Long, long ago, there lived a king with his only daughter. The little princess and the minister’s daughter played together and went to the same guru for their lessons. The guru always blessed the princess that she would marry a corpse. On the other hand, he blessed the minister’s daughter that she would marry a prince.

Until they were grown-ups, the two girls didn’t realize what the guru’s blessings actually meant. As it dawned on the princess what the guru had blessed her with, she kept mulling over this ‘blessing’ all day. When the king inquired as to what was worrying the princess, she conveyed the guru’s blessing to him. The king, who held the guru in high regard, knew he had to obey his words. He decided that he and his daughter would retire to the nearby woods and serve the people who lived on alms.

Both of them went deep into the woods in search of water. They came across this small, solitary house in the middle of nowhere. Hoping to get some water to drink and a place to rest, they decided to check out the place. The princess went inside. However, the doors closed automatically as soon as she stepped in, locking her inside. The king couldn’t get inside the house and spent three days outside, waiting for his daughter. When there was no sign of her, the disappointed king went back to his country.

Meanwhile, the princess failed in all her attempts to come out of the house. All she could do now was weep alone. As her tears dried up, she walked around the rooms in the house. To her surprise, the well-furnished house had everything one could need to lead a comfortable life. When the princess opened the last room, she found a corpse there. The corpse was of a man. His lifeless body was covered with pieces of the doob grass. The princess remembered her guru’s words. She was convinced that his words had finally come true.

That night, the princess had a dream, wherein she was instructed to worship the Sun God and pluck out one piece of the doob grass every day to bring the corpse back to life. The princess began doing so.

One day, a poor merchant stumbled upon the house in search of food and water. He had his daughter with him. The princess requested the merchant to leave his daughter with her, citing how lonely she felt in that secluded house. The merchant readily agreed.

The merchant’s daughter noticed that the princess worshiped the Sun God on a daily basis. She asked the princess why she did that. The princess revealed to her that when she removed the last piece of the doob grass, the corpse will get back up and they would get married.

The days passed by. Now only a piece of the doob grass remained on the corpse. The merchant’s daughter wanted to make the most of that opportunity. So, the next morning, she got up earlier, paid her obeisances to the Sun God, and pulled out the last piece of the doob grass. The man woke up! It looked like he had been in a deep sleep. He instantly fell in love with the merchant’s daughter. The two exchanged garlands and got married.

Meanwhile, the princess finished her chores and walked into the last room to remove the last piece of the doob grass. To her surprise, the man was alive. He was sitting with the merchant’s daughter, who introduced the princess as their maidservant to him.

A few days later, as the man went to the town, he asked both of them what they wanted him to get for them. The merchant’s daughter asked for sweets, dresses, and red bangles. On the other hand, the princess asked him to get a myna bird for her.

In her leisure hours, the princess would teach the myna to talk. She related her story to the bird. When she came to know of this, the merchant’s daughter decided to get rid of the bird. She complained to her husband that their maidservant spent the whole day chatting with the bird and neglected her duties.

The man asked for the bird and kept it in a cage in his room. The myna bird started narrating the story. To keep the bird from doing so, the merchant’s daughter opened the cage. However, the bird flew away. It sat on the ventilator beams and completed the story.

Hearing this, the man asked the merchant’s daughter if it was true. As her silence gave her away, the furious man tried to kill her. However, the princess stopped him.

Repentant at his actions, the man married the princess. Together, they went to the king’s palace, where they received a grand welcome.

…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 Internet Archive.