Funny Creatures

In a particular village, there was a gentleman. He had three daughters. All of them married and went away to live with their husbands.

The mother-in-law of the youngest girl was so fond of her daughter-in-law that she never allowed her to do any chores. On the other hand, she attended to the girl all the time.

It was the New Year’s Day. The mother-in-law bathed her daughter-in-law with oil and shampoo, made her wear a new silk saree, decorated her with all the ornaments in the house and gave her a sumptuous feast. That evening the old lady told her daughter-in-law, “Darling child, I am going to the temple. Light the lamp as soon as it gets dark.”

The daughter-in-law thought, “This old hag cannot bear to see me sit doing nothing. So she must entrust some work or other to me. Why could she not light the lamp before going? As if the lamp cannot be lit while there is still daylight! I shall not live in this wretched house. I shall at once go to my dear mother.”

So, the young girl started for her mother’s place. She had to pass her elder sister’s house on the way. She thought she might tell her sister how things were with her.

Having heard the young one, the elder sister sighed and said, “Your lot is not as hard as mine, darling. Your aged mother-in-law is here today but will be gone tomorrow. How am I to live with my husband?”

“What? What has he done!” implored the youngest.

“My husband brought me a gold necklace for the New Year. It weighs tons and tons. Oh, my poor neck! It was almost broken. Have you ever heard of such base cruelty?”

“I never!” exclaimed the youngest. “What a beast!”

“Yes. And I was thinking of committing suicide when you came along. I think it is fine to follow you to our mother and tell her everything. Let us go!” said the elder sister.

They went along until they came near their eldest sister’s house. They thought they might inform the most senior about what had happened.

The eldest was glad to see her sisters but sorry to hear about their troubles.

“My dear sisters, your troubles are great, but they are not to be compared to mine. My husband is a heartless wretch. Last night after food, we were both sitting under the night queen when four flowers rushed down from the tree and severely hit my face. Instead of pitying and consoling, my wretched husband went into howls of laughter. Do you think such a man can be called a human being?”

“No, no!” they agreed.

Let me also accompany you and tell my tale of woe to our best friend, our mother.”

So the three of them went to their mother. All three girls clung to her and began sobbing aloud without a word.

“What is it, my precious ones? What is ailing you? Tell your mother,” the old lady said.

And each one unfolded to her tale of misery.

At last, the mother said, “You come to me in distress, but to whom can I carry my distress ?” “Tell us, dear mother, tell us,” said the three in chorus.

“Then, listen, my precious ones. Yesterday your father asked me to cook something special. So I mixed a small quantity of flour and made only three cakes. I ate one to see if the salt was just right. Then I ate another to see if the baking was just right. Then I waited for ages and ages for your father to come and finish the third one. But absentmindedly, I ate it up too. When your father came, I told him I made three cakes but ate all of them. He merely stood there and said indifferently, ‘Never mind.’ I eat three cakes, and he says, ‘Never mind.” I might have indigestion, cramps, or anything. But he never cared! What a cold, cruel man!”

So saying, the mother burst into a fit of crying. So did the three daughters. They went on crying and shedding buckets of tears. The last drops of water flowed out of their bodies over time. Their bodies shrank until they were reduced to the size of grape seeds. They were turned into four bedbugs. They spent their lives sucking the blood of human beings. Even today, their descendants live that way.

Chandamama September 1955 | Shakuntala Jadhav

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *