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 34 - Sonbai

There were seven brothers; among seven brothers, there was only one youngest sister. Her name was Sonbai.

Sonbai was the most endeared child of parents. Seven brothers loved Sonbai so much that were ready to sacrifice their lives for Sonbai. Seven sisters-in-laws could not bear pampering offered to Sonbai.

The parents went on pilgrimage. The father said, “Do not grieve my Sonbai.” Seven daughters in laws stealthily gnashed their teeth in anger and said, ‘ok’.

Parents went away. The youngest son went along with them. Sitting on an upper storey Sonbai was playing with dolls. One day while playing with the doll, one piece of the doll’s dress fell down. Sonbai told one sister-in-law, ‘Bhabhi, Bhabhi, please come up and give me the cloth.’

Bhabhi said, “Oh princess, heena has not been applied on your feet so you come down and you yourself take it.”

Tears brimmed in eyes of Sonbai. She missed her parents.

Second day happened. Six brothers got up in the morning and went to their work place,

Bhabhi said, ‘Sonbai, you cannot eat without doing anything. Take this pot and fetch water.’ Sonbai went to fetch water. The water pot which was put on the head fell down repeatedly. Her all clothes got drenched with water and men made jest of her. After overcoming difficulties, Sonbai went home by carrying a pot full of water and poured in a water pot. She went to fetch another pot of water.

Babhi hit a pebble stone at the water pot so the bottom part of the water pot got leaked. Sonbai came back by fetching second pair of pots but there was no water in the pot. By pouring the second pair of pots, Sonbai went to fetch water for the third time. On coming back at home, she found no drop of water in the pot, it had leaked out. Sonbai started to cry. One frog came near her. The frog asked, “Younger sister, what have happened to you?”

Sonbai said, “Babhi has made a hole in the water pot by hitting at it; so water is leaking out of it and the pot is not getting filled.”

The Frog went along with Sonbai at her house. It sat down in the water pot where there was a hole. Later on Sonbai poured water in it and filled the whole pot. The frog did not let single drop of water spill down.

Babhi rasped teeth in anger .

Third day happened. Brothers went to work. Second numbered bhabhi gave a call to

Sonbai, “Take these paddies. I have counted the number of grains that you will count it. You go and by pounding these paddies take out rice from it. We would torment you if one grain becomes less or any grain may break into pieces.”

Sitting under the tree, Sonbai started to shed tears. Meanwhile innumerable sparrows reached there. Sparrows asked, “Younger sister, why are you weeping?” Sonbai said, “Bhabhi has given me paddies to pound; if a single grain would become less or if any would break then bhabhi would torture me.”

Sparrows said, “Oh, there is nothing in that.” After saying so, all sparrows got busy in finishing the task. Very soon, all the paddies were chaffed. Not a single grain broke. Sonbai came home by bringing grains.

Bhabhi abusively said, “Rand, one grain is missing. You must have eaten it. Do not come without taking it.”

Sonbai after sitting under the tree sobbed. All sparrows rushed towards her and Sonbai told everything that happened at home to Sparrows. Sparrows said, ‘comrades you all please check your own mouth.’ They found that one grain had remained by mistake in the beak of one old sparrow. By taking that grain, Sonbai went home.

Bhabhi once again gnashed her teeth and grumbled.

It happened the fourth day. Brothers went out for their work. The third numbered bhabhi gave a call to Sonbai and ordered, ‘Go, and wash this whole bundle of clothes. Wash them as white as wings of Cranes; otherwise we would afflict you.’

By taking, a bundle of clothes Sonbai went to the river, she sat on the bank of the river and started to weep.

On seeing her wailing innumerable cranes approached her and asked, “Younger sister, what has happened to you? Why are you crying?”

Sonbai said, “Bhabhi has given me one bundle of cloth and asked me to wash them as white as the wings of Crane; elsewhere she would cause me agony.”

Cranes said, “What is in that? Buddies, lets each one take one cloth and wash it.”

Very quickly, all clothes were washed as white as wings of Cranes. By taking them, Sonbai went home.

Bhabhi said, ‘Rand, one cloth is missing. You must have stolen it, go and bring it.’

Once again, Sonbai went at the bank of the river. She told everything to Cranes. One Crane said, ‘Friends, each of you check your wings.’ On searching they found that in the wing of one old crane one cloth had remained by mistake; Sonbai took the cloth and went to her home.

Bhabhi scornfully bit her teeth.

It was the fifth day; as usual brothers went out to work. The fourth bhabhi told Sonbai,

‘Go in the barren region and bring a bucket full of cow dung and a bundle of wooden logs.’

Sonbai said, ‘Bhabhi, would you please give me string for tying the bundle?’ Bhabhi did not give string. Sonbai was lamenting in the barren region; meanwhile a huge Serpent came there.

Snake said, ‘Younger sister, why are you crying? Sonbai said, ‗ Bhabhi has not given me the string. How can I tie the bundle?

Snake said, ‘Sister, I will wrap myself round your bundle. On reaching home, please put down the bundle carefully, so it would not hurt me.’ By making a string of serpent, Sonbai went home by carrying the bundle.

Bhabhi gnashed her teeth.

Repulsion of all bhabhi did not subside. Every day they poisoned their husband’s ears by talking about flaws of Sonbai. Gradually brothers began to loath Sonbai. Brothers frequently admonished Sonbai.

One day Sonbai wanted to take bath. All her clothes frayed. If she ever ask for new clothes then bhabhi would reply, ‘Take blisters.’ Sonbai wept a lot, so the fifth bhabhi gave her own chunddi and said, ‘Rannd, take this chundadi. If a single stain will be found on chunddi then I would make your condition more miserable.’

Sonbai said, ‘Bhabhi, I will keep it with a great care.’ As Sonbai sat to take bath, bhabhi clandestinely sprinkled drops of oil on it.

After taking bath, as Sonbai spotted out stains of oil on chundadi.

Sonbai came to bhabhi, she cried and she explained everything to bhabhi. Bhabhi told the whole matter to brother. Bhabhi said: ‘If you do not kill this rannd then we will strangulate ourselves.’ Brothers were extremely exasperated with Sonbai so they slayed her. Bhabhi colored the chundadi of Sonbai with Sonbai’s blood then brother went and buried Sonbai.

Sonbai had one pet dog. Every day dog used to howl and go to the place where Sonbai was buried, they used to thrash dog but in spite of that dog did not stop going there.

Bhabhi felt that the dog would disclose the whole fact. Therefore, babhi killed the dog and buried the dog besides Sonbai’s burial ground.

A few days passed. One Neem tree grew on the ground where Sonbai was buried. The Peepal tree grew where dog was buried. Trees grew bigger.

Once parents were returning from pilgrimage; on their way Neem tree and Peepal Tree came across them. The younger son said, ‘Let us take rest here.’

‘Wow, how beautiful these trees are?’ After saying so, the younger soon started to move the branches of neem and Peepal trees.

Soon from the soil, sound of somebody singing a song was heard—

Kon halave limbdi?
Kon Julave pipali
Bhai ni marel bendi
Bhojai ni rangel chundadi

Who is rocking the Neem tree?
Who is cradling the peepal tree?
Sister has been killed by a brother.
Sister in laws have colored chundadi.

The younger brother got scared. Whose voice it is? The voice quite resembled with the voice of Sonbai.

He dug the earth below the Neem tree then Sonbai came out. As he made a pit under the peepal tree then Sonbai’s dog was discovered.

The younger brother by slitting his one thigh hid Sonbai in it and in another thigh he hid the dog. All went home.

Parents and younger brother asked, ‘Where Sonbai has gone?’

Babhi replied, ‘She has gone to play.’

It became night. All set down for dinner. Brother said, ‘Please call Sonbai.’

Bhabhi, called from the town one squint eyed girl and represented her before all and said,‘this is Sonbai.‘

Younger brother said ‘How this girl could be Sonbai? Why her eye is squint?’ Bhabhi replied, ‘When you were not present, her one eye broke.

‘Had so many years passed away that, the appearance of Sonbai has changed totally?’

Brother grinned and took out the living Sonbai from his thigh. All bhabhi looked down with embarrassment due to their heinous act.

The dog came out from the other thigh of a younger son. All bhabhi felt to die.

Brother said, ‘By cutting ear and nose of all these ruthless women; I would make them sit reverse on an ass and carry out their skimmington in the whole town.’

Sonbai interfered in the matter and said, ‘If you do anything against bhabhi then I gave you my swearing, of not to take any action against them.’

All bhabhi cried, bowed down to Sonbai and touched her feet. Even tears came to

Sonbai’s eyes. Six brothers came home. They felt extremely guilty. They cried a lot by putting down their heads in lap of their Parents. They touched feet of Sonbai.

All forgot the matter that happened. Sonbai grew up, got married and she went to her in-law’s house.

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