The Fair Sex

Once upon a time there lived a lazy man whose only pastime was listening avidly the whole day to the stories told by a tale-spinner of his village. The stories told by the tale-spinner were exclusively about women. Each story warned men to be always careful with women and beware of their wiles. Women were notorious, he insisted, for their beguiling ways. He had a favorite phrase about the 36 wiles of women which he used to repeat throughout his story-telling. It was the lazy man's habit to return home after each session and beat his wife rudely, demanding her in coarse words to show him her 36 wiles. His wife tried for some time to bear with him. Her attempts at stopping him from going to the tale-spinner totally failed. She finally decided to teach a good lesson to her foolish husband.

It was a rainy season. Everybody in the village was busy farming in their fields. So the story-telling
had stopped temporarily. Consequently the wife did not receive the regular beatings. She started to think about ways of making this respite permanent. Their field was situated on the slopes of the hill. Everyday her husband drove their cattle to their field early in the morning. She followed him at noon with lunch, after tending to her household chores. One day she saw some fish in a field at the foot of the hill. She caught a few, put them in her water pot and climbed the hill. On reaching their field she stealthily put out the fish in the field when her husband was not watching being engrossed in his farming work. She called out to him, 'Look! What have we got in our field!' He was happily surprised to see fish there. They caught the fish one by one. He wanted to celebrate the event. He asked her to hasten to their house first and get the fish cooked ready. He proceeded to buy liquor for himself.

She cooked the fish and hid it in the loft. He returned home in good spirits full of eager expectation. He asked her to bring the fish. She pretended to be surprised. He got very angry and started to beat her. He abused her for eating all the fish. She ran out of the house and cried for help. All the neighbors gathered there. At first all men spoke in favor of the husband. He explained how he found the fish in their field. Everybody knew fish is never found in the fields on high slopes. They realized he was drunk. And so they thrashed him well.

After everybody had gone and the couple were left alone she brought down the fish from the loft and
placed it in front of him. She said, 'Today you have seen just one of my 36 wiles. Better be careful. I
have 35 more tricks.'  

The above folk tale is translated from a letter in the forum of a Tamil E-magazine. The writer had said it was found in "Sound & Picture Archives for Research on Women".


More by :  Pavalamani Pragasam

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