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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "Keep it for the Beggar"

Keep it for the Beggar

Thus ended the messenger, and vanished of course to inform his master how he had executed his orders.

And from that day, my children, it was fixed that our life in this world is always uncertain, and that one who lives at this moment cannot be sure of doing so at the next moment. While such is the case, how can you say, “Keep the pudding for to-morrow morning.” Since you saw in the story just related to you, that we can never be certain of our life, you must say, instead of “for to-morrow morning, for the beggar.” If we keep it for the beggar, and if we fortunately live till to-morrow morning, we shall use a portion of it and give the remainder to the beggar. Hence you must always, hereafter, say when any supper from overnight is to be left for the morning, “Keep it for the beggar, Ammâ.”

“Yes, mother. We shall do so hereafter,” replied the children.

In India, among Brâhmiṇs, the wife must never take her food before her lord, unless she is pregnant or sick. In these two cases even on the days when it is possible to avoid the meal before her lord, the wife invariably does it; on other days she cannot probably help it when she is physically unable. And in taking her meal, the wife sits in front of the leaf (dish) from which her husband has eaten. Most husbands generally leave their leaves clean, some out of pure affection to their wives and out of a good intention of not injuring the feelings of their wives. But there are others, who, as they are unclean in their other habits, are also unclean in their eating. The appearance of their leaves after they have left off eating, is like those thrown out in the streets and mutilated by crows and dogs. But their wives, cursing their lot to have married such husbands, must, as long as they are orthodox, eat out of those leaves.

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