The Two Sparrows

There was a sparrow. And there was a male sparrow. The sparrow brought home a grain of rice.

The male sparrow brought one of mung. Together the two of them made khichri.

Then the sparrow went outdoors to fetch water. When her back was turned the male sparrow ate up all the khichri, then covered his eyes with a strip of cloth and went to sleep.

When the sparrow arrived at the door of her house carrying the pitchers of water, one atop the other, she called out to the male sparrow, saying, "Help me get the top pitcher off my head." The male replied, "Throw down the top pitcher; then you can take down the bottom pitcher yourself."

The sparrow did as she was told.

When she went in she saw that the pot was empty: there was no khichri left. She asked him,

"Who ate up all the khichri?" He replied, "The raja's dog ate it."

Upon hearing this the sparrow went with him to the raja, and said, "O Raja, your dog has eaten up mykhichri."

The raja replied, "Prove what you say, so that justice can be done." The sparrow replied, "I am at your command." The raja said, "Let us go to the well."

When they arrived at the well, the raja held out a string of flimsy thread and said, "Each of you in turn must swing from this string across the well. The one who falls inside is the one who has eaten the khichri."

First the sparrow swung. She kept swinging until she was tired, but the string did not break. Then it was her male's turn. No sooner did he swing than the string broke and he fell into the well.

The sparrow began to cry. Upon hearing her wails the cat arrived, and asked, "What is the reason that you are crying, Sister?" The sparrow replied, "My male has fallen into the well."

The cat said, "If I fetch him from down there, what will you give me?" The sparrow answered, "I will feed you pudding of rice and milk, and give you rotimade from wheat." The cat was tempted by her offer.

The cat brought out the male sparrow from the well, and said to her, "Now feed me the pudding of rice and milk, and paratha."

The sparrow said to her, "Go away today, and come when you see smoke coming out of my house."

A few days later, the sparrow made a big fire in her house and heated up an iron plate in the oven. When it was blazing hot, she put a frying pan next to it, and covered it up as if it had the pudding of rice and milk in it.

When the cat saw a lot of smoke coming out of the sparrow's house she went there, all ready to eat.

The sparrow said to her, “Welcome! Welcome! I was about to send someone myself to invite you over."

The cat said, "Please do not delay the feast any further. Tell me where I should sit."

The sparrow pointed toward the hot iron plate, and said, "Come over, lovely Cat, and seat yourself here."

No sooner did the cat sit on the hot iron plate than her backside got burned. She leaped up in pain and cried,

I've had no pudding and me backside's been burned

I bow down to luck, sister, my lesson's been learned

Thus saying, she ran away yowling, and never again asked the sparrow to feed her.

This folktale is attributed to Jaisaram from the town of Chachro in Tharparkar district. Translation © 2014 by Musharraf Ali Farooqi. All rights reserved.