Once upon a time there was a miller who had both properties and income. He lived a luxurious and a happy life with his wife. He had a very beautiful, dusky and loving wife. She brought him the joy and happiness of his life. Very few were as lucky and rich as Miller, but soon he went from riches to rags. His incomes diminished, properties seized and now a modest living was also unaffordable.
Upset with his situation, Miller went for a stroll and all of a sudden the water of the pond near his cottage rose and came out a divine angelic figure. Standing tall and beautiful on the water was a Nymph. Miller took a few steps back and was left just awe-struck. The Nymph spoke,” Such handsome man, yet so many worries. What is troubling, my friend?” . With a trembling voice, Miller explained the Nymph his doom and how it was now impossible for him to live. Nymph was moved by his misfortunes and moved her hands upwards. As the hands moved, the water rose too and said the Nymph,” your troubles are going to be a thing of past, you will be wealthier, happier and better, but I will claim the next thing born at your place.” The miller wondered whether the Nymph expected the birth of a puppy or a kitten. He unknowingly promised her.
While his way back home, Miller’s maid came running towards her and announced the birth of his child. It was then that the miller understood that all this while it was his child that Nymph asked for. Miller went to his wife and sadly narrated the whole incident to her. Suddenly all the material worth seemed de trop. Yet, in the matter of finance, his trunks were full of money which just multiplied overnight. They named the child Neer, which meant water. The thought of Nymph taking away the child haunted both, the mother and the father, however nothing queer happened around the baby or Miller for quite some time.
The Miller took all his precautions and always made sure to keep his child away from the pond. For the little boy, pond and its surrounding area were like the Forbidden Kingdom. He was told to stay away or else the Nymph would come and pull him in the water, far from his parents.
Neer grew into a strong and handsome man. He learnt how to hunt animals and birds. He was also fond of a girl in his village, named Meera. Neer’s employer married them off and also gifted them a house in which they lived happily.
One day, after a hunt of a deer, Neer skinned the animal and in order to wash his hands off , he dipped his hands in the pond and suddenly he could see the red swirling and an image turning out of the swirl. The Nymph emerged from the pond and pulled him inside the water.
When the husband didn’t return, Meera got worried and went to look out for him. Her instincts took her to the pond where she found his hunting pouch and immediately remembered the Nymph’s threat. It got cleared that the Nymph had captivated her husband but where could she free her husband. She ran all over the banks and called out her husband’s name, but everything went in vain. She called out the Nymph, cursed her, begged her and prayed to return her husband but to no avail. Exhausted and wearied, she dropped to the ground and unconsciously dreamt climbing huge rocks. The rocks tore her feet, rains battered her face and vines entangled her legs, yet she moved on. She knew she was doing this to get back her husband and thus did not give up. She finally reached a summit and found a small cottage. She pushed the door and went in the cottage, where she was welcomed and comforted by an old lady. She suddenly woke up and thought it to be a sign by a divine power and decide to take a chance to get her husband back. She followed the dictates of her mid and was able to find a similar cottage in reality. Her hopes raised high and exuberantly she opened the door and was astounded to find the same old lady in flesh and blood. The old lady sympathised with the young lady and comforted her. The old woman handed her a comb and said, “Don’t be sad. I will help you. You patiently wait till the full moon night. On that night, go to the pond and comb your hair with the golden comb and you shall see what happens”
Meera went and did as instructed on the full moon night and left her comb there. Within a few moments there was the sound of water coming up from the depths. It washed the comb and dragged it into the pond. Within a few seconds thereafter her husband’s face rose above the water. Neer appeared sad. Another wave which followed in just a couple of seconds, followed over his head plunging him into the water again. She wept inconsolably. She met the old lady and reported what had happened in detail.
The old lady comforted her and said, ”Have this golden flute. As before, wait patiently till the full moon day. Go to the pond, sit near the water on the bank and play on the golden flute a tilting song. Then keep the flute on the bank near the water, see what happens.” Meera did as advised by the old lady. As soon as she kept the flute on the bank after playing it, a wave rose in the pond and lashed the ground and it receded into the pond parted and Neer emerged. Not just his head but up to his waist, he was above the water. He held out his hand towards his wife. But the second wave which arose, dragged the youth into the pond. The dame was heart-broken.
Now when the women’s sorrow became profound, the old lady came herself to console her. She told her that all that she did was predestined and happened according to the will of the almighty she hence can do only last thing to get her husband back. The old lady gave her a spinning wheel and a white thread and asked to go on the full moon night and leave it there at the bay. She did as advised. Gradually she saw the wave pulling the spinning wheel inside. Her husband came running from the pond. In tears was the dame to see her husband after months. They both embraced and cried. They could die at this very moment since they wanted nothing more from life now. Suddenly the water of the pond rose. It kept rising higher and higher. As the water fell from the height, Neer vanished. Meera almost lost her senses and started screaming and howling. She kept running around the pond to look for her dear husband. She saw old lady and questioned her. “I have nothing else to give you. This is His will and we must agree. I will pray for you.” Those were the last words she ever heard from the old lady.
Many years passed, Meera became a shepherdess and shifted to a far off village. She hired an old man who was in search of work. One day while he was playing flute to please the sheep, the woman heard it and recalled it to be the same tune as she played with her golden flute to get her husband back. Right there and then she broke into tears and the man recognised her to be his wife. He went running towards his wife. He told her that he got free from the captivation a year back and ever since he went from one village to other in search of Meera. His Meera was now old yet the love was still new. They both finally embraced and prayed. They happily played the flute and reared the sheep together ever after.
Author: Ujwal Harish
Editing: Samiksha Batra