Digital Dimdima

INDIAN FOLK TALES

Half Hungry

When Niloy was born, his father had a dream in which Bidhata, the god who writes the destinies of men, appeared to him.
"Your son," said the god, "will never be able to fully satisfy his hunger. Train him to be satisfied with a minimum of food."
His father tried but Niloy never succeeded in overcoming his love for food, and when he couldn't get enough of it, it made him miserable. The years passed. Niloy married and raised a family, but poverty dogged his footsteps, and there was not a day when he could say he had had enough to eat. He always went to bed half hungry. One day he was invited to the wedding of a rich man's daughter. It made him feel that perhaps his luck had changed.
"There will certainly be a lot of food at the wedding," he thought. "I'll eat to my heart's content."
There was certainly a lot of food at the wedding, but when he had eaten just a little, a heavy decorative piece under which he was sitting, fell on him, rendering him unconscious. When he had recovered, all the food was over. His host , wanting to make up for the distress caused to him, invited him to lunch the next day. When he presented himself at the house the next afternoon, his host instructed his servants to take good care of him and to see that he was well fed.
Bidhata, god of destinies, was alarmed when he saw the servants piling food on the banana leaf from which Niloy was eating. He quickly took the form of a tiny frog and hopped onto the leaf, hoping that Niloy would be so filled with disgust that he would lose his appetite. What the god did not know was that his victim was extremely short-sighted. Niloy scooped up the frog along with a ball of rice and swallowed it.The god was trapped. His only consolation was that Niloy had begun to feel uneasy after swallowing him and had stopped eating.
Bidhata called out to Niloy while he was returning home and explained his predicament.
"Spit me out," he entreated.
"Spit you out!" exclaimed the man when he had got over the shock of hearing a voice from his stomach and that too of a god."You have troubled me all my life. Do you think I will let you go so easily!!"
"My duty is to write the destinies of men," said the god."I derive no pleasure from their tribulations."
"Be that as it may," said Niloy. "I will not let you go until you promise to end my state of perpetual hunger."
"I cannot alter anyone's destiny," said Bidhata, "but if you become my devotee and worship me in an appropriate manner you will have my blessings."
"One can achieve great things with divine blessings," thought Niloy. He forced himself to bring up the food he had eaten, and the frog came out in the process. As Bidhata assumed his true form, Niloy said to him: "Now tell me, what is the appropriate way to worship you?"
"In your case," replied Bidhata, "the only way you can worship me is by never fully satisfying your hunger. Remain hungry all the time."

Adapted from a Bengali Folktale.

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