Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The merchant who took an oath

Once three merchants were on their business trip to sell bangchungs (a round cane basket used as plate in olden days especially in Kheng region). While travelling around for business, they arrived in a place where there was a haunted mansion in the centre of a huge plain. It was in the middle of thick forest and no neighbours were to be seen around. “Who can spent a night in this mansion?” the first merchant said. “Whoever can spent a night alone in this mansion can get all the bangchung from two,” said the second. “If that is the deal, I can spent a night alone in this mansion,” said the third merchant abruptly, as he was motivated by the promises assured by other two. All three agreed and two of the merchants left the place and halted their night in a cliff, about a mile away from the mansion.

It was dark and soon and soon grew dark. Two of them had their dinner and was chatting over a cup of Ara brought as Laamchang (refreshment). Meanwhile the third merchant also had his dinner. He could not sleep due to loneliness. He was nearby the fire warming himself as he went on chanting Om Ah Hung Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hung, seeking refuge to Guru Rinpoche. By the time it was already 11:30PM. He heard a noise ‘Auw….Auw...’ from a distance of a five kilometers. He was comforted by that and, ‘Auw…Auw…,” replied the merchant, thinking that someone is coming to befriend him for the night. After few minutes Auw…. Auw… was heard from about a three kilometer and he replied in same manner. Then approached from two to a kilometer distance and finally reached near the mansion.
A knock was heard on the door followed by a voice. “Please open the door?” came the voice. “Who are you? Are you a man or a devil?” asked the merchant. “I am a man,” came reply. That went for three times and finally being convinced, he opened the door for the stranger. It’s said that the stranger was with a bunch of dried Khempa Shing (Artemisia) twigs, and dropped it behind the door. He invited the stranger to have a seat and make himself warm. They spent some time chatting. The firewood which merchant had collected began to get exhausted. "What can we do if the ghost is with us right now?" the stranger asked. "Don't worry I have a knife," the merchant replied withdrawing his knife. But he couldn't withdraw the knife.  The merchant was terrified and began to get worried. It’s said that the stranger snarled as and when the fire got deem. The merchant started to burn his bangchungs as the firewood got exhausted. He burned and burned, and it's already nearing to 1:00 am. The goiter started to grow in front of the stranger’s neck and it was swelling. He went on burning his bangchungs which was almost finishing.
There was a river-washed smooth stone (Churel Dho/Gangkola in Kheng dialect) nearby the fireplace. He secretly picked it and with mighty force he hit the goiter. It burst and out came water which ceased the fire completely. At the very moment down fell the five sacks which were hanging from ceilings. The other devils were supposed to have dwelt in those sacks which were made of leather. All of them together had eaten him within a few minutes.
The next morning two merchants went to the mansion to meet their friend. Forget about the friend there was no trace of bangchungs except a handful of bones in the middle of the house on the floor. Two of them left the scene hurriedly and continued their trip.
There is a belief that one shouldn't take an oath, even if you are in dire need. The third merchant was greedy and took an oath that he can spent a night alone in that haunted mansion.

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