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76. The Worship of a Household God

An old woman and a young girl were pulling out weeds and grass in a field when a twig from a togari plant pricked the girl's ass. She leaped up at once and screamed, “ Ayyo appa, ayyo amma! ” The old woman panicked, thinking that some snake might have bitten the girl.

“What, what happened?” she asked in fear.

“This wretched twig pricked me. It pricked me so hard that I've blood there and it hurts bad.”

Ayyo, you fool. I was afraid a snake or something had bitten you. You cry now for a twig. What will you do when your husband's prick is thrust in there? You'll cry loud enough for the whole town to hear, I'm sure.”

These words stuck in the young girl's mind.

She got married. On the first night, the family left her and her bridegroom alone in the bedroom. She talked and laughed for a while, but whenever the husband came near her she slipped away from his grasp. She wouldn't let him touch her. She was running from corner to corner as he came close. He tried all sorts of tricks, but she never gave him her body. The whole night passed this way, and the husband left in the morning.

He came back and tried again the next day and the next and the next. But she never let him get anywhere near her. He began to worry about it. Then he thought it might get better if he took her to his house. But she just wouldn't lie next to him anywhere. He felt dejected. He couldn't eat or sleep properly. Whatever he did, his thoughts circled around his wife's refusal to sleep with him. He was full of suspicions about her as well.

When he stood in the field thinking these thoughts, a shepherd came there driving his herd. He saw this fellow standing there dazed, and asked, “What are you so full of thoughts for? A newly married man like you should be laughing all day, giving friends bidis and betel leaves. You've barely been married for three days. Your head is already between your legs. What's wrong?”

He felt too shy to tell the shepherd his problem. He stuttered about this and that. The shepherd finally got it out of him.

“My wife is very nice, she laughs and talks to me. But she runs away when I try to lie down with her. She is scared or something. I don't understand it. What shall I do?”

The shepherd laughed and said, “O, is that all? Don't worry too much about it. I'll tell you what to do.” Then he whispered something in his ear and said, “Do as I tell you. She'll hang around your neck all day and she'll hate to be away from you even for a minute.”

The man came home, ate his meal, and said to his wife, “Tomorrow we shall celebrate the festival of our household god. We fast till midday, wipe and clean the whole house, and then offer worship to our god. Nothing should be polluted. You understand?” Then he went to sleep on the verandah.

She woke up early the next morning, washed and wiped the floors, bathed herself, and also helped her husband to bathe. Then she cooked a festive meal and offered it to the god's image on a banana leaf, as was the custom. Just then the man said, “That's not the way we do it. You must take your clothes off.” And he took off all his own clothes. Naked, they both lit incense and prostrated themselves before the god. Then he asked her to bring some butter. When she brought it, he asked her to put some on her vagina. When she did that, he saluted the god again and stood in front of her.

“Just keep looking at me,” he said.

As she stared at him, her eyes traveled below his waist. She said, “Look, look, that thing of yours is nodding like a chameleon!”

He said, pointing to her, “It wants to eat that butter down there. That's why it's nodding its head, saying ‘I want it, I want it.’ ”

“Go ahead, feed it,” she said.

Then he came close and fed it the butter in her vagina. She said, “Go on, let him eat as much as he wants. Give him more, some more.” The husband fed it all the way.

From that day on, she didn't remember the twig that pricked her once or the old woman's words. She thought only of the festival of the household god. She began to urge her husband every day, “Let's make offerings to the household god. Let's do it again.” Then she would put butter on herself and urge her husband, “Come, feed your thing, feed it more butter.” That's all she cared about.


[NKTT, but cf. Motif J 1744, Ignorance of marriage relations; and K 1315.7, Seduction by posing as teacher or instructor.]

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