Folk Tales of Gujarat (and Jhaverchand Meghani)

by Vandana P. Soni | 2014 | 98,532 words

This study represents an English translation of the Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947). Meghani was born in Chotila and left an important landmark on the history of Saurashtra and Gujarat folklore, Indian poetry, journalism and other literary sciences....

Chapter 33 - Ajab Chhor

There was one thief. He had one principle of to make burglary only once in a year and not to do robbery for the second time.

Once he went to pilfer. On the way, he came across one river, he sat there. Meanwhile one Bania passed from there. Bania was very thirsty. As he went to drink water with a container formed by joining palms; suddenly, his eyes fell on the thief. Bania got a frightful shock. He left half of the water and got up without drinking water.

The thief said, “Sethji, at least drink water.”

Baniya said: “Enough brothers, I do not want to drink more water.”

The thief said, “Seth, do not get scared. I am not going to rob you. Please keep trust, and drink water. I have to do much big larceny.”

The Baniya drank water. The thief said, “Seth, if you give me the stick you have, then I would pay for it.”

The face of Baniya became pale due to terror. He said, “Brother, I cannot walk without stick. I walk with the support of staff. How could I find another stick in this barren region?”

The thief snatched the stick, as he split the stick; four gems came out from it.

Laughingly the thief said, “Sethji, I gave you assurance of safety, in spite of that you told lie. Take your jewels. I cannot use them. Are you going to which city?”

Seth said, ―Ujjani nagri.”

Thief said, “Please tell King Vikram of Ujjain that tonight I will come to loot, so ask him to remain alert.”

Baniya informed valiant Vikram.

King Vikram started to mull over, ‗ oho, what a brave thief he would be that he himself sends a warning message.’

King Vikram ordered, “Tonight, I alone would keep vigil and guard the whole town. So give leave to all the soldiers. Nobody should remain awake tonight. Tell people of the town to sleep soundly.”

The King was a godly man. Everybody had faith in him. It became night. All the guards went to their home. People of the town fell asleep. The gate of the fort was traceable. The King alone in the guise of thief started to stroll in each side of the city. While patrolling he stood at one place and thought that the thief would get down there. But the thief came at the forte; he saw that inside, one man was standing; so he started to get down. The King whistled. It was the same type of whistle that two-thief whistle to each other when they meet.

The thief took it for granted that he must be his fellow man, so he came inside. King proposed, “Friend, let us go. I am familiar with the town. I will give you best addresses.”

Both started, while walking on their way they came across the house of money lender.

The King indicated the way of going inside the house. As thief went in, there S eth, Sethani were sleeping soundly. The thief stood there for a while, suddenly a slumbering Sethani asked, ‘who are you brother?’

The thief came out soon after he was addressed as brother by Sethani. He told King, “Let us go to another house. Here I do not want filch in this house.”

The King asked, “Why?”

The thief said, “Sethani addressed me as ‘brother’. Something should be given to sister.” After saying so, he went in and he had one Vedh of gold, he put it on the bed of Sethani.

Then, both went to another place.

As the thief went inside another house, one Sethani was sleeping. The hand of the thief fell on the bag of salt. He assumed it as an auspicious sugar. He took a pinch from it and he put in his mouth then; it tasted it as salt. He soon came out. The King asked, “What happened?”

The thief said, “Brother I ate the salt of this house. Now I cannot be a betrayer. Let us go to another house.”

The King wondered whether the man was a hermit or a thief.

They went to the third house. The King show him the way of going inside. In the house when the thief fumbled everywhere in the darkness; then the sack of maize came in his hand. The thief soon came out and told the King, “Brother! It was a good omen. Maize came in my hand but could I loot the same house where a good omen had happened? This good omen would be fulfilled. Now let us go to another place.”

The King said, “Now lets us go and break-in the palace.”

Both went to the palace. They went inside the palace but there they did not find any security guard.

The thief asked, “Brother, what is this? There was no security in the town, not a single man is seen in the royal palace. The arrangement and alertness of the King Vikram is much praised then what is this?”

The King said, “Oh, brother outside the palace the boasts regarding the well ordered security in King Vikram’s country must be going on; but here such type of anarchy prevails. The King does not pay heed to this matter.”

In the palace, the queen was sleeping on the swinging cot. The King told the thief, “The legs of this swinging cot are made of gold. You remove these golden legs of cot, so your children and grand children can eat happily without making any other effort of earning.”

How could I remove the swinging cot? What would happen if the queen sleeping on it, would wake up? Then, the thief started to pile up mattresses one above another. He made a big heap of mattresses by the swing. He cut the heavy chain of the swing so adeptly that the body of the queen remained on the mattresses.

Then, thief by his teeth pulled out the swing from hooks. By ransacking it, he removed separately the four legs of the swinging cot. Taking the four legs both went to one corner of the fort.

The thief said, “Brother, take these two legs of your share. Lets us have equal share.”

The king said, “I will take only one leg because you have done hard work.”

The thief said, “No, you had provided me all addresses so you have also put in much effort.”

Soon one owl sitting on a tree chirped.

Immediately the thief told the King, “I have identified you. Well done King, under your watch you himself made me to steal in your palace.”

The King laughed and asked, “How could you make out that I am King?”

The thief said, “King, I know the language of the birds. Whatever the owl spoke, it meant that the owner of these stolen items is standing here only.”

The king congratulated the thief. He took the thief to his royal palace. On the second day, he bestowed thief by arranging a big assembly.

He appreciated his morality and conferred a good job in his royal court.

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