Sunday, January 6, 2013

Seven at a Blow: A Bhutanese Folktale

One day a man bought a kilogram of butter. He kept it on his altar and went out. When he came, he saw swarms of houseflies landed on his butter. In anger, he punched the butter killing seven of them.
Proud to have killed seven poor flies with a blow, he wrote “seven at a blow,’’ on his shirt and worked by the king’s courtyard again and again. Finally, king saw him and summoned him to the court.
“Did you kill seven men with a blow?’’ the king asked incredulously.
“Yes Your Majesty,” he lied expecting some rewards. The king was happy to come across a man like him. So king told the man, “I want you to do me a favour.’’
“Anything Your Majesty,” he replied pompously with false sense of confidence.
“There is garuda couple on the mountain. It not only killed my people, it also tried to attack me many times. If you could kill them, I will give you anything you ask,’’ said the king. Garuda is a mythical bird that preyed on human being and animals.
The man shivered with fright but he couldn’t retract his lies. If king knew he lied, he would have to pay with his life. So he accepted the king’s command
“What you want to take as a weapon?’’ the king asked. The man thought for awhile and replied, “Your Majesty, I want only a matchbox and two lances.’’
The king gave him what he needed. The man made his journey to base of mountain. At the base of the mountain, he dug a hole. Then he planted two lances crossing each other above the hole. After that he brought few twigs and made fire in the hole. He sat sitting there in the hole near fire.
Two birds saw the smoke rising from base of the mountain. Two birds swooped down with great force to kill the man. Both birds were gored to death by erected spears that man kept on either side of the hole.
Glad with kill, the man sought audience with the king. The king was mighty pleased with him but was not finished yet.
“Good but there is another favour I need to ask of you,” the king said.
“Anything Your Majesty,” he said.
“I want you to kill sinpo couple who lived in the cave near the river. They are killing my people and even tried to break into my palace.’’ Sinpo is a mythical Human-eating being who was believed to have possessed strength to uproot pine trees as if it were a buckwheat plant.
The man agreed out of compulsion despite great fear. When he reached the café, there were no sinpo. They had gone hunting. There were skeletons of animals and human beings. He went to their house which was built inside the café.
He took few pebbles with him. With help of rope, he tied him against ceiling facing the floor waiting silently for sinpo’s return. In the evening, two couple came. The female Sinpo was carrying dead tiger which she threw onto floor with great force. The male sinpo was carrying dead yeti. Apparently tired, they slept and within no time started snoring.
The man threw stone into female’s sinpos face. Annoyed she threw pebble at her husband as she suspected her husband. They quarreled for a while and slept again. As they started snoring, the man threw stone on male sinpo. Irritated male sinpo threw stone that fell on his face at wife. They began to quarrel accusing each other. As they were beings of high temper, they killed each other.
The man came back to king and reported about his success. The king who was pleased said, “I will give you half of my kingdom if you could fulfill one last favour.’’
The man agreed to carry out the last favour. He was sure everything dangerous had been done. But he was mistaken.
“I want you to defeat my two my rival kings in the war single-handedly,’’ said the king, “for that you can choose any horse from my stable. There are five thousand horses.”
The man lost all his hope. As he couldn’t disobey the command, he had no choice but to agree. The king took him to stable to make him choose the horse. Each horse was better than another. At last, he chose a weak old horse that was so weak even to stand up.
“I will come back and tell that horse is tired and would take me further,” the man thought as he selected the horse.
The king smiled and said, “you really are an extra-ordinary man. You just chose the heavenly horse which crossed five hundred kilometers at a gallop.’’
The man felt defeated but he decided to give it a go. With one tap on horse, he reached the bedroom of a rival king in the palace. He placed his sword throat at king’s place and threatened, “Will you fight war not?’’
“Yes but we need time to prepare,” the helpless king said.
“If you can fight, fight right now. If you can’t just give me in writing you surrendered,’’ the man said. The king had no option but to agree to what the man said. Then he went to another and did the same. He won two wars without fighting.
As agreed, the king-now-turned-emperor who gave him task to perform gave half of his kingdom.
Some people may considered the man lucky while some may considered him extra-ordinary for such monumental achievement but I call him fool for he got half of a kingdom while he handed for two kingdoms for king making him a emperor. The man was a fool for a fool never truly profits from achievement he accomplished.

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