Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Chachatatutu and The Phoenix

I have a book named The Buffalo Fights the Tiger containing some folk-tales of the Tibetans, Mongolians, Huns, Chuangs and Wigus from China. I have this book in Bengali. Somebody gifted the book to me (I forgot who. Perhaps Baba, or Jethu..'cause they used to buy such small books from the roadside stalls during Durgapuja) when I was a kid. I found the book only yesterday after years. Nothing like burying your nose into stories you once knew and had forgotten. Here is one from the book..translated in my flawed English

The Chachatatutu* and The Phoenix

A Tibetan Story

Chachatatutu is the smallest and the ugliest of all birds while the fairest and the noblest is the phoenix.

A Chachatatutu once laid three eggs in her nest on the grass. But there lived a pika** in a hole next to chachatatutu's nest. Everyday while chachatatutu was out, the pika ventured into her nest to eat eggs. When two eggs were gone, poor chchatatutu became very upset and went to meet the phoenix to lay an accusation against pika.
"O Phoenix, King of the birds", said the chachatatutu very sadly, "See how unfortunate I am! A wicked pika has eaten two of the only three eggs I laid. I have lost two of my lovely babies already. So here I am, asking for a ruling..."
But the phoenix could not be bothered with a tiny chachatatutu no larger than a thumb. He said sternly, "Can't you see how busy I am? Why are you bothering me with such a small issue? The responsibility of looking after the babies belongs to no one but the mother bird. You, yourself would guard your family!"
Watching the phoenix didn't care for her trouble, chachatatutu became even more anxious and said, "I have come to you because you are the king of all birds! Please don't consider my problem a mere trifle only because I am small, as you should know that even a trifle, if not taken proper care of, could cause a huge misfortune. If this should happen, do not blame me."
But the phoenix didn't hear her any more and started humming.
The chachatatutu thought that the phoenix had not heard her and said again, "Why are you humming? You mark my words. When a disturbance as small as this will cause a disaster, it will be no good blaming me"
Still the phoenix kept humming impatiently without paying any attention to the chachatatutu. Failed, the chachatatutu flew away.
Full of sadness and hatred, the chachatatutu went back to her nest and made a blade of grass into an arrow. Then with her eyes wide open for the greedy pika, she waited on the branch of a nearby tree.
Just as she expected, after a while came the pika for the last egg. Giving the pika no time to react, the chachatatutu furiously stabbed his eyes with the arrow. The pain was excruciating, and all that the pika could do was to squeak and dash round and round.
A lion was taking his nap on the shore at that very moment. Having not a clue about where he was heading, the pika spun and went into the lion's nostril. The lion woke up with a start and jumped into the sea, never knowing what had got into his nose.
A dragon was swimming leisurely in the water. When he suddenly saw a lion jumping towards him, he took a flight up to the sky, scared if the lion grabbed and ate him. And while flying over the phoenix's nest, he stumbled upon it and the phoenix's egg was broken.
The phoenix was furious. He spat at the dragon, "Hey! You are a dragon and I am a phoenix! You live in the water while I live on land. We never poke our noses into each others businesses. You surely know that we phoenixes only lay a single egg a year and have only one baby. Then why would you jump out of your watery dwelling and destroy my nest and egg?"
"I am not the one you should blame, O phoenix!" said the dragon. "I was only swimming in the water when a lion jumped down into it intending to eat me. That is why I took off and, by accident, broke your nest and destroyed your egg. Its entirely the lion's fault. You should blame him, not me!"
So the phoenix went off to see the lion.
"O wise phoenix", said the lion, "you must not blame me. I was only sleeping by the shore when a pika dashed right into my nostril. It caused me such pain that I jumped into the water. You see, it is his fault. If you want to blame, go and blame the pika."
So the phoenix went off to see the pika.
"O noble phoenix", said the pika respectfully, "it is not my fault either. I was only wandering about the grass when the chachatatutu stabbed my eyes with an arrow. It cause such pain that I, confused, went into the lion's nostril mistaking it to be a hole. The fault is entirely the chachatatutu's! Go and ask for yourself if its not true."
The phoenix had nothing to do but to go and ask chachatatutu.
Chachatatutu solemnly said, "O phoenix, I made you aware. But you did not care because I am small, short feathered, tiny winged, weak, ugly and of no good. You did not pay any attention to my words of caution, as if my distress was only a trifle, and told me that only mothers should look after her child,and not to trouble you. How is it, then, that your sorrow also is not a mere trifle? Why are you blaming others, while you yourself would have guarded you egg properly? When my eggs are eaten by a pika, it is a trifle. But is it not a trifle when your egg is destroyed by the dragon? We chachatatutus lay eggs in grass. I laid three eggs and I had to go out for food every day while you laid you egg on a tree. Is it not much easier for you to look after your egg? Why didn't you do that? Did I not warn you before that unsettled trifles could cause disasters? Why are you blaming me now?"

The phoenix was very much ashamed and flew away gloomily.

* Note from the book : A very small ash coloured bird that makes nest in the grass.

** Note from the book : A kind of small tailless mountain rat.

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