The Unwelcome Guests

A Folk Tale

Ponnan was a poor but generous man always ready to share whatever little he had with others. He often brought home people he barely knew for tea or lunch, thereby causing great hardship to his wife. One morning when his wife looked out of the window, she saw three fat men coming towards her house and guessed at once they were coming to her house for lunch at her husband's invitation.

As she turned away from the window her gaze fell on the mortar and pestle that she used for pounding the rice and suddenly she got an idea....

When the men arrived at the front door sometime later they were pleased by the warm welcome given them by their host's wife. But when they entered the house they were puzzled by a strange sight - a mortar and pestle made ready for worship, stood in the hall.

"What is this?" asked one of the men. "Who worships this mortar and pestle?"

"Don't you know?" said the woman, pretending great surprise. "It is my husband's deity. A strange deity it is too. It demands human blood. When my husband comes home he'll pick up the pestle and hit you on your heads to draw blood. So many times I have told him : 'Don't do it, don't do it' because it is I who have to clean the floor afterwards..."

Ponnan returned just then and he was puzzled to see the men hurrying away from his house. "They wanted the pestle," explained his wife, "and I refused to give it to them."

Oh, you foolish woman!" said the husband. "If they wanted the pestle you should have given it," and he picked up the pestle and ran after them.

"Come back! Come back!" he shouted to the men. "You can take the pestle."

The men, already badly frightened, thought he was coming to hit them with the pestle and ran for their lives.

Ponnan sometimes wondered why people had stopped accepting his invitations and why his wife smiled every time she touched the pestle. But she never let out the secret.