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