The Story of the Barking Deer Doe - Zeme Folktale

There was once a man and he married, and though they lived happily for a while one day they quarrelled. The wife said: “Very well, I shall become a barking deer. ” All right, do as you like,” said her husband, and abused her. So she went away and became a barking deer.

The daughter said to her father: “I shall make a separate jhum. Do you also make a separate jhum.” So they did so. The child’s mother, who was now a barking deer, came and ate the rice in her husband’s fields, but in her daughter’s fields ate only the weeds. Her husband said: “I shall set at trap.” He set a trap and caught the deer in it. He called to his daughter: “Go and clean the house. I have caught a deer.” The daughter said: “Is is a buck or a doe?” Her father said: “It is a doe.” The daughter thought: “Oh, then it is my mother.” She made the house all dirty. Her father called again and said: “It is a buck.” Then the daughter made the house clean, and made water ready. Her father came carrying the doe. When the girl saw it was a doe she wept bitterly. Her father asked her: “Why do you weep?” The girl said: “My eyes hurt; I must have got some dirt in them.” Out of cleverness she said this. The father killed and cooked the deer and ate, but the daughter did not eat and said: “Oh, I have eaten.” Afterwards she took a bone and buried it in the ground and said: “If this be my mother’s bone, let a tree grow up to heaven.” In the morning there was a tree right up to the sky. The men of the morung said: “We will take it for a post for our morung.” Some said: “No, it is not good.” When they went to cut it it was like iron and would not fall. They said again: “We will take it.” At once it fell.

The girl said: “Unless a Raja takes me as his wife, I will never let you have my mother’s bone as a post.”

They took the tree for a post, and a Raja took the girl for his wife, and she lived in great wealth. There is no more.

Ursula Graham’s Collection

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