Once upon a time, there lived a king with his two queens. The king treated his favorite queen with a lot of love and care. However, his attitude toward the other queen was nothing but humiliating. While his beloved queen remained childless, the other queen conceived.

When the king’s preferred queen learned about this, she planned to get rid of the baby. She blindfolded the other queen when she went into labor. The queen eventually gave birth to twins – a girl and a boy. The king’s favorite queen announced that a grass ring and a broomstick were born. She then asked the midwife to kill the two babies. However, the midwife did not do so. Instead, she placed them in a wooden box and set them afloat on the ocean.

The box drifted to a nearby island, where a destitute couple found it floating around the sea and pulled it ashore. When they opened the box, they found the two babies in it. Being childless, they readily adopted the babies.

Twelve years went by. One day, the beggar fell sick. He asked his two kids what he could do for them before leaving for his heavenly abode. The kids thanked him for being such a good father to them. They said that they didn’t want anything from him. The beggar gave them a magic ball and a quilt made of rags nonetheless. If the children shook the quilt, gold coins would drop from it. Likewise, hurling the magic ball would wreak havoc on their enemies. He also asked them to not go in the direction where the wooden box had come floating by. These were the beggar’s last words.

A few days later, the beggar’s widow took to bed as well. Like her deceased husband, she also asked her children what she could do for them. The kids thanked her for giving them a new life. Again, they said that they didn’t want anything, though the beggar’s wife eventually gave them a magic sandal and a magic vessel. The magic sandal could take them anywhere they wanted to go. The magic vessel could give them whatever they wished to eat. Once again, she reminded her kids to not head in the direction the wooden box had come from. She then breathed her last.

After completing their parents’ last rites, the children started walking in the direction they had been asked not to. The magic sandal landed them on the outskirts of a village. Both of them then built a big house with the gold coins they got by shaking the quilt.

One morning, while playing with the magic ball, the boy asked the ball to go strike his enemy. It ended up striking the king’s favorite queen on the chest before coming back to him.

Every day, the boy would play with the ball and ask it to hit his enemy. The ball would smack the queen and return to him. This went on for days. Finally, the queen complained about this to the king. Initially, the king did not pay attention to this seemingly trivial issue. However, the queen’s daily harassment eventually forced the king to take notice.

The next day, as had become usual for him, the boy ordered the magic ball to hit his enemy. The ball struck the queen, who collapsed on the floor. The incensed king ordered his soldiers to present the boy before him at once.

The soldiers went looking for the boy and told him that the king had summoned him at once. However, the boy refused to obey the king’s orders. He told the men that if the king wanted to see him, he should come over instead.

The next day, the king went to see the boy by himself. The kids received him warmly. The king asked the boy to tell him about himself and his sister. The boy started with his story on the condition that he would stop if the king were to interrupt him.

The boy began his story with the mention of a king and his two queens. At this, the king cut him off and asked who the queens were. The boy refused to continue the story and asked the king to drop by the next day to hear the remainder of the story.

The king visited the boy the following day. The boy started telling the story from the beginning. He mentioned that the king loved one queen so dearly while completely neglecting the other. Hearing this story, the king began to doubt if the story was about him. He interrupted the boy and asked him where the king and his queens lived. The boy stopped once again. With a heavy heart, the king had to go back to his palace. However, he looked forward to the next day.

The morning couldn’t have come sooner for the king, who dropped by at the boy’s place at sunrise and egged him on to continue the story. The boy resumed his story. He told the king that the other queen gave birth to a boy and a girl. However, the midwife misled the king by telling him that a broomstick and a grass ring had been born instead. Once again, the king cut the boy off, asking where the girl and the boy lived. As expected, the boy cut short the story and asked the king to come back the following day.

The next morning, the boy continued the story. He told him how a beggar and his wife came across the wooden box and brought up those abandoned twins as their own. At this point, the king interrupted again and had to come back the next morning to hear the remainder of the story. When the boy related how, on their deathbed, the beggar and his wife asked those abandoned twins what they needed, the king realized that these were his children. He began crying.

After returning to his palace, the king called both the queens. He also ordered to midwife to appear before him. When threatened with the capital punishment, the midwife told the king what happened. The king also got his favorite queen to confess to her misdeed. The king was now convinced that the story he had heard from the boy was indeed his own story. He hugged his two children and even assigned royal duties to the boy. The guilty queen was banished from the kingdom, while the other queen began leading a happy life with her husband and children.

…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.