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The living devil

Many many years ago, there in a remote village lived a boy named Dorji. After having lost his father and all other siblings as a child, his mother was the only source of inspiration for him. Since only two of them were in the house, the weight of the entire domestic chores fell equally upon their shoulders. So everyday, Dorji usually spent his time either helping his mother in the fields or in herding the yaks they had owned. The days passed on smoothly and peacefully for them and God never forgot to bless them. Whatever kind of famine struck the village, they did not go hungry on any day.

Dorji was just 18 and his Mother Lhamo had turned 45. Their house was made of bamboo makeshift and roofed with thatch-grass but it was filled with internal joy and prosperity. The village was so scarcely populated that one needed at least half-a-day’s walk to reach the nearest neighbour. The only spirit that kept the area alive was that of the birds singing and rustling of the seasonal wind. There were dense surrounding forests which served as the main source of firewood and pastures for the cattle.

Blest by Nature, life for Dorji and his mother moved on happily until one midnight when Dorji was woken up by some slight creaking sound. He could not imagine what could have happened but he slowly slipped off his blanket. To his utter surprise, he saw his mother stealthily walking through the corridor as if she was going out for some secret business. As she did not notice her son watching her, she slowly escaped out carefully pulling the door behind her. With great curiosity, Dorji sneaked out his bed and peeped through a small hole in the door. It was a moonlit night and he could see his mother marching towards the jungle where she finally disappeared into the bushes at the distance. “Is this her daily night business? What does she go there for?” thought Dorji frozen with fear and wonder. He however decided to wait and see when does she come back. So he slipped back into his blanket and pretended to be asleep till the arrival of his mother. Exactly at the first crow of the cock, he faintly heard some footsteps outside and soon he noticed his mother carefully creeping in. Then he fell asleep and when he woke up in the morning, everything seemed normal. As usual, he saw his mother preparing breakfast in the kitchen and served him as if nothing happened last night. “Today you must go to herd the yaks; I shall work in the field!” said his mother. “Alright, Mom!” said Dorji as he walked to the kitchen with his empty plate. He once thought of asking his Mother about what he saw the previous night but after a careful analysis, he decided to wait for some more days and see whether the same thing happens once again or not.

As the sun gained energy, he took those few yaks that the family owned to the mountain pastures. Leaving the animals out to graze, he sat under a tree the whole day wondering what could have driven his mother at such a fearful hour. He was really disturbed and could not believe his own eyes. At the sundown, he gathered his cattle and drove them home. After fixing them in the fields, he went home, asked his mother for a cup of tea and sat by the hearth. “Here is your tea!” Lhamo offered him tea and puffed rice. “I don’t want to have this!” he returns the puffed rice. “I shall have only the tea.”

Gradually, it became dark outside and Lhamo was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen. Soon the supper was ready and Dorji was summoned to the dining table. After the dinner, Dorji went outside for a while to have fresh air while his mother prepared bed for herself and her son. After a few hours, Dorji decided to take rest and stood up. “Tonight also, I will wait and see whether she again goes out or not!” thought Dorji as he entered the house. His mother had already gone to bed and he also got underneath his blanket but remained awake. As hour after hour passed by, Dorji struggled to remain alert since he really wanted to study his mother’s strange action.

The hour which he was waiting for finally struck. It was about the same time as that of the previous night when his mother crept out of her bed in absolute silence, dressed up and suspiciously walked out watching here and there to confirm that nobody was noticing her. As soon as she left, he again came out to the door to find out where she goes. Like the previous night, she went to the same direction and disappeared into the same bush. Amazed beyond imagination, Dorji went back to bed to sleep. Now Dorji was increasingly worried about his mother and decided to go to his Uncle’s house the next day for help. However he did not notice when did his mother return, but when he woke up in the morning, his mother had already finished preparing the breakfast. Worried and tensed, Dorji said “Mom, today I want to go to my Uncle’s house, and I might not come back tonight!” “Alright! But you must be here by any means tomorrow” demanded his Mother. “Certainly I will be here” said Dorji and started off.

Finally he reached his Uncle’s house and when asked why he came, he said that he wanted the company of Wangda who was his Uncle’s son for a night. His Uncle readily approved his request but asked him to stay for the night as it was already getting dark. Dorji spent the night there itself and early next morning, he came home with his cousin Wangda. On their way, he told him about his mother’s strange action which he had observed twice. Wangda was surprised at the news and agreed to follow her jointly that night if she again repeats her business. It was already afternoon when they eventually got home and after taking lunch, they went to the fields to do some works as Dorji’s Mother had gone to herd yaks. The day ultimately ended and the boys got inside the house while Dorji’s Mother fixed the yaks in the fields and came home. “Oh, you have come?” cried she seeing Wangda. “Yes, Aunty! And I will be here tonight “ replied Wangda. “Well, that would be absolutely fine!” said Lhamo and went to the kitchen to arrange the dinner. Soon they dined together and after taking rest for sometime, they all dispersed for bed. Dorji and Wangda decided to remain awake throughout the night and try to find out where Dorji’s Mother is actually going at midnight.

As the usual time struck, Lhamo got out of her bed and after glancing here and there to ensure nobody noticed her, she silently crossed the corridor and sneaked out. With much carefulness, Dorji and Wangda followed her. As she entered the bush, they hid beside a huge tree to observe what was going on. In the bush, around five other ladies had also gathered and they were gambling on a bet. “For the past three days, you have lost the game but still you did not surrender your son!” said a lady to Lhamo. “No, if I lose tonight also, then surely you can have my son. After all, he’s the only one I have. So if you win again, I can certainly make this sacrifice!” exclaimed Lhamo proudly shaking the dice. In the course of the game, Lhamo once again lost to her companions and agreed to sacrifice her only son. “When can we come to have your son?” inquired other ladies. “Well, he can be traced at home only in the evening tomorrow.” The winning team agreed to visit her home the next day in the evening. When they were about to disperse, the two boys quickly ran home and got into their blankets just before Lhamo could get to her bed. Dorji now understood the entire mystery and prepared to remain alert every time. The night passed off and Wangda said he wanted to go home. So he went away asking him to be extremely careful. The day appeared normal and Dorji could not notice anything strange in his Mother’s behaviour throughout the day. In the evening as he was tying the yaks in the field, a monk came to him and said “It seems you are nearing a great danger. When it is completely dark tonight, you will see a bird flying around your house. Please chant “Aom Ah Hung several times and you will be safe!” “O really? Thank you very much and I will do as you have said” responded Dorji chanting the mantra. He entered the house still chanting the same prayer and as said, he saw a bird flying around the house. He kept on repeating the mantra and the bird could not attack him. The night began its span and as he was lying quietly in his bed, his Mother again sneaked out at the usual time. He immediately gathered courage to follow her till the tree where he could hide. Lhamo joined her colleagues who were anxiously waiting for her. “Whom did you keep in your house? Every time we tried to attack your son, there was a white man who did not allow us even to go near him!” shouted her colleagues angrily. “O is it? I didn’t know about that. Then tomorrow evening, I will make sure that he is ready for you. You need not worry!” promised Lhamo. “If you are going to do it for us, then it is alright. Otherwise, we might have to eat you because you should not break the bet!” said others. After hearing their discussion, Dorji swiftly rushed back to home and remained in bed as if he had not even moved about. His Mother walked in silently and got on to her bed till morning. At sunrise, both Dorji and his Mother got up and began their usual responsibilities of the day. Slowly the night drew closer and Dorji was extremely worried but he had still placed his faith on God who saved him the previous night. The darkness began to cling in the air and after fixing the yaks, he went home. His Mother was arranging the house as if some guests were due to arrive. “Please go back and add some more bundles of hey for the yaks!: she said with a strange expression in her face. “Alright!” he obeyed and went to carry out the order. However, something triggered him to carry his bow and arrows along with him. He then went to the field where the yaks were tied with a few bundles of hey. As he passed by dropping each bundle in front of each yak, he finally came across a yak with three eyes. It was directly coming to attack him and knowing that it was his Mother’s trick, he climbed the nearby tree as fast as he could and escaped safely. Eventhen, the yak kept on digging the roots of the tree with her horns until the tree was about to bend down. “I know you are my Mother and I don’t want to hurt you! Please spare me, Mom!” he pleaded but his request did not move even a single nerve of the yak. The tree then gradually began to sway to and fro as if to crash down. After repeated request, he took out his bow and arrows. “I should shoot her down before she fells this tree” he thought and after praying for God’s help, he shot his first arrow which hit the yak in the middle of her forehead. The yak instantly fell down dead and he breathed a sigh of relief. With great sense of relaxation, he climbed down the tree, pushed the carcass aside and went home. When he entered the house, he found his Mother lying dead amidst blood on the floor. “I never had any intention to kill you, Mother, but this is what you have deserved” Said he as he dragged the body out. When the cremation was over, he married a beautiful girl from the same village and lived happily thereafter.

Author’s note

This folktale was written for my colleague for his B-Ed academic project some years ago.

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