Once upon a time, a family lived happily with their two daughters. The couple would often go out into their jhum fields early in the morning, leaving their two daughters alone at home. The older daughter always made the younger daughter do all the household chores.

One day, the couple left their daughters home alone and went to work in the fields. The older daughter asked her sibling to fetch firewood and water. Meanwhile, she herself went about cleaning the rice and preparing the feed for the pigs.

As instructed, the younger daughter came home with a load of wood. She asked her sister for some food to eat. Turning a deaf ear to her request, the older sister asked her to get some water to fill all the pots and containers in the house.

Without paying heed to her younger sister, the older sister prepared the evening meal. Once again, the younger sister asked the older sister to give her some food. However, instead of feeding her, she asked her younger sister to open her palms. She then hit her on the palms with the hot rice ladle. Tired and hungry, the younger sister cried loudly and curled up in a corner of the bamboo balcony, behind their house.

The parents returned home in the evening with the fresh harvest from their jhum fields. They looked for their younger daughter, but couldn’t find her. When they asked the older daughter about her sister’s whereabouts, she said that her sister was just loafing around.

The parents could tell that something was amiss. They were familiar with their daughters’ characters. They desperately looked for their younger daughter. The parents even promised her that she would be the first one to eat whatever they brought from the fields.

But, sick of her older sister’s lies, the younger daughter climbed up a nearby tree and transformed herself into a kongliang, or a small bird. Her parents later found her perched on the branch of the tree.

The little bird constantly sang a song. After darting from one tree to the other, it flew off into the nearby forest, leaving its parents heartbroken.

…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 Naga Journal.