The Jackal and the Kite

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

Once upon a time a jackal and a kite agreed to join forces and get their food together. In pursuance of their plan they sent word to a prosperous village that a Rājā with his army was marching that way and intended the next day to loot the village. The next morning the jackal took an empty kalsī and marched towards the village drumming on the kalsī with all his might, and the kite flew along overhead screaming as loud as he could. The villagers thought that the Rājā’s army was approaching and fled into the jungle. The jackal and the kite began to feast on all the good things that had been left in the houses. There was however one old woman who was too infirm to run away with the other inhabitants: and had hid herself inside her house. When she saw that no army came but only a jackal and a kite she crawled away into the jungle and told her friends. They came back, and surrounding the village, caught the jackal: they began to beat the jackal with sticks to kill it: the jackal uttered no sound and pretended that it did not mind being beaten: after a time it began to jeer at its captors and told them that they could never kill it by beating. The asked how it could be killed and it said by burning. So they tied a bunch of old cloths on to its tail and poured oil over them and set them on fire: the jackal ran off with the burning bundle at the end of its tail and jumping on to the nearest house set fire to the thatch: the fire spread and the whole village was burnt down. The jackal then ran to a tank and jumping into the water extinguished its blazing tail. But if you look you will see that all jackals have a burnt tip to their tail to this day.