Village Folk-tales of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), vol. 1-3

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “the gamarala’s foolish son” is gathered from oral sources sources, tracing its origin to ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka). These tales are often found to contain similarities from stories from Buddhism and Hinduism. This is the story nr. 62 from the collection “stories of the durayas”.

Story 62 - The Gamarala’s Foolish Son

WHILE a Gamarala and a Gama-gaeni (his wife) were at a village, as there were no children to those two for a long time they went to a Dewala, and worshipped the Gods in order to obtain a child. After that they obtained a child. As that child was growing up the Gamarala and Gama-gaeni were becoming very old.

So one day the Gamarala says to the Gama-gaeni,

“Before we die we must summon and give a bride to the youth.”

Having said this they summoned and gave him a small girl.

During the time while they were living thus, the Gamarala had an illness. After that the Gamarala died. Afterwards, while the Gama-gaeni, and the son, and the son’s wife were there, one day the wife of the Gama-puta (son of the Gamarala) said,

“Now then, let us go to my village, and having gone there, sowing our rice field lands let us do cultivation”;

and both of them went.

While they were there, one day, as an illness settled on the Gama-puta’s wife, the Vedarala (village doctor) went to see her.

The Vedarala asked,

“What is the illness ?”

Then he said,

“My wife has tumours which are growing large.”

The Vedarala having made a medicine which was to be rubbed [on the places], and having come to the house gave it, saying,

“Rub thou this medicine on them.”

When he had been rubbing it for four or five days they grew larger. The Gama-puta having seen this, said,

“Ada! These tumours are becoming very severe. I cannot go for medicine every day if they go on like this. Let us go to my village.”

So they set off to come to the Gama-puta’s village.

As they were coming, a man was driving a bull on the road. This Gamarala’s son asked,

“Where are you taking the bull ?”

The man said,

“I am taking it to my village,”

he said.

“Where are you going ?”

he asked.

“We are going to my village. My wife has tumours. We are going to apply medical treatment,”

he said.

“Where ? Let us look at them. I also know a little medical art,”

he said.

Then he showed them. When the man who was taking the bull saw them he said,

“They are growing larger ; they will never become well,”

he said.

Then the Gama-puta thought,

“This woman does not matter to me.”

So he said,

“It would be good for you to give me that bull and take this woman.”

So taking the bull he gave the woman.

“This one has water in his stomach (i.e., he had drunk water) ; you will be careful,”

the man said.

Then having taken the bull, as he was going to the village he took a large cloth and tied it round the middle of the bull. While he was there after tying it, a man came, carrying a bill-hook on his shoulder. When he saw it he asked,

“What is this doing ?”

“This one has water in his stomach; on that account I have tied the cloth round it,”

he said.

Having seen the bill-hook, he asked “What is that ?”.

“This is a bill-hook,” the man said.

After he asked,

“What do you do with the bill-hook ?”

the man said,

“Taking a packet of cooked rice and a water-gourd, it is for cutting the jungle,”

he said.

When he asked,

“Will you take this bull and give me the bill-hook,”

the man said, “It is good,” and having given the bill-hook went away taking the bull.

Then the Gama-puta, having taken the bill-hook, and gone to the village, during the time while he was there thought he would go to cut jungle. Having thought so, he took a packet of cooked rice and a water-gourd, and the billhook, and having placed them upon a rock he remained looking on. Seeing that the bill-hook stayed [there] without cutting the jungle, and thinking that it was because he was looking at it, he came home.

Having come and eaten rice, and having gone back afterwards, when he looked, the bill-hook having been put in the sun had become extremely hot.

So the Gama-puta thinks,

“The bill-hook having got fever, is it on that account it did not eat the cooked rice and did not cut the jungle ?”

He went quickly for medicine. Having gone he told the Veda (village doctor). The Veda having looked [at it] told him to bury it under the frame on which the water pots were set. Afterwards, having come home, he buried it under the water-pots’ frame. On the following day, after he had looked [he found that] having become thoroughly wetted by the water it was cold.

Having seen that, he got into his mind [the notion],

“Ada! The medical treatment is very good.”

When a little time had gone, one day the Gamarala’s wife had a severe illness, having got fever.

The Gama-gaeni said,

“Son, I have much fever. Having gone for medical advice and brought a little medicine, give me it,”

she said.

He said, “It is good,” and speedily having cut a hole under the water-pots' frame, and put ithe Gama-gaeni in the hole, he covered her with earth.

Afterwards when he looked, the fever having thoroughly gone down she had become cold like a plantain tree ; and saying,

“Ada ! Mother’s fever is completely well,”

he went away.

Duraya. North-western Province.



In Indian Fables (Ramaswami Raju), p. 71, a variant of the last incident is given. A man with severe fever having cooled a red-hot poker in cold water, thought he could cool himself in the same way, so he sat in a tub of cold water, with a fatal result.

In Indian Nights’ Entertainment, Panjab (Swynnerton), p. 83, a weaver got a smith to make a sickle that would cut com of itself. He laid it beside the standing corn, which he ordered it to cut; but on returning he found no work done, and the sickle ill with fever, through being in the sun. The smith to whom he applied for advice recommended him to tie a string to it, and lower it into a well; this cooled it. When his mother caught fever he treated her in the same way until she died and became cold.

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