(Last Updated on : 16/12/2010)
Folktales of Uttar Pradesh
centre mostly on tales of Maulvi Sahibs. They are learned men who can still be seen working as teachers in the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh. This particular folktale, the Qazi of Jaunpur, is a popular story that goes such. Once there was a Maulvi Sahib who was a master at a village school. Though the school was a very small one with a single room and a handful of boys, the Maulvi was held in great reverence by the entire village. The villagers thought the world of him and asked him for guidance whenever they had a problem. As a result of this, the Maulvi became very proud and boasted that he was the best teacher in town. If anybody tried to argue a point with him, Maulvi Sahib would retort that he should agree with him as he can turn a donkey into a man. One day Maulvi Sahib lost his temper with one of his students. He caught the boy by the ear and gave him a good whacking. He shouted at the boy that even donkeys have turned to men by his mere touch.
At that very moment a man called Jumman was by the schoolroom window. Jumman was a labourer. He earned a living by carrying loads for other people-bricks, bags of wheat and rice, vegetables from the fields. To carry these loads he made use of a donkey. This donkey of his was extremely lazy and unwilling to work. When Jumman herd the Maulvi's words he thought that he too would bring his worthless donkey to the Maulvi so that it could be turned into a man. Then his donkey can work like a son and his old life will be full of happiness. Jumman thus took his donkey to the Maulvi Sahib and begged him to turn it into a man.
The Maulvi realised what had happened and saw this as a chance to make some extra money. He said that it was not easy to turn a donkey into a man. He needed special ingredients which he has to grind for weeks. More importantly it would cost money. Jumman was willing to pay and the Maulvi demanded Rupees100 for the work. Jumman hesitated a bit but then gave in. The Maulvi asked Jumman to come after 12 days. Jumman answered that he would turn up after 15 days. Maulvi Sahib waited a couple of days just in case Jumman changed his mind. Then he sold the donkey for fifty rupees. He bought himself some new clothes, shoes and feasted on good food for the rest of the week.
At the end of a fortnight, on the dot, Jumman was back. When he asked the Maulvi for his animal, the Maulvi cooked up a lie. He said that he had mixed too much of the ingredients in the spell and the donkey had turned into a Qazi of Jaunpur. On hearing this news, Jumman was a changed man. He drew himself up to his full height and announced that he was going to Jaunpur. And turning on his heel, he marched down the village street. When Jumman reached Jaunpur, he prepared himself to meet the Qazi. He found his way to the Qazi's court and pushed his way past the guards at the gate and marched straight in. The Qazi was busy settling a dispute between two shopkeepers. Jumman went and stood squarely in front of the Qazi. In a slightly mocking tone he asked the Qazi how it felt to be transformed into a man from a donkey. This greatly angered the Qazi and he demanded to know the identity of the man. When the guards tried to catch hold of the man he proved too nimble for them. He once again confronted the Qazi and asked him how it felt to be transformed from a donkey into a man. He was finally caught and made to spend the night in the lock up. However, this did not help matters and he returned to the court the next day. This time he rebuffed the Qazi saying that he should have remained a donkey.
By now the Qazi was certain that Jumman was out of his mind. He thought it best to humour the man. He asked Jumman, what he wanted. Jumman promptly asked for 500 rupees. The Qazi gave him a bag and said, and asked him to leave the court and never to return again. Jumman took the money and went back to his village. With the money he bought himself another donkey. Thanks to the Qazi of Jaunpur, Jumman and his wife spent the rest of their days in comfort.