The Dancing Doll

They say that there was once a peasant who had a very cunning wife. The peasant was not cunning, but at least he could tell the difference between what and barely, and he noticed that although he grew wheat, his wife always used to give him barely bread when he returned home in the evening.

‘How is it,’ he asked his wife one day, ‘that although I grow wheat, I always eat barely?’

‘Listen, and I shall explain,’ she replied. ‘Whenever your sister sneezes, the wheat stored in our sacks turns to barely.’

The peasant was very angry and went in search of his sister. On the way he met a man who saw his troubled look. ‘Brother, what is the matter/’ he asked.

The peasant recounted his story: ‘I am a farmer, and although I grow wheat, my wife gives me barely bread to eat. Today I complained about this, and she told me that whenever my sister sneezes, the wheat stored in out sacks turns to barely. So I am on my way to find my sister.’

‘Brother, return home,’ said the man. ‘Your sister is not to blame as you yourself will soon discover.’ The man then gave the peasant two dolls and taught him to say two words, Jaranz and Kharanz. ‘When you utter the word Jaranz, the two dolls will begin to dance. When you utter the word Kharanz, they will immediately stop dancing,’ after saying these words, the stranger said farewell.

The peasant returned home with the two dolls and gave them to his wife, explaining that if she wished to make them dance, she should use the word Jaranz, and that if she wished them to stop dancing, she should use the word Kharanz.

Early the next morning the peasant went off to the fields with his bullocks. His wife had a lover who used to visit her while he was out working. She make big parathaas for him with butter and wheat flour. ‘But,’ she said, ‘before we have tea, I will show you something amusing.’ She picked up the two dolls that were lying in the corner and placed them in the middle of the room. Then slowly she pronounced the word, Jaranz,’ no sooner had she said this than the dolls began to dance. After some time, she wished to make them stop dancing, but she had forgotten the word that her husband had taught her to make them stop. Her lover tried to stop them dancing, but when he touched them, he himself began to dance. Then the peasant’s wife tried to stop him dancing, but when she touched him, she too began to dance.

The mullah who looked after the mosque lived next door, and that day his wife had woken up late. So he sent his daughter to fetch water from the peasant’s house. When the mullah’s daughter entered the house, she saw the peasant’s wife and her lover dancing. ‘Why are you dancing?’ she asked, but when she touched them, she too began to dance.

Soon the mullah arrived, angrily calling for his daughter. When he beheld the strange scene, he said nothing, gut went to the peasant who was ploughing his fields, and said to him: ‘Come quickly – your wife is dancing with her lover.’

The husband returned home and saw his wife and her lover dancing. The parathas, which his wife had made for her lover, were lying in the corner. He first ate them. Them he uttered the word ‘Kharanz,’ and they all stopped dancing. Then he turned to his wife, and said: ‘So this is how my sister’s sneeze turns the wheat to barely.’ With these words, he killed his wife and her lover.


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