Archetype → Humorist
Rasa → Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं): Compassion, mercy. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour: grey
A jackal sets on his usual trot along the village sniffing out unattended farm eggs. He sees a man with a troubled face, sitting outside the village court house as if the world weighed on his shoulders.
Jackal slides up next to the man and asks, “Aiyo, why hang your head like this on a nice day?”
The man hesitates to tell the jackal.
The jackal says, “Friend, there’s a remedy to every illness. Tell me, I might be of help.”
Reluctantly, the man tells his story to the jackal.
“I got very late on my journey last night; so, I decided to rest under a thick grove of mango trees. I tied my horse to a tree and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, my horse was missing. I looked around and found it tied next to someone’s house. Thinking my horse had broken loose and that they had found it, I went over and untied the animal. But then, someone came out running, grabbed the reins and said ‘Oh no, no! I’m the landowner of this property, and I believe my mango tree gave birth to this horse last night; what’s from my property belongs to me!’
The jackal squints one eye, asking “The mango tree gave birth to the horse, eh? So, what did you do?”
“I went to meet the judge to call for a trial against the landowner. After hearing my story, the judge says, ‘Unless you have evidence that the mango tree did not, in fact, give birth to the horse, I’m afraid the law favours the landowner; whatever comes from the property belongs to the landowner.’ I’ve lost my horse and have no way to get back home. ” laments the man.
So, the jackal says, “I’ll put that right for you. And remember, when the time comes, you must help me in return.”
“Of course, but how will you put this right? It’s the law!” exclaims the man.
“Leave that to me, friend… Now go back to the judge, bow, and tell him that your solicitor wants to present evidence that the mango tree did not give birth to the horse” says the jackal to the man, grinning with eyes and canines twinkling.
A hearing was scheduled for Monday. At the hearing, all were present except the jackal, so they postponed it to the next day. On Tuesday, again, the jackal did not appear. On Wednesday, the jackal finally appears in court, seemingly sleepy.
The judge looks him up and down and asks, “Did you know about the hearing?”
The jackal replies “Yes, your honour”.
“Then, why didn’t you come ?” the judge asks.
“Your honour, Monday I saw the sky. The sky couldn’t be trusted. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines. So, I didn’t come,” says the jackal, and lets out a loud yawn.
Irritated, the judge asks, “And why didn’t you come on Tuesday?”
“On that day I saw the earth,” the jackal says. “That also cannot be trusted. In some places there are mounds, in some places it’s flat; in some places there’s water, in some places it’s dry,” he says while stretching his limbs, with an even louder yawn.
The judge becomes angry; “Why are you yawning?” he asks.
“Oh, your honour, I am very tired indeed,” the jackal complains, rubbing his eyes.
“Why?” snaps the judge.
“I was up all night watching the fish swim on land” replies the jackal.
“In which country, Mr. Jackal, do fish swim on land?” the judge demands, trying to keep hold of his temper.
The jackal bows low with a grin revealing a glimmer of sharp canines, saying “In this country where mango trees give birth to horses, your honour.”
The embarrassed judge immediately retreats behind his mountain of paperwork, muttering under his breath, and sends orders to the landlord to return the man’s horse.
This story is an adaptation of a folk tale from the Bintænna Vanniyela Aetto community in Sri Lanka. It features the humorist archetype symbol seen across stories in South Asia—the jackal.
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.