In a certain village, there was a gentleman. He had three daughters. All of them married and went away to live with their husbands.
The mother-in-law of the youngest girl was so fond of her daughter-in-law that she never allowed her to do any chores. On the other hand, she attended to the girl all the time.
It was New Year’s Day. The mother-in-law bathed her daughter-in-law with oil and shampoo, made her wear a new silk saree decorated her with all the ornaments in the house, and gave her a scrumptious feast. That evening the old lady told her daughter-in-law, “Darling child, I am going to the temple. Light the lamp as soon as it gets dark.”
The daughter-in-law thought to herself, “This old hag can not bear to see me sit doing nothing. So she must entrust some work or other to me. Why could she not light the lamp before going? As if the lamp cannot be lit while there is still daylight! I shall not live in this wretched house. I shall at once go to my dear mother.”
So the young girl started for her mother’s place. She had to pass her elder sister’s house on the way. She thought she might as well tell her sister how things were with her.
Having heard the young one, the elder sister sighed and said, “your lot is not as hard as mine, darling. Your aged mother-in-law is here today but will be gone tomorrow. How am I to live with my husband?”
“What? what has he done!” asked the youngest anxiously.
“My husband brought me a gold necklace for the New Year. It weighs tons and tons. Oh, my poor neck! It was almost broken. Have you ever heard of such base cruelty?”
“I never!” exclaimed the youngest. “What a beast!”
“Yes. And I was thinking of committing suicide when you came along. I think it is a fine idea to follow you to our mother and tell her everything. Let us go!” said the elder sister.
Both of them went along until they came near their eldest sister’s house. They thought they might as well inform the eldest as to what happened.
The eldest was glad to see her sisters but sorry to hear about their troubles.
“My dear sisters, your troubles are great, but they are not to be compared to mine. My husband is a heartless wretch. Last night after food we were both sitting under the night queen when four flowers rushed down from the tree and severely hit my face. My wretched husband instead of pitying me and consoling me went into howls of laughter. Do you think such a man can be called a human being?”
“No no!” they agreed. Let me also accompany you and tell my tale of woe to our mother who is our best friend.”
So three of them went to their mother. All the three girls clung to her and began sobbing aloud without a word. “What is it my precious one? What is ailing you? Tell your mother.” the old lady said.
And each one unfolded to her own tale of misery.At last the mother said, “You come to me in distress but to whom can I carry my distress?”
“Tell us, dear mother, tell us,” said the three in chorus. “Then listen, my precious once. Yesterday your father asked me to cook something special. So I mixed a small quantity of flour and made only three cakes. I ate one to see if the salt was right. Then I ate another to see if the baking was right. then I waited ages and ages for your father to come and finish the third one. But absent-mindedly I ate it up too.
When your father did come I told him that I made three cakes but ate all of them. He merely stood there and said indifferently, ‘Never mind.” I ate three cakes and he says, ‘Never mind.’ I might have indigestion, cramps, anything. But he never cared! What a cruel man!”
So saying the mother burst into a fit of crying. So did the three daughters. They went on crying and shedding the buckets of tears. The last drops of water flowed out of their bodies in course of time. Their bodies shrank and shrank till they were reduced to the size of grape seeds.
In fact, they were turned in to four-bed bugs. They spent their lives sucking the blood of human beings. Even today their descendants live that way.
(Source : Chandamama Sep’1955)