Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Roeung Srei Mnaek & Satt Skaa

Story of

A Woman and A Mongoose

 Mongoose_-_thumbnail

I n a small village, there lived a young family – husband, wife, a three month old baby boy and a pet mongoose. They lived happily together in a small thatched house. 

After giving her husband a packed lunch and sending him off to work in the fields, the wife lovingly fed her baby and played with the mongoose. Before long the baby fell asleep.

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In rural areas, people did not have a cot for their babies to sleep in. Traditionally, they either just laid them down to sleep in their own bed or in a cloth hammock. The hammock is made from a long rectangular piece of cloth and two lengths of string. People would gather one end of the cloth, tie the string to it and attach the string to one pillar of the house; then they do the same to the other end; and attach it to the diagonally opposite pillar. 

Intending to keep her sleeping baby as safe as possible, the woman laid him down in a hammock. As usual, the mongoose was lying around near the hammock. The wife then went about her everyday chores. At one point, she needed to go to a neighbour’s house to borrow a ‘chang-eh’or a big flat bamboo basket to winnow her rice.

She knew that the mongoose would not normally wander off and would be there to keep her baby company, so she just popped out for a few minutes. It just so happened that she fell into conversation with her neighbour and stayed out longer than she planned. 

Meanwhile, out of nowhere a venomous snake slithered into the house. As it was wrapping itself around the hammock rope and crawling towards the baby, the mongoose spotted it and attacked it. Unfortunately, the snake had already inflicted a fatal bite on the baby before the mongoose managed to kill it.  

With his body covered with the snake’s blood, the mongoose ran out to alert the wife. As soon as she saw the bloodied mongoose, the woman thought it had attacked her baby. At this thought, she was extremely angry with the pet, and without allowing herself a chance to check what had happened, she grabbed a big stick and beat the mongoose to death. 

Once in the house, she discovered her dead baby boy still lying inside the hammock without a drop of blood on him. On the floor underneath the hammock, she saw a dead bloodied snake. She then realised that the mongoose had attacked the snake in an attempt to save her baby. Due to her impulsive reaction, she had now lost not only her beloved baby but also her devoted pet.   

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Note: This story forms part of the story of ‘Mea Yeung’ or ‘Our Uncle & a Woman with Holes in her Basket’ - which can be found on the ‘Folk Tales’ page.