|Chandralekha was as brave as|
she was beautiful.
Note: contains violence. Once upon a time, in a forest somewhere in India, a beautiful "dancer lost her way in the woods. 'It's getting darker." She said to herself, and took shelter under a tree. Suddenly, she heard voices. "Good Lord, robbers!" said the poor girl to herself. Then she hid behind a tree just in time. A whole band of armed men came out of the woods, clapping each other on the back, and telling each other what a great day of robbing and stealing it had been. The leader said,"Let's hide our loot here. But before we do, O magic kannakol, go and hit any spy who may be around." So the robber's magic stick flew around and then it hit Chandralekha but she "bravely bore the pain without a sound." Then the robbers shouted to their leader, "Hurry up! It's past midnight." So the leader and his men quickly buried their loot under a certain tree. Then they all ran away into the forest. As soon as they were gone, Chandralekha scurried over and dug it up again. She couldn't believe how much treasure she had found! Because Chandralekha was as strong as she was beautiful, she had no trouble in balancing the heavy chest on her head and carrying it away. But when the robbers came back the next day and saw the empty hole they yelled,"Our treasure is gone!" Then they examined the area and found a bit of blood. They knew, then, that someone had been hit by the magic kannakol, and that the person must have been brave not to cry out. Meanwhile, back in the market place, Chandralekha was talking to a healer about buying an ointment to heal the cut on her arm. When the healer saw it, he realized that it had been made by a kannakol, and that the only person who had one of those was the robber chief. And that is when the robber chief walked over! He observed the girl who needed this ointment ,and then he followed her home. Later that night, when she was sleeping, he and his men snuck into her room. She woke up, but pretended that she was still fast asleep. When they picked up her bed and carried it outside, the robber chief said,"Look, she has hidden the boxes under her bed. Come on, let's teach her a lesson." And Chandralekha said to herself,"You think you are very clever, my friend ,but you are in for a surprise." When the bed passed under a lime tree, she clung to a branch, and dropped a huge bunch of limes onto her bed, instead. Then brave, clever Chandralekha ran home and hid the treasure. When the robbers opened the chests they had taken from her room, they fount that they were filled with stones. That made them really, really angry. They ran back to Chandrelekha's house planning to attack her. But she was ready, hiding behind the door with a curved scimitar in her hand. When she heard the robbers approaching, she said to herself, "Welcome friends! I am ready to receive you. Here comes the first one." And when the first robber ran through the door, she cut off his nose. He ran away screaming, and his companions rushed to see who the powerful person was who had stolen their treasure. When they saw Chandralekha, they jeered, saying, "The coward is running away from a girl!" Then another man volunteered to fight her, but a moment later, he came running out with his nose cut off too. The other men screamed, "A-ay-ee-oh! She is a devil! Run!" And they all ran away, and left Chandralekha, and her treasure, in peace. Chandralekha said to herself, "They're gone, thank God! And I don't think they'll dare to come here again." And she lived all by herself, happily ever after.
From Tinkle Collection:256 Folk Tales of South India (1993) Mumbai: India Book House
Notes: I love graphic novels, or comic books, as we used to call them back in the day...Richie Rich and Caspar the Friendly Ghost were my faves. The front notes to this volume discuss the value of folk tales in learning about a culture, and the way reading them can "turn the clock back hundreds of years, thereby giving us an opportunity to sample the delectable flavour of the past." I couldn't agree more.
Montessori Elementary Connection: India/Indian Culture/Fundamental Needs, Religions of India
1. Read this story and know that it has been told to children by their families for hundreds of years in India. Somebody finally wrote it down and drew the pictures for it.
2. Learn more about the country of India:Going to School in India or How to Draw India's Sights and Symbols (A Kid's Guide to Drawing Countries of the World)
3. Learn more about the cultures of India:The Drum: A Folktale from India (Story Cove: a World of Stories) or Jahanara: Princess of Princesses, India, 1627 (The Royal Diaries) or The Mughal Empire (The New Cambridge History of India)
4. Learn more about the religions of India: The Monkeys and the Mango Tree: Teaching Stories of the Saints and Sadhus of India or Sacred River: The Ganges of India or Illustrated Ramayana for Children