The story of Pankhu and Dhocholecha

Once there lived a girl named Pankhu maicha who lived with her father and stepmother. Her stepmother did not love her and therefore, Pankhu had to endure hostility and harshness since she was a small child. Pankhu was often starved but was forced to do all the household chores. Her dad was very fond of his wife and so was never bothered by the hardships of Pankhu. Instead, he was so much influenced by his wife that he soon started mistreating poor Pankhu. Pankhu had not a single soul to love and give her affection and therefore, was forced to endure the troubles without complaining.

Soon two years had passed and Pankhu’s stepmother gave birth to a daughter. Pankhu was happy to have a little sister but her stepmother’s behavior towards her became more belligerent than before.

A couple of years later, Pankhu was still living with her parents as she had nowhere to go. Her step-sister had also grown up. Her stepmother used to feed her daughter with all the delicacies she could offer but Pankhu was only allowed wastes to eat. While there was not a single person to comfort Pankhu, an old doe which the family had kept for long, observed everything that was going on. The doe loved Pankhu very much and felt extremely sorry for all the trouble she had to experience. The truth was that it was the very doe that kept Pankhu alive. While going out to graze in the pastures, she used to regurgitate rice and lentils fed to her and feed it to Pankhu. Both the doe and the child kept this a secret.

One day, when Pankhu took the doe with her to graze, her stepsister also came along. As always, Dhocholecha regurgitated lentils and rice which Pankhu started eating. Her little sister saw this and inquired about it? Pankhu tried to lie to the child but as she could not convince her, she eventually told her the truth. Pankhu told her that she would share the rice with her if she would not tell anyone about her secret. Her stepsister agreed and soon both of them started eating the rice and lentils. 

The two sisters and their doe went back home after a while. Pankhu’s sister, rather than keeping her promise went straight to her mother and told everything. The stepmother was now very angry and decided to slaughter the doe. She discussed the prospect with her husband who agreed to sacrifice the doe to the goddess the next day. 

Dhocholecha soon discovered that she was to be killed the next day. She called Pankhu and told her how her step-sister had betrayed her trust and how they were planning a slaughter. She told Pankhu that her parents will do some rituals and sacrifice her to the goddess the next day. She added “they will be calling you to take the blessings. But please pretend that you are not feeling well and don’t go to them no matter how many times they call your name. At last, they will order you to throw a piece of bone. Take the bone and bury it somewhere and a tree of yomari  will grow out of it.” After hearing all that Dhocholecha had to say, Pankhu was very saddened. She started crying and Dhocholecha started comforting her.

The next day, the parents of Pankhu killed Dhocholecha and did all the rituals. The meat from the doe was cooked in all varieties and served to eat.  Then they called Pankhu to come and get the blessings. They called her several times but Pankhu feigned as if she was not feeling well. At last, they asked her to throw a piece of bone. Hearing this, Pankhu got up instantly, took the bone and buried it somewhere. 

Pankhu went to the place the next day and was amazed to see a fully grown tree bearing countless yomaris as its fruit. She climbed the tree and started picking and eating the yomaris. After a while, two demons came out of nowhere and requested Pankhu for some yomaris. Pankhu thew a yomari at them. They again asked for another one, she threw it again. They repeatedly asked for yomaris and Pankhu complied with their request each time. Then the demon said that the yomaris thrown by Pankhu dropped in the filthy ground and therefore asked her to climb down and give it herself. Pankhu was a naive girl and therefore did as she was told but as soon as she came down, the demons grabbed her and took her away to their abode.

After reaching their home, they ordered Pankhu to cook some baras (Newari lentil patties). They told her that they had to go to the river to bathe themselves but in reality, they were planning to whet their knives in order to cut her into small pieces. But Pankhu was completely oblivious to this and started cooking the patties as told. After a while, a mouse came out from its hole and asked for a patty. She gave it a piece to eat. The mouse asked for it again, Pankhu complied. After getting to eat many times the mouse became full and now it started to share the secrets of the demons with Pankhu. It advised Pankhu to run away and unveiled the reality that the demons were actually whetting their knives to kill her. It disclosed that a room in the house was filled with expensive jewels and ornaments and advised her to take as much as she could carry, instructing her to spit on every step of the staircase and place an ember where she spat. Lastly, it also instructed her to lock the door before running away.

After a while, the demons returned and seeing the door was locked from inside they knocked and called Pankhu to open it. But the only reply they could hear was the human mimicry made by the embers that were left behind by Pankhu. At last, the demons smashed the door open and searched for Pankhu everywhere but could not find her. The demons were left aghast as they realized that the girl had not only tricked them but also stole their valuable possessions.

Pankhu returned home and knocked on the door many times but no one answered her calls. Pankhu then said, “It’s so heavy, I can’t carry it anymore. Please open the door”. Hearing this, everyone became curious to know what Pankhu was carrying with her. The stepmother was the first one to get up and open the door. Pankhu went inside and revealed all the jewels that she had brought with her. The stepmother was very happy to see all the jewels that she could not even dream of. She asked Pankhu how she acquired such precious and expensive jewels? Pankhu told everything that she could recall but somehow forgot the incident with the mouse. The stepmother was delighted to know the secrets of Pankhu and decided to obtain more jewels by sending her daughter to the same tree the next day.

The following day, Pankhu’s stepmother took her daughter to the yomari tree and instructed her to do everything as told by Pankhu. After some time, the demons came and took her to their abode. They instructed her to cook some patties and went to sharpen their knives. As earlier, the same mouse came and asked for some patties. But Pankhu’s sister was not as benevolent as her and did not give a single piece of the patty to the mouse. Instead, she hit it with the hot spatula. The mouse ran inside its hole and never came out.

Later that evening, the demons came back. They ate supper together and slept in the same bed laying the girl between them. The demons started to cut and eat pieces of her meat the whole night. At last, they took her skeleton and hung it outside the house of Pankhu. Her stepmother was expecting to see her daughter with a bag of jewels and was patiently waiting for her. She was applying makeup to her face and was imagining all sorts of things that she could buy with the wealth that her daughter would bring. A crow came to the window and started yelling “Mother has nothing but make-up on, the daughter has nothing but a skeleton”. She went to the window to chase the bird but instead saw the skeleton of her daughter. She soon realized that she had bargained for her daughter’s life to fulfill her greed. Then, she wept incessantly and lived her remaining life full of regrets.