Folk Tales From the Upper Indus

پښتو :: پښتانه :: پښتونخواه :: پښتونوالی

Folk Tales From the Upper Indus, C. Swynnerton
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, October 24 2005 (

Latest Updates

Frequent Keywords

history marwat afghanistan pashto india peshawar geneology afghan culture british afghans khyber kabul folklore baloch

Folk Tales From the Upper Indus

C. Swynnerton

London: Elliot Stock, 1892, No 3, pp 4-6

Publishing Date: Monday, October 24 2005

Seven Wise Men of Bunair

Seven men of Buneyr once left their native wilds for the purpose of seeking their fortunes. When evening came they all sat down under a tree to rest, when one of them said, "Let us count to see if we are all here." So he counted, "One, two, three, four, five, six," but, quite omitting to reckon himself, he exclaimed, "There's one of us missing, we are only six!"

"Nonsense!" cried the others, and the whole company of seven began counting with uplifted forefingers, but they all forgot to count themselves.

Fearing some evil, they now rose up, and at once set out to search for their missing comrade. Presently they met a shepherd, who greeted them civilly and said, "Friends, why are you in such low spirits?"

"We have lost one of our party," answered they; "we started this morning seven in number, and now we are only six. Have you seen any one of us hereabouts?"

"But," said the shepherd, "seven you are, for I have found your lost companion; behold: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven!"

"Ah," answered the wise men of Buneyr, "you have indeed found our missing brother. We owe you a debt of gratitude. Because you have done us this service, we insist on doing a month's free labor for you."

So the shepherd, overjoyed with his good fortune, took the men home with him.

Now, the shepherd's mother was a very old woman, in her dotage, utterly feeble and unable to help herself. When the morning came he placed her under the care of one of the Buneyris, saying to him, "You will stay here and take care of my old mother."

To another Buneyri he said, "You take out my goats, graze them on the hills by day, and watch over them by night."

To the other five he said, "As for you, I shall have work for you tomorrow."

The man who was left in charge of the old crippled mother found that his time was fully occupied in the constant endeavor to drive off the innumerable flies which in that hot season kept her in a state of continual excitement and irritation. When, however, he saw that all his efforts were fruitless, and that he flapped the wretches away in vain, he became desperate, and, lifting up a large stone, he aimed it deliberately at a certain fly which had settled on the woman's face. Hurling it with all his might, he of course missed the fly, but, alas! he knocked the woman prone on her back. When the shepherd saw this he wrung his hands in despair. "Ah," cried he, "what has your stupidity done for me? The fly has escaped, but as for my poor old mother, you have killed her dead."

Meanwhile, the second Buneyri led his flock of goats up and down among the hills, and when midday came he rested to eat his bread, while many of the assembled goats lay down beside him. As he was eating he began to observe how the goats were chewing the cud and occasionally looking at him So he foolishly imagined that they were mocking him, and waxed wroth. "So," cried he, "because I am taking my food, you must needs crowd round and make game of me, must you?" And, seizing his hatchet, he made a sudden rush at the poor animals, and he had already struck off the heads of several of them, when the shepherd came running to the spot, bemoaning his bad luck and crying to the fellow to desist from slaughter.

That night was a sorrowful one for the trustful shepherd, and bitterly he repented his rashness. In the morning the remaining five wise men of Buneyr came to him, and said, "It is now our turn. Give us some work to do, too!"

"No, no, my friends," answered he; "you have amply repaid me for the trifling favor I did for you in finding your missing companion; and now, for God's sake, go your way and let me see you no more."

Hearing these words, the wise men of Buneyr resumed their journey.

The Tiger and the Hare

In a certain forest there once lived a fierce tiger, which was in the habit of hunting down the rest of the animals for mere sport, whether hunger impelled him thereto or not. All the animals, therefore, met together by common consent to consider their grievances.

"Let us agree," said the jackal, "that one of us shall be chosen by lot day by day as a sacrifice to the tiger."

"All right," assented the others, "but first let us see the tiger, and let us offer him a petition."

So they all marched together to the tiger's den and humbly sought him to refrain from indiscriminate slaughter, and to be satisfied with the animal which should voluntarily come to him day by day.

"Do not hunt us poor fellows down," said they, "for one of us will always come to be devoured by you, and this plan will save you trouble as well."

"No, no," cried the tiger. "I shall use my claws and my teeth, and so eat my food."

"But," answered the animals, "God has said that we ought to live in hope."

"True," answered the tiger, "but he has also bidden everyone to earn his own bread."

At last, after much argument, the tiger suffered himself to be persuaded, and made a solemn promise to remain at home in his den. Thenceforward every day an animal chosen by lot went to the den to be eaten.

But when the hare's turn came, she flatly said, "I shall not go. I shall live my life."

In vain the other animals tried to persuade or coerce her. Twelve o'clock, the tiger's usual feeding time, came and went, then came one, two, and three.

At last the hare suddenly started up, and exclaiming "Now I'm off!" she set out for the den.

As she drew near she noticed the famished tiger tearing up the earth in fury, and heard him bellowing, "Who is this ridiculous hare to keep me waiting?"

"But I have an excuse," protested the hare.

"What excuse can you have?" demanded the tiger.

"Today," said the hare, "it was not my turn to come at all. It was my brother's. I am thin, but my brother is plump and fat. My brother had started for your den, but on the way he fell in with another tiger which wanted to eat him, and, in fact, he caught him and was carrying him away, when I came up and said to him, 'This country is not your country, but the country of another tiger who will punish you.' To which the strange tiger answered, 'You go at once and call that tiger of yours out, and then he and I shall have a fight.' So here I am, sir, sent to deliver his challenge. Come and kill the villain for us."

Full of rage and jealousy, the tiger said to the hare, "Lead on!" and the pair started forth to seek the rival tiger.

As they went along, the hare began to look alarmed and shrink back, and made as though she would have hidden herself in a thicket.

"What is the matter now?" inquired the tiger. "What are you afraid of?"

"I am afraid," answered she, "because the other tiger's den lies close in front of us."

"Where? Where?" cried the tiger, peering forward with searching eyes. "I see no den whatever."

"It is there. See!" answered the hare. "Almost at your very feet!"

"I can see no den," said the tiger. "Is there no means of persuading you to come forward and show me the place?"

"Yes," replied the hare, "if you will please carry me under your arm."

So the tiger lifted the cunning hare under his arm, and, guided by her directions, he unexpectedly found himself at the edge of a large deep well.

"The is the den I told you of," whispered the hare. "Look in and you will see the robber."

Standing on the brink and looking down into the clear depths, the tiger saw at the bottom the reflected image of himself and the hare, and imagining that he saw his enemy in proud possession of the fat brother, he dropped the nimble hare, which easily escaped, and with a roar leaped down, where, after struggling in the water for many hours, he finally expired, and thus the forest was at last rid of the tyrant.


Comments powered by Disqus

Folk Tales From the Upper Indus, C. Swynnerton
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, October 24 2005 (