The Magic Fiddle: How a Girl became a Fiddle

The Magic Fiddle is a folktale from India, about a girl who has seven brothers. The wives of the seven brothers get the girl killed, and she is reborn as a bamboo shoot. She is made into a flute by a Jogi.

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The Magic Fiddle

ONCE upon a time there lived seven brothers and a sister. The brothers were married, but their wives did not do the cooking for the family. It was done by their sister, who stopped at home to cook. The wives for this reason bore their sister-in-law much ill-will, and at length they combined together to oust her from the office of cook and general provider, so that one of themselves might obtain it. They said, “She does not go out to the fields to work, but remains quietly at home, and yet she has not the meals ready at the proper time.” They then called upon their Bonga, and vowing vows unto them they secured his good-will and assistance; then they said to the Bonga, “At midday, when our sister-in-law goes to bring, water, cause it thus to happen, that on seeing her pitcher, the water shall vanish, and again slowly reappear. In this way she will be delayed. Let the water not flow into her pitcher, and you may keep the maiden as your own.”

At noon, when she went to bring water, it suddenly dried up before her, and she began to weep. Then after a while the water began slowly to rise. When it reached her ankles she tried to fill her pitcher, but it would not go under the water. Being frightened, she began to wail and cry to her brother:

“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my ankles,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”

The water continued to rise until it reached her knee, when she began to wail again:

“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my knee,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”

The water continued to rise, and when it reached her waist, she cried again:

“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my waist,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”

The water still rose, and when it reached her neck she kept on crying:

“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my neck,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”

At length the water became so deep that she felt herself drowning, then she cried aloud:

“Oh! my brother, the water measures a man’s height,
Oh! my brother, the pitcher begins to fill.”

The pitcher filled with water, and along with it she sank and was drowned. The Bonga then transformed her into a Bonga like himself, and carried her off.

After a time she reappeared as a bamboo growing on the embankment of the tank in which she had been drowned. When the bamboo had grown to an immense size, a Jogi, who was in the habit of passing that way, seeing it, said to himself, “This will make a splendid fiddle.” So one day he brought an axe to cut it down; but when he was about to begin, the bamboo called out, “Do not cut at the root, cut higher up.” When he lifted his axe to cut high up the stem, the bamboo cried out, “Do not cut near the top, cut at the root.” When the Jogi again prepared himself to cut at the root as requested, the bamboo said, “Do not cut at the root, cut higher up;” and when he was about to cut higher up, it again called out to him, “Do not cut high up, cut at the root.” The Jogi by this time felt sure that a Bonga was frying to frighten him, so becoming angry he cut down the bamboo at the root, and taking it away made a fiddle out of it. The instrument had a superior tone and delighted all who heard it. The Jogi carried it with him when he went a-begging, and through the influence of its sweet music he returned home every evening with a full wallet.

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story source: Indian Fairy Tales

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