65. Three Blouses
A certain simple-minded brahmin was married early, before he had finished his education. He learned all he could in his village, went to the nearby villages to learn more, and finally went to Benares to learn all he could. His education never came to an end. After many years, however, he returned home to live with his wife. His wife, meanwhile, had become a grown woman and gone astray. Being experienced, she did not lack for lovers. But she had one obstacle: a crazy husband sitting all day on the porch of her house, with his nose in his books. Unless she found a way of getting rid of him, she couldn't easily do what she most wanted to do. So, one day, she thought up a ruse. She gave him an old torn blouse of hers and asked him to sell it and get her a new one. After all, he was a simpleton, a brahmin bookworm. He took the blouse and went around town with it, asking people to buy it. People only laughed at him. No one would give him a new blouse.
Next day, he went to another village. He hawked through the streets wherever he saw women: “Who will take this blouse and give me a new one? Anyone, anyone?” The women laughed at him and went their way. He roamed through fourteen villages this way and went to a big town like Belgaum, hawking his blouse at the Saturday fairs. The townsmen teased him, but he wasn't discouraged. Finally, three women who had come to the fair wanted to teach him a thing or two and have some fun as well. They came up to him and said, “We'll get you a new blouse. Come with us.”
One of them took him aside, wrapped him in one of the saris she had just bought, and took him home. She told her husband, “The seamstress is here. I'll have to give her my measurements for my blouse. I'll be back.” While her husband waited outside, she took the brahmin into her bedroom and made love to him. Then she gave him a new blouse and sent him away, asking him to come back the next day.
She then went to see her two friends and bragged about what she had just done. One of them said, “Is that all? That's nothing to brag about. Wait and see what I do.”
The next day, the second woman took the simple brahmin to her house. This time he was not even disguised. She hid him under her bed that night. When her husband fell asleep next to her, she leaned against him. He was fast asleep and began to snore. Then she silently made a sign to the brahmin under her bed to join her. She slept with him right there in her bed and, when they were done, sent him away soon after with a new blouse.
When she bragged next day to her two friends about what she had done, the third woman pooh-poohed her, saying, “What's so great about that? Wait till you see what I do.”
That evening, the third woman took the brahmin secretly to her house and hid him under a flowering sky-jasmine (mugilamallige) tree in her backyard. After their night meal, she suggested to her husband that it would be nice to sleep outdoors in the moonlight. She spread her bedroll under the mugilamallige tree, took her husband by the hand, and said, seductively, “Have you ever climbed this tree and seen the fun? It's quite something.”
“No, I haven't. What will I see from the tree?”
“Go up and see for yourself. You'll see a vision: as if a man and a woman are doing it right here. They become one and then become two. I've seen that myself,” she said.
The foolish husband said, “Really? Is that so? Let me see,” and climbed up the tree all the way to the top branch. As he was busy climbing, she brought out her brahmin from his hiding place and made love to him under the tree. The husband in the tree looked at what they were doing, felt dizzy, couldn't believe his eyes. In a kind of panic, he started clambering down. She had meanwhile pressed a blouse into the brahmin's hand and asked him to make himself scarce, which he did.
The husband climbed down, reached the ground, and said, “Let's get into the house. This tree is bewitched by some demon or something. Let's get out of here.” She quickly rolled up the bed and went in with him.
The next day, all three met the brahmin and told him, “Your wife is no different from us. She has sent you out with an old blouse just to get you out of her way.”
When he came home with her old torn blouse and three brand-new blouses in his hand, his wife knew at once what had happened. She also knew that he now knew all her secrets. She gave up her lovers, and he was more wary of her ways. They made each other happy.
[Motif K 1545, Wives wager as to who can best fool her husband; and AT 1423, The Enchanted Pear Tree.]