Every day after school, Kala and her friends gather under the neem tree and wait for Nainamma to tell them stories. Today Nainamma tells them the well-known folktale about Ookamma and Ookaiah 👴🧓.
Every day Ookamma and Ookaiah work hard from dawn to dusk. Every evening Ookamma makes five rottis; three for Ookaiah and two for herself. One day Ookamma feels very hungry and wants to eat three rottis. Ookaiah disagrees, “Am I not the man of the house? I sweat and bleed to earn our daily bread!”
Ookamma gets angry, “I work as much as you do. Every day I make the rottis, so I should be eating all the rottis.”
The couple decides on a bet: whoever talks first will lose and will get only two rotis. Ookamma and Ookaiah are determined to not utter a word and they spend the rest of the day in this way . . . until the villagers come looking for them and assume they are dead!
Read this story by P Anuradha set in Telangana weaving the past of folktales with the present of rural life, to find out who won the bet and how. The flowing lines of Ilango’s illustrations perfectly capture the liveliness of the story and its ambience.
This story is a part of “Different Tales,” a project of the Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad, in which Anuradha participated.