Bandar Bahadur Pun was a great nuisance to his seven uncles. He was always getting into mischief-taking their tools, playing house in their best clothes, drinking their rice wine. Even Bandar’s mother complained about her son’s behaviour; but because she was his mother, she loved him and fed him well.
Bandar’s father had been killed on the trail by a falling rock, so Bandar lived with his mother and his seven uncles and aunts on the old family farm. In many ways, Bandar was much like other village boys. He laughed at silly jokes and teased the village girls. But in one way he was very different. Bandar Bahadur Pun was a monkey.
One day Bandar’s uncles decided to go hunting.
“I want to go hunting, too!” shouted Bandar when he heard the news.
“No!” complained the uncles in one voice. “You will scare all the game away. Now run along and play with your friends.”
Bandar disappeared as if to do their bidding, but when the uncles left the courtyard he came out from his hiding place and followed at a safe distance behind them.
“For once our monkey nephew would have been useful,” laughed the eldest brother. “If he were here now, we could send him into the trees to get some good mangoes. These on the ground are spoiled.
“Here I am!” shouted Bandar. “I will pick some good mangoes for you.”
He was already in the trees throwing down the fruit before the uncles could scold him for his disobedience. Soon he began tossing the green mangoes to his uncles and keeping the ripe ones for himself.
“Oh, what a rogue you are!” shouted the uncles, throwing the green fruit at him. “Go home where you belong and do not follow us anymore.”
Bandar leaped through the trees as fast as he could to escape the hail of green mangoes. “Ama, Ama, Ama,” he cried, to make his uncles think he was running home. But when the uncles were out of sight, he turned around and followed them again.
As it grew dark, the rain started to fall. Again the hunters wished they had allowed their monkey nephew to come with them.
“He could have climbed high into a tree and searched the darkness for a light, so we would know where to look for shelter,” said the youngest uncle.
“Here I am!” shouted Bandar once more, and before the uncles could recover from their surprise, Bandar was running through the trees pointing to light across the valley.
The uncles followed Bandar’s directions back and forth along the winding, slippery trail until at last, they reached the door of a low stone house covered with thick wooden shingles.
“Ho!” the eldest uncle called out. “Is anybody home?”
No one answered.
The eldest uncle shouted louder this time. “Ey, Ama! Can you give us shelter for the night?”
Suddenly the door opened, and there on the porch stood a beautiful woman.
“What do you want?” she asked in a very deep voice.
The uncles looked at each other in distress. From the tone of the woman’s voice, they knew she was not a beautiful woman at all. She was a monster in disguise.
They whispered together for a moment, trying to decide what to do. Most of them wanted to run, but it was too late for that. It was raining heavy hard now and had become so dark they could only vaguely see the person in front of them. Finally, the eldest spoke again.
“We were out hunting and could not return to our home before dark, so we are looking for a place to spend the night.”
“You may stay here,” replied the monster woman, “if you are prepared to marry my daughters.”
The uncles were afraid of this woman but when they looked back they were afraid of the forest, bhoots and prates and other evil spirits lurked by the trail and captured people who walked after dark. So they agreed to marry the monster’s daughters in return for a night’s lodging.
As soon as their hostess had brought mats for Bandar and his seven uncles, so they could sit beside the fire, she turned to her daughters and said:
“The Brahman pried will be called in the morning for the wedding ceremony, so give our guests the best food and wine we have in the house and let them smoke as much as they wish.”
While the men were drying their clothes and eating the meal prepared for them, the monster woman went into the back room to make the beds. This wicked creature did not intend that the uncles should marry her daughters at all. She wanted to eat them for supper. She fixed seven beds on one side of the room, for the uncles, and seven beds on the other side, for her daughters-covering the uncles’ beds with red blankets and her daughter’s beds with white blankets, so she wouldn’t get them mixed up. Bandar’s bed was in a basket put in the corner.
While everyone was settling for the night, the monster went to bed herself and pretended to sleep. Soon the only noise in the house was the deep breathing of the people asleep. The monster was just about to get up to eat the seven brothers when she remembered Bandar Bahadur Pun.
“Oh, Sister’s Son,” she whispered. “Are you asleep?”
“Yes,” came the reply.
“You are not, or you could not say ‘yes’,” said the monster in a huff. “What do you want.”
“I’m thirsty,” answered the monkey. “I want some milk to drink.”
The monster was so eager for Bandar to go to sleep that she got up and warmed some milk for him. When he finished drinking it, he lay back in his basket and covered himself with his blankets.
In a few minutes, the monster whispered again. “Oh, Sister’s Son, are you asleep now?”
“No,” was the reply.
“Why not? What do you want this time?”
“I am hungry.”
“Hungry!” repeated the monster in an angry voice. “My daughters fed you chicken and rice, with wine and spiced eggs. What more do you want?”
“My uncles ate it all,” whined Bandar. “I want some rice pudding.”
The monster was very annoyed, but she didn’t want to waken the others by arguing with the monkey, so she rose from her bed and made Bandar some rice pudding. After he had eaten it, he crawled under the covers and pretended once more to sleep.
When she was quite sure he would not answer, the monster whispered: “Are you asleep now, Sister’s Son?”
“No. I can’t go to sleep,” was the answer.
“WHY NOT?” growled the monster.
“Because I have no popcorn. I always have to have popcorn before I go to sleep.”
The monster was getting very hungry, herself. She looked longingly at the seven uncles and pictured the wonderful feast she would have if she could ever satisfy this stubborn monkey. She got up and cooked Bandar some popcorn. Climbing back into her bed again, she was so tired from all the extra work that she dozed off. Her heavy snoring rattled the brass rice sPun on the shelf.
As soon as Bandar heard her snoring, he jumped up and scampered about the room as fast as he could, putting the white blankets on his sleeping uncles and covering the monster’s seven daughters with the red ones. After he had changed all the blankets he hopped back into bed and lay very still.
Suddenly the monster woman sat up with a start. She leapt out of bed and peering into Bandar’s basket.
“Are you asleep at last, Sister’s Son?” she whispered.
This time she received no answer.
“Oh quickly!” she said to herself. “I must eat before everyone wakes up.” She grabbed her khukri from the wall, ran to the beds covered with red blankets, ad fell to gobbling up her daughters. “Such delicious hunters,” she keep thinking with every bite. “So juicy and tender!” she was so stuffed when she finished eating her last daughter, she dropped into bed. This time she slept soundly.
Bandar jumped down from his basket and awakened his uncles. When they heard what had happened, they ran out into the jungle and hid in a large oak tree.
In the morning, when the monster woke up and discovered her terrible mistake, she shrieked with rage. She rushed out of the house in a frenzy and started hacking at the forest wherever her khukri chanced to fall. A jaybird, calling to warn all the jungle creatures to stay in their nests, only made the monster angrier. She looked up to throw a stone at him, and there she saw the frightened uncles, clinging to the branches of the oak tree.
“Ha!” she screamed. “I have found you already. Now I will make you pay for your evil trick!” She lunged at the tree and started to chop it down. Huge chips flew everywhere. With each blow of her big khukri, the uncles were almost thrown from their perch. Suddenly, without warning, the weight of the seven men broke the tree and it fell with a great crash to the ground. The surprised monster, who had not been able to jump out of the way, was killed instantly.
The uncles cried aloud in their joy. They climbed out of the tree and ran as fast as they could back to the monster’s house. There they loaded themselves with presents for their wives- all the silver jewelry and fine clothes that had belonged to the wicked monster and her seven daughters. Bandar, who took only an old drum, danced and sang at the head of the procession all the way home.
The seven aunts were delighted with their gifts, but Bandar’s mother was very disappointed.
“See, Bandar Bahadur Pun, what my brothers have brought their wives,” she said sadly. “And you have brought me only an old drum.”
“Don’t be unhappy with me, Ama” replied Bandar. “Hand me the maana measure from the storage basket.”
“What have you brought that can be measured?” she asked in pique.
“You will see,” said Bandar patiently.
He gave the drum a blow on the head with his khukri, and to the mother’s amazement golden coins spilt out all over the floor.
“Oh, Bandar!” cried the mother, hugging her son with joy. “What should we do with all this money?”
“Tomorrow I will go with my uncles to the bazaar to buy rice. Would you like to eat rice for the rest of your life, Ama, instead of corn?”
“Oh, yes, good son! Let us plant lots of rice,” answered the mother. “I am so tired of corn.”
The next morning, when Bandar’s uncles were ready to go to the bazaar to buy rice, Bandar said he wanted to go with them. But they had forgotten that he had saved them from being eaten by the wicked monster. All they remembered was the nuisance he made of himself when they wanted some good mangoes.
“Oh, no!” the eldest uncle replied. “You might tell the shopkeeper we have lots of jewels. Then he would charge us more money for the rice. Go away; go and play with your drum.”
Bandar went back into the house, pretending to do as he was told. But when his uncles were out of sight, he followed them to the bazaar. After they had purchased their rice seed and started home, he went into the same shop; but instead of buying rice he bought a handful of gourd seeds. When his mother saw what he had done she let out a sob.
“Oh, Bandar,” she moaned. “Just when I think you are being very clever, you do something very stupid. Now, when your uncles and aunts are eating rice, what will we be eating? We cannot eat gourds!”
“Don’t worry, Ama,” said Bandar reassuringly. “We will have rice to eat, also. Just be patient.”
The day before the uncle’s rice was to be harvested Bandar went to the rice fields and caught a big rat.
“Rat,” Bandar announced, holding him at arm’s length, “I am going to kill you!”
“Oh please do not kill me,” pleaded the rat. “I will do anything you wish.”
“Very well. I will give you a chance to save your life. If you will harvest all my uncles’ rice and store it in my gourds by tomorrow morning. I will not kill you.”
“Of course! That is easy,” answered the rat. “Let me go and I will show you how fast it can be done.”
Bandar opened his hands and the grateful rat leapt down and disappeared into the rice paddy. That night he called all of these relatives together and told them what they had to do to save his life. The next morning every grain of rice from the uncles’ fields was harvested and stored in the Bandar’s gourds.
When Bandar showed his mother the gourds, she stared in disbelief. Her son had not ploughed. He had not planted. He had even been spared the tedious job of harvesting the crop. All he had done to fill their storage bins with rice as to sprinkle a few gourd seeds on the stony ground. She never dreamed her son could be so clever.
As for the uncles, they had learned their lesson will. Never again did they go anywhere without their nephew Bandar Bahadur Pun.
And Bandar’s mother never again complained of having a mischievous monkey for a son.
Ama – Mother
Ba – Father
Bahadur – Brave; often used as a second name for boys
Bazaar – A cluster of small shops
Khukri – Gorkhali knife
Bhoot – An evil spirit
Prate – An evil spirit