One fine morning, I happened to pass through a jungle with my father. I was deep in thought at one with the music of silence when I heard a bird sing. Did she sing or did she wail?
Dhiya Dudhu Pii! Dhiya Dudhu Pii!
She refrained as if she had missed the cues of her song. “Father, is she asking the little ones to drink milk?” I asked father. “Yes” he replied. Curious, I asked again “But why does she sing so?”
Pic courtesy: stock.xchng / Ali Taylor
Father took my hand in his and said, ” It happened a long time ago, in a little hamlet where lived a woman and her little daughter. The daughter was bright and gay and helped her mother while she played. At dawn, she milked the cows and at noon swept the house while her mother worked at the fields. One day when the mother, tired after work, came home she called her little daughter and said,
“I am tired and I am hungry,
Serve me what is made,
Hot rotis greased with ghee!
Hot rotis you have made!”
The girl laughed and replied,
“Clat clat, tot and clot,
I swayed like the fawns,
Paddled in the brook,
And scared away the prawns.
All day I raced through the wind, I chased the butterflies; I skipped along the streams and danced to the skies. But while I played I forgot my chores. Oh mother! I am sorry, do forgive me.”
Now the mother shouted at the poor child, “Mark my words! If you won’t do the chores, if you do not abide by my words, you’ll make a poor bride. A poor bride, mark my words.”
“I’ll be careful, more careful tomorrow,” said the little girl, as she skipped away to cook for her mother.
The next day, when mother returned home from the fields, she said again,
“You play at the threshold beholding a smile,
I am tired and I am hungry,
Serve me what is made.
Hot rotis greased with ghee,
Hot rotis you have made.”
Smiling, the girl replied,
“Crowned browned red and shed,
The leaves baked by heat.
Crisp-crisp and crunch-crunch,
They all went under my feet.
All day I raced through the wind, I chased the butterflies; I skipped along the streams and danced to the skies. But while I played I forgot my chores. Oh mother! I am sorry! Do forgive me! Please!”
The mother flew into a rage and threw the sickle she had in her hand at the little girl. The sickle hit her head and she collapsed there. Dead.
The mother entered the house, angry and stood dumfounded. The food was salted sweetly. The food was lovingly cooked. The mother now wailed in remorse. “It was a joke, only a joke, only a joke of my poor little child.”
All night the mother cried “My poor child died hungry, Dhiya Dudhu Pii! O my dear one have your milk.” She cried and cried long and was dead till morn. Reborn as a bird, since ages she has been crying in the wild for her poor little child.
“Dhiya Dudhu Pii!”
Here my father stopped as we walked away from the jungle. Far, in the wild the bird still wailed.
Dhiya Dudhu Pii!
“O my little lass have your milk!”
Dhiya Dudhu Pii!
“O my dear one have your milk!”