12: The Song the Otter Sang

Kappa Reureu Kappa
One day, when I went for a swim along the stream,
I swam down to the place where Samayunkur draws water, and
Along came Samayunkur’s little sister, looking as beautiful as a goddess,
Holding a bucket in one hand and in the other
A bundle of rushes. So putting just my head out
At the edge of the river, I said:
“Have you a father? Have you a mother?”

The startled maiden turned her eyes this way and that
Until she found me, and the color of anger
Appeared in her face.
“Oh, horrible flat-head, bad flat-head
Is showing no respect. [1]
Dogs! Get him!”
She said, and a pack of huge dogs
Came rushing up, clashing their fangs
When they saw me. I was surprised and I dove
To the bottom of the river, I fled
To the very bed of the river.

Later, I came to where Okikirmui draws water
And putting just my head out at the mouth of the river
I saw Okikirmui’s little sister, as beautiful as a goddess,
With a bucket in one hand and in the other
A bundle of rushes. And I said:
“Have you a father? Have you a mother?”

The startled maiden turned her eyes this way and that
Until she found me, and the color of anger
Appeared in her face.
“Oh, horrible flat-head, bad flat-head
Is showing no respect.
Dogs! Get him!”
She said, and a pack of huge dogs rushed at me.
Seeing that, I remembered what had happened just recently With a scornful laugh I dived into the river
To make my escape. I had no idea that the dogs
Would do exactly the same thing – but clashing their fangs
They chased me to the very bottom of the river
They dragged me back up to the shore,
They ripped me with their teeth, they tore me with their teeth, And in the end I lost consciousness.

When I came to, I was sitting between the ears of a big otter.
I had mocked Samayunkur and Okikirmui
Knowing that they had neither father nor mother
And my punishment was
To be killed by Okikirmui’s dogs,
To die a pointless death, a horrible death.
Otters of the future, take care to behave yourselves!
So said the otter.



[1] The word she uses is okapushpa, which means to speak lightly of someone’s dead relatives, or to reveal personal secrets. [Chiri]