The Illusion: Zaimuk and Thingyee


The Illusion

This fable exemplifies the moral: “The grass on the other side of the hedge always looks greener until you see yours from the opposite side”.

By Mirinshung Jamang

Beyond in time, when the natural bond of communication among creatures were unspoiled, there were two amazing friends, Zaimuk, a bird of the ground, Thingyee a bird of air.

Zaimuk has her nest on the ground among bushy and tall grasses. She mainly fed on crawling worms and tiny insects. Thingyee had her nest hanging high on creepers in the canopy of thick woods. She fed up winged insects of the attire such as moths. Though the two friends had feathered wings, they had extremely different ways of life.

Despite everything, Zaimuk and Thingyee had always envied each other’s lifestyle, secretly. “How her nest sways in the pleasant breeze! It must be so ecstatic to be adrift like that!” Zaimuk thought. “How swiftly she takes to the air at will on her wings, Oh! For a night’s sleep in her nest” Zaimuk wished ardently.

A similar wish smouldered in the tiny head of Thingyee ’s too. She envied the still and the soft bed on which her friend Zaimuk slept in, the comforts she must be enjoying in that little bed of hers.

One day, Zaimuk finally expressed her desire to Thingyee. She immediately invited her to be her guest for the night.

After a heavy meal, Zaimuk alighted one of the twigs nearer to her friend’s nest for she was unable to climb or perch on trees due to her three – pronged short fingers, unlike the four – pronged fingers other birds have. With still greater difficulty she was brought home into Thingyee ’s nest, which she had dreamt to be a paradise.

Snugly setting down in the little cozy swinging nest, the host and the guest chatted away for hours. When it became pitch dark, the two bade each other goodnight and went to sleep. But Thingyee was rudely woken up.

Zaimuk was muttering “Why am I drenched in sweat, dear friend?”.  As the soft breeze rocked the hanging creepers and leaves, Zaimuk stammered helplessly, “l don’t know what’s happening to me! My head reels, I feel giddy”. “At home on ground, even an earthquake never did this to me. Oh..” Zaimuk’s whole body trembled violently.

Poor little Zaimuk couldn’t sleep a wink, while her friend Thingyee after listening to her complaints, went back to sleep without a care in the world.

The next evening, Zaimuk hosted Thingyee. After dinner the two came to Zaimuk’s nest. This was Thingyee’s chance to fulfill her dream.

They chatted for a while, but no sooner had they wished each other sweet dreams, when the sounds of “tong – tong” from somewhere close by shattered the night. “What’s that?” asked frightened Thingyee, her feathers standing on end. When told that the sounds were those of the stamping of cow’s hoofed feet, she was further scared and asked, “What if they pass this way and trample on our heads?” But Zaimuk did not answer her question, as she had fallen asleep making up for the loss of sleep the night before. Meanwhile, the “tong – tong” sounds of cows, were soon followed by sounds hissed by crawling reptiles, to add the fright of Thingyee.

“What an unsafe home my friend has”, she said, and passed the night without a wink of sleep.

With the break of dawn, out she flew to the free air, never to sleep in the home of her friend and never again harbour envy.

This fable exemplifies the moral: “The grass on the other side of the hedge always looks greener until you see yours from the opposite side”.

The End


Acknowledgement: This folktale was one of the top five tales of ‘Open Folktale Writing Competition’ organized by Tangkhul Naga Welfare Society, Bengaluru (TNWSB) in its 5th Luira Phanit, 2020

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