The lost siblings

A tale of a sister and her kid brother...

Ajaz A Baba
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 21 2018 10:10PM | Updated Date: Jul 21 2018 10:10PM
The lost siblingsRepresentational Pic

This is just an innocent fairy tale and any resemblances are mere coincidences or more probably a figment of fecund imaginations! Surely you must have heard about Hansel and Gretel? Well this is a story just like theirs. Now don’t start accusing me of plagiarism. My story is an original one and if it bears striking resemblances to the Grimm brothers’ tale that is because either of the brothers or both of them directly lifted this story from Kashmir. This is not an unsubstantiated claim but the result of painstaking research on my part. I can prove that the original Hansel and Gretel tale came from Kashmir and I will. 

The wily Grimm brothers made some changes to the original story. Like in the original (Kashmiri!) story it is the sister who is the elder one and takes care of her little brother rather than the other way round (The brother is a late bloomer just beginning to speak!). Then again in the original it is not the father of the two siblings who lures them to the jungle but an ‘Uncle’, an adopted ‘Uncle’. 

The story then (the original that is!)... 

Gretel and Hansel (I am retaining the names because the original names in the original story have been lost over the course of time) lived happily enough with their father. Then misfortune fell, their father died but he took care to put them in the guardianship of an adopted ‘Uncle’. Now this ‘Uncle’ was a sweet-talking fellow and so the siblings were quite happy with him. Gretel did miss her papa sometimes and would break into crying spells without warning.  ‘Uncle’s cronies looked upon Gretel and Hansel with undisguised contempt (His sugar coated tongue notwithstanding ‘Uncle’ too looked upon them with contempt though it was a carefully disguised contempt!). 

Finally one day the cronies convinced ‘Uncle’ (not that he needed much convincing!)  that the sister-brother package was useless and an unnecessary burden and that it was high time he got rid of them. It was decided that ‘Uncle’ would take the brother-sister duo for an excursion into a jungle and then leave them there. Gretel happened to overhear the plan and she made a plan of her own. She collected a lot of pellets and put them into her pocket. Pellets! Horror of horrors! Where did these come into this story! Ah the printers’ devil! It is pebbles not pellets! Newspapers have become so used to the word ‘pellets’ in Kashmir that probably it is this damn autocorrect that must have played the mischief! Anyway next day ‘Uncle’ after packing a nice lunch took Gretel and Hansel for a picnic into the jungle. While they were walking and while ‘Uncle’ was regaling them with stories Gretel discreetly kept throwing the pellets...er...I mean the pebbles on the ground to mark their route.  When they reached the densest part of the jungle ‘Uncle’ suddenly remembered that he hadn’t packed any water so seating Gretel and Hansel on a fallen tree trunk he told them that he would go and get some water. Of course he had no intention of returning and he didn’t! Gretel calmly took out the packed lunch and shared it with her kid brother. They sat like that for some time and then Hansel began to whimper, “Why isn’t ‘Uncle’ coming back? We are lost! We are lost!” 

“Shut up!” Gretel scolded him and then smiling slyly she told him that she knew the way back home. The sister-brother duo followed the trail of pellets...er...I mean pebbles and by nightfall they were home. ‘Uncle’ feigned joy on seeing them and for some time things remained calm but then again ‘Uncle’’s cronies prevailed upon him to get rid of the siblings. This time around Gretel did not overhear the plan so next day when ‘Uncle’ offered to take them for a picnic she was not prepared like last time but she quickly worked out a plan. Gretel had this natural gift that she could shed copious tears on the spur of the moment. The tears had been useful in the past and she thought she could again use them this time to mark the route. So as she was walking with ‘Uncle’ she kept shedding torrents of tears which fell along their route. When ‘Uncle’ repeated his disappearing trick and the kid brother again started his bawling Gretel confidently told her brother that she had marked the route. But alas when she got up to look for the marked trail she found that the parched earth had absorbed her tear drops without leaving any trace! Hansel realising that they were lost for sure started bawling again. “Dacoits! There must be dacoits in the jungle and they will kill us,” he wailed.

“Shut up and let me concentrate!” Gretel scolded him as an idea flashed in her mind inspired by the mention of dacoits. She knew about Robin Hood and his merry brand of men and how much they pestered ‘Uncle’ and his ilk (which included her till recently!). At her wit’s end she shouted out, “‘Uncle’ if you leave us in this wilderness many more Robin Hoods will be born!” The jungle remained silent except for the ‘laughter’ of a hyena or two in the far distance.

Let us take a break from the story here because as promised I will prove that the Hansel and Gretel story originated in Kashmir and was lifted by Brothers Grimm. 

Proof no 1- ‘‘Uncle’s’ and ‘friends’ (it is a ‘friend’ in that other fairy tale featuring a Lion) have always misled the Kashmiris into wilderness and then left them high and dry!

Proof no 2 – One needs to be a Kashmiri to be gullible enough to be deserted in the jungle twice! 

The original story ends here which is not unusual because there are no pat happy endings in Kashmiri fairy tales, only recyclable loose strings. The siblings probably survived and the story must have a sequel and the sequel too a sequel, and then there are sequels and sequels ad infintum, ad nauseam....

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

 

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