The Too Particular Wife

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

There was once a man with a large tumour on his forehead and his wife was so ashamed of it that she would never go about with him anywhere for fear of being laughed at. One day she went with a party of friends to see the Charak Puja. Her husband wished to go with her but she flatly declined to allow him.

So when she had gone he went to a friend’s house and borrowed a complete set of new clothes and a large pagri. When he had rigged himself out in these he could hardly be recognised; but his forehead with the tumour was quite visible. Then he too went off to the fair and found his wife busy dancing. After watching her for some time he borrowed one of the drums and began to play for the dancers; and in particular he played and danced just in front of his wife.

When he saw that his wife was preparing to go home he started off ahead, got rid of his fine clothes and took the cattle out to graze. Presently he went back to the house and asked his wife whether she had enjoyed the fun. “You should have come to see it for yourself,” said she.

“But you would not let me! Otherwise I should have gone.”

“Yes,” answered his wife, “I was ashamed of the lump on your forehead but other people do not seem to mind, for there was a man there with a lump just like yours who was playing the drum and taking a leading part in the fun and no one seemed to laugh at him: so in future I shall not mind going about with you.”