A long, long time ago, there lived a couple in their thirties in a small village around the Bastar region. Their names were Hari and Dejah. The couple collected bamboo shoots and then weaved beautiful baskets out of them. After they were done weaving a set of thirty to thirty-five baskets, Hari would go to the market to sell them. In those times, barter system was prevalent as the means of trade. One good was exchanged for another. In order to get grains, rice and pulses, Hari would often have to travel to the town market. This had been going on for many years.
One day, while Hari was selling the baskets in the market, one of the customers exchanged their mirror for a couple of baskets. Hari, however, had never seen or heard of this strange object known as mirror. In fact, he had never even seen his own reflection. As a result, when Hari looked into the mirror to examine it, he saw his own reflection in it. Unaware of his own appearance, Hari mistook the reflection to be an image of his father, whom he greatly resembled. Happy to see his father’s face after so many years, Hari carefully carried the mirror back home.
Once home, Hari carefully placed the mirror in his personal basket. He decided that, from then on, he would always begin and end his day by looking at his father’s image. The next morning, he looked at the mirror before heading to work. He did the same before going to sleep that night. This new routine continued for several days. Dejah, who had been closely observing Hari’s new habit, grew curious about what exactly he was looking at.
The following day, after Hari left for work, Dejah quietly walked over to Hari’s personal basket and took out his mirror. When she looked into it, she was aghast at the sight of a woman. After all, Dejah too had never seen her own reflection. Mistaking it as the image of another woman, Dejah grew suspicious as she recalled how Hari had been looking into the mirror on a daily basis for the last few days. She soon concluded that he was cheating on her. Furious, she decided that she would not cook dinner that night.
Successful in collecting a large bundle of bamboo, Hari returned home in a cheerful mood that night. However, the fury of Dejah all but dampened his high spirits. He asked his wife why she was upset. Dejah, in turn, screamed at her husband and accused him of being unfaithful to her. Incensed, she explained how she had found the image of the woman that Hari had been ogling every day. The poor man desperately defended himself by saying that it was the image of her father-in-law instead.
The couple argued so loudly that other villagers soon gathered around the house. Seeing the situation spiral out of control, the village chief asked them the reason for this dispute. Both of them explained their side of the story to the old man.
A wise man, the chief asked them to bring him the ‘image’. He then asked them to look into the mirror together. Obeying his advice, the couple were greatly astonished at what they saw. The mirror showed the image of the couple standing beside each other. The two soon realized their folly and were embarrassed at how they had fought over something so childish.
…now that you’re here
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Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about her.