Attulem Ani Bittulem : A Goa’s Folk Tale

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Goa’s most popular folk tale from the book “FOLK TALES OF GOA” by Arthur Francis “Meurin” Santos. 

Folktale of Goa

There were once two sisters called Attulem and Bittulem. They lived in a house close to the forest. They were orphans. They loved each other. They were kind and sweet. Everyone loved these children and brought them gifts of fruit and vegetables. The squirrel brought nuts, the monkey brought mangoes and jack fruit. The bat brought guavas. The elephant brought firewood, vegetables and the tender shoots of bamboo to make their favourite bamboo-shoot pickle.

Vag Mam, the tiger, was very jealous. One day, while passing, he sniffed the air.

“Ah!” he roared. “Someone is making sannas, my favourite dish. I must have some.”

Poor Attulem and Bittulem shivered with fright and looked around to hide themselves. There were two large jars in the kitchen. Attulem jumped into one. Bittulem leapt into the other.

Vag Mam entered the house with a deafening roar. He ate up all the sannas.

“Where are the two sisters?” he asked aloud. “My stomach is still not full.” Poor Attulem and Bittulem quaked with fear. They bent deeper into the jars.

“What wonderful jars,” said the tiger. “I must take one home to pickle my meat.” He picked up the jar with Attulem and placed it on his back. Bittulem peeped out of her jar. She could not bear to be separated from her sister. So she quickly got out of her jar and jumped into the other jar. Attulem made place for her.

“Gosh!” said the tiger. “This jar has suddenly become twice its weight. I hope I will be able to reach my den safely.”

The sisters embraced each other. They trembled with fear as they were jolted from side to side. “I want to sneeze,” said Attulem. “Sh-sh… please don’t. The tiger will hear your and eat us up,” said Bittulem. After some time, Bittulem said, “I’m dying to sneeze.” Attulem said, “Please don’t. The tiger will hear you.”

‘What’s is this?” said the tiger. “This jar is a talking jar. I hear voices.” He stopped and put down the jar. He sniffed and peeped inside.

“Ach-choo,” sneezed Attulem.

“Ach-choo,” sneezed Bittulem.

The jar broke into a thousand fragments. Hundreds of pieces entered Vag Mam’s eyes. He was completely blind. He roared with rage and pain, clawing and biting every thing within reach.

Everyone rushed to the spot with sticks, stones and knives. They beat the hated Vag Mam within an inch of his life. Vag Mam ran blindly through the forest.

“Never again will I go anywhere near those kids,” he vowed. “This beating will keep me in bed for a month.”

Attulem and Bittulem were escorted home in triumph!

courtesy: GoaNOW July 99 issue : The Goa’s folktale feature

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