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Oct 2010
When I was a little boy, say when I was six, my dad calls to me and he says: Come, boy – let’s sit in our courtyard; let’s sit below the stars and I’ll tell you a story. It’s been told long in our village, and passed on from wise fathers to growing sons.

Long ago, goes the story
Farmer Somu wanted
his daughter Meena to marry
the Strongest in the world
and so he set out on a journey
with his daughter
to seek the World’s Strongest One

And what were they going to do, little boy? says my father to me. They are going to look for the Strongest One, I say; and my father says: Ah, you clever son of a clever man.

And when they walked
past the rice fields
they saw farmers
wiping their brows
and they said:
‘My, how strong the sun shines!’

‘Aha,’ said Somu, ‘I think
I’ve found the Strongest One.
Come, Meena,’ he said,
‘let’s talk to the Sun.’

And what do you think, my little boy, what do you think Somu asked the Sun?
And I say to my father: Oh Sun, Will you marry my daughter? And my father says, excitedly: Exactly! Exactly! Oh , you brilliant son of a brilliant man.

‘Oh Sun,
will you marry
my daughter
for she is the Prettiest
and you are the Strongest?’

‘But,’ said the Sun,
‘the cloud is stronger than I
for have you not noticed
how often the cloud
blocks me out
and I can’t do a thing
until he decides to move?’

And what do you think, my little boy, what do you think Somu replied to the Sun?
Oh, you weakling Sun – I’m not even talking to you! comes my quick reply. And my father says: Oh how right you are – you clever son of a clever man!

‘Weakling Sun
stand out of my way
and Oh you most powerful cloud –
will you marry my daughter
for she is Prettiest
and you the Strongest?’

And the Cloud replied:
‘But ah, I am not the Strongest
for the wind just blows me away!’

And what do you think, my clever boy, what do you think Somu did next? And I answer my dad: Well, dad - Farmer Somu drags his daughter Meena to the Wind. And my father says: Oh how right you are – you brilliant son of a brilliant man!

‘O Wind
you should marry
Meena who is Prettiest
in the world
as you are the Strongest.’

But the Wind replied:
‘Ah, you don’t know how Strong
the mountain is
for he blocks my way
and he breaks me down.’

And what do you think, my little boy, what do you think was Somu’s reply to the Wind?
Oh, you useless Wind – I’m ashamed I even considered you! I reply. And my father says: Oh how right you are – you clever son of a clever man!

‘Oh, you useless Wind
– I’m ashamed
I even considered you!’
said Farmer Somu
and he dragged his daughter along
to meet the mountain
and he said to the mountain:
‘Most Honored Mountain
I have heard of your strength
and so I have brought you Meena
who is the Prettiest.’

But the Mounatin replied:
‘Oh Sir, I am not deserving
of such a rare beauty
for the rat gnaws holes in my sides
and so is Stronger than I.’

And what do you think, dear son, says my father to me – what do you think Somu does next? And I reply quite impatiently: Somu takes his daughter to the rat? Exactly! Exactly! shouts my dad. Exactly, you brainy son of a brainy man!

And the Rat told Somu:
‘Alas, Sir
though your daughter
is most desirable
I cannot marry her
for the hyena is
far stronger than me
for he has eaten many of my family!’

And so they walk to the hyena, says my father to me. And what do you think Somu tells the hyena? And I reply: Oh hyena – marry my daughter for she is Prettiest and you are Strongest! And my father says: Oh you are right, boy! You are right – Oh you brilliant son of a brilliant man!

‘Sir Hyena
Most Revered Sir Hyena
do marry Meena
for she is Prettiest
and you the Strongest!’

And Sir hyena replied:
‘Ok. I ask for no dowry
just leave her with me
with no ceremony.’

And what do you think , asks my father, Somu did? And I reply: He left Meena with the hyena. And my father shouts excitedly: Oh, how right you are! How right you are! You clever child of a clever man.





And no sooner had Somu left
the hyena took Meena
to his cave
and he ate her all
skin and bone…
Ah what a tragic end;
what a horrid end…

And dear son, says my father to me, what is the moral of this story? Many, I say. But two are: Use your wits and stay alive. Never allow yourself to be dragged around. And my father jumps up and he is excited: Oh how right! How right! You brilliant son of a brilliant father!
And he turns to my mother who has joined us at the courtyard and he says:
See how clever our son is – he knows all the answers! Such a brilliant son of a brilliant father!

And my mother’s retort is swift: It’s not that he’s brilliant or you either. You’ve told him this story a hundred times, you silly man! And it’s always the same words! And I would have kicked my father if I were Meena!
a folk-tale I heard when I was a child
Raj Arumugam
Written by
Raj Arumugam  Australia
(Australia)   
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