The Raja's Daughter - Zeme folktales

Once  there was a Kachari Raja, and he married, and his wife bore him a  daughter. When she grew up she was very beautiful and the Raja her  father wished to take her for his wife. He called all his people and his  servants together, and said: “Listen! Men sow dhan in their own jhums,  and then reap it and eat it themselves. You people sow pumpkins in your  own jhums and eat them yourselves.” All the people said: “Yes, yes, that  is true.”

Then the Raja went on: “You sow chillies in your own  jhums, and when they are ripe you take and eat them. You sow cotton in  your own jhums, and when it is ready you take it and make clothes for  yourselves with your own cotton.” The people all said: “Yes, we take  cotton from our own fields and make clothes for ourselves, and not for  anyone else.”

And the Raja said: “You plant kachu, and when it is  ripe you take it from your own fields and eat it.” The people agreed,  and he went on: “You sow maize, and when it is ripe you take the maize  you have sown and eat it yourselves.” The people all said: “Yes, that is  quite true, we sow in our own fields and eat it ourselves.”

The  Raja said: “You plant banana trees in your gardens, and when the fruit  is ripe and ready, you eat it yourselves.” And the people all agreed,  and said: “Yes, that is quite true.”

Then the Raja said: “Then if all  this is so, and everything that a man sows he may take and enjoy  himself, I can marry my daughter.” And all the people assembled said:  “Yes, you may.”

The Raja sent word to his daughter that he would  marry her, but she said: “What kind of man is this, to marry his own  daughter? I will run away as far as I can, and not stay near him.”

Then  the girl, whose name was Disarule, ran away, and she travelled far into  the hills till she came near Impuiloa, and there she began to feel very  thirsty. She stopped at a great rubber-tree which stood there, and she  looked up and said: “If the sky be my father, then let water come from  this tree.” Then she struck the tree with her stick and water gushed  out, and she held her cup to it and drank and was refreshed, and went on  and on, far, far away.

When he found that she had gone her  father called all his servants and sent them all after her to catch her.  They went carrying hens as presents to her, but she had gone far ahead  and they could not catch her. They went as far as Daoban village, and so  it has that name, ‘fowl-carrying’, to this day.

Beyond Daoban  Disarule thrust her bamboo staff into the ground head-down, and the  clump which grew from it there to this day, they say. Then she went on  and away, far, far away, and she must have married some Raja.

The big rubber-tree is dead now, but my father and Zuhingba’s father and all the old men have seen it.

Extracted from Ursula Graham’s Collection

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