One day, a group of young girls walked down to the village well to fetch water. While filling their water pots, they started talking about marriage. One vain girl told that her uncle would soon be coming over with bridal presents and the finest clothes for her. Another girl mentioned that her uncle would bring her the most delicious sweets to eat. A third girl said that her uncle would fetch her the rarest jewels.
Listening to this conversation, Bopoluchi, the prettiest girl in the group looked unhappy. An orphan, Bopoluchi didn’t have anyone to set her up with a prospective groom. Not one to be left behind, she chimed in and said that her uncle was also dropping by with clothes, jewels, and savory food.
Meanwhile, a peddler, who went around selling cosmetics and perfumes to the village women, happened to overhear this conversation. He was actually a robber who used to roam around as a peddler to keep a low profile. Bopoluchi’s remarkable beauty didn’t go unnoticed by him. He at once made up his mind to marry her.
The next day, he turned up at Bopoluchi’s house with elegant dresses, appetizing food, and precious jewels. The peddler told Bopoluchi that he wanted to marry her to one of his sons. Bopoluchi decided to go with him when he told her that he was her father’s friend.
Bopoluchi packed her belongings and followed the robber. On their way, a crow on a tree branch warned her.
Bopoluchi, ’tis a pity!
You have lost yours wits, my pretty!
‘Tis no uncle that relieves you,
But a robber who deceives you!
When Bopoluchi brought the robber’s attention to the crow’s words, he asked the girl to ignore them. Later, even a peacock and a jackal warned her. Once again, the robber asked her to pay no heed to these words and follow him.
Once they got to the robber’s house, he informed her that he was going to marry her. Saying so, he left with his old mother to arrange for the wedding.
The old woman helped Bopoluchi put on her bridal dress. Bopoluchi looked gorgeous in her beautiful hair, which reached down to her ankles. The bald, aged woman asked Bopoluchi what the secret of her lovely hair was. She replied that her hair had grown long from pounding her head with a huge mortar. The old woman requested Bopoluchi to do that for her so she could have long hair as well.
As soon as Bopoluchi smacked the old woman’s head with the mortar, the old lady died. Bopoluchi then dressed the old lady in her bridal dress and made her sit up on the bridal chair. She even hid the corpse’s face with the veil. She placed the spinning wheel before the dead body so the robber would think that the bride was Bopoluchi.
Bopoluchi then put on the old woman’s clothes and escaped from the robber’s house. On the way, she spotted the robber coming with a millstone to grind corn for the feast. He took Bopoluchi for a woman from the nearby village. She reached home safely.
When the robber got home, he mistook the person in the bridal dress as Bopoluchi. He asked her to help him put down the millstone. However, the corpse obviously couldn’t respond. When his multiple attempts failed to evoke a response from his supposed bride, the robber flung the millstone at her. The person in the bridal dress crashed to the floor. That was when it dawned on him that this person was actually his old mother. He decided to bring Bopoluchi back and punish her.
Meanwhile, Bopoluchi spent a week at one of her friend’s house. After a week, she decided to head back home. She kept a billhook at her bedside before going to sleep.
Around midnight, the robber, accompanied by three men, lifted the bed on which Bopoluchi lay asleep and carried it to a deserted place. However, she was alert to the danger and cut off two of the thieves’ feet with the billhook. The robber’s third accomplice met the same fate.
Shocked to see his friends dead, the robber rushed up the branch of a nearby tree. Bopoluchi asked him to come down. Afraid Bopoluchi would kill him as well, the robber refused to do so. At this, Bopoluchi gathered some dry sticks and set them ablaze. The fire soon spread to the tree as its smoke suffocated the robber, who jumped down from the tree and fell to his death.
She then went to the robber’s house and made off with all his gold and silver jewels. She came back to her village a rich woman. With all of her newly acquired wealth, she could now afford to marry a man of her choice.
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Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about her.