A long time ago, there existed a village in which pretty much every family was quite well off. Each family owned a plot of land and had a farm of their own. However, an old woman lived on the outskirts of the village. She was rather poor and was living out her days in a makeshift dwelling. Without a family or any belongings, she was leading an insipid life. In fact, she barely made ends meet by accepting menial jobs in the homes of the wealthy villagers.

This old lady was particularly fond of the animals that inhabited the forest. Despite her hand-to-mouth existence, she would regularly feed the squirrels, monkeys, kittens, dogs and the other animals that paid a visit to her hut. On her way to the village, she would often put a piece of roti in the hollow of a tree. This hollow was home to an iguana. The iguana always noticed how the old lady always fed the animals of the jungle. It was touched by her kindness.

As opposed to the old woman’s unconditional love for animals, the villagers hunted them for sport. One such group of boys had their sights set on the iguana. They sneaked up to the hollow and began poking with their sharp spears at the iguana resting inside. They wanted to force the iguana out and then harass it to death. Heavily injured by the relentless onslaught of the pointy spears, the poor animal eventually had to come out. As soon as it emerged, the boys pounced on it and started beating the life out of it.

The old lady was passing by the tree when she noticed the group of boys beating an iguana black and blue. She dropped everything and rushed toward them. She scolded them and asked them to stop at once. Irritated, one of the boys threatened her, saying that if she kept nagging them, he would see to it that she did not earn a penny from his house. The old lady went silent for a while before answering that she would rather he left the iguana alone than receive any money from his house. Listening to these words, the boys left the iguana and went back home with sullen faces.

The old lady took the iguana to her house and looked after it. A week later, she was able to nurse the iguana back to health. Brimming with gratitude, the iguana proposed to fulfill any one of wish of the old lady. However, this offer came with the condition that the fulfillment of her wish must be detrimental to the villagers

A kind person at heart, the woman immediately turned down the proposal. Shocked at her unequivocal refusal, the iguana asked why she was letting go of such a golden opportunity. To this, the old woman answered that she did not wish to get anything at the cost of anyone around her. Pleased with her reply, the iguana blessed her by saying that she would no longer be short on any necessities and that she would attain whatever she wanted to. The old lady thanked the iguana and took it back to its hollow.

Just as the iguana had prophesied, the old lady no longer needed to do odd jobs. With enough means at her disposal, she started spending her idle time looking after the animals in the jungle and teaching the village kids how they could be kind to the voiceless animals around them.

…now that you’re here

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Ananya Susarla, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at ananyasusarla2915@gmail.com if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from TheStoryCircus.