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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

Shalir Balir

This story is about a herdsman. Back in the day, people used to give the charge of their goats and sheep to people they knew. The herdsman was in charge of a large flock for a very rich man.

One day he told his wife, “Please make me some extra food. I get very tired rearing them and running after them all day.” The wife did as she was told and the herdsman set off.

He wrapped the food in his dusmal/shawl, left it beneath a tree, and went off behind a few goats who were running around. When he came back, he found out that his food was gone.

He went back and relayed the story to his wife.

“Oh my God! Do you think the tales about djinns in the forest are true?” she asked, concerned.

“I don’t think it was the djinns, but my food disappeared,” he said dismissively.

The next day, he asked her for extra food again, and she obeyed. Like the previous day, he wrapped his shawl around it, left it beneath the same tree, and hid behind a rock to see where the food vanished.

To his astonishment, it was a red goat! It came along, opened the knot, took away the food and began to munch on it.

He kept tutting at the goat to shoo it away but it refused to budge. After that, he picked up a stone and hurled it at the goat. The animal yelped in pain. The shepherd panicked, realising that he had just fractured the leg of someone’s goat!

The goat kept crying and shrieking loudly, and crawled away to lie down in the grass a little further away. When the herdsman was about to return home in the evening, he tried to make the injured goat come along, but to no avail. He gave up trying but began to beg the goat instead.

“Please don’t tell your owner I broke your leg, please. Your owner will be very mad at me. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do so. Please don’t say anything”

“My leg will speak for itself that it was you who broke my leg,” replied the red goat, coldly.

The shepherd realized that the goat would tell on him, so he left the goat there. After he left, the goat went to an abandoned kochaan place in the area and spent the night there.

Some time later, the goat became healthy again. Her leg healed and she also gave birth to two sons. She named them Shalir and Balir. She used to go out everyday and stuff herself with fresh leaves and grass, so that she would have enough milk to feed both her children.

One day she returned to the tent to find Shalir and Balir missing. She wondered if someone had eaten them. Her first guess was (the temor type) or the lion.

She went to the temor type’s (figure out the damn name) house first.

“Did you eat my Shalir? Did you eat my Balir? Where did my children go?” she cried out. “No! I did not! Why in the world would I do that?” he said.

She goes to the lion’s den next. “Did you eat my Shalir? Did you eat my Balir? Where did my children go?” she cried out. “Yes I did, I was hungry," replied the lion.

The goat challenged the lion to a fight. She then went to a blacksmith for help. “The lion gobbled up my Shalir and Balir. I have a fight with him tomorrow. Please sharpen my horns, it will cool my aching heart to rip his stomach apart. I will bring you yogurt, my dear. I suspect he will come to you too but you know he is guilty, please break his teeth for me,” she pleaded.

The blacksmith did as he was told. The goat’s suspicions were correct, the lion did visit the blacksmith, who broke his teeth.

The next morning, during the showdown, the goat won because her horns were sharpened and the lion was toothless! She left him for dead after she avenged her children.


Commentary: This story seems to be a variation of Angaya Bangaya, the story just before this one. Shalir Balir is a Pashto tale, whilst the former is a Hindko tale. Angaya Bangaya was narrated to me by my grandmother, from Kohat, fairly North in the Pashto-speaking belt, but where many natives also speak Hindko, whilst the other one was narrated by my friend’s grandma, who belongs to Quetta, one of the Southernmost regions in the Pashto-speaking belt.

This tale ends with a sentence, a common ending to many Pashto tales, “agha wlarha porta, za raalam korta'' which means she/he went upstairs, and I went home.

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