The Goala’s Daughter

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

There was once a man of the Goala caste who had an only daughter and she grew up and was married, but had no child; and after twenty years of married life she gave up all hope of having any. This misfortune preyed on her mind and she fell into a melancholy. Her parents asked her why she was always weeping and all the answer she would give was “My sorrow is that I have never worn clothes of ‘Dusty cloth’ and that is a sorrow which you cannot cure.” But her father and mother determined to do what they could for their daughter and sent servants with money into all the bazars to buy “Dusty cloth”. The shopkeepers had never heard of such an article so they bought some cloth of any sort they could get and brought it to the Goala; when he offered it to his daughter she thanked him and begged him not to waste his money:

“You do not understand” said she—“what I mean by ‘Dusty cloth.’ God has not given it to me and no one else can; what I mean by ‘Dusty cloth’ is the cloth of a mother made dusty by the feet of her child.” Then her father and mother understood and wept with her, saying that they would do what man could do but this was in the hands of God; and they sang:—

“Whatever the child of another may suffer, we care not:

But our own child, we will take into our lap, even when it is covered with dust.”