There lived an old woman with her seven sons in a village named Kurmachal. Six of her sons slaved away in the fields, plowing, sowing and irrigating the land. They needed to get water from a lake far away from their village. To protect their crops from the wild animals, they built a wall around their fields. While they toiled all day, the animals still managed to destroy their crops at night.

Meanwhile, the youngest son did not take part in the household chores or fieldwork. He would leave home early and come back at night, only to eat and take rest. Hunting was the only thing he was fond of. He would often return with the most exquisite game.

One day, the old lady called her youngest son and advised him to stop acting so irresponsibly. She asked him to start working in the fields, just like his brothers. The youngest son replied that he preferred hunting to fieldwork. He contended that there was nothing brave about toiling in the field.

The old lady asked the boy to show his bravery by hunting down the wild animals that destroyed their crops. The son replied that he found it humiliating to hunt tiny animals such as rats and hares. The poor old lady had no choice but to let her son have his way.

However, the six brothers decided to work out a plan to deal with the animals ravaging their fields, building a cottage nearby. They then took turns to keep a nightly vigil.

The eldest brother would be the first one to go, carrying his spear to deal with the intrusive beasts. However, much to his disappointment, he came across none. He woke up, startled by a tan-colored swine that was ruining their crops.

He started calling out his brothers for help but to no avail. Armed with his spear, he ran after the swine. The swine ran pretty fast and soon disappeared into a dense Deodar forest. The eldest brother sat under a tree to rest for a while.

When he spotted a cave at some distance, he went over to check for the swine in there. He walked into the cave and came across a lady dressed in a bright red sari. The whole place was surrounded by luxuriant trees and stunning fountains. A big iron gate also stood there. He walked deeper into the cave in search of the swine.

He suddenly began losing consciousness. However, before he could run away, the gate closed, leaving him trapped inside the cave.

The following night, the second son stayed up to keep vigil. The same swine showed up and destroyed their crops. He followed the swine and was trapped inside the cave, just like his elder brother. One by one, all brothers except the last one followed the swine and were ensnared by the treacherous cave.

To pacify his mother, the seventh brother went looking for his brothers. That night, he kept vigil with his bow and arrow. The tan-colored swine turned up again and began wreaking havoc in the fields. The youngest son shot the beast down with an arrow. While chasing after the injured swine, he spotted an old lady cutting off the weeds in her field. He stopped to ask her if she had seen any tan-colored swine.

The lady replied that she would help him if he removed a thorn from her foot. The boy did so. She then asked him to head straight and meet another old woman who would be collecting the leaves of a tree. When he inquired about the swine, she said that she would help him if he could help her place the bundle of leaves on her head.

The boy asked the lady to sit down on the ground. He then shot an arrow on the bundle. The arrow raised the bundle and placed it on her head. Pleased, the woman asked him to head to the cave in the nearby Deodar forest, for that was where the swine lived.

He got to the Deodar forest and found the cave. When he tried to get in, his eldest brother screamed, warning him against coming in. He asked his youngest brother to jump over the lawn’s fence to come in. The youngest brother did so and came over a fountain. Feeling thirsty, he walked over to get some water. That was when his second brother cautioned him against this idea. The boy walked on. In the middle of a beautiful lawn, he spotted a beautiful marble table with the most delicious sweets and fruit on it. This time, his third brother advised him against having any of it. He followed the orders and walked on.

Next, the seventh brother came across a beautiful garden with sweet-smelling roses of all colors. When he walked over to pluck some of those roses, the fourth brother warned him to keep away from them. He did so and found a beautiful Veena placed on a table. It was now the fifth brother’s turn to advise him against touching the instrument. Once again, the boy complied.

He now spotted a beautiful girl dressed in a vibrant red dress. She was sitting cozily in a chair. The sixth brother told him to not touch the girl, who was actually a witch. Hearing this, the youngest son aimed an arrow at her. She jumped off the chair and turned into the tan-colored swine. With his perfect aim, he shot her dead with his very first arrow.

The palace, the gardens, and the fountains suddenly disappeared. All six brothers were released from the spell and made it back home safely. The mother arranged a big feast for everyone in the village as the villagers celebrated the brothers’ safe return.

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya
Kalai

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 Folk Tales of Himachal Pradesh by K. A. Seethalakshmi.