The story goes that a man and his wife lived in  village Nagrota, near Jammu. The man thought mighty of himself. One day, he taunted his wife, ” People say women are very crafty, that they can outwit even the smartest of men. “What’s your opinion?” The wife said there was not the least doubt about it. Once a man caught in the web of a woman’s cunning, it awfully difficult for him to extricate himself. The husband was not happy with his wife’s honest reply. ” If that be the case,” he said, “then let’s see how cunning you can get!” The wife tried her best to dissuade him from insisting on his challenge. But the thoughtless man was adamant. 

         Not long after his exchange, the husband was enjoying his afternoon siesta on a cosy day. the wife went to the bazaar bought a basketful of a variety of fishes. On returning home, she spread the fishes in her courtyard and the rooftop. Having done this, she hurried to the bedroom and shook her dozing husband . ” Hurry up! neighbors have already collected the choicest fish while you roll here on the bed, she cried.

        The husband was fond of fish. He got off his bed abruptly, ” who has brought fish? From where?”  he asked . ” No one has brought them from anywhere. It has rained fishes today! From the sky!” she said with a large grin on her face. ” You’ve gone mad! How can it rain fishes?” exclaimed the husband.

        The woman caught her husband by hand and dragged him out of their bedroom. Outside, the man witness a strange spectacle. There were fishes in his courtyard and fishes on his rooftop. Setting aside all his earlier misgivings,  he took an empty basket lying near him and hastily filled it up with fishes. Entrusting the precious hoard to his wife’s custody, he went away to his work.   

           Returning home at dusk the man was hungry in anticipation of a tasty fish curry. Instead, his wife brought him dry rotis and common salt. ” why didn’t you send me something to cook today?” she pouted. The husband was beside himself with rage. :But what happened to that basketful of fishes we had collected together? What else did you need to prepare us a decent curry?” ” Oh my mother!” the wife exclaimed, ” What has befallen you? Have you taken bhang today ? Who would have sent us a basketful of fishes?” “Why” the husband yelled in bling rage, “Didn’t it rain fishes today?”

          The wife laughed at first . Then covering her face with dupatta, she began to wail aloud. Presently , neighbors started pouring in. Sobbing, she told them that her husband was behaving strangely . He was repeatedly demanding her to produce fishes that had rained at noon. “Fishes raining at noon!”  The neighbors exclaimed in unison.

                 The husband, on the other hand, cried himself hoarse to tell everyone that he had indeed gathered fishes of a large variety with his own two hands  and put them in the basket. But no one believed him. They thought the poor fellow had gone mad.

            There was an elderly man among the neighbors who took the wife aside and asked her if her husband had suffered from a similar fit in the past. The wife nodded in affirmation and said,”Well yes . On that occasion also he had kept muttering where are the fishes that rained today? or some such thing.

               “Can you recall, my daughter what treatment was given to him that day?” persisted the kindly man.

             “Not much of a treatment it was , chachu. Someone had brought along the village barber who shaved my husband’s head with ustara,,, He just shaved his head? Are you sure?   ” Now let me think…. ” Perhaps , they had also rubbed salt on his skull afterwards.”

              The helpful neighbors now had a job at their hands. They caught hold of the husband and tied him to a pillar.   He was left there squirming helplessly and yelling  at the top of his voice, while a man was sent to fetch the village barber.

             This got the master of the household really worried. He beaconed his wife to come near him and pleaded with her, “Gentle lady,” he implored with due humility, ” I beg your pardon!” You win. I lose. I acknowledge your cunning as a woman.But, Pray  get me out of trouble!” His wife relented. She told the assembled people that it was an inauspicious day for curing her husband .His head could be shaved in the morning. Or ,God willing, he might get well of his own accord! The neighbors went back to their homes. The wife then untied her husband and served him a delicious meal.

 

                

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Vijay Singh

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