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The Two Sisters-in-Law

A folktale from India, retold by Rohini Chowdhury


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There were two sisters-in-law. One, the young brother's wife, was very rich. The other, the older brother's wife, was poor.

Every day, the poor sister-in-law would go to the rich sister-in-law's house, and grind the flour for her. She would grind the flour and sieve it through a fine cloth. She would take the cloth home, and in the evening, she would shake the cloth out and use the flour caught in it to make her husband some porridge.

One day, the rich sister-in-law's son saw his aunt preparing the porridge for her husband.

The child ran home and told his mother what he had seen. 'Ma, Aunt takes home the cloth she uses to sieve our flour, and makes a porridge out of the flour for Uncle.'

The rich sister-in-law was very angry. The next day she told the poor sister-in-law, 'From now on, you will leave behind the cloth you use to sieve my flour. And wash your hands before you go - I don't want you to take a grain of my flour home with you!'

The poor sister-in-law did as she was told. That night, when her husband came home, he asked for his porridge as usual. But she had not been able to prepare the porridge that day. 'Sister-in-law did not let me bring the cloth home today,' she explained. Her husband was very angry, and stormed out of the house.

The poor sister-in-law shut herself in her room. She was a great devotee of Ganesh. Now, in her misery, she called his name and wept and wept. At last, sad and exhausted, and still calling 'Ganesh, Ganesh,' she fell asleep.

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

This version of the folktale is based on the version found in Champa Devi Rajgaria's 'Barah Mahinon Ka Tyauhar'

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