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14. A Dog's Story

A king had two sons named Alakanna and Malakanna. When Alakanna, the older brother, grew up to be a handsome strong young man, the family looked for a beautiful young bride for him and arranged a gala wedding. A few years passed and Alakanna had to go to a distant place to fight a war. He bade tearful goodbyes to his father, mother, and wife. He called his younger brother specially, and said to him, “Look, I have to go to war. I'll be back as soon as I can. Look after things here while I'm gone.”

And then he went. But he couldn't get back soon. His wife, beautiful, young, and alone, grew restless when her husband didn't come back for months. Meanwhile, Malakanna, the younger brother, was growing up strong and tall. His parents wanted to get him married too, but they decided to wait till the elder brother got back home. Malakanna was a wrestler, worked out twice a day, and drank ten pots of milk a day. His sister-in-law's eye fell on this handsome young fellow, who seemed to grow handsomer by the day. She began to think, “How shall I grab him? What kind of net will trap him in?” She sent her maids a few times to get him to come and see her, but he didn't respond.

One day he and his friends were playing ball in the yard. During the game, he kicked the ball rather hard and it rose in the air and landed in his sister-in-law's backyard. One of the boys ran up to her door and asked her for the ball. She said, “Send me the fellow who kicked the ball here, and I'll give it to him.”

So Malakanna ran up to her door and asked his sister-in-law to give him the ball. She asked him to come in and, without any warning, proceeded to kiss him and hug him.

“O Sister-in-law, Sister-in-law, what are you doing?” he cried, trying to ward off her advances.

She said, “Nothing really. I want you, that's all. Come in and satisfy me, or else …”

“What kind of talk is this? A sister-in-law is like a mother. Sleeping with you would be like sleeping with my mother. How can you think such dirty thoughts?”

“I don't care what you say. Will you do as I say, or shall I call everyone in and tell them that you tried to seduce me?” she said.

He saw what she was like and knew he couldn't stay there one minute longer. He left the ball where it lay, and before she could raise her voice he jumped over the back wall and ran from the place. She said to herself, “How far can he go, where will he escape? Let's see,” and sent for the local magician. The maid went into town and brought the magician (bawa) to her room.

“Look here, Bawa, take as much money as you want, a cartload if you want. See to it that Malakanna surrenders to me,” she begged of him. A cartload of cash was no small temptation for the magician. What did he care? He asked the maid to bring him a bunch of jasmine flowers and a thorn. He placed a spell on both of them and said to the sister-in-law, “Wear this bunch of jasmine in your hair. Before the flower fades, the young fellow will be in your hands. When he comes, everything will be fine if he yields to you; if he does not, grab him and stick this thorn deep into his forehead. He will change into a dog and lick your feet. Take these,” he said, and went on his way.

The woman had no reason to wait anymore. She went in, took a bath, applied talcum and attar to her face, wrapped herself in her best sari, combed her hair down, and wore the bunch of jasmine in her braid, and waited for him. “He'll come now, he'll come now,” she muttered to herself, and looked at the door every other minute.

Meanwhile, as Malakanna walked with his friends, his nose picked up the scent of jasmine. None of his friends could smell it, but it hit his nostrils like something not of this earth. After all, he was a full-blooded young man, and as it hit him, the scent of jasmine went to his head. “What woman could be wearing such fantastic jasmine?” he thought. “If the scent itself is so wonderful, how much more wonderful should the woman wearing such flowers be?” His head was in a swirl. Wherever the scent wafted, he followed. He didn't have any idea where he was going. Caught in the haze of that fragrance, he came straight to his sister-in-law's house. “Got you, young fellow!” thought the woman, and, as soon as he came in, asked the maid to bolt the doors. He was aware of nothing that was happening around him. He went straight to her bedroom, where she sat waiting, with the jasmine in her hair. But he took one look at her face and saw that it was his sister-in-law! That woke him up from his trance at once. “What am I doing?” he cried, and tried to flee the place. But how could he escape? The doors were bolted. “Come here, my love,” said the woman, with her arms open, as he started stepping backwards.

“Come now, you've no choice. If you don't do as I say, I'm not responsible for what happens next,” she threatened.

“Come what may, I won't go to bed with you,” he said firmly.

“Do you mean it? Is that your last word?”


“Think carefully. It's not easy to know the nature of a woman, a horse, or a river. Think about it.”

He didn't yield an inch. She cajoled, cooed, and threatened, but he wouldn't have anything to do with her. Then she and her maid grabbed him and stuck the thorn deep into his forehead. At once the young man ceased to be a man and became a whimpering dog, wagging his tail, licking her feet. She laughed at him as he groveled and licked her hands and feet, maybe in the hope that she would turn him back into a human being. But she wasn't going to do anything of the sort. She pointed to the dog again and again and shook with laughter. The maid fixed a collar around the dog's neck and tied him up in a corner.

After all, the brother who had gone to war had to return one day, and Alakanna did return. His army had won and he was a victor. As soon as he entered the house, he fell at the feet of his father and mother and received their blessings. His next question was about his brother: “Where is Malakanna, where has he gone on the day of my return?” People around him said, “Nobody knows where he's gone. He has a way of going off like that for days. We haven't seen him for eight or ten days.”

“Eight or ten days?” The brother was worried.

Maybe he has gone hunting, he explained to himself. Still he continued asking questions. He asked Malakanna's friends where he might be. They didn't know. They too had begun to wonder. When he came home to see his wife, he was still deep in thought. She gave him water for his hands and feet, talked to him sweetly. But he was troubled. She showed displeasure.

“You've come back a victor. You're seeing me after so long. Why are you looking so miserable?”

“I'm troubled about Malakanna. Where could he have gone?”

By this time, the dog in the corner was straining at the leash, whining and barking. He knew his brother had come back, but how could Alakanna know about it? He said, “What's the matter with that dog? Anyway, where did you get it?”

“O, that dog. My mother's family sent it to me. Forget about the dog. Come in, let's eat,” she urged him.

Then she served him a big meal and slowly said to him as he was eating, “That brother of yours, he was after me the moment you left. He tried to seduce me. I was safe only because my maid was here.”

And so on, she told him a story, adding lurid colors to it. The brother couldn't but believe her. “That's why he's gone out of town. He was afraid I'd beat him up. God, whom can you trust if you can't trust your own kid brother?” he thought, and felt very hurt and angry.

When the meal was over, he came out of the room and sat outside. According to custom, his wife then went to eat her dinner. The dog, which had now been tied outside the house, began to get very agitated, pulled at the chain, barked, and whimpered. “I don't know whether they have fed him or not, poor thing,” he said, and went up to the dog, unhooked him from the chain, and carried him to where he was sitting. He put him on his lap, teased him, and played with him. The dog was beside himself, licked him, and sniffed him all over, wagging his tail violently to and fro. Alakanna also loved the dog and petted him a lot. As he rubbed him and massaged his body playfully, his hand went to the dog's head and felt the thorn in the middle of his forehead. It was deeply embedded. “Poor thing, that's why it has been crying like this!” he said to himself, and pulled the thorn out of the dog's forehead. What can I tell you? At once, the dog turned into Malakanna! And he embraced his brother tightly, calling him “Anna, Anna.” Alakanna didn't understand what was happening to him. Malakanna told him the real story about his sister-in-law with tears in his eyes.

“Is that what happened? Wait,” said the older brother, and called his wife and her maid, as he took out his whip. They came and saw no dog but Malakanna, alive and well, standing tall. Alakanna brandished the whip in his hand.

“Will you now tell me the truth or shall I whip you all the way to the marketplace?” he shouted.

The two women fell at his feet and whined and whimpered and begged forgiveness. He lashed out with his whip and raised weals on their backs. He called them whores and bitches and other such names, slashed their breasts and buttocks, and threw them out of the house. Then he found himself a new bride and found another for his brother, married again, and lived happily.


[AT 303, The Twins or Blood-Brothers; includes Motif K 2111, Potiphar's Wife, and Motif D 765.1.2, Disenchantment by removal of enchanting pin (thorn); cf. also AT 449, The Tsar's Dog.]

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