Retold from ‘When the World was Young’, by Verrier Elwin. The book is a fascinating collection of folktales from the tribal peoples of India. Elwin was a pioneering anthropologist; he spent his entire life getting to know the ways of life of the tribal peoples.

A man kept two animals — a dog and a pig. He kept them in the hope that they would help him in his work. But he was sorely disappointed. All they did was eat and eat and eat. They did nothing else.

The Dog and the Pig [Retold by: Chitra Padmanabhan]
The Dog and the Pig [Retold by: Chitra Padmanabhan]

Finally, the man decided to get strict. He told the animals to go and work on his fields. His command had some affect on the pig. The next day he worked hard all day, digging up the soil with its snout. The dog was shameless; he just chose a nice shady spot for himself and slept all the time.

Tired after a day’s work, the pig staggered home. The dog stayed back and started his work. He took a round of the field and rubbed out all the footprints of the pig. He made sure to leave his own footprints in their place. Then he went back home.

Later that evening, the man asked both animals how hard they had worked. The pig squealed and told his owner that he had ploughed the entire field. “This dog is lazy. All he did was sleep in the shade,” the pig said excitedly.

It was the cunning dog’s turn to speak and he did a fine job. “The pig is lying. I ploughed the field, not him,” he said.

The man was confused. Moreover, he did not believe either of them. “I will go and look at the field tomorrow,” he said.

The next day dawned bright and the man set off for his field. All he saw there were the dog’s footprints. He returned to his house and let loose his anger on the poor pig. “You liar, you did not do any work,” he yelled.

Since then, the clever dog has been man’s best friend, and has stayed inside the house ever since. He is addressed as ‘Ko-ko’, which means, “Yes, you did work”.

But the unfortunate pig has had to live outside the house. And, whenever he is called for food, he is addressed as ‘Mo-mo’. It means, “No, you did not do any work.” He is still waiting for the day when man realises that he did work.

417 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales
Tags: #tribal peoples, #footprints

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