Folktale from India
Told by an Indian woman in March 2019
Once upon a time, there was an old man who was so careless that he could no longer work to support himself and his wife.
One day when it was the annual party of the goddess Parvati, a friend came by. He advised the old man to seek help from the goddess.
The old man went all the way to the goddess’s temple. There were so many people there that he couldn’t even get in. He sat under a tree outside the temple. The goddess knew of his presence and sent out her helpers to fetch him.
When he told about his situation, she gave him a bowl. He should thoroughly wash it and then he could wish for whatever he wanted to eat and never be hungry again.
He thanked her and went home. There he could now invite his wife for a real party meal.
The next day when they had fed themselves on many delicacies, the wife said that this was food fit a king. The man said that was exactly what he was thinking; Now that they were so fortunate, he would invite the king to dinner.
The next day the old man went to the king. The king’s servants and courtiers laughed when they heard the old man inviting the king for dinner and asked if they could come too. Sure, said the old man. And we also? Said the soldiers. Sure, you are also welcome the old man said.
O the day of the feast, the king sent a servant to see if the poor old man really had prepared a meal for so many people. He came back and reported that there were stacks of banana leaves to eat on, but no pots on the fire.
When the king and his companion came to dinner, the old man washed the dish, sent it around, and invited everyone to wish for whatever they wanted to eat. Everyone marveled greatly and when they had finished eating, the king took the dish and said that such a rarity was better suited to the royal palace. There it ended up in the royal treasury and was forgotten.
Now the old man and his wife were poor again.
A year later it was time for the goddess Parvati’s annual party. The man again walked to the temple, where he told the goddess how he lost the dish. The goddess gave the old man a cane and told him what to do.
The next day the old man returned to the king and invited him and his companion to dinner. When they sat ready to eat, the old one took out the stick and said, “This stick once had a wife, a bowl. He misses her terribly.” Then he released the stick to dance on their backs. The king immediately promised to return the dish and sent a servant to find it. A while later, the old man got his bowl back and he and his wife were able to satisfy their hunger again. The king and his companion returned home with bruises and an insight into divine justice which unfortunately faded away with their bruises.
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