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The Carpenter’s Wife and the Mongoose

Bharatpur was a small village.  A carpenter and his wife lived in the village.  They had lived in the village for many years.  They were a good and honest couple.  However, they had one regret.  They were childless.  They tried to have children and visited many doctors but it was of no help. 
One day, the carpenter was on a visit to a forest nearby to chop some wood.  He had gone deep into the forest.  His attention was drawn to a small animal lying beneath a tree.  He moved to closer to see what it was.  It was a young mongoose.  It was very sick and struggling to breathe. 

Feeling pity on the young mongoose, the carpenter brought it to his home.  He told his wife the story of how he had found it.  His wife was also a kind-hearted woman.  She took good care of the mongoose and gave it food.  The mongoose quickly recovered. 

The carpenter and his wife developed affection towards the mongoose and soon adopted it as a pet.  The mongoose stayed with them.   A year after the mongoose arrived at their home, the carpenter’s wife gave birth to a baby girl.  The couple were overjoyed at their good fortune.  They had been childless for so many years.  

They told their neighbours and their relatives of the happy news and organized a grand celebration.  They mongoose had brought them good luck, they said. 
The carpenter made a beautiful cradle for his daughter.  The baby girl lay in the cradle.  She spent most of the time sleeping.  The mongoose too was happy.  It would lie beneath the cradle while the baby slept. 

Every week, on the first day, the carpenter would go to the forest and collect wood.  He would then fashion the wood into chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture.  Every Friday, there would be a market in the nearby village.    The carpenter would take his furniture to the market where he would sell them.

The carpenter’s would go to a river nearby every morning and fetch water for cooking and washing.  She would return after a couple of hours and prepare food.  The carpenter and his wife loved nothing but to look at their baby daughter.  But the daily jobs had to be done.  He had to earn money and for that he had to go back to his daily routine.  So the carpenter picked up his tools and returned to his work.  His wife also had to attend to the household chores such as bringing water from a well which was quite distant from the house and preparing food. 

The mongoose stayed alone at home.   Every now and then, a woman from the neighbouring house would come in to see if the baby was fine. One day, a few weeks later, a snake crept near the carpenter’s house.  It slithered into the house and came close to the baby’s cradle.  The snake flicked its forked tongue to smell around the house.   It was a Monday and the carpenter had left for the forest in search of wood.  The elderly lady who was to look after the baby had gone to the nearby market.    The carpenter’s wife was at the river collecting water.  The little baby was sleeping peacefully.  She was totally helpless. 

It was at this time that the mongoose entered the room.  The mongoose was alarmed at the strange creature.  The mongoose had never seen a snake before.  It had grown up in the carpenter’s house.  But mongooses are born with an inherent hatred and hostility towards snakes.  The mongoose pounced upon the snake.  The snake bit the mongoose.  But the mongoose has a thick coat of hair.  It is also immune to the venom of the snake.  Soon, the mongoose was able to kill the snake.  It tore the reptile to pieces.    It had protected its master’s daughter.

It was nearly an hour later that the carpenter’s wife came home.  It had been a hot day and she was tired. As she approached the house, she was startled to see blood stains in the house.  She was shocked.  Those stains were the blood stains of the snake which the mongoose had killed.  But the carpenter’s wife was not aware of what had happened.  She thought that the mongoose had attacked her daughter when she was away and that the blood was the baby’s. 

In great fury she threw the pot of water on the mongoose.  The earthen pot hit the mongoose and it fell down motionless.  She then hurried inside the house to look at her baby daughter.  It was only as she went near the cradle that she found the dead snake and understood what had happened.
She hurried to the door and looked at the mongoose.  

The mongoose was severely injured.  She cursed herself for her stupidity and rash thinking.  She had tried to kill the brave animal which had saved her baby.  She knelt down beside the mongoose which was bleeding.  She hurriedly called the neighbours and carried the mongoose to the village doctor who bandaged the wounds of the mongoose and applied a paste made of herbs on them.  By then the carpenter had returned and she narrated the story of what had happened and how their precious baby was saved.  The carpenter was in tears at the bravery of the mongoose.

Over time, the mongoose recovered.  The carpenter and his wife took double care of the mongoose.  They owed their baby’s life to him.   The Mongoose lived with the carpenter’s family till he grew up and then he returned to the forest.  The carpenter and his wife lived happily in the village with their daughter.  They never forgot the brave mongoose which had protected their daughter from the snake.   The mongoose would visit their house every now and then.

Children, this story tells us the need to think before we take decisions.  In many situations, what we perceive may not be the fact.   If we decide in haste, we may think like the carpenter’s wife who nearly killed the faithful mongoose.  It is always good to think calmly before reaching any conclusion.

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