The mosque in one of the villages had remained unattended to for quite a long
time. The villagers were awakened to the urgency of repairing and building
it and they made preparations accordingly. But the winter set in earlier
and it was naturally decided to put off the operations till the dry season.
Under the weight of snow part of the roof and one of the walls gave way
and people abstained from offering prayers here on account of the hazard
involved. They did not think it necessary to light the earthenware lamp
in the evening and offered prayers at their respective homes.
could start their repairs the holy month of Ramadhan came round. The villagers
were devoutly religious with their simple faith and stout commonsense.
It occurred to many of them now that they could not earn merit by keeping
fasts without offering prayers in the mosque, and some of them decided
not to keep away from the mosque, come what may.
Early in the
month of Ramadhan there was great consternation in the village. The village
mosque was pronounced to be haunted. On the very first day of the holy
month one or two of them died and a couple of them went mad; and these
were the very people who had gone there to offer prayers. "They have been
devoured by a jinn who haunts the mosque" said the terror-stricken villagers
amongst themselves. They went to the village headman who, of course, could
not offer any ready-made solution to the problem. A conference of the inhabitants
was called to find a solution.
of the problem were discussed but no solution was in sight. In the past
the villagers had tackled many grave issues in such conferences. Once the
village had been infested with robbers and the villagers sent them away
tripping after a plan had been chalked out at a conference. On another
occasion they rid the village and its neighbours of a severe menace of
wild beasts that were threatening to destroy both man and his pet animals.
But today the problem was entirely different. Mere physical strength was
unavailing. What was needed was wisdom of a type as had never been put
to test before.
When the conference
was about to break up as infructuous a young man offered his services.
"I shall endeavour my best to meet him on his own ground provided I have
your blessings and cooperation," he said. Who was there amongst them who
would not do everything to ensure his success in driving away the common
enemy? They wished him god-speed.
The young man
called for a wooden hammer, a piece of wood with nails running through
it and a pot of kanji.
Equipped thus he went into the mosque and
found the jinn there. The young man was quite prepared for such an encounter.
"How do you do, uncle," said he in an even, confident tone. The jinn saw
that this was quite a different sort of man and had to be dealt with differently.
"Take a seat, nephew, how do you do!" he replied. While the jinn was about
to set him an apparently arduous task the young man said, "Good uncle,
where is mine aunt? I trust she is well." The jinn was by no means so chivalrous
and was slightly taken by surprise. However, before long he opened his
will you do your old uncle a good turn?"
"By all means,
"Run your finger
nails along my skin while I lie down and gradually stroke the bones on
my back with your h: tar] "
A jinn is nothing
if not thick-hided and no human being could gratify the jinn's thirst for
stroking him. He was known to have exhausted men first, urged them next
to re-invigorate their efforts which is impossible for a tired man, accused
the victim of having failed in the task set to him and finally punished
The young man
had, however, already provided against that. The moment the jinn lay down
on his side he started stroking him with his hammer. The j inn was really
pleased because it was no mere fleshy first that was at work this time.
He enjoyed it and forgot his evil purpose for the time being. The young
man then picked the small board and began to rub the nails gently along
the hide of the jinn. "Dear me! how delicious!" said the jinn enjoying
the operation immensely. He was completely disarmed for the moment of his
sure of his ground the young man began to press the nail-board home. Scratches
deeper and deeper were furrowed into the hide and the jinn began to complain
as he felt the pain. "Oh! is it so?" said the young man, "let me wash your
body." He rubbed
kanji into the scratched skin of the jinn. The
jinn was terribly stung all over and was in great agony. The young man
now made deft use of his hammer and nail-board and the jinn ran away as
fast as he could, shouting that the jinn had been outjinned. The villagers
felt a sigh of relief and the young man came to be commended everywhere
declared that he would give him his daughter in marriage.
Prayers were offered in the mosque and everyone felt satisfied.
But this feeling
of complacency proved to be shortlived. The jinn in agony ran away and
found asylum in a desolate forest amongst his fraternity. Seeing him treated
thus the other jinns Severe much upset. "If they start treating us thus,"
said they, "how long will it be before we are extinct?" It did not require
much argument to urge them to take concerted action against the village.
"And who amongst
the villagers has treated you thus?" they asked the defeated jinn.
"I can recognize
him," he replied.
"Not a trace
of him will be left, nor of his relations, for seven generations. We shall
strike hard and strike home."
the village like a swarm of apes, led by a one-eyed jinn.
There was panic
in the village once again, with this difference that its magnitude was
unprecedented. On the eve of this invasion of the army of jinns, everyone
tried to disclaim his responsibility for the rash indiscretion of the young
man. Some of them condemned the young man to escape injury from the jinns
and even the nambardar
said that he never expected to be landed
in this mess. The young man was left almost alone to face the music.
But he never
despaired of it. "I'll face them, come what may," he said and selected
his weapons. He provided himself with a bag full of ashes and a small labor
and ascended a tall poplar tree. A jinn cannot ascend a tree and till they
discovered a means of striking him aloft, he could watch their activities
and be forewarned.
army arrived in the village under the leadership of the one-eyed jinn.
They made a search for the young man. "Where is he?" they asked the defeated
jinn, "oh, where is he?" How long could the young man escape notice? They
spied him and the beaten jinn gave a shout of joy.
he cried, "art thou going to impose upon me again?"
The young man
kept patiently silent. He was safe unless they felled down the tree and
burnt it as no ladder could be found long enough to reach where he was
Well, the jinns
began to fumble when they realized that the young man was out of their
physical reach. They were mighty jinns but they lacked the petty skill
of an insignificant human to go up a tree, and this young man made use
of this trick to defy them all. They were not oblivious of the two easy
methods of punishing the wrongdoer, by felling the tree or burning it down;
but they wanted to catch him alive and make an example of him.
But even a
jinn is gifted with intelligence, probably more if he is one-eyed. The
last described jinn showed his superiority and leadership. "Let us make
a living ladder," he declared, "and I shall form the lowest rung." He stood
close to the poplar and caught hold of it with both hands. Another jumped
on to his shoulders and paved the way for a third rung of the ladder. In
short they began to reach startlingly close to their enemy.
took it for granted that the jinns would complete their operations and
not feel satisfied till they had flung the bones of the young man to the
four winds. "He has invited the trouble" was their hushed comment. There
was only one among them who was anxious for him and she was the nambardar's
whose hand her father had promised to the young man. While all others were
sitting in rooms bolted and locked, she was watching the young man on the
poplar and saw with bated breath the progress of the living ladder. It
was worse than death for her.
took a startlingly new turn. The young man put his weapons to use. He thumped
the labor, taking the jinns by surprise. There was a visible tremor through
the living ladder. He undid the knot in the mouth of the bag and ashes
fell on the jinns like a Niagara, blinding them. They never expected this
reception. The single eye of the lower-most jinn was blinded and he was
confused. Then came a loud voice reciting the doggerel:
The labor goes
dub-a-dub-dub and the ashes fall from the tree.
jinn at the lower-most rung, I have grappled with but thee!
jinn was already startled with the drumming; the ashes depriving him of
his sight put fear into his heart. These words put him into panic. He felt
his feet giving way under him and finally he collapsed. But before he could
fall prostrate, the whole living ladder came down crashing and the jinns
fell one upon another. While the labor went on beating dub-a-dub-dub the
jinns who had some life left in their bodies took to their heels while
a good many left their carcasses behind, including the one-eyed leader.
The young man thus exorcised the jinns away not only from his own village
but from many others too; and the nambardar's daughter who had witnessed
the terrible scene with her own eyes was ultimately received by the young
man in his arms as his all too willing bride.