Katsingpeo's Wife – Zeme Folktale


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There was once a slave-girl named Reile in Hangrum, and one feast-day one of the dekachangs made a song on her name, as if she were a mithan for sacrifice.

Having made the song, they killed her or she died, I do not know which, and they buried her.

In the morning the earth over the grave was all burst open, because Katsingpeo had come and taken her away, but Hangrum did not know that. Her great friend went with a party to the bazaar by the old road going over Mahadeo hill.

When she came near the hill she suddenly had a very bad colic, and said to the others that she could not go on, she must lie down and rest. When she was asleep Reile appeared and talked with her. Reile was wearing a necklace of serow horns.

When she had talked with her friend she went away, and it is so long ago nobody knows what they said. By this it was known that Katsingpeo had taken her for his wife. After that anyone from Hangrum who went near the hill was taken ill and died, and so they were afraid and pretended they came from other villages when they went that way.

There is a pool near the hill, and formerly those who were unfortunate saw Reile there, bathing and washing clothes soiled by menstruation, so that the water was all red. Her hair was very long, they say, and tied on her neck like a Naga woman’s, and anyone unlucky enough to see her was sure to be taken ill before he got home. Those who were lucky did not see her.

~Ursula Graham’s Collection

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