Residence: Bahadur Khan, Attock, Pakistan
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/23/2020
Primary Language: Panjabi
Other Language(s): Urdu
Context: The following is a story told by the informant, my grandmother, when recounting to me a story she had heard during childhood.
Background: My grandmother heard this story from her older cousin when chatting after school. She remembers it because unlike most stories she heard, this one was from someone closer in age to her.
Once there was a fox that lived in the forest. Seeing a rooster sitting in a tree, the fox was eager to sink her teeth into it. Thinking about what a nice meal it would make, the fox decided to come up with a plan to get the rooster out of the tree. After thinking long and hard, the fox approached the tree and called out to the rooster, “Rooster! How are you doing today?”
The rooster responded, “I’m doing just fine, thanks to your prayers.”
“Did you know that there has been a new change in the forest?” the fox asked sneakily.
This was news to the rooster, who hadn’t heard anything, so he asked in return, “No, what do you mean?”
“A decision has been made that from now on, everyone in the forest will live in peace and harmony. You don’t have to be scared of me anymore. Come, get down from that tree and let’s just sit in the shade and chat,” said the fox, greedily eyeing the bird.
“Oh really?” replied the rooster. “That’s great! Actually, I see that someone is coming over quickly.” Hearing this, the fox became frightened and looked around cautiously.
“Someone is coming? Who? Tell me quickly!” the fox said, afraid a predator might be approaching.
Seeing her reaction, the rooster was confused and said, “It’s just some hunting dogs, and they’re closing in fast. Why are you so frightened? Now that everyone is living in peace and harmony, we can all sit together and relax. Come, let’s wait for them to get here.”
Knowing her plan had been foiled, the fox could only grit her teeth and mumble an excuse that she had somewhere else to be before darting off into the forest, stomach empty.
Analysis: This story has the common trait of a more “evil” character that wants to hurt, or in this case eat, the “innocent” character, but has their plans ruined, either by being outwitted or mere happenstance. In this case, the narrative is quite open to interpretation as to whether the rooster actually did see the hunting dogs coming, or was clever enough to conjure up that tale to scare the fox off. Also, knowing the age of the storyteller to be quite young, it is no surprise that this tale focuses more heavily on entertainment than teaching a lesson or moral, although this could also be due to the way it was retold, perhaps being told to the girl in a different manner or emphasizing different parts of the tale.