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The Misadventures of Maguni and Gokuli: An Odia Folktale

Maguni and Gokuli

Maguni and Gokuli, two inseparable companions since childhood, lived side by side in a quaint little village in Odisha. Their homes reflected their fathers’ professions: Maguni’s father was a diligent weaver and Gokuli’s father, was a dedicated blacksmith. Together, they indulged in games, explored the surroundings, and took frequent fishing trips to the village pond. Pilfering fruits from local orchards was among their cherished adventures. Yet, their connection wasn’t rooted in deep affection but rather in shared mischief.

Upon reaching the age for formal education, both were enrolled in the village school, with hopes from their parents that they would soon focus on their academic pursuits. However, the allure of the school paled in comparison to the joy they found outside its confines. Why would they want to be in school when they could be fishing in the village pond? To them, fishing was joyous, while school felt like a chore. Instead of attending classes, they’d often be found sneaking into neighboring gardens or strolling through nearby woods during school hours. By the time their parents realized their sons’ truancy, it was rather late in the game. Despite facing reprimands and occasional punishments from their fathers, the two remained unchanged in their adventurous spirits.

Eventually, the boys came to believe that their fathers simply couldn’t comprehend their feelings. “They just don’t get it,” Maguni remarked, “They can’t grasp the simple joys that we boys cherish.

I agree,” Gokuli chimed in. “My father punishes me for it. I’m tired of the daily reprimands.

Same here,” Maguni replied quickly. “We need to find a solution.

Following that conversation, the two friends hatched a plan to leave their homes. Moving quickly, they executed their plan one morning without alerting anyone. The morning air was crisp and invigorating, filling them with a sense of newfound freedom. As they walked, they spoke excitedly about the possibilities that lay ahead, convinced that they could make it on their own.

Absolutely,” Gokuli declared, “If we’re willing to work, we can definitely earn a living.

Exactly,” Maguni added, “and all that without the constant nagging and punishment.

The duo journeyed through several villages until they reached one with a house boasting a sprawling garden and an expansive cowshed. Approaching the residence, they inquired with the owner, a wealthy farmer, about possible employment.

What skills do you boys bring?” the farmer questioned.

We’re open to any task you’re willing to assign us,” they replied eagerly.

Seeing that he was short of help, the farmer quickly decided to employ them and guaranteed good wages. Leading them to the cowshed, he pointed at a lone cow in the corner and directed his attention to Maguni, “All the other cows have been taken out for grazing, except for this one here. I’d like you to be responsible for her. Take her out for grazing every morning and ensure she’s back by evening. Can you manage that?

Maguni responded confidently, “Sir, I’ve occasionally cared for my father’s cows. Taking care of just one is a breeze for me.

Next, the farmer guided Gokuli to his lush garden and indicated a mango tree, instructing, “This tree needs to be regularly watered. Ensure the soil around it stays moist at all times.

With a grin, Gokuli assured, “Taking care of just one tree? That’s simple. I can handle it without a doubt.

The following morning, both boys eagerly embarked on their respective duties. Maguni headed to the cowshed and released the cow, naively expecting an effortless day ahead, perhaps even with a leisurely afternoon nap. However, he was in for a rude awakening. Unknown to him, this particular cow was notoriously difficult to handle, presenting consistent issues for its owner. To Maguni’s astonishment, the moment the cow was freed, it took off like a bolt of lightning. Racing behind the animal, Maguni felt both frantic and out of his depth. The cow’s rampage led it to leap over a barrier, damaging young cucumber plants in its wake. Observing the chaos, the owner emerged from his home, his face twisted with fury, and he shot Maguni a threatening glance.

As if on cue, the cow then sprinted to a banana grove, causing further destruction by tearing at the leaves and ruining numerous plants. An enraged gardener, brandishing a large stick, hurried over and chased both the animal and Maguni. It was a toss-up as to who sprinted faster — the frenzied cow or the panicked boy.

But Maguni’s woes didn’t end there. The cow soon found its way into a rice field, prompting the field’s watchman to hurl stones at the beast while he hurled insults at Maguni.

As the sun began to set, a weary and battered Maguni finally succeeded in bringing the cow back, but not without a mix of emotions. He felt resentment towards the cow, disappointment in himself, and frustration with the world around him.

I must be jinxed,” Maguni lamented to himself. “Gokuli must have had a relaxing day, lounging under the mango tree’s shade.” A thought then occurred to him. “Tomorrow, I’ll swap tasks with Gokuli. I won’t let him in on the mischievous nature of this cow. Instead, I’ll paint a rosy picture of my day. He’ll surely be willing to trade places,” schemed Maguni.

Meanwhile, Gokuli was facing his own challenges. Drawing water from the deep well using a hefty brass pot, he diligently watered the base of the mango tree. One round, two, three… ten times he repeated the process, but the soil remained stubbornly parched. No matter how much water he added, it never seemed enough. The coarse coir rope with which he drew the water chafed his hands. Continuous hauling led to painful blisters on his palms. Though each pull of the rope intensified his agony, he felt duty-bound to complete his task. Exhausted and in pain, Gokuli finally finished his task as the evening approached.

However, Gokuli was just as cunning as Maguni. “I need to swap this job,” he thought. “I’ll convince Maguni that my task was effortless. I’ll tell him I quickly watered the tree and then had a luxurious afternoon nap.

And so, when the two friends reunited, each held a hidden agenda. Maguni began by painting a vibrant picture of his day. “Imagine, Gokuli, just one cow to tend to! Tomorrow, I’m bringing a charpai and I’ll nap like royalty in the afternoon.

Gokuli, secretly wishing he had Maguni’s perceived easy role, thought, ‘Tomorrow, that charpai will be mine!

He then gushed about his own supposedly leisurely day. “It was such an easy time,” Gokuli said with feigned nonchalance. “Watering a single mango tree was so quick! A mere three pots and then the rest of the day was mine. You should experience it, Maguni!

Sounds amazing! How about we swap tasks tomorrow?” Maguni proposed, seizing the opportunity.

The very next day, their sneaky plans were set in motion. Gokuli began the morning, happily balancing the charpai on his head. However, the instant he released the cow, chaos ensued. Pursuing the rogue cow was hard enough, but doing so with a charpai overhead was a herculean task. As he zigzagged from orchards to fields, with the cow leading the wild chase and jeers echoing behind him, Gokuli was the very embodiment of despair.

Just as expected, Maguni struggled just as much as Gokuli, trying to adequately water the insatiable mango tree.

As evening descended, both returned with resentment brewing. However, wasn’t it clear that they had both been tricksters? Recognizing their mutual deceit, they quickly reconciled and were once again the best of friends. Their imaginative minds began plotting anew.

You know, Maguni,” began Gokuli, with a twinkle in his eye, “I’ve noticed an unusual pit near that mango tree. I can’t help but wonder if there might be a hidden treasure beneath it. Let’s excavate it. If I’m right, we might be setting ourselves up for a bright future.

Under the cover of darkness, the two boys ventured into the garden to uncover what lay beneath the mango tree. Gokuli dug relentlessly while Maguni cleared the soil away. It wasn’t long before Gokuli’s spade struck something solid. ‘Could this be the treasure chest?‘ he pondered. ‘What if I pass it to Maguni, and he makes off with it, leaving me stranded?

Can you take over the digging, Maguni? I’m wiped out,” Gokuli proposed.

Without hesitation, Maguni leapt into the pit and hoisted Gokuli out. Predictably, Maguni unearthed the chest and handed it up to Gokuli, who swiftly took it and made a break for it.

Deserted and trapped, Maguni could do nothing but call out to his friend in a low voice, fearing he might alert the farmer. Eventually, he clambered out of the hole, surrounded only by the enveloping darkness. Betrayed and baffled, he questioned where his friend had disappeared to with their find. As suspicion and frustration consumed him, he set off in pursuit of Gokuli.

After some time, Maguni did catch up with Gokuli. Knowing all too well each other’s cunning nature, they opted to put the past behind them and move forward.

The two found themselves beside an ancient well, overgrown and seemingly forgotten. A pair of sturdy neem trees had taken root within its depths. As they prepared to divide their treasure, Maguni was consumed by an evil thought. If he could somehow eliminate Gokuli, all the riches would be his.

I wonder if this old well still holds water,” Maguni mused aloud, trying to sound casual.

Curious, Gokuli edged closer to peer into its depths. Seizing the opportunity, Maguni surreptitiously shoved him from behind. Gokuli plummeted towards what seemed to be a certain doom, but in a twist of fate, he became entangled in the robust roots of one of the neem trees inside the well, saving him from a tragic end. Suspended there, he evaded certain death, while the devious Maguni gleefully made off with the treasure.

As the sun reached its zenith, two enigmatic witches approached the well, positioning themselves inconspicuously on the second neem tree. They were siblings, and soon enough, they began to exchange tales.

What’s the latest gossip?” inquired the younger sibling.

I am in the highest of spirits,” the elder responded with a sly grin. “Have you set eyes upon the radiant princess of the Raja? Her fate now rests in my grasp. I’ve afflicted her with a malady that no one can decipher. Despite the Raja’s desperate attempts, calling upon the most renowned healers from all corners, his daughter’s health deteriorates by the day. In a mere three days, she will be no more.

The younger witch raised an eyebrow. “Truly? In this vast realm, there exists no remedy for such a condition? Pray, tell, what ailment has you placed upon her?

Only I know the antidote,” chuckling, the elder witch responded. “It’s quite straightforward, but the Raja’s uninformed doctors remain oblivious. Merely smelling three leaves from one of these neem trees here would reverse her condition.

Gokuli, having overheard the witches’ conversation, was thrilled. The thought that he could accomplish what even the Raja’s top doctors couldn’t was invigorating. As dusk approached and the witches departed, Gokuli mustered the strength to climb out of the well. Grasping three neem leaves, he quickly set out for the Raja’s palace, confidently proclaiming he held the cure for the princess.

Desperate and having exhausted all other options, the Raja allowed Gokuli to attempt his remedy. To everyone’s astonishment, the princess recuperated after being exposed to the neem leaves. Jubilation and celebrations echoed throughout the palace. The overjoyed Raja noticed Gokuli’s youth and charm and thought of him as a suitable match for his daughter. Shortly after the princess’s recovery, their wedding was celebrated lavishly. Gokuli, once a simple village boy, became the Raja’s esteemed son-in-law. A magnificent palace was constructed for the couple, where they spent their days in bliss.

Meanwhile, Maguni, having absconded with the treasure, had seen great success by venturing it into trade. His ships navigated distant seas, transporting goods to foreign lands.

Fate played its part when Maguni’s ship was wrecked near a coastline. Washed ashore and unconscious, he was discovered not far from Gokuli’s grand palace. Servants rushed to inform Gokuli of the stranger on the beach. Racing to the site, Gokuli was stunned to find his former companion, Maguni. The memories of their shared past flooded back, and Gokuli’s heart warmed. With genuine warmth, he took Maguni into his home.

The adversities faced by Maguni had humbled him, making him realize the futility of deceit and the bitterness of its outcomes. Their reunion was genuine, and the bond between the two was fortified.

Late-night conversations became a tradition for them as they reminisced about their shared adventures. Through it all, they came to deeply appreciate the essence of honesty and integrity in life.

Disclaimer: The stories shared on this website are folklores and have been passed down through generations. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the information presented, we cannot guarantee the original source of these stories. Readers are advised to use their own discretion and judgment when reading and interpreting these stories. We are not accountable for the source of these stories or any claims that may arise from their use.


Quote of the day

A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.

Norwegian proverb

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