A long time ago, there lived an old man with his wife near a jungle. One day, while working in his field, a deer limped across from his field. The deer had apparently been wounded by a hunter. The old man killed the deer by hitting the animal on its head with a hoe. He then hid its body at a safe place.

A while later, the hunter dropped by in pursuit of the deer. The trail of blood had led him to the old man’s field. He inquired if the old man had seen a wounded deer. The old man feigned ignorance and asked the hunter if he wanted to know how large his field was. Perplexed at the irrelevant remark, the hunter once again queried about the injured animal. Despite hearing the question, the old man asked if the hunter wanted to know about the crops growing in the field. To this, the hunter replied that this wasn’t what he wanted to know. Not wishing to continue that meaningless conversation with the hunter, the old man made an excuse and left.

Over supper, the old man asked his wife to give him an early breakfast the following day as he needed to go cut the deer he had hunted. After chopping the deer into pieces, the old man began dividing the venison between him and his wife.

He started with his share of the meat. He kept one piece for washing his face in the morning, one for chewing tobacco, one for herding the cattle, and one for plowing the fields, thus accounting for all his chores.

The old man then started dividing the share for his wife. After he was done, he realized that his wife’s share was actually more than his. Since he didn’t want that to happen, he mixed all the pieces and started dividing them once again. This time, he started by handing out his wife’s share before his own. Even though he now had a larger share than his wife, he still wasn’t satisfied. He kept on dividing it up again and again until the sun set.

As the evening set in, his wife came looking for him with the pestle in her hand. Shocked to see the old man sitting in the middle of venison covered with dust, she hit him on the back with the pestle. He mistook the blow for a snake bite and ran away from there.

Meanwhile, the old woman wrapped the meat in a piece of cloth and carried it back home. She used the meat to prepare the supper. When her husband asked where she got so much meat from, she replied that she had cooked chicken for him. She also berated her husband for wasting so much time dividing the venison, for had it been for him, the couple would have gone hungry that night.

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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.