The Tale of Hukma and Hukamiya

Main Body:

Informant: This is a story I heard from my Grandma. And it’s called Hukma and Hukamiya. So Hukma and Hukamiya are a brother and sister. And they were farmers. So Hukamiya would take care of the house and Hukma would go every day to the farm, in their land.

Interviewer: They didn’t have parents?

Informant: No, they’re not in the story. So Hukamiya will cook for her brother and he will take the food with him to, um, the farms. So Hukma loved khichdi(rice and lentils) so she would make khichdi for him and he will take it. So one day when Hukma was, um, he sat down to eat his lunch, there was a wolf.

So the wolf said, “I’m going to – I’m about to eat you.”  So Hukma says, “Instead, why don’t you share my food?” This is where I get a little fuzzy on the story. So the wolf says, “Sure, either I eat you or I’ll eat the food” or something like that, y’know? And so Hukma says, “Fine, eat my food” obviously. So he gives the wolf his khichdi. And the wolf says “तू हिला मेरी पूक्षिडी, मैं खाऊ तेरी खीचडी” (too hila meree pookshidee, main khaoo teree kheechadee).

Interviewer: *Laughs* So the wolf essentially says, “You wag my tail, I eat your khichdi?”

Informant: Yeah

Interviewer: So does “You wag my tail” mean “You annoy me” or “You excite me” or something?

Informant: You know, I don’t really know, it just rhymes. It used to be so funny for us, when we were little. And for you when you were little. I used to tell you this story. So, poor Hukma will take his tail and –

Interviewer: Oh so the wolf’s telling Hukma that “You have to wag my tail.” It’s a command.

Informant: Yeah exactly. So then the wolf eats his khichdi. So this happens a few times. And then poor Hukma will come home hungry. And then his sister is like, “This is not good. You have to eat, this wolf is bullying you.” I think it’s a story about bullying, basically. But anyway, then Hukamiya is like, “We have to get rid of this wolf, this bhariya(wolf).” So then what they do is the next time the bhariya comes and tries to grab his lunch, Hukma says, “Hey, you know what? My sister has made really good food at home. So instead of this plain old khichdi, why don’t you come to our home and we’ll serve you?”

So the wolf agrees and they both go to the house where Hukamiya had made a lot of food. So they invite him inside the hut and there’s a stake in the ground inside the hut. So they tie a rope and they tie the, uh, the wolf to the stake. So the wolf is like “Why are you doing this?” And Hukma responds by saying “Oh we’re tying you here so you won’t be disturbed. You can just rest and stay in one place and enjoy your food in peace.” So the wolf, he’s stupid, he says OK. I guess he’s more interested in food. 

And then Hukma comes in with a big stick, big oiled stick. And so the wolf asks, “Why do you have this stick in your hand?” And so Hukma says, “Oh I’m just guarding the house.” Then they put the food in front of him and as the wolf starts eating, Hukma just starts beating him up. *Laughs* And then they beat him so much and then the wolf runs off. And he cries “हाय हुकमिया, धोका कर दिया” (haay hukamiya, dhoka kar diya) (Oh Hukamiya, you have betrayed me!

Interviewer: Why Hukamiya, specifically?

Informant: Oh now I remember! Now I remember. Man, I’ve forgotten this story. It was not Hukma the wolf used to bother, it was Hukamiya. So she used to go out to the fields in the afternoon to give her brother lunch. So on the way the bhariya would accost her and take the food. So then the brother finds out because every day he’s like “Why are you bringing such a little amount of food?” So she tells him. So the brother tells Hukamiya to invite the wolf over and then he dresses up as Hukamiya. And then beats him up after doing all that stake stuff. And then the wolf finds out it’s Hukma which is why he cries out saying that Hukamiya betrayed him. So he was bullying the girl who was weaker and then the older brother comes and beats him up. And so the wolf runs off and never comes back. 


The informant is my mother, an Indian woman who was born and raised in northern India (Delhi) and moved to the US over two decades ago. This story is one that she was told by her grandmother and mother. It’s also a story that she apparently frequently told me when I was little.


I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my mom if she had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones she shared with me.


There are a lot of interesting things going on in this story but what sticks out to me is that it’s kind of like a flip-flopped version of Little Red Riding Hood. You could think of Hukamiya as Little Red Riding Hood, a girl who runs into a wolf. Yet, in this story, it is not the wolf that dresses up as a grandmother, but Hukma (who fills the role of the hunter) who dresses up and disguises himself as his sister. The sequence of the wolf asking about the stake and Hukma giving an answer and the wolf asking about Hukma’s stick and Hukma giving an answer brings to mind a similar sequence in Little Red Riding Hood. The one where she remarks “What big eyes you have” and the wolf replies, “The better to see you with.” And then she says “What big teeth you have” and he says “The better to eat you with”, etc. Both tales end similarly though, with the wolf either dead or beaten and driven away.