light was; but she could only stammer out “What light? I saw no light,” so he struck her a blow and went back to the threshing-floor and told the others what he had seen. That night he would not tell them the names of the women he had seen; and before morning his right arm swelled and became very painful; the swelling quickly increased and by noon he lost consciousness and a few hours later he died.

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