Friday, August 7, 2015

Okinawan Folktale: Runaway Stepchild

golden ball, trinket, shisa

Saved by a Hungry Crow



A wicked stepmother wanted to eliminate him so, she poisoned his lunch.

If she succeeded in killing him, her only son would inherit everything and, not have to share.

She put some powerful poison in his rice-ball (onigiri) he took to the fields.

He got to the rice paddy, set his onigiri down on a rock and started to work.

Along came a big, black crow and, it snatched his lunch, flying up into a tree with it.

The bird, quickly devoured the meal and fell from the tree in the throes of death.

It ate some special grass, growing nearby, miraculously recovered and, flew away.

The boy realized what happened. Someone, had poisoned his meal.

The crow, was the spirit of his real mother, looking after him.

She flew down from above, to warn him and, to teach him about the antidote.



Leaving Home an Option



Surprised the stepchild returned,  the mother asked, "Did you eat your lunch?"

He replied, "Yes. It was scrumptious."

Thinking, it was safe for consumption, she fed the leftovers to her real son.

As soon as he finished the meal, he started flapping around and, died.

The next day, the stepson decided to get out of town.

Searching for a job in a village, far away, he found a wealthy man with horses.

The horseman, employed him, to groom and feed the animals.

One horse was a spirited, wild mustang, that no one could train.

The boy and and horse became friends. The stepchild could mount and ride the horse.

The horse's owner appreciated the boy's special skills with horses and rewarded him.

He referred the child to a wealthier horseman and, gave the boy the stallion, as a gift.

The new landowner was glad to employ this talented youth.

The boy, looking around for a place to sleep, realized all the servants quarters were occupied.

He found a space, behind clay ovens in the kitchen, to spend the nights.

The room was full of ashes and soot but, comfortable and warm.

He showed up at work everyday with a black face and, clothes covered with ashes.

He earned the nickname Heeburaa  -- Okinawan for, Sooty.



Special Boy and Horse



People were unaware, the boy and horse traveled the heavens at night.

The horse was actually a god.

Returning to earth before daybreak, the boy would rest in the kitchen.

Villagers from miles around brought their fastest horses for a race one morning.

As the race started, out of the sky, came a horse and masked rider.

They passed everyone, finished the race first and, flew off into the heavens.

They never stopped to claim victory.



Wealthy Horseman's Daughter



One day, the girl announced, she was ready for marriage.

She told the parents, she would chose a husband from the household servants.

She wanted each man brought before her and, she would select a groom.

When she saw the man she chose, she would drop a gold ball, held in the palm of her hand.

All the young men, dressed in their finest robes, to parade before the maiden.

One by one, they came before her but, all were ignored.

The master was puzzled and, asked if all the servants had been seen.

When he was informed, only Sooty, hadn't been seen, the master ordered him to appear.

Sooty, reluctantly came into the room.

The other servants laughed, knowing he would be rejected.

Ordered to step closer to the master's daughter, he shivered but, complied.

She grinned and, dropped the golden ball.

Sooty and the girl married and all their dreams would be fulfilled.



Years Later




A wrinkled peasant of a woman came to Sooty's home begging.

It was the conniving stepmother, who had become desolate.

She lost all her children, who used to work, cultivating the rice fields.

Eventually, she lost the home and farm.

When Sooty, gave her a basket of food, she didn't recognize him but, he remembered her.

He had pity for the woman and her wicked heart.

She left and walked away wondering if, she had seen that master's face, somewhere before.

Inside the basket of food, she found a pouch of money.

She recalled the face of the stepson, she had been so mean to, years ago

She cried and cried and cried.


Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947654-05-8 P.166

Condensed from: Sooty 


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