Once upon a time, there lived a very poor man named Ponnan. Although
he had little money and food, he always shared whatever he had with
people: some, he hardly even knew. His wife would despair over this.
"Please think of your family first! You bring random strangers home
for meals! Do you want us to starve to death?" she would lament.
But Ponnan was too generous to refuse anyone
and many people took advantage of his kind nature.
One morning, Ponnan set off for work. His wife finished her chores,
thinking about how to change her husband's ways. She happened to
look out of the window and saw two men walking nearby. Much to her
irritation she saw that they were walking towards the hut, talking
and rubbing their stomachs in anticipation. "Oh God! Not again! I'm
sure Ponnan has invited them home for lunch!" she fumed. "I have to
do something to stop this nonsense today!"
She looked around and saw a mortar and pestle that she used to pound
rice. An idea struck her. "Hmm--- my idea might work," she thought,
shrewdly. She quickly dragged the mortar and pestle to the center of
the hut. She cleaned it and then applied saffron paste to the top of
the mortar. She got a garland and arranged it around the mortar. Now
it looked like someone had been worshipping the mortar and pestle.
"I think it looks ready now," she thought.
"This is the last day Ponnan brings anyone home for a meal. I'm sick
and tired of feeding other people and starving myself!" She sat in
front of it and started to chant mantras, keeping her ears open for
the men. The men soon entered the hut, hoping for a scrumptious free
meal. "I'm going to eat to my heart's content!" one man easy saying
to another. Ponnan's wife welcomed them warmly. "Do come in. Make
you at home!" she said, smiling. They were pleased by her warm
welcome, but stopped short when they saw the mortar and pestle
adorned on the floor.
"What is this? asked one man, puzzled. "Are you worshipping a mortar
and pestle?" asked the other man. The wife smiled. "Didn't my
husband tell you?" asked the wife innocently.
"It is his deity - a
very strange one too." "How do you mean?" asked one man, uneasily.
Ponnan's wife took on an eerie tone. "It demands human blood!"
The men gasped, horrified. "What?" "Yes it's true," she continued
calmly. "My husband invites guests home. When they come, he starts
to hit them on the head with the pestle, drawing as much blood as he
can. Then he offers the blood to the deity. That's the usual ritual
we follow." The men went speechless with terror.
'I've told him not to do it so many times, but does
he listen?" questioned Ponnan's wife. "It is not easy to clean all
the blood from the floor," she said. The terrified men raced out of
the house just as Ponnan was entering. "What happened?" he asked his
wife. "They wanted the pestle," she said, "but I wouldn't give it."
"You fool! Why didn't you let them have it?" said Poonam.
Picking up the pestle, he ran after them. "Come back! Take the
pestle!" he shouted. The frightened men thought he was coming to
bash their heads and ran faster, after that, no one accepted
Ponnan's invitations ever again and it puzzled him. But his wife
kept the secret all to herself.
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