A Tale of Ansu:
The Old Woman Swine
The children played on the edge of the village field as they had been told not to. Soka had berated his young companions for their breaking of the rules but followed them none the less beyond the adults and older children as they toiled in the harvest of the grain to the edge of their world to the wall of trees that was the forest.
Ang knew stories because like most rule breakers he listened to the older villagers when they talked about things – things he shouldn’t hear. Tophol – the youngest of the group, struggling to stay on her feet as she walked behind them seemed pleased to have friends she would follow anywhere. And then there was Katare, leader of this band of rules breakers and younger sister of Soka.
The Four, triumphant in their rejection of the constraint of rules which even the adults of the village seemed to respect, found a tree in clear view of many adults toiling in harvest as elder children carried great sheaves of grain back toward the huts.
Katare waited until even Soka seemed at ease with his position. “Ang, tell the story you heard.” Ang nodded.
“A long time ago when my father was young, he and another boy would play at the forest edge but one day they could hear someone in the wood behind them –whistling ‘Su, Su, Su!’” Ang paused to look at the others. They all knew the word – Someone was calling for their pigs.
“Su, Su, Su.” Seemed to echo through the woods and Soka looked before returning to listen to Ang.
“The two friends turned to look into the woods but could not see who was calling for pigs and again they sat and played by the forest and again someone –whistling ‘Su, Su, Su.’”
Soka turned to look toward the woods again. He had an idea where this story was going still that distant echo seemed closer. “Su, Su, Su.” He turned back to face Ang.
“And again the two friends looked to where the sound had come from and there was nothing.” Katare smiled with a gleam of wicked dishonesty in her eyes. Ang looked around the group. Tophol seemed exclusively enthralled by the tale – not certain where it was going to go. Soka seemed almost suspicious of something.
“Settling down once again the two friends returned to their game and again came the whistling call – ‘Su, Su, Su.’”
“Su, Su,”- it seemed to cut short this time, and Soka, focused on the woods, felt unsettled by it.
Katare looked into the woods to discern what had gone wrong with her plan and was confronted by the sight of a piglet grunting with excitement as it emerged from the brush that choked the floor of the woods. Tophol pointed and cried “Su Su!” with glee attempting to catch it before it escaped into the woods again.
Suko had proven unreliable in Katare’s plan to scare the others. Where was he?
Somewhere in the woods a pig screamed in pain as though it had been speared through and was quickly silenced.
Katare moved reluctantly, but Soka sensing some problem entered the woods.
Beyond the wall of brush a huge old sow and her boars and piglets were feeding on something. A broken twig by Soka alerted the sow to look up from the meal it was making of Suko.
“Naughty children calling away my babies.” And now it squealed at Soka and the Boars squealed with hunger.
Soka turned and hurried from the Ansu. The old sow had spoken to him. He burst from the brush knocking Tophol to the ground. Tophol began to cry at the hurt.
“Ansu ate Suko.” He picked up Tophol and ran toward the Villagers, Katare and Ang behind him.
“Ansu ate Suko!” Soka indicated back toward the woods form which he had emerged.
“Ansu!” The cry drew the attention of others and they armed themselves with spears and poles of wood and rushed toward the forest leaving the children in the safety of the open field.
Only after had the last adult had vanished from view did an old woman surrounded by boars and piglets emerge from the woods and cross open field in a distant corner. Soka tightened his grip on the others.
“Su, Su, Su.” came the distant cry vanishing into the woods.
Soka didn’t move for a long time, his young companions sheltering in his shadow – but the Villagers did not return.