Folk Tale From Mongolia - Sliced Sickle Soup

Sliced Sickle Soup

 Chun's sickle broke when he had just begun to work for the day. The sickle, of course, had grown extremely old. It had to break sooner or later. The problem was, Chun was required to work on the landlord's field with his own sickle. He could not work with the broken sickle. That meant he won't be paid for the day! Chun headed towards the market. He must buy a new sickle to be able to work at least tomorrow. He had just enough money to buy a sickle, but not to spend on any food in the market. "Only if somebody bought my broken sickle!" he thought wistfully and laughed at his own silly thought. Who will buy an old broken sickle that was as useless as a dead spider? Suddenly the rain came down. Chun got onto the veranda of the widow Hui, the landlord's aunt, as miser as her infamous nephew.

"Can I do anything for you, Aunt Hui?" he asked the lady with a courteous smile. "I don't relish useless speech. You found my house handy for protecting yourself from the rain, and you speak as if you are dying to serve me! What can you do?" asked the lady with a sneer. Indeed, what could Chun do? A strange idea came to him all of a sudden, looking at a potful of water on the widow's oven. He was hungry and that too must have contributed to the idea. "Aunty, I can do nothing which you cannot do, save one thing, that is making the sliced sickle soup!" "Making what?" asked an astonished Hui. "The famous sliced sickle soup. I am not surprised that you have not heard about it. Nobody in this part of the country has. I was in Pekin for ten years and this is the art I learned there. Do you know what's sliced sickle?" "Sickle I know, but..." "Not sliced sickle. No wonder. Sliced sickles are not available in this part of the country. Here is the only set you can see, my own." Chun slowly uncovered his broken sickle. The lady observed it with great curiosity.

"Who in this part of the country can think that hundreds of cups of excellent soup could be whipped out of this?" With a toothless smile, the lady said, "My child, won't you once show me how it is done?" "I should be happy to make some for you if you keep the knowledge of the delicacy to yourself," said Chun with a twinkle in his eyes. The lady agreed to the condition. Whistling and humming, Chun threw his broken sickle into the pot of water boiling on the lady's oven. He stirred the water in style with a ladle and after a minute tasted a drop of it. "Gluctch!" That is the sound of satisfaction he made, inspiring great curiosity in the lady. "Give me a little salt!" The lady pushed the container and Chun sprinkled salt into the pot. "This is now a complete soup, but since you have those potato and cabbage cut to pieces ready, adding them will improve the quality of the soup." "Then add them, son!" Chun put the vegetables into the pot and then said, "Once we add these vegetables, we ought to add a little lemon and ginger and pepper." 

"I have them, son." The lady helped Chun by handing over the items. The soup was ready. Chun brought the pot out of the oven and carefully took out his sliced sickle. The lady set down two bowls. He poured the soup into them and tasted it. "I should not boast of my preparation. But taste it and speak for yourself." The lady tasted the soup. "It is quite good, my son. In any case, it is a new thing. Whoever had heard of sliced sickle soup, only if I could get a set of the sliced sickle, I could occasionally prepare this for my guests, the respectable ones in particular." She looked at the Chun's broken sickle again and again. "Well, I should not mind selling my set to you, for you are one who can really appreciate a rare delicacy like this. I can get a set for myself When I visit Pekin next." The lady thanked Chun. The price Chun demanded was only slightly more than that of a new sickle. Chun kissed his broken sickle before finally handing it over to the lady. The rain had stopped. He resumed his journey to the market.

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