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Why the Sky is So High

A folktale from Bengal, retold by Rohini Chowdhury

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The sky was so low you could touch it.

Long ago, the Sky was quite low. If you stood on a stool and stretched your hands up as high as they would go, you could touch the Sky.

At that time, far on the Horizon, where the Sky was always especially low, there was a village. In that village, in a little mud hut thatched with straw, there lived a bent Old Woman.

This bent Old Woman was the oldest woman in that village, possibly the oldest woman in the world. She was so old she no longer remembered any other way of being. She lived all alone in her little mud hut, for she had neither friend nor family left in this world. She had nowhere to go and no one to talk to. So all day long, she would potter round her hut, first cleaning this corner, now dusting that, now scrubbing this bit of floor, now sweeping that. The bent Old Woman thought of nothing else any more, except more and more ways of sweeping and scrubbing her little mud hut.

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

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