Long time ago, there lived a girl named Ngaiteii on the outskirts of Mizoram. She was loved by everyone in the village. She had lost her father at a very young age and thus lived with her grandmother. Back then, her father had mysteriously disappeared near the riverbank. Since that day, many villagers had often seen ghosts around that area.
Ngaiteii’s family owned a small plot of land on which they grew potatoes. One day, while digging potatoes, Ngaiteii was parched. When she asked for water, her grandmother sent her to fetch it from the river herself. However, she gave Ngaiteii more than one warning and strictly advised her against asking how the river had turned black.
As soon as Ngaiteii reached the river bank, the inquisitive child in her could not help but shout loudly, “how did the river turn black?” No sooner had she uttered these words than she was swallowed into the river by giant waves of water.
Meanwhile, her grandmother began feeling anxious about the disappearance of her granddaughter. She decided to go to the riverbank and search for her. Upon reaching the riverside, she met a pair of red deer. She asked them if they had seen her granddaughter. They replied that they had seen her walking hand in hand with her father, further upriver. Granny went upstream as fast as she could. On her way, she met a kingfisher. She asked it if it had seen Ngaiteii. He too replied that he had seen her walking further upriver, holding hands with her father.
When she could walk no further, she suddenly caught sight of her beloved granddaughter sitting in the middle of the river. She called out to her and inquired where her father was. She replied, “father has gone off to work disguised as a snake.”
He came back in an hour or so. Grandma pleaded him to let her take Ngaiteii home. He agreed, but on the condition that she would have to return once a fortnight was over.
As days passed, Ngaiteii lost the desire to go back to her father. Her grandmother too forgot about the promise she had made to her son. On the fifteenth day after Ngaiteii’s return to the village, her father sent a flood to the village to bring back his daughter. The village, however, was too fond of the little girl to let go of her. Instead, they sent Ngaiteii’s mekhla (an indigenous dress) with the flood waters.
The deluge came back with vengeance. However, the villagers once again deceived Ngaiteii’s father by sending her comb instead of the girl. The next day, the raging torrent returned menacingly. Although reluctant, Ngaiteii volunteered to leave out of her love and innate desire to protect her village.
Since that day, the village has yet to experience a single flood. Even now, the villagers shed tears for the little girl, who sacrificed herself to defend and safeguard the village.
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Ananya both loves to read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about her.