Sometimes when World Ark staff members interview families in the field, we also ask our interviewees for a folk tale. It’s an interesting way to learn about the local culture.
The following story seems to be a Bangladeshi classic that has been passed down from generation to generation. Two Heifer project participants in different districts, Joly Begum and Khodeja Begum, shared versions of this gruesome tale with me.
One day, a landowner gave a poor, young cattle farmer a delicious pitha (a fried rice flour cake). Instead of eating it, though, the farmer planted it in the ground. The next morning, a tree grew and fruited pitha cakes.
The farmer shared the cakes with people in the community. One day, a stranger passed by and asked for some pitha. The farmer climbed the tree to harvest one, and he said, “I’ll throw it to you.” But the stranger said, “How about you hand it to me instead?”
The farmer obliged, and when he did, the stranger grabbed his arm and revealed himself to be a rakkhoshi, a demonic shape-shifter with sharp fangs and claws. “I will eat you,” the rakkhoshi said, putting the farmer in a sack. “This will be a very tasty treat.”
With the farmer still in tow, the rakkoshi returned home and asked his daughter-in-law to chop up the boy and cook him. “We’ll invite guests and enjoy a grand party.” Then he went to take a bath.
At that moment, the farmer got out of the bag and killed the monster’s daughter-in-law. Quickly, he put on her dress and got to cooking.
That evening, the farmer—dressed as the daughter-in-law—served the party, and no one suspected a thing. Later in the evening, the rakkhoshi noticed a beautiful water lily in a nearby pond and asked the disguised farmer to retrieve it. The farmer agreed, but when he neared the flower, he didn’t collect it.
Instead, he revealed himself, saying, “It’s not me you’ve eaten tonight,” and fled.