The Swabian ate the Liver

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: and
Her self-published works:
"You and me" is a collection of poems
And her effort of translating a selection of articles from Lokrahasya “Secrets of the Humankind – Satiric Articles by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,”:

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Once our beloved Lord, the saviour was travelling from one city to another preaching the gospel and performing many signs and showing miracles during his journey through the world. One day he met a good naive Swabian on his way. He asked the Lord, “O my poor friend, what are you looking for here?” “I do wander everywhere and bless the needy.” – stated the Lord. The Swabian asked, “Would you allow me to go with you?” Our Lord replied, “Yes, only if you become a devout one and pray righteously.” The Swabian agreed.
They accompanied each other till they reached a place between two villages. They heard some musical sound from somewhere. The talkative Swabian asked our Lord: “Poor man, do you know the reason why the bells chime here?” Nothing was unknown to the saviour; he replied: “In one of the villages, the bell chimes to celebrate a wedding; in the other, to mourn for a dead man.” “Go to the dead man!” – said the Swabian, “I will attend the wedding then.”
Therefore the saviour went to the village where a man had passed away. He brought the dead man into life again. The cheerful relatives of the man gifted him hundred gold coins conveying their gratitude. Also the Swabian walked towards the wedding location, turned the dull festival around quickly by helping guests one after another, and also himself. At the end of the wedding, he received one coin for his service. The overjoyed Swabian came back to the Lord dancing. As soon as he saw his companion from a distance, he lifted his coin up and screamed, “Look at this, poor soul! I earned money. What did you receive?” He was bloating with pride having that coin. Our Lord laughed at him and told, “Aye, I have much more than you!” Calm and composed, he opened his sack in front of his travel companion. He took the coin from the Swabian, threw that one coin in the sack along with the hundred gold coins and told, “That is mean! Both of us will own the entire sack of coins together.” Our Lord showed the immature man his divine feeling of brotherhood that way.
Again they started their journey together. On their way, they found a herd of sheep passing by them. Our Lord said to the Swabian, “Go to the shepherd. Request him to give us one small lamb. Cook the lamb’s genital, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys for dinner.” “Fine!” told the man, and did the same as asked by the Lord. He went to the shepherd, took a lamb from him, skinned it and prepared the genital, heart etc for cooking. But while cooking, the small liver started floating on the broth. The cook tried to push it inside the stew pot with a spoon but it did not stay there. This annoyed the Swabian beyond his tolerance limit. He took a knife, chopped it into pieces and ate it. As he served food, the Lord asked where the liver was. The Swabian found a quick reply, “The lamp did not have a liver”. “Ah, how could it survive without a liver?” – Our Lord asked as his companion’s statement came to him as a complete surprise. But the Swabian made a tricky and expensive plot, “Yes, I swear in the name of God and all saints that it had none!” What could the Lord do other than remaining satisfied with the answer if he wanted an aggressively talkative man to stop?
They continued walking together. Again they came near two villages when they heard bells chime in both. The Swabian asked, “What does the sound mean now, my dear?” “In one of the village, it is for a dead man; in another, it is for a wedding.” – told the Lord. “Good! This time you go to the wedding and I will go to help the dead.” – The man actually wanted to earn a hundred gold coins though he spoke of help. He, for a second time, asked the God, “My dear, could you tell me what did you do when you tried to bring the dead man to life?” “I spoke to the person. I told him ‘get up in the name of your fathers, and all godsend saints!’ then he got up.” – The Lord explained. “Very good! Now I will do that once.” – told the man and proceeded towards the village where villagers took him to the dead body. As the Swabian saw the dead body lying, he started announcing loud and clear, “Wait, wait – I will restore him to life, and if I cannot bring him back to life, hang me without a judgement delivered by a court!”
The announcement pleased the villagers. They promised him one hundred coins and laid the barrow down, on which the dead person was lying. The Swabian opened the coffin and began to speak: “Arise in the name of the Holy Trinity!” But the dead did not wake up. The anxious Swabian repeated his lines, twice and thrice. Still his chanting could not make the dead move. He shouted in anger, “Lie there in the name of thousand devils!” The people assembled around could hear him. They understood how they were deceived by the stranger. They left the coffin, captured the Swabian, took him to the gallows, threw the ladders, and led the Swabians to the platform.
The Lord was slowly heading towards Swabia, he knew his route, but he wanted to see how his companion was doing. He came to the court. Seeing the man being dragged to the gallows, he cried is horror, “O poor soul, what have you done? Why am I seeing you in such a condition?” The Swabian looked as wild as thunderbolt. He started cursing that the Lord had not taught him the chant to resurrect. “I have given you instructions,” said the Lord. “But you did not learn and do it right. Now do what the almighty wants. I will take care of you if you tell me where the liver was gone.” “Oh!” The Swabian was in no mood to admit it, “the lamb has really had no liver! Why are you asking me again and again?” “I see you are not going to tell me.” pleaded the Lord. “Well, tell us and I will resurrect the dead.” But the Swabian continued yelling, “Kill me, hang me! I want to get rid of the torture. He is forcing me to confess my guilt about the liver, knowing very well that the lamb has not had a liver! Just hang me straightaway, without delay! “

As our Lord heard that the Swabian preferred death over admitting the truth, he directed to free him from the gallows, and he himself brought life to the dead.

It was time for them to separate from each other; our Lord called the Swabian, “Come here, we will share the coins we have won, and then bid farewell to each other, for if I were to get you out of the gallows all the time, it would be too much for me.” He opened the sack of two hundred coins and divided them into three parts. The Swabian was curious, “Why are you doing three parts, when we are two?” “Yes,” said our dear Lord, “One part is mine; the second part is yours, and the third part is for the one who has eaten the liver.” The Lord’s once companion sounded jubilant, “I swear in the name of God and all the saints! It is I who has eaten it!” The Lord commanded, “Take the third part, and leave our dear God forever.”




* Swabian: a person from Swabia, a region in south-western Germany, currently in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Characterising people based on their place of origin is universal habit. Swabians\people from eastern parts were called naive in middle age Europe. Shall we compare our habit of characterising people from Uzbekistan \ Eastern Bengal.
*In medieval Europe, vital spirit of a human body was considered to be conveyed with the blood through the brains to the liver, where it effected to the nutritive powers. Eating liver was considered to be essential to boost human spirit and that’s why a favoured food. Lamb’s liver should have been kept for the friends by the cook, as per medieval Christian idea of expressing brotherhood. The “naive” Swabians were still resisting Christian concepts it seems.
*Eating genitals of the lamb was medieval Christian idea of symbolic killing of sexual desire\ lust for procreation. Or does it express the opposite?
*Full of righteous advices, the story reminds us the difficulty Christian faith faced overall before being accepted as universal religion in Europe. The story evolved at a time when Swabia was probably not fully converted. Preachers needed to roam around showing miracles; also needed to prove themselves to be morally superior.



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