A long time, there lived a wealthy farmer named Venugopal in the state of Tamil Nadu. He had multiple farms in not one, but a whopping ten villages! However, none of this land was truly his. He had inherited all of this wealth from his ancestors. Being the lazy fellow that he was, it was rare to see him even inspecting the crops.
One day, Venugopal’s wife angrily told her husband that she was not only exhausted from doing the household chores, but also the farm work. In fact, ever since the workers had gone off on a pilgrimage, her workload had increased immensely. Listening to his wife’s ranting, Venugopal assured her that he would go the market and hire a servant to aid her.
Saying so, Venugopal began searching and scouring every corner of the market in search of a servant. During his tedious search, he ran into a saint who was just walking into the village. Venugopal approached the noble saint and shared his problem with him. He even expressed his desire to hire a man who would never complain or take a day off, and would always be ready to do the work assigned to him. The saint looked into Venugopal’s eyes for a few seconds and replied that the next morning would see a strong man standing at his doorstep. The holy man added that this man would be the true manifestation of the kind of person Venugopal was looking for. Content with this assurance, Venugopal went back home both excited and thrilled.
Just as the saint had foretold, the next day, there was indeed a strong and mighty man standing at Venugopal’s doorstep. The man explained how he would do anything and everything his master would order. However, he had one condition – Venugopal would give him more and more work to do. In case Venugopal failed to fulfill this condition, the man could eat him. Venugopal immediately agreed without thinking twice about this preposterous condition. He thought that if he kept giving the big man work that needed ten or more days to be completed, he could easily rest all day while his servant slaved it away.
Thinking so, Venugopal ordered the mighty man to plow the farmland a few blocks behind his cottage. Expecting the mighty man to complete the work in a few days, Venugopal decided to catch his afternoon nap. No sooner did his head rest on the pillow than the big man came running into the house, screaming, “Master, my work is done! Master, my work is done!”
Sweat beads rolled down Venugopal’s forehead as he kept trying to make up some task or the other for the mighty man. When he could no more conjure up any work, he approached his wife for help. After thinking it over for a few minutes, she assured him that the big man would be taken care of. However, she had a condition. In return, she wanted Venugopal to give up on his lazy ways and help her in all her chores. Desperate to save his life and get rid of his annoying servant, Venugopal had no choice but to agree to his wife’s demands.
She called out the mighty man and asked him to complete a challenge she had for him. Again, this challenge came with a condition. Should the man fail to fulfill the challenge before nightfall, he would have to leave their house and never come back. Confident of his ability, the servant readily agreed.
Venugopal’s wife plucked out a strand of her curly hair and handed it to the mighty man. She then explained that if the man could straighten this strand, he would complete the challenge.
The servant pulled the strand straight. However, as soon as he let go, the strand would bounce back to its original shape. No matter how many times or howsoever he tried, the strand of hair just would not straighten. His efforts continued until nightfall, but none of them bore fruit. Having failed the challenge, he was required to leave at once. As a result, he was nowhere to be seen the next morning.
The overjoyed Venugopal rushed to his wife and showered her with praises. That day onward, Venugopal was always seen helping his wife in some way or the other, just as he had promised.
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Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at email@example.com if you would like to know more about her.
Folk tale adopted and abridged from Story Circus.