Once upon a time, there was a poor widow named Hungni. She lived with her son, Sachuli. Sachuli had the bad habit of asking stupid questions every day. One day, he asked his mother what made women laugh. Irritated, Hungi replied at once that they would laugh if he were to throw a stone at them.

The next day, as Sachuli sat near a well, he spotted three women filling their water jars. He wanted to make one of them laugh. The first two women finished their business and went home. He couldn’t bring himself to hurl a stone at them. However, as the last woman walked past him with her water jar, he threw a big stone at her. To his utter dismay, the woman fell right there and died on the spot. However, her mouth looked as though she were smiling. Feeling pleased with himself, Sachuli rushed back home to tell this to his mother.

A shocked Hungni accompanied Sachuli to the well. The dead woman actually belonged to an affluent family. She was wearing precious jewels. Hungni removed all the jewels and tossed her body into the well.

Several days went by. The dead woman’s parents announced a prize for anyone who shared information on their missing daughter’s whereabouts. Sachuli heard about this.

He went to the officer and told him that his mother, Hungni, had taken all the jewels and thrown the body into the well.

The officer took Sachuli to the well to verify his claims. When Hungni saw them approaching the well, she threw a dead sheep into the well and pulled the woman’s corpse out. She just about managed to hide her body in time.

The officer and his men helped Sachuli down the well so he could retrieve the woman’s body. Thinking he had found the corpse, Sachuli pulled the dead sheep out instead. Incensed, the officer and his subordinates began beating Sachuli. They accused him of misleading the police.

Bruised and battered, Sachuli somehow made it back home. When his mother saw him coming, she threw the corpse back into the well. However, she wasn’t done. She started thrashing him for what he had done. Upset at this, he told her that he would go away forever.

Sachuli walked for several miles. After a few hours, ten of the King’s camels passed him by. They were laden with countless sacks of money and gold coins. One of those camels strayed and was nowhere to be seen. However, Sachuli found the missing camel and took it back home.

He showed his mother the sacks containing all the gold and money. She took those sacks and hid them with the jewels she had removed from the dead woman’s body. She then scattered comfits all around the house.

Surprised to see those sweet nuts around the house, Sachuli cried with joy. Hungni told him that the comfits had rained down from the heavens. After eating the nuts, he went around the village and told everyone that God had rained comfits on their home. Again, no one believed Sachuli and gave him another sound beating for taking the villagers for fools.

The king, who had lost his camel and money, sent the officer around the town. He announced a prize for anyone who found the camel and those precious sacks. As expected, Sachuli went to the officer and told him that he had found the camel. He further informed the officer that he had taken the camel home, where his mother grabbed all the sacks and chased the camel away. However, the officer and his subordinates couldn’t find anything at Sachuli’s place. Once again, Sachuli was beaten black and blue by not just the police, but his mother as well.

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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 The Project Gutenberg.