info@tellmeyourstory.in
Death – The Godfather

About Kathakali Mukherjee

Kathakali Mukherjee, born 1971, was a student of Sanskrit – Epigraphy and ancient Indian history. But her interest in language and literary studies led her learning another couple of European languages as well.
She worked for media libraries in Kolkata; also spent several years as technical translator, process and team manager with German and Indian software companies in Bangalore. Currently staying in Gurugram or Kolkata, she is engaged with reading and writing.
Apart from experimenting with short stories, she works on literary translation of fable and fairy tales as well as historical fictions. She is exploring the treasure trove left by esteemed Bengali and German authors between 18th-19th centuries these days.
She writes poems during her busy days when time does not permit her to sit at the writing desk.
Her blog: https://medium.com/@KathakaliM and https://www.indiblogger.in/kathakalim
Her self-published works:
"You and me" is a collection of poems https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01NCSMHK9/
And her effort of translating a selection of articles from Lokrahasya “Secrets of the Humankind – Satiric Articles by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,”: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ebook-kathakali-mukherjee-secrets-humankind

Visit My Website
View All Stories

Prologue

Claus was a poor man. As a matter of fact, God gifted him abundance, but that became a concern for him, as the God’s gift to him was twelve children. God seemed too kind when after the youngest one, came another. The thirteenth. His arrival caused Claus feel helpless like never before. He had no idea how to raise the child. None could suggest him how he could find a godfather for this child since every one within his kith and kin had already adopted one of his children for Baptism. He did not have much hope to find a compassionate soul among his friends who would adopt his youngest one. Some friends, who he thought would be happy to embrace the honour to become the godfather of his child, did even humiliate him! He finally thought of approaching a stranger.

Part I

Leaving home one fine morning, he took the country road with an idea in mind. He wanted to propose the first stranger he would meet to become the godfather of the poor child. Soon he saw a friendly-looking man, formally dressed, well-built, neither old nor young, having a gentle face. To the poor father, the man seemed to be a messiah before whom all the trees, bushes, grass and little flowers were taking a bow. He must be the God himself – thinking this he took his hat off, folded his hands and recited a prayer. He was God indeed! He understood what Claus wanted even before he uttered anything about it and told, “You are searching for a Godfather for your child, right? Don’t worry – I will take your child’s responsibility. It is me, the God for him.”
“So kind of you, dear God!” – Muttered the poor father, “I would thank you. You give wealth to some people; to some others, only children. Hence none can find happiness in life. The rich revel and the poor starve!” Hearing this, the gentleman turned away and disappeared within moments.
Claus went on walking. After he crossed some distance, he saw a young man coming towards him. He looked like a devil. Claus felt scared to meet the devil, but couldn’t avoid him anyway. He asked Claus, what he was looking for. Claus replied, “I am searching for a godfather for my youngest child.”
“Great – consider me the one! I will make him rich.” The young man shouted cheerfully.
“But who are you?” – Claus tried to enquire before agreeing.
“I am the Devil!” – He announced.
“Oh yes, you are the one!” the horns behind the man’s head made Claus sure of his identity. “Pardon me, I would go home and to your grandmother, but don’t want you to be my son’s Godfather. You are the evil! May god be with us!”
The devil turned around. Showing Claus a hideous grin, he filled the air with sulphur stink* and vanished. The father of the child stood perplexed.

Within minutes arrived another man, as thin as a spear. He was rattling like a thin hop-pole in the air. He too asked, “What are you looking for here?”
“A godfather for my child.”- The father did not want to talk much. He only wanted to escape the suffocating smoke.
“Good, I will talk care of him.” – Calmly told the man.
“But who are you?” Claus asked.
“I am death!” – He said in a hoarse voice.
Claus felt frightened. Meeting death seemed the scariest event in his life. Somehow he gathered courage thinking that the scariest person should be the safest hand where he could keep his youngest child. He said, “I agree. You are the impartial one who does not make a difference between the rich and poor! I invite you to become my child’s godfather! Just come in time, we will arrange his Baptism on Sunday.”

Death came on time, dressing like a descent person to take the responsibility of the child’s upbringing. The child also grew up to prosper in life under his guidance. After he grew up enough to learn something that would help him earning his living, the godfather came to meet him one day. He took the boy to the twilight forest where all kinds of herbs grew together. He told the boy, “This is time, my godchild, for you to accept your godfather’s blessings. You will be the best physician of the world knowing all these healing herbs.”

Taking a brief pause he continued, “Listen carefully what I am saying. Whenever you will attend a sick person, you will see me standing beside the person. If I stand near the head of the patient, you may be sure of his chance of survival. Treat him carefully to make him healthy again, applying the herbs you know. But if he must go from the world, I will stand near his feet. Stand up at that moment and declare, ‘No doctor of this planet will be able to cure him; not even me.’ Remember – if you use those herbs against my strong will, you will fall ill!”
Telling this, death left. The young man, now a physician took his way to lead his own life. It did not take long for him to get the first call from a sick person’s home. Within a very short span of time, he earned fame too. Whenever he visited a sick person, he looked at him straight. If he found death standing near the patient’s feet, he felt bad for not being able to help but started reciting prayers so that the person’s soul could rest in peace after leaving the mortal world. But whenever he spotted death near the head of the person, he gave him a few drops of juices from the herbs he knew and that worked like magic. The quick recovery of those people helped spreading his fame day by day.

 

Part II

The wonder-doctor was called to a country where the king had fallen sick. The doctors of that country could not heal him. Neither did they have any hope of the king’s recovery. However, the king had no reason to be happy about own death. All he was hoping for, was some miracle that could ensure his recovery. He sent for the wonder doctor promising to pay him large amount as remuneration.
This king had a daughter too. She was as beautiful as an angel. As the doctor entered the king’s room, he saw two figurines beside the king’s bed – the beautiful princess crying sitting near the head of her father while the freezing death standing near the king’s feet. The princess’ begging to him for her father’s life melted his heart. But the gloomy silhouette of his godfather told him to abstain from treating the king. The doctor decided to listen to his heart instead of his godfather’s injunction. His wit helped him to find a way out. He ordered the king’s servants to turn the bed the other way round quickly and within that time he administered his healing herbal juice. The king was cured defeating death within moments.

At the same time, the doctor’s move enraged death, who had no other option but to give way. He threatened his adopted son raising his long bony fingers at him before leaving.

The doctor’s love for the beautiful princess grew wings. Needless to say, the princess had already given him her heart out of her tender gratitude. What a pity – she fell seriously ill within days after her father recovered. To the king, his daughter’s life was most precious of all. He announced that the princess would be married to the first doctor who would be able to heal her. Her husband would also ascend the throne in due course of time. The young doctor’s heart started blazing with hope. He rushed to visit the patient – only to find death waiting near her feet. The doctor looked at his godfather – his teary eyes pleading for his beloved’s life. He was only hoping that the death would be kind enough to change his place or move a little upwards – but in vein. The death didn’t pay attention to his begging eyes and the sick girl seemed to be passing away. On the verge of her death, the girl saw her beloved begging for her life to someone unknown beside her bed.

Did death defeat the doctor?

No, the intelligence of the doctor helped him win once again! Again he ordered the servants to move the bed to the opposite direction and swiftly gave her some drops of the herb juice in the meanwhile. This revived her instantly. Opening her eyes she smiled at her lover thankfully. But death could not tolerate his foster son challenging him like that. He threw a glance of hatred at the doctor, caught him with his strong ice-cold hands and dragged him away. He took him to a dark unfathomable cave where many thousands of candles were burning incessantly. Some of them were long, some sized half of those, some were small and some tiny. Many of them went out and some were newly ignited. Surrounded by those candles, said death, “Look! Here burns the lamp of life for every human. The long ones are for children, the half sized are for those who are in their prime of life, the small are for the old and the tiny are for over-aged. There are exceptions too. Some small candles are for children who are destined to go out of life soon.”
“Show me mine!” requested the doctor.
Death showed him a tiny one which was going to extinguish soon.
“Oh my godfather!” The young doctor appealed again, “I want a new candle for me, so that I can lighten up the life of the beautiful princess marrying her and later become the king.
“That cannot happen” – death lashed him with his cold statement, “One has to completely extinguish before another new candle can be lighted.
“Then place the old one on top a new one.” – said the doctor.
Death agreed, “That I can do!” He took a long candle as if he wanted to put the tiny one on the top of that, but intentionally pushed the tiny on it such a way that it went off. The doctor fell down lifeless at the same moment.
Since then no herb has been grown in the world that can work against death.

 

REFERENCES :

This is another version of Grimm’s story of the same name. Probably this depicts the catastrophe of Black Death in 14th century Europe which wiped more than half of the population of Europe. This is AN example of one of the Märchen which ends in tragedy. Rooted in the social environment of a particular region, these kinds of folktales are always subject to scholarly inquiry.
*sulphur stink suggests that the story is collected from an area around Mediterranean where most of Europe’s volcanoes are located. Devastating power of volcanoes made ancient Europeans compare those with devil that always stink like sulphur.

Photo credit : Wikimedia commons

Claus was a poor man. As a matter of fact, God gifted him abundance, but that became a concern for him, as the God’s gift to him was twelve children. God seemed too kind when after the youngest one, came another. The thirteenth. His arrival caused Claus feel helpless like never before. He had no idea how to raise the child. None could suggest him how he could find a godfather for this child since every one within his kith and kin had already adopted one of his children for Baptism. He did not have much hope to find a compassionate soul among his friends who would adopt his youngest one. Some friends, who he thought would be happy to embrace the honour to become the godfather of his child, did even humiliate him! He finally thought of approaching a stranger.

Leaving home one fine morning, he took the country road with an idea in mind. He wanted to propose the first stranger he would meet to become the godfather of the poor child. Soon he saw a friendly-looking man, formally dressed, well-built, neither old nor young, having a gentle face. To the poor father, the man seemed to be a messiah before whom all the trees, bushes, grass and little flowers were taking a bow. He must be the God himself – thinking this he took his hat off, folded his hands and recited a prayer. He was God indeed! He understood what Claus wanted even before he uttered anything about it and told, “You are searching for a Godfather for your child, right? Don’t worry – I will take your child’s responsibility. It is me, the God for him.”

“So kind of you, dear God!” – Muttered the poor father, “I would thank you. You give wealth to some people; to some others, only children. Hence none can find happiness in life. The rich revel and the poor starve!” Hearing this, the gentleman turned away and disappeared within moments.

Claus went on walking. After he crossed some distance, he saw a young man coming towards him. He looked like a devil. Claus felt scared to meet the devil, but couldn’t avoid him anyway. He asked Claus, what he was looking for. Claus replied, “I am searching for a godfather for my youngest child.”

“Great – consider me the one! I will make him rich.” The young man shouted cheerfully.
“But who are you?” – Claus tried to enquire before agreeing.
“I am the Devil!” – He announced.
“Oh yes, you are the one!” the horns behind the man’s head made Claus sure of his identity. “Pardon me, I would go home and to your grandmother, but don’t want you to be my son’s Godfather. You are the evil! May god be with us!”
The devil turned around. Showing Claus a hideous grin, he filled the air with sulphur stink* and vanished. The father of the child stood perplexed.

Within minutes arrived another man, as thin as a spear. He was rattling like a thin hop-pole in the air. He too asked, “What are you looking for here?”
“A godfather for my child.”- The father did not want to talk much. He only wanted to escape the suffocating smoke.
“Good, I will talk care of him.” – Calmly told the man.
“But who are you?” Claus asked.
“I am death!” – He said in a hoarse voice.
Claus felt frightened. Meeting death seemed the scariest event in his life. Somehow he gathered courage thinking that the scariest person should be the safest hand where he could keep his youngest child. He said, “I agree. You are the impartial one who does not make a difference between the rich and poor! I invite you to become my child’s godfather! Just come in time, we will arrange his Baptism on Sunday.”

Death came on time, dressing like a descent person to take the responsibility of the child’s upbringing. The child also grew up to prosper in life under his guidance. After he grew up enough to learn something that would help him earning his living, the godfather came to meet him one day. He took the boy to the twilight forest where all kinds of herbs grew together. He told the boy, “This is time, my godchild, for you to accept your godfather’s blessings. You will be the best physician of the world knowing all these healing herbs.”

Taking a brief pause he continued, “Listen carefully what I am saying. Whenever you will attend a sick person, you will see me standing beside the person. If I stand near the head of the patient, you may be sure of his chance of survival. Treat him carefully to make him healthy again, applying the herbs you know. But if he must go from the world, I will stand near his feet. Stand up at that moment and declare, ‘No doctor of this planet will be able to cure him; not even me.’ Remember – if you use those herbs against my strong will, you will fall ill!”

Telling this, death left. The young man, now a physician took his way to lead his own life. It did not take long for him to get the first call from a sick person’s home. Within a very short span of time, he earned fame too. Whenever he visited a sick person, he looked at him straight. If he found death standing near the patient’s feet, he felt bad for not being able to help but started reciting prayers so that the person’s soul could rest in peace after leaving the mortal world. But whenever he spotted death near the head of the person, he gave him a few drops of juices from the herbs he knew and that worked like magic. The quick recovery of those people helped spreading his fame day by day.

Continued in Part II

The wonder-doctor was called to a country where the king had fallen sick. The doctors of that country could not heal him. Neither did they have any hope of the king’s recovery. However, the king had no reason to be happy about own death. All he was hoping for, was some miracle that could ensure his recovery. He sent for the wonder doctor promising to pay him large amount as remuneration.

This king had a daughter too. She was as beautiful as an angel. As the doctor entered the king’s room, he saw two figurines beside the king’s bed – the beautiful princess crying sitting near the head of her father while the freezing death standing near the king’s feet. The princess’ begging to him for her father’s life melted his heart. But the gloomy silhouette of his godfather told him to abstain from treating the king. The doctor decided to listen to his heart instead of his godfather’s injunction. His wit helped him to find a way out. He ordered the king’s servants to turn the bed the other way round quickly and within that time he administered his healing herbal juice. The king was cured defeating death within moments.

At the same time, the doctor’s move enraged death, who had no other option but to give way. He threatened his adopted son raising his long bony fingers at him before leaving.

The doctor’s love for the beautiful princess grew wings. Needless to say, the princess had already given him her heart out of her tender gratitude. What a pity – she fell seriously ill within days after her father recovered. To the king, his daughter’s life was most precious of all. He announced that the princess would be married to the first doctor who would be able to heal her. Her husband would also ascend the throne in due course of time. The young doctor’s heart started blazing with hope. He rushed to visit the patient – only to find death waiting near her feet. The doctor looked at his godfather – his teary eyes pleading for his beloved’s life. He was only hoping that the death would be kind enough to change his place or move a little upwards – but in vein. The death didn’t pay attention to his begging eyes and the sick girl seemed to be passing away. On the verge of her death, the girl saw her beloved begging for her life to someone unknown beside her bed.

Did death defeat the doctor?

No, the intelligence of the doctor helped him win once again! Again he ordered the servants to move the bed to the opposite direction and swiftly gave her some drops of the herb juice in the meanwhile. This revived her instantly. Opening her eyes she smiled at her lover thankfully. But death could not tolerate his foster son challenging him like that. He threw a glance of hatred at the doctor, caught him with his strong ice-cold hands and dragged him away. He took him to a dark unfathomable cave where many thousands of candles were burning incessantly. Some of them were long, some sized half of those, some were small and some tiny. Many of them went out and some were newly ignited. Surrounded by those candles, said death, “Look! Here burns the lamp of life for every human. The long ones are for children, the half sized are for those who are in their prime of life, the small are for the old and the tiny are for over-aged. There are exceptions too. Some small candles are for children who are destined to go out of life soon.”

“Show me mine!” requested the doctor.

Death showed him a tiny one which was going to extinguish soon.

“Oh my godfather!” The young doctor appealed again, “I want a new candle for me, so that I can lighten up the life of the beautiful princess marrying her and later become the king.

“That cannot happen” – death lashed him with his cold statement, “One has to completely extinguish before another new candle can be lighted.

“Then place the old one on top a new one.” – said the doctor.

Death agreed, “That I can do!” He took a long candle as if he wanted to put the tiny one on the top of that, but intentionally pushed the tiny on it such a way that it went off. The doctor fell down lifeless at the same moment.

Since then no herb has been grown in the world that can work against death.

REFERENCES :

This is another version of Grimm’s story of the same name. Probably this depicts the catastrophe of Black Death in 14th century Europe which wiped more than half of the population of Europe. This is AN example of one of the Märchen which ends in tragedy. Rooted in the social environment of a particular region, these kinds of folktales are always subject to scholarly inquiry.
*sulphur stink suggests that the story is collected from an area around Mediterranean where most of Europe’s volcanoes are located. Devastating power of volcanoes made ancient Europeans compare those with devil that always stink like sulphur.

Photo credit : Wikimedia commons

4 Likes
696 Views

You may also like

Leave A Comment

Please enter your name. Please enter an valid email address. Please enter message.