This tale, about bravery and intelligence, has its origin in the state of Manipur in northeastern India, a beautiful land which has remained much hidden from the outside world due to decades of hostile struggle and hard terrain.
Long long time ago in a faraway village in Manipur, lived a poor couple – Kaliyong and his wife Roopa. They had two small children whom they loved very much. Most of the times, the husband remained at the house but at times he would go out to make a living for the family. At such times, Roopa would take utmost care of the children. There had been a demoness around who had longs hands, and killed and ate children in the absence of a male member of a family.
On one unfaithful day, Kaliyong had to leave his house for four days. Roopa, who was full of wit and wisdom, assured her husband that she would keep the children very safe. She said, “I am not afraid of the demoness. Let her come.” And the husband left.
Like all other villagers who fear the demoness, Roopa latched all the doors and windows of the house by early evening. She fed her children and sent them off to bed early. Later in the night, she heard someone knocking on the door and she knew it was the demoness. Roopa gained her strength and got rid of her fear. After the knocking stopped, a voice on the other side of the door said, “Is Kaliyong in the house?” Not loosing her confidence, Roopa pretended her husband was at home and said, “Oh dear Kaliyong! Someone has come to meet you this late. Should I open the door?” The demoness left and came again later at the dead of the night. She asked the same question and Roopa answered with the same cleverness and confidence. Four nights thus passed. Roopa had managed to save her children from the hands of the child-eating demoness. On the dusk of the fifth day, Kaliyong returned home and listened to Roopa narrate the events of the past four nights. This time around, the couple planned to teach a lesson to the demoness.
As usual, the demoness returned late into the night and asked for Kaliyong. Roopa pretended to be afraid. In a tearful voice, she told the demoness that her husband was not at home and had gone to work to a far village. The demoness became happy, her joys were abound and her mouth filled with saliva. She said, “I want human blood and flesh. I have waiting for this since long.” She spread her long hands through the gaps of the doors in order to grab the children. But the children were hidden under the cot and as her hand was inside the house, Kaliyong chopped them with a sharp long sword. The demoness shrieked loudly with all the pain and ran to save her life. The other villagers had woken with all the noise and went chasing and pelting stones at the demoness. She had difficulty running after loosing one hand and she vowed to never return to the village again. And thus, the village lived happily and everybody appreciated Kaliyong’s and Roopa’s presence of mind.
- Folklore From North-East India – Nohkalikai falls (greenerpasturesind.wordpress.com)