The Two Brothers

In a place called Bhuvangiri lived two brothers in the house left them by their father. Life was relatively peaceful until the two brothers decided to get married. The elder brother married a poor girl, while the younger brother’s wife came from a wealthy family.

From the onset, the two wives spent their time bickering and quarrelling. The elder brother’s wife would never stop proclaiming that as she was married to the elder brother, she was the mistress of the entire household.

The younger brother’s wife was a spitfire and screeched for all to hear that she was not taking orders from anyone, especially that silly woman.

Sooner than be driven mad by this incessant quarrelling, the two brothers decided to share their inheritance and live in separate houses.

Eventually, the elder brother raised a large family of nine children. But he found it hard to make two ends meet with so many mouths to feed. With the help of his wife’s dowry, the younger brother had purchased a large farm and was reasonably prosperous.

One day the elder brother asked his brother for a pair of bullocks loan to plough his fields, as he could not afford to buy any work animals.

The younger brother readily agreed, as he owned plenty of bullocks and could afford to be generous occasionally.

A surprise was in store for the elder brother when he went to his brother’s farm to collect the bullocks, for a stranger was busy ploughing the land.

“Who are you?” he asked the stranger. And how long have you worked for my brother?”

“Good sir, I am your brother’s attendant spirit,” replied the stranger very meekly. “I labour here all day so your brother can take things easy and prosper.”

“Then why is it I have no attendant spirit? It is unfair that I should labour from dawn to dusk.”

“But you do have an attendant spirit,” replied the stranger, pointing to a clump of trees. “He is over there fast asleep as usual. But I doubt if you can awaken him.” Feeling that he was being badly treated, the elder brother strode across the clump of trees and, picking up a stout stick, gave the sleeping figure a good whack.

Jumping to his feet and vigorously rubbing where he had been hit, the spirit woefully cried. “Why did you beat me?”

“What a lazy spirit you are,” shouted the elder brother. “Whilst my brother’s spirit works hard, you are content to sleep all day. I will certainly beat you until you do some work.”

“Do not beat me,” cringed the spirit. “I am not lazy. Your brother’s spirit can do farm work, but I am educated and only good in a business.”

“You are absurd in addition to being lazy. Where can I get the money to start a business when my family is starving?”

“But you do not need capital,” replied the spirit. “All you need is brains. With me at your side, you are bound to do well. We can start by dealing in old clothes, empty bottles and worn-out shoes. Let us go to the city, and I will show you.”

This sounded like it had possibilities, so the elder brother moved to the city without delay. When all was packed and loaded on carts, he heard loud moanings at the back of the house. There he discovered an old hag sitting on the ground, moaning and pulling her hair.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “I am your Misfortune,” replied the old woman between her sobs. “I have lived here with you all these years and have been very happy. Now you are thinking of going away. It is not fair after I have faithfully served you with so much misfortune.”

The elder brother rushed into the house and, quickly emptying a large chest, carried it round to the back of the house.

“Come along, old woman,” he implored, opening the chest. “Just jump inside, and I will see you are safely looked after.”

The old hag ceased her moaning and groaning and clambered into the chest. As soon as she was inside, the elder brother banged down the lid and secured it with a tremendously hefty padlock.

He then dug a deep hole in the yard, and when this was to his liking, he pushed the chest into it and did not pause until he had filled the gap with earth, thankful to have buried his misfortune forever.

With the passing of months, the elder brother, with the assistance of his attendant spirit, set up a business in the city, dealing mainly in old clothes. Then, as this business prospered, he started another textiles shop, which also did exceptionally well.”

Naturally, rumours of his prosperity reached the ears of the younger brother, who decided to visit the city, curious about his brother’s good fortune.

When the brothers met, the younger brother lost no time asking how, after so many years of poverty, his brother had quickly become a successful merchant.

“It was all so simple,” the elder brother declared. “I discovered that old hag Misfortune was living with me. So I bundled her into a chest and buried her in my backyard.”

The younger brother was jealous of his brother’s change of fortune and vowed to do him an ill turn. Hurrying back to their native village, the younger brother went immediately to his brother’s old home and, after a lot of frantic digging, discovered the buried chest.

When he finally managed to break the lock, the old hag jumped out of the chest and threw her arm around the younger brother. “You have come for me. Now we shall live happily together.”

“Away with you,” he said curtly, trying to escape her embrace. “You belong to my elder brother.”

The old hag gave a toothless grin. “I do not want anything to do with your brother. I am going to live with you in future.”.

How the younger brother rued the day. Now he was saddled with the old hag, and already bad luck seemed to come his way each day. Oh dear, if only he had not been jealous of his brother’s good fortune.

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