Long ago, in a small town, there lived a mother and a daughter, who were ardent devotees of the Sun god. They would donate everything in honor of the Sun god, which left them with only two rice cakes to eat.

One day, the daughter started feeling hungry after her mother went to work. Unable to suppress her hunger, she ate her share of the cake well before dinnertime.

After she finished eating, a priest dropped by, begging for food. There was nothing to eat except the other piece of rice cake. The daughter took half of the cake and offered it to the priest in the name of the Sun god.

Later that day, the mother came back home from work. Tired and hungry, she looked for her rice cake. However, to her utter dismay, only half the cake was there.

When she asked her daughter, the girl explained that hunger her driven her to eat her share first. After a price came asking for food, she had to give him half the rice cake from her mother’s share.

The mother, however, was having none of it. She blamed her daughter for giving away her share of the cake so she could still have her piece of the cake. The daughter denied these allegations and reaffirmed that she had already consumed her cake before the priest came by. The mother did not believe her one bit, even after the daughter promised to give her half her share the following day. On the other hand, the daughter kept asserting that she had given her mother’s piece of cake in honor of the Sun god. She kept begging for her mother’s forgiveness in vain. In fact, this only fueled the anger of her mother, who thought that the girl was lying in the name of the Sun god. She chased her daughter away from home.

The daughter wandered in the wilderness. She couldn’t stop crying. She walked several miles before fatigue took over. That was when she climbed up a big peepal tree and decided to rest on its strong branches.

A little while later, a young prince in hot pursuit of a deer happened to stumble upon that peepal tree. The prince lay down to take a quick nap in the shade of the tree. He slept facing the vast night sky. Meanwhile, the daughter perched on the tree branch looked down at the handsome prince.

One by one, her streaming tears fell down on the prince’s face, waking him up. The prince walked around the tree, checking if it was raining. Figuring there were no clouds in the sky, he went back to the shade of the peepal tree. Now the teardrops started pouring down faster. One salty teardrop happened to fall on his lips.

The prince suddenly looked up and, lo, he spotted a beautiful girl weeping incessantly among the branches. When he asked why she was crying, the girl explained that she had no mother, no home, and no one to take care of her.

Smitten with her soft-spoken nature and innocent face, the prince took her to his palace as his bride. The daughter thanked the Sun god for his blessings and the unexpected stroke of luck.

In the palace, the girl began enjoying all the luxuries of life. However, she kept quiet when she heard other women talking about their mothers and homes. She could not overlook the humble background she came from. Every day, she would pray to the Sun god to keep her mother from searching for her. However, her prayers apparently went unanswered, for one day, as the girl sat at the balcony of her palace, her mother came by. She said that she wanted her daughter back. But the daughter had other ideas. She asked her mother to leave at once so her daughter wouldn’t have to be embarrassed before her husband, the prince.

Enraged at this conceited behavior, the mother chided her daughter for being so ungrateful. She claimed that she would have never married the prince had it not been for her.

Caught in two minds, the girl began praying to the Sun god for help. Suddenly, she saw the prince walking over to them. The daughter looked away in shame so the prince wouldn’t discover her modest background. She desperately turned around to ask her mother to leave, but the mother was gone. Instead of her mother was a golden stool.

The prince asked where that golden stool had come from, to which the girl responded that it was a gift from her mother. Amazed at such opulence from his in-laws, he expressed his desire to go see his mother-in-law at once. Even as the daughter gave one reason after another to avoid visiting her mother, the prince ordered her to get ready to visit her mother the following day. Once again, the daughter prayed to the Sun god for help.

The next day, the prince visited his mother-in-law with all the pomp befitting a royal family. Sitting in her palanquin, the girl kept praying for a miracle.

When the royal entourage approached the humble hut, what they saw instead was a gleaming palace that shone as bright as sunshine. It was made of gold. Even the servants were laden with gold.

After spending three days at that bewitching palace, the prince decided to head back home. After traveling for a while, he turned to take one final look at the golden palace. However, all he saw was a ramshackle hut.

The prince could not control his anger, for he believed his wife had deceived him. He ordered to tell the truth or face the consequences. The daughter admitted to her falsehoods at once, adding that her good fortunes had been a result of the blessings of the Sun god. The prince believed her and became an ardent devotee of the Sun god himself to seek his blessings.

…now that you’re here

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at kalai.muse@gmail.com to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from fairytalez.