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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

Dur Bibi

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Once upon a time, a young farmer was passing by a field. An old woman was trying to lift up a sack of dried cow dung. A young lad, a farmer’s boy, was passing by the field. She calls out to him for help.

As he lifts the sack of dried dung for her, a small white speck of broken popcorn reveals itself.

“Woah! This is so pretty. It looks like the tooth of Dur Bibi.” says the woman.

“Dur Bibi? Who is that?” asks the young lad.

“Dur Bibi is a girl, she lives across the seven peaks, alone, with her mother. No one has ever seen her, yet she is known for her beauty. Her skin is the colour of milk, her teeth gleam like gems, she has beautiful, big eyes, the colour of the sea, and hair, the colour of honey.” The woman narrates.

“I will go meet this girl.” thinks the farmer to himself.

He heads home, packs himself a duffel bag, fetches his moneybox, and tells his mother that he is off on a mission-he has a girl to find.

“I shall either come back with her, or I shall not come back at all,” he informs his mother assertively.

He sets off on his journey and crosses the first range of peaks on his way to where Dur is rumoured to live. After that, he calls out “Dur Bibi, can you hear me?”

He hears no answer.

He makes his way across the second mountain range and calls out once again. “Dur Bibi, can you hear me?”

Once again, he hears no answer.

He crosses the fourth, fifth and sixth peak, calling out each time, but no one answers his calls.

When he crosses the seventh peak, he hears a girl’s melodious voice singing a tragic song.

“My mother is one who eats humans and picks their bones. Do not come in front of her, for she will pick your bones clean.”

Ecstatic, unafraid, he calls out again.

“Let down your hair from your window beautiful, so my heart is assured that you can hear me.”

The girl sings again, “Who are you? Do not come near me, my mother is a cannibal, she will make a meal out of you.”

Regardless, the farmer heads straight for her house. The girl tells him, “My mother has a habit. When she says she is going to hunt, far away, she is usually somewhere nearby, but when she says I shall be home quickly, she often crosses the mountains.”

“Today, she said she will wander far, so I’m expecting her home early, you should hide.” she continues.

Dur has nothing in her house, other than a ragged, patched sheet. She offers it to him. He digs a shallow hole in the ground, lies down in it, and covers it up with the rag.

Dur sits down in the furthest corner, and put her fingers to good use, finishing a piece of koroshiya she had started earlier.

When her mother comes back, she immediately says “I sniff human.”

The girl tries to calm her mother down. “No, no, it’s just me, and my things. You’re mistaken,” she says.

Dur’s mother takes a walk around the house, and voices her concerns again. “No, I smell an outsider here.”

“Mother I just told you, it’s just me and my things. Have me if you want to eat a human.” Dur Bibi says as a matter of fact.

“I would eat myself before I ate you. I would rather die, my child.” replies her mother.

Unconvinced, Dur’s mother keeps going around the house, visibly uncomfortable. The conversation continues till nightfall, with the mother suspecting a non-human around, and Dur trying to brush it off.

The next morning, Dur’s mother tells her that she is off to hunt, she will be nearby though. Dur Bibi is relieved to know that she has gone far away, across the mountains.

Now, this tale is from a time when even things could talk. She tells her newfound saviour, that first, we should make lots of popcorn, and fill up all the utensils in her house, for they spy for her mother, and keep her informed of all her activities. Together, they make popcorn and fill up every glass, plate, and pan they could find, to make sure they can not speak. As fate would have it, they forget about a mud pitcher, which is broken. Even though they fill it up, a hole in the bottom renders their effort to keep it quiet useless.

Anyhow, Dur Bibi cuts off her little finger, and puts it behind the shower curtain, before she escapes.

When Dur Bibi’s mother returns, she calls out, “Dur dear, where are you?”

Dur’s finger speaks back to her, “I’m in the shower, mother!”

A while later, her mother calls out again. “Hurry up!”

Her finger talks back once again, “I’m in the shower!”

Her mother keeps roaming around the house, getting increasingly exasperated with Dur. She finally pulls away the curtain, to find Dur’s finger. She starts to scream, “Where did my daughter go, oh no!”

The broken mud pitcher tells her, “A thief took her away.”

Without a second thought, she runs out of the house, to catch the thief and recover her daughter. She picks up her pace till she nearly catches up with them. Dur and the farmer set up a huge pile of needles in her path, and continue running.

Barefoot, Dur’s mother crosses the pile in immense pain, with her feet bleeding profusely, only to find another pile blocking her way: a pile of soap. Slipping, sliding, struggling, she makes her way across it. Her difficulties haven’t ended. The next obstacle which waits for her is a pile of salt. Already hurt, from the needles, and the wounds stinging from the soap, the salt rubs into her wounds, burning her skin, she crosses the salt nevertheless. She meets her end as the final pile is one of matches. She tries to cross the burning pile, but to no avail, and burns to death.

As the danger passed, near a lake, the farmer asks Dur Bibi to wait for him, whilst he brings his mother and his family and friends for the baraat.

The girl agrees, and whilst she waits, a bald, old, ugly woman finds her. She tells the girl, “Your husband-to-be has sent me, I will prepare you for your wedding.” The girl agrees. Nearby, in the lake, she offers to wash Dur Bibi’s hair, before she takes a shower. Whilst Dur is taking a bath, the woman pushes her into the water. Unable to swim, Dur drowns. Rather than dying, she transforms into a Chinaar tree, right in the centre of the lake.

When the farmer returns with the wedding procession, he fails to understand where his bride went. This abomination of a woman, with pale skin, and marks on her face, was certainly not the girl he had left here! The procession was also worried. Anyhow, he convinced his family that Dur had become so ugly crying her heart out, waiting for her beloved’s return. They get married, and soon, have a child.

The evil woman wants Dur Bibi to find out that she now has a child with the man Dur loved, the man she stole from him. So she tells her husband of a Chinar tree, in a lake, and asks him to fetch wood from that tree, to make a cradle for the baby. Her husband does as she asks. However, Dur would have none of it. The moment they put the baby in the cradle, the baby boy would wail and scream. As soon as they picked the child up, it would calm down. Dur Bibi’s soul in the wood of the cradle was hell-bent on making the cradle uncomfortable for the child, so she used to pinch the baby.

The woman decides to break the cradle, and use it to repair the panelling of the doorway into the house.

Funny as it sounds, the panels on the door used to leave a flower on the ear of the farmer, every time he passed beneath it. As for the old woman, she used to get a tight slap! Tired of the nonsense, the evil woman takes off the wood and stokes a fire. As the wood of Dur’s tree burns, the wood sniffs and sobs. The woman disposes of her ashes in a faraway field of melons.

Out of Dur’s ashes, grows a small melon. An old man, with his grandchild, were touring the field. Everyone has taken the ripe, yellow melons. The child runs in excitement to the small melon which popped out of nowhere.

“Let’s take this one home grandpa. I don’t want to go home empty-handed! We can put it where we store wheat, it will ripen, eventually.”

His grandfather agrees. One day, the long box of tin begins to shake. The melon ripens into a young woman!

Upon her request, she is given a pair of clothes. She tells them her story, and how she wants to meet a certain farmer. Her hosts agree to take her along and drop her off at the house of the farmer. She tells them not to tell him the truth just yet, so they tell the farmer that she has come from far away, and needs refuge. The farmer grants their request.

Although he thinks she looks like Dur Bibi, he doesn’t ask her since she doesn’t speak to him much. One day, he comes and asks her, “I am off to the market to get some things for my wife and my kid, do you need something?”

“Please bring me a doll,” she asks.

Curious about why she wants a doll, he brings it for her anyway, but after he gives it to her, he waits outside her room, eavesdropping on her. Aware of this, Dur wastes no time. She hugs the doll and starts telling the doll her story, every word, from the start to the end.

Hearing the events, and how unfair his wife had been, he becomes furious. However, he does not react immediately. He goes to her, and asks her, “Would you like red metal or white metal?” She assumes he is talking of gold and silver. “Red metal please,” she says, secretly becoming very happy.

Her husband had other plans. He heated a metal plate enough to make it glow red, picked up his wife, and put her on the plate.

She burns to death, while Dur and the farmer live happily ever after.

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