Abu Tunturung-A folk story of the Miri Tribe in Assam

Long time ago in a village lived two boys with their father and stepmother. The stepmother, though not very fond of them, did not actually ill-treat them out of fear of the father.

One day, the four of them went out into the forest to collect palm leaves. The two boys went together in one direction and the parents in another. After a long time, as the sun was about to set, the two boys called to their parents aloud.

“OUCV (meaning mother)” someone answered “Ane gangre.” “BA:BO (Father)” Answer came back “ABU-TOON-TOORUNG. And a rakshasa named ‘ABU-TUNTURUNG’ appeared before the boys. His ears were so big, that it used one as his pillow and the other as a blanket. He now came out and asked the boys not to be frightened but come and spend the night with him in his house. So the boys followed him and were given to sleep in one room.

In the middle of the night one of them happened to awake up and heard the ABU-TOON-TOORUNG and his wife planning to roast and eat them. They were heating up iron sticks in the fire. Quickly, he awake up his brother and they put the two bundles of leaves they had collected, in their place on the bed and escaped. ABU-TOON-TOORUNG put the red hot iron over the covered bodies thinking them to be the two boys. The leaves being burnt made a hissing noise and smell. The rakshasa was very happy. His mouth watered. He thought that the two boys would be very tasty and had a lot of fat in their bodies.

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The boys were well ahead on their way the next day dawned. By this time, ABU-TOON-TOORUNG learnt of their escape and started chasing them. The two boys saw him from a far and they climbed a tall tree. When the rakshasa saw them, he asked how they managed to climb up. They answered that they climbed up after propping up the sharp edge of their ‘Dao’ Sword against the trunk of the tree. The former did as he was told. As a result feet were all out up and started bleeding. But he licked up his own blood.

The boys then prayed to the God of wind and rain. Hearing their prayer, the God created a fierce storm. The trees were shaken from one side to side and seeing their chance the two boys jumped from one tree top to another and reached the edge of forest. There they met a wild fowl. They asked it to cover up their footprints by scratching the ground. When ABU-TOON-TOORUNG asked it whether it has been the boys, the wild fowl answered that it hadn’t and instead covered up their tracks.

The two boys then reached a wooden bridge. They met a woodpecker and requested it to peck the bridge to make it weak. The woodpecker did as told and showed ABU-TOON-TOORUNG that the two boys had gone that way. The rakshasa ran across the bridge. On reaching the centre, the bridge gave away and he creaked on to his death.

The two boys reached home safely. Meanwhile their father had grieved for his sons and coming to know that his wife was behind the plan, chased her away. They lived happily ever after.

On the other hand ABU-TOON-TOORUNG’S wife, in her sorrow collected the few remaining bones of her husband, powered them and scattered them, after turning some into leeches and others into mosquitoes and scorpions in order to suck human blood. In this way, mosquitoes, etc. came into existence.

Image reflects a traditional Dao.

Source of story: Folk tales of the Mising Community of Assam by J.J.Kuli

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