Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  About the Author
  The Precious Present
  The Devil Outwitted
  Just a Nickname
  The Son-in-Law
  Eh! Oh!
  The Inauspicious Bride
  Himal and Nagrai
  The Haunted Mosque
  The Intruder
  The Burglar's Gift
  The Two Thugs
  The Patwari and the ...
  The Upstart
  Two Brothers
  The Merciful Burglar
  The Clever Lawyer ...
  Counting Ripples
  The Fugitive Fawn
  The Mortal Utensils
  The Hydra-Headed
  The Physician's Son
  The Professional Wedding ...
  The Village Teacher
  The Opium Smokers
  The Drone
  Telltale Narration
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Chapter 14

Two Brothers

Once upon a time there lived in a village two brothers named Panzuv and Manut. Both were in their twenties and their father had died not long ago. Though in no affluent circumstances, they could afford two meals a day and were not regarded poor. Their father had been a thrifty peasant who looked after his land as carefully as after his children and died with the satisfaction that his sons had been provided with almost everything necessary.

In a village where the assistance of solicitors is not available it takes the survivors a few weeks to get into the proper stride of domestic business. Accounts have to be settled with various types of tradesmen, with landlords and with neighbours. Changes in the revenue records have to be entered as regards ownership of land. The two brothers were thus preoccupied with these pressing matters for two or three months. Knotty problems, however, cannot last till eternity and before long the two brothers heaved a sigh of relief that they had settled their affairs to their entire satisfaction. They were now free to attend to the most important problem and that was matrimony.

The daughter-in-law is regarded as the corner-stone of the family in the East, the only link that perpetuates the race. It is through the help of this boat that we can bridge the wide gulf between the past and the future. Panzuv and Manut were provided with every material necessity but their mother was anxious that she should have a couple of daughters-in-law too. Panzuv was the elder of the two and in a couple of weeks the match-makers conveyed to the mother the happy tidings that the proposal of a matrimonial alliance had been acceptable to a farmer in a neighbouring village between his daughter and Panzuv and that the wedding was to be solemnized within three days.

Luck had befriended Panzuv at double quick march. He was not averse to marriage but he was bashful and inexperienced. The news of his wedding within three days set his heart a-throbbing and his imagination afire. He did not know how to meet the situation; to make preparation for the usual feast, purchase garments for himself and presents for his bride. He was thus at sixes and sevens.

But his mother came to his help and she directed the affairs. Under her advice Panzuv the elder of the sons — and the would-be bridegroom—was to hold the fort at home while Manut, the younger one, was to go to the town only a few miles off and purchase various commodities like sugar, oil and salt. It was quite acceptable to both the brothers, this division of labour.

Early in the morning on the wedding day Manut started for the town. He expected to be back within a few hours. He did not return in the forenoon. His elder brother inquired about him but his mother assured him: "He is surely on his way back here." He did not come back even by the hour for mid-day prayers. Preparations for the wedding feast were afoot but Manut could not be seen. The anxiety of Panzuv, all too excusable, knew no bounds. Even their mother could not hide her deep concern. "Something is surely wrong with him," she said. But what could be wrong? Panzuv had not to cross any torrential stream, nor was there any danger of wild beasts pouncing upon him. Her anxiety for the person of Manut was not shared by anyone else. All the same there was great concern as the wedding hour was approaching.

It was nearing evening and the wedding guests were arriving. "Woe is me, for I cannot entertain them even with a cup of tea. This silly Manut has got neither sugar nor salt. He is such a slothful young man. I wish I had never asked him to go to the town."

"You can never be sure of how another man may handle your affairs," rejoined a neighbour. "There is a well-known saying 'Whatever I could not attend to personally, there I begot only daughters!"'

While the elder brother, his soul already hovering over the wedding ceremonials, was thus repenting his indiscretion in having entrusted the purchases to his slothful younger brother, their mother persuaded a boy of the neighbouring family to run in the direction of the town and see what happened to' poor Manut. This boy had not gone far when he spied the younger brother whom he halloed. In short, both of them were safely back within a few minutes now.

The elder brother whose wedding was to take place within an hour was seized with fear when he found Manut freely swinging his arms. But he never even suspected anything and his first reaction was that perhaps he had engaged a coolie to carry the load of commodities. It was, however, soon clear to him that there was no such coolie.

"Where are the articles purchased, pray?" he asked.

The other replied, "While I was coming back from the town loaded with salt, oil and sugar, the sun beat hot upon me and I felt very thirsty. I felt my tongue parched and I was panting. When I reached the farm of our departed father, I found it had fared worse. It had parched and cracked into a hundred crevices. I could not help recalling to mind how our poor father nursed it with his life-blood and how he would sweat in the hot sun for it. I took pity on it in the name of our beloved father—peace be on him—and poured oil into the crevices so as to save it from absolute ruin. Haven't I done well?"

Panzuv stood aghast. "How can the guests be fed?" he exclaimed.

"And where is the sugar?" asked someone else.

"I was thirsty and I came to the fountain by the roadside to slake my thirst," replied Manut. "I tasted it and oh! the water was extremely sour, I tell you. I put some sugar into it and its taste seemed to improve. I put more and more till the whole quantity was dropped. And when I drank the water, it was excellent. The passers-by who may go to the fountain to slake their thirst will indeed bless me and our departed ancestors."

He had likewise left the block of salt in a field for the cattle to lick. Panzuv felt the earth slipping from under his feet. He held his head firmly with both his hands lest it burst.



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