info@tellmeyourstory.in
Millet-thief

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

A rich merchant lived in a lavish mansion in a city. His palatial home was surrounded by a large garden. In one part of the plush landscape, he used to grow millet. The merchant took a walk through his splendid garden once in a while.

It was spring. Millet came up in abundance that year. Aroma of fresh ripe millet filled the air. The merchant was taking his usual stroll in morning when much to his annoyance, he found a part of the field empty – millet from that part was harvested by some daring thief previous night. He was proud of his garden. Sowing millets that year was his favourite farming venture. It happens to every human being. Everyone of us is specially careful about certain things. And if someone takes the thing of our attachment away from us, we are upset. The theft of the millet frustrated him. He decided to catch the thief and punish him strictly or take him to the court. Calling his three sons, Michael, George and Johannes he said, “A thief invaded our garden last night. Good portion of my millets are stolen! I am upset like anything. The thief must be caught and he must pay me for what he has done. Now I want you to keep a strict vigil at night, one after another. The one who can catch the thief will get a handsome reward.”

 

Part I

His eldest son Michel went to watch over the field on the first night. He took several loaded pistols and a sharp sabre; he did not forget to carry enough food and drinks too. Wrapped in a warm mantle he hid himself behind a flowering elder bush. Sumptuous dinner as well as the soothing aroma of flowers worked well. Soon he fell fast asleep. As he woke up next morning under the shining golden sunlight, he found even larger portion of millet from the field had vanished. After some time the merchant came to the garden. When he came to know that his son had slept instead of watching and catching the thief, he became even angrier. He started scolding him, taunted him as a brave night guard who himself could be stolen along with his pistols and sabre, and then left the field still enraged.

Next night it was turn for George, the merchant’s second son. Apart from all the weapons his brother carried previous night, he also took a knittel and strong stick. But even that good watchman George fell asleep like his brother. In the morning he too discovered that the millet thief had worked efficiently as usual. The father went wild with anger. He shouted mocking at his sons, “By the time third guard get up from deep sleep, all my millet will go to hell. I won’t need a guard any longer then!”

Third night the youngest son Johannes came as watchman. He did not bring any of the weapons despite all good suggestions he received from the elders. Nevertheless he secretly arranged the most effective weapon against sleep – some thistles and thorns. He built a heap of those in front of him where he sat. Whenever his sleepy head nodded forward, his nose bumped against the spikes, making him alert instantly. As midnight approached, he heard a clip-clop sound. Gradually it came closer as if it was making a way though the millet field. He heard a strong sound of chewing. “Now you are going to stop” – he thought, “I’ve caught you.” He took out the lasso he carried out from his pocket, cautiously pushed the thorns aside and crawled towards the sound quietly. And then – the sight stunned him! He didn’t believe what he was seeing – the thief was actually a lovely young horse!

The sight pleased Johannes. He didn’t face much trouble to capture it either. As his lasso was tied around its neck, the little animal followed him willingly to the stable. Johannes locked it there. It was time for him to go to bed and sleep well.

 

Part II

Early in the morning, as his elder brothers came to see what he was doing, they found him sleeping in his bed. They awoke him, taunted him using all sorts of foul languages for being lazy – who but a worthless watchman sleeps in bed when he is supposed to keep watching. After they took a brief pause, Johannes said, “I will show you the millet thief only if you stop.”
His father and brother had to follow him to the stable. Surprised at the beauty of the baby-horse, none of them wished to enquire about its origin or who its owner was. It had a silvery white body. Having a delicate and slender structure, it was beautiful to look at. The merchant was very happy. He gave the horse to his brave youngest son as reward. The boy named the pleasing gift, “Millet-thief”.

In a short while, the brothers heard a rumour that a beautiful princess had been kept enchanted in a castle. As it happens in fairy tales, the castle was located on a slippery glass mountain which none could climb. Only the one who would be able to happily walk up to the castle door thrice would win the princess as wife.

Needless to say, infinite number of young men tried to reach the castle following the route, but failed, fell down and died.

All fairy tale lovers know by now that only Johannes reached there. He didn’t need much to do but only tighten the saddle of his little Millet-thief to have a happy journey. His wonder-horse crossed the wide distance trotting over the vast land easy and fast. What most of us don’t know is, also his elder brothers wanted to try their luck. Both purchased young and strong horses, adorned those with sharpened horse shoes. In fact three of them started together. But while climbing up the glass-mountain both the elders slipped one by one, and fell down with their expensive horses, showing no sign to get up again.

Johannes continued riding, light on his horse but with a heavy heart – trot, trot, trot, trot , trot – as if he was listening to own heart – heavy as he lost his two brothers; at the same time hopeful that he could win the princess. The horse took him three times round the castle talking the same dangerous route. By the time his horse finally stood before the gate, he felt as if he had taken a hundred rounds. The door opened, the lovely princess came out – gorgeous in expensive silk and gold dress. The young man hurriedly came down from the horse to embrace his fortune.

But the princess turned towards the adorable Millet-thief, patted on its back and said, “Why did you run away from me, little rascal? Don’t you know I am allowed to go to the earth only for an hour a day during dinner? Since you were not there to carry me down the hill, I could not even enjoy my dinner in the midst of the greenery around. You should never leave me like this!” Johannes understood who his Millet-thief belonged to.

As it should happen in the fairy tales, his brothers got up with their horses in the meantime and joined them to celebrate the wedding. Anyway Johannes didn’t need to stay with his family or go back home. He spent his life with his beloved princess happily inside the castle, far from the earthly worries.

Do you want to explore where the castle was? That is not possible any longer; for the magic was dissolved as soon as the wedding took place. The princess was actually freed from the magic spell as her liberator Johannes stepped into the castle and married her. The clever Millet-thief planned it all!

REFERENCES :

* Like many other fairy tales of this category, here too, a merchant’s son finds his fortune in form of a castle and a beautiful princess at the end of his adventure. The hero of the story is not a royal descendant anyway. This leads to our assumption that this is a story from medieval period when feudalism was no longer only dominant social system in Europe. Trading became a generally respected profession while traders were expected to find their fortune – access to big wealth, along with the desirable productive resource in form of a princess, at the end of their adventurous journey.

** The prince leaves own home, goes far away, finds his fortune an liberates the beauty queen\ land from negative magic spell and starts staying there instead of coming back to home with his bride – do we see a sign of sprouting colonial concept?

*** Almost same story is found in Grimm’s collection too.

Photo credit : Wikimedia Commons

A rich merchant lived in a lavish mansion in a city. His palatial home was surrounded by a large garden. In one part of the plush landscape, he used to grow millet. The merchant took a walk through his splendid garden once in a while.

It was spring. Millet came up in abundance that year. Aroma of fresh ripe millet filled the air. The merchant was taking his usual stroll in morning when much to his annoyance, he found a part of the field empty – millet from that part was harvested by some daring thief previous night. He was proud of his garden. Sowing millets that year was his favourite farming venture. It happens to every human being. Everyone of us is specially careful about certain things. And if someone takes the thing of our attachment away from us, we are upset. The theft of the millet frustrated him. He decided to catch the thief and punish him strictly or take him to the court. Calling his three sons, Michael, George and Johannes he said, “A thief invaded our garden last night. Good portion of my millets are stolen! I am upset like anything. The thief must be caught and he must pay me for what he has done. Now I want you to keep a strict vigil at night, one after another. The one who can catch the thief will get a handsome reward.”

His eldest son Michel went to watch over the field on the first night. He took several loaded pistols and a sharp sabre; he did not forget to carry enough food and drinks too. Wrapped in a warm mantle he hid himself behind a flowering elder bush. Sumptuous dinner as well as the soothing aroma of flowers worked well. Soon he fell fast asleep. As he woke up next morning under the shining golden sunlight, he found even larger portion of millet from the field had vanished. After some time the merchant came to the garden. When he came to know that his son had slept instead of watching and catching the thief, he became even angrier. He started scolding him, taunted him as a brave night guard who himself could be stolen along with his pistols and sabre, and then left the field still enraged.

Next night it was turn for George, the merchant’s second son. Apart from all the weapons his brother carried previous night, he also took a knittel and strong stick. But even that good watchman George fell asleep like his brother. In the morning he too discovered that the millet thief had worked efficiently as usual. The father went wild with anger. He shouted mocking at his sons, “By the time third guard get up from deep sleep, all my millet will go to hell. I won’t need a guard any longer then!”

Third night the youngest son Johannes came as watchman. He did not bring any of the weapons despite all good suggestions he received from the elders. Nevertheless he secretly arranged the most effective weapon against sleep – some thistles and thorns. He built a heap of those in front of him where he sat. Whenever his sleepy head nodded forward, his nose bumped against the spikes, making him alert instantly. As midnight approached, he heard a clip-clop sound. Gradually it came closer as if it was making a way though the millet field. He heard a strong sound of chewing. “Now you are going to stop” – he thought, “I’ve caught you.” He took out the lasso he carried out from his pocket, cautiously pushed the thorns aside and crawled towards the sound quietly. And then – the sight stunned him! He didn’t believe what he was seeing – the thief was actually a lovely young horse!

The sight pleased Johannes. He didn’t face much trouble to capture it either. As his lasso was tied around its neck, the little animal followed him willingly to the stable. Johannes locked it there. It was time for him to go to bed and sleep well.

Continued in Part II

Early in the morning, as his elder brothers came to see what he was doing, they found him sleeping in his bed. They awoke him, taunted him using all sorts of foul languages for being lazy – who but a worthless watchman sleeps in bed when he is supposed to keep watching. After they took a brief pause, Johannes said, “I will show you the millet thief only if you stop.”
His father and brother had to follow him to the stable. Surprised at the beauty of the baby-horse, none of them wished to enquire about its origin or who its owner was. It had a silvery white body. Having a delicate and slender structure, it was beautiful to look at. The merchant was very happy. He gave the horse to his brave youngest son as reward. The boy named the pleasing gift, “Millet-thief”.

In a short while, the brothers heard a rumour that a beautiful princess had been kept enchanted in a castle. As it happens in fairy tales, the castle was located on a slippery glass mountain which none could climb. Only the one who would be able to happily walk up to the castle door thrice would win the princess as wife.

Needless to say, infinite number of young men tried to reach the castle following the route, but failed, fell down and died.

All fairy tale lovers know by now that only Johannes reached there. He didn’t need much to do but only tighten the saddle of his little Millet-thief to have a happy journey. His wonder-horse crossed the wide distance trotting over the vast land easy and fast. What most of us don’t know is, also his elder brothers wanted to try their luck. Both purchased young and strong horses, adorned those with sharpened horse shoes. In fact three of them started together. But while climbing up the glass-mountain both the elders slipped one by one, and fell down with their expensive horses, showing no sign to get up again.

Johannes continued riding, light on his horse but with a heavy heart – trot, trot, trot, trot , trot – as if he was listening to own heart – heavy as he lost his two brothers; at the same time hopeful that he could win the princess. The horse took him three times round the castle talking the same dangerous route. By the time his horse finally stood before the gate, he felt as if he had taken a hundred rounds. The door opened, the lovely princess came out – gorgeous in expensive silk and gold dress. The young man hurriedly came down from the horse to embrace his fortune.

But the princess turned towards the adorable Millet-thief, patted on its back and said, “Why did you run away from me, little rascal? Don’t you know I am allowed to go to the earth only for an hour a day during dinner? Since you were not there to carry me down the hill, I could not even enjoy my dinner in the midst of the greenery around. You should never leave me like this!” Johannes understood who his Millet-thief belonged to.

As it should happen in the fairy tales, his brothers got up with their horses in the meantime and joined them to celebrate the wedding. Anyway Johannes didn’t need to stay with his family or go back home. He spent his life with his beloved princess happily inside the castle, far from the earthly worries.

Do you want to explore where the castle was? That is not possible any longer; for the magic was dissolved as soon as the wedding took place. The princess was actually freed from the magic spell as her liberator Johannes stepped into the castle and married her. The clever Millet-thief planned it all!

 

**The End**

REFERENCES :

* Like many other fairy tales of this category, here too, a merchant’s son finds his fortune in form of a castle and a beautiful princess at the end of his adventure. The hero of the story is not a royal descendant anyway. This leads to our assumption that this is a story from medieval period when feudalism was no longer only dominant social system in Europe. Trading became a generally respected profession while traders were expected to find their fortune – access to big wealth, along with the desirable productive resource in form of a princess, at the end of their adventurous journey.

** The prince leaves own home, goes far away, finds his fortune an liberates the beauty queen\ land from negative magic spell and starts staying there instead of coming back to home with his bride – do we see a sign of sprouting colonial concept?

*** Almost same story is found in Grimm’s collection too.

Photo credit : Wikimedia Commons

1 Likes
437 Views

You may also like

Leave A Comment

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