TALE OF ABU TUNTURUNG

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

Abu Tunturung is a famous tale amongst the Misings. Once upon a time, in a village lived two boys with their father and stepmother. The stepmother disliked the boys and always thought of getting rid of them. One day, the father decided to perform their mother’s urom apin. He asked them both to join him to the forest the next day for collecting plantain leaves. The wicked stepmother grinned at their idea of going to the forest and advised a plan to get rid of the boys forever. She knew that an ogre inhabited the deepest part of the forest.


The next morning she also joined them in collecting vegetable leaves from the forest. Together they ventured in to the forest. After walking for a while, they reached a spot. The two boys halted to collect leaves but the father told them that their mother often used to spit there while going for collecting firewood. Therefore, leaves were not clean for the ritual. All of them kept walking until they reached another similar spot. The father again stopped them from collecting leaves. This time he told them that their mother once defecated there. Hence, the leaves were not clean and asked them to keep moving on.


In the afternoon, they reached a place with abundant vegetable leaves. The stepmother stopped and asked her husband to help her in collecting them. She also told the boys that she knew a place where they would get the best plantain leaves. On being asked, she showed the direction towards the deepest part of the forest. The two boys without realizing the danger ahead followed her direction and thus entered the domain of the ogre.


They collected leaves to their requirement and wrapped them into two big bundles. However, when the boys thought of leaving, to their dejection, they had no idea of where they were. Both of them, immediately, realized that they were lost in the jungle. On the other side, the father grew anxious for his sons. His wife consoled him by saying that there were many ways to come out of the forest and his sons may have taken one of them. She persuaded him to leave the forest before dark. The father left the place expecting to see his sons at home.


The boys trod on a path without knowing where it led. As the sun was about to set, they started calling aloud ‘Babo!’ (Father). Every time they called their father, somebody would answer ‘Abu Tunturung’! The boys were chilled at the unfamiliar voice. After some time, Abu Tunturung appeared. He was tall, had big ears, pointed nose and sharp teeth. He asked the boys not to be frightened of him because he was there to help them. He invited the boys to spend the night in his house where Abu Tunturung’s wife fed them with a nice dinner. After the meal, they were given a place to sleep.


In the dead of the night, the boys, who were actually pretending to fast asleep, Abu Tunturung and his wife planning to roast and eat them. They were heating iron rods in the fireplace. Seeing this, the boys quietly escaped but not before putting the two bundles of leaves they had collected in their place under the blanked. Abu Tunturung pierced the blanked with two red-hot irons rods, assuming the boys to be underneath it. The burning sound of the leaves and its smell watered his mouth. He thought that the boys had lost of fate. However, when he removed the blanket he was enraged at the discovery of their escape. His desire to feast on their bodies was unappeased.

The boys, stranded in the deepest part of the forest, struggled throughout the night. At dawn, they saw Abu Tunturung following them at a tremendous pace with an axe in this hand. Immediately, they climbed up tall tree. Reaching beneath the tree, he asked the boys how they managed to climb up. They told him to prop up the sharp edge of this axe against the trunk of the tree and climb. Abu Tunturung did as he was told. His feet were cut but he licked his blood up a continued climbing. Seeing no hope of survival, the boys prayed to the god of wind. A fierce storm started swinging the branches of the trees closer. They jumped from one branch to anther the finally, reached the edge of the forest. They climbed down from a tree and crossed a wooden bridge over a dried-up stream. Then they requested an ana-randang or woodpecker, which was perching on a nearby tree, to peck the bridge and make it weak. It did so but Abu-tunturung was unaware of it. When he reached the middle of the bridge, in collapsed and Abu-Tunturung fell to his death.


The boys reached home safely and narrated the whole account to their father. On learning the evil motive of his wife, he chased her away. The boys along with their father lived happily ever after. Meanwhile, on the edge of the forest, Abu-Tunturung’s bereaved wife cut his body into small pieces. She asked pieces to turn into mosquitoes, leeches and other pests to realize his unfulfilled desire of feasting on the boys by sucking human blood. This is how mosquitoes, leeches and other blood-sucking creatures came into existence according to the Mising belief.


Source~ Title - Role of mising folk tales and folk songs in developing moral values among children a critical study. Researcher: Doley Pritilata Pegu Guide: Boro Anil Kumar Link- http://hdl.handle.net/10603/72266

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