The Careless Woman


Madam Tarlen and her friends had gone fishing one bright morning during the dry season, leaving behind her only five-year old daughter with her peers to play together quite oblivious of the fact that the little was rather too young to be left alone in the care of her peers, who too, were not able to take better care of themselves.

  Besides, her carefree way of life, Madam Tarlen had not been able to bring up the little girl the right way benefiting the norms of her culture. Madam Tarlen was usually found in the bad habit of giving little Malon surplus food. Whenever the husband told her that she was spoiling the girl, and that it was not the right way to train a child, she would get annoyed, which would eventually erupt into commotion.

  As a result of the domestic quarrel, the wife would usually remark, “Leave me alone this is my daughter. After all, this is how my mother taught me.”  But Mr. Saingbay being an easy and intelligent man, would say, “Okay ma, go ahead and train your daughter the way you want,” in an effort to avoid the confusion blowing out of proportion since the wife was quite temperamental.

  Mr. Saingbay did not apparently have absolute control over his aggressive wife. So, because he did not want for everybody to know about what was going on in the home, he always tried at most to be more moderate with his wife. He usually told her to go ahead and spoil the little girl; and that, she would have herself to blame one day.

  As a result, whenever Madam Tarlen was away from home and little Malon was hungry, she would go from house to house t see whether anyone was cooking, and when someone was indeed cooking, the little girl would remain around until the food was ready and would eat some of the food before she would leave.

  Little Malon’s friend would complain her bad behavior to her mother  who would  yell at anyone who would report the bad habit of Malon to her saying, “Get out of my sight; do you think that my daughter does not have food to eat, but to hand around for food?” Madam Tarlen did not have the occasion to stop the little from going around for food. The little girl therefore made it her habit to continue in her habit each time her mother was away until one fateful day, as almost everyone had left the town to attend to their regular routine elsewhere, (her careless mother and her friends had gone to fish), leaving little Malon and her friends to play, with only an old woman, who lived at the far end of the town. She was very old and hardly walked a distance. She was always found in her hut and there was never a day of which the old woman did not make a fire. Smoke was always lazily sneaking away from the roof of her hut. And because she kept fire aglow in her old hut, the townspeople depended on her for fire.

  The old woman was busy cooking her soft country rice in a big country pot which sat on the blazing fire hearth that morning. The sweet-smelling odor from the country rice which was almost burning would leave any greedy child to wish for some. And no other child would stand around for it, save little Malon! When little Malon smelled the food, she suddenly disappeared from amongst her friends and stealthily when to the old woman’s hut to stand around for it. It was when the old woman noticed that little Malon was standing around for the food that she told the innocent little girl to show her hands for some of the steaming hot soft country rice, and little Malon, as greedy as she came to be, soon extended her hands for the hot food. The old woman deliberately dished out the hot food and poured it into the child’s hands.

  As she did so, the little girl began to scream from the severe pain of the burning hot soft rice inflicted on her and she immediately fainted. Thus, at the instance of Madam Tarlen’s careless behavior, little Malon had to die a painful sorrowful death. The wicked old woman, after suspecting that the little girl was dead, hurriedly took the corpse under a big cola tree behind the girl’s parents’ house, unsuspected and returned to her hut. At sundown that fateful day when Madam Tarlen and her friends returned from fishing that day, her little girl was nowhere to be found. She panicked and ran helter skelter in search of her daughter only to find her mortal remains under the cola tree behind their house. She could not behold the sight, and therefore dashed herself unto the ground crying uncontrollably. Soon, what her husband used to advise her about came to haunt her.  The townspeople lamented the loss of little Malon and entreated their chief to do something about her mysterious death. The chief being an understanding man though, summoned the best soothsayer to unearth the secret behind the untimely death of the little girl.

  The soothsayer therefore came and conducted his ordeal only to find that it was the wicked lonely old woman who lived at the far end of the town who was responsible for the death of the little girl. The chief therefore allowed the laws of their land to take its course. For fear of the recurrence of what happened to little Malon, all parents became mindful of the well being of their children from that day as Madam Tarlen learned a hard lesson from being a careless woman!

The End


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