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FOLKLORE

This article is on folklore that is very popular in Bengal. It is told in various forms. However the basic story always remains the same.

                                             FOLKLORE                                     

                              MUMDO AND BARBER

Once there lived a poor barber with his wife. They were so poor that they hardly could afford a meal a day. The barber wife shouted at him every day for not earning enough money. One day the barber could not tolerate his wife’s nagging any longer. He decided to leave the house in search of work. His wife packed a big ripe papaya and tied some curd in a piece of cloth. The barber wrapped his tools and food in a bundle and left the house in search of work. 

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

He walked throughout the day but nobody gave him any job. Hence, he was very hurt and decided to end his life. Accordingly he entered into a huge forest which was at the end of his village. The forest was very dark and dense. It was also said to be haunted. The barber hesitated for a moment and then entered into the forest. He sat under a tree. Just then a huge terrible looking creature arrived in front of the barber. It was mum do, the king of ghosts.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Mumdo stood in front of the barber and said, “I’ll eat you. How dare you enter into this forest?” Barber was already prepared to end his life. So he was not afraid of mumdo. He bravely said, “I’m not afraid of you. But before you kill me you have to prove that you are stronger than me.” Mumdo agreed to this. So it was decided that if mumdo defeated the barber he would eat him and if barber defeated mumdo the later will serve him forever.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Mumdo took a rock and threw it. The rock went very high up in the sky and fell far away. He then took another piece of huge rock and gave the barber to throw it. Barber was scared. He knew he could not even move the rock an inch. How could he throw it? Barber are said to be the most intelligent among the human beings. And this barber of ours was no different. He slyly took out a big papaya from his bundle and threw it.

MUMDO AND BARBER

Papaya being lighter than rock very easily went very far away before it fell. In fact no one could see even. Mumdo being very foolish thought the barber was strong. He was taken aback and thought of another plan to defeat the barber. He now took another rock and crushed it so hard that the rock turned into powder.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Now it was barber’s turn. He was really very scared but did not let it show on his face. He said, “Huh! This is a child’s play. What is the point in crushing rock if you can’t bring water out of it?” This scared mumdo. What was this man saying! He said, “No I cannot do that. You show me if you can.”

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Barber again showed his cunningness. He slyly took out the curd wrapped in cloth from his bundle. Barber then quietly pressed the curd on the rock. Water started falling from the rock. And the foolish mumdo thought barber crushed the rock so hard that water came out.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Now mumdo said, “I can eat many humans and animals. How many can you eat?” Barber said, “I don’t eat humans. I eat mumdos like you.” Mumdo laughed at this, “Do you really think I’m going to believe what you said just now?” Cunning barber quickly took out a mirror from his bundle. He turned it towards mumdo. Mumdo did not know what a mirror was. Hence when he saw his own reflection, he thought it to be another mumdo imprisoned by the barber. Barber understood mumdo was already very scared.

MUMDO AND BARBER

He said, “This is just one mumdo. If you want I can show you more such mumdoes who are trapped in my bundle.” Mumdo fell on his knees and said, “Please leave me. I accept you are stronger than me. I promise to serve you throughout my life.” Barber was very cunning. He at once asked mumdo what all he could do. Mumdo said that he was capable of doing anything for him. But mumdo gave a condition. Barber has to give him a task without interruption. As soon as mumdo finishes a task, barber must give him the next task. If he fails, mumdo will chew him up like chips. Barber agreed.

 FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

So barber went towards his house with mumdo. As soon as barber returned home, his wife asked if he had earned any money. But seeing the huge mumdo beside her husband she almost fainted. Barber told her the whole story. She excitedly said that now they have a very good chance to get out of their poverty.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

 Barber told mumdo to first give them good food to eat. At once they saw plates and bowls and trays filled with delicious smelling food appeared. They ate at once with joy. They then asked mumdo for a beautiful house. At a wink of their eye their hut changed into a huge mansion. There were beautiful rooms, long verandahs and lovely garden. Barber then asked for servants, cow shed with cows, acres of fertile land to grow crops and people working for him on those fields. Mumdo completed all the wishes in a moment. Now mumdo stood in front of the barber and reminded him that if he failed to give task mumdo would eat him and his wife up. Baber started to think. He had already asked for all that he needed. Now there was nothing else for him to ask. Suddenly an idea came to him.

MUMDO AND BARBER

He ordered mumdo to bring a very tall bamboo, fix it on the ground and then pour a huge pitcher full of oil on it. Mumdo at once completed the task as usual. Barber then ordered mumdo to climb up the bamboo pole. Mumdo started climbing it. But before he could reach half the pole he slipped down because of the oil on it. Mumdo again had to start climbing the pole.

FOLKLORE – MUMDO AND BARBER

Mumdo kept on trying without success and barber was happy not to give anymore task to him.

Mumdo is still climbing the pole. If any of you don’t believe me you can visit the barber’s house. He lives in the village at the end of the huge forest.

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