Dan Timotin

Translated by Dan from the Romanian folktale Borta vântului, which has
been collected by Mihai Eminescu (poet, novelist, journalist from the
nineteenth century –  one of the most famous and influential
personalities from that era in Romania).

There was once a poor, very poor man – and he had plenty of children. There was famine in those times, and he worked a whole week for a scoop of grains. So now he went with them to the grinder. After grinding, just when he was out with his scoop of flour, a big storm started and took away all the flour in the scoop. Then he got into a terrible fury.
“I won’t let myself be done like this” – so he makes a wist of straw and starts his way.
A guy asks him:
– Where are you going, pal?
– I’m going to fill up the wind’s asshole, since he spread out my flour.

– And where will you find it?
– Where it is, there I go.
So he arrived at a place far away, and found God and St Peter (they happened to be on Earth just then).
– Where are you going, man?
– I’m going to fill up the wind’s asshole, since he spread out my flour.
But then God told him:
– Man, don’t go. Just take this nut…but don’t say “open, nut” until you get home.
On his way back, it got dark, and he arrived to some fellow’s place and asked him to let him stay for the night.
– Where do you come from, pal? asks the fellow.
– I was going to fill up the wind’s asshole when I met a fool on my way, and he gave me a nut and told me not to say “open, nut” until I get home. What could this mean?
The fellow’s wife, wily, takes another nut in her hand and says:
– Let me see your nut.
And she exchanges the man’s nut. Then she goes into the courtyard and says: “open, nut”. And as she said it, plenty of cattle, and sheep, and horses went out of the nut – hey, a whole lot of  wealth. You know, goddish power and all!
Next day the man arrives home: “open, nut”. The nut – no way.
– Bastard wind, and damned be the old fool. I’m going to fill up the wind’s asshole and beat up the old man for his dirty trick.
On his way he meets God again. But – you know, goddish power… he had changed his face, so the man didn’t recognize him.
– Where are you going, buddy?
– I’m going to fill up the wind’s asshole, and to kill the old man who fooled me.
– Hey, buddy, take this donkey. But don’t say “donkey, shit” until you get home.
– I won’t.
So he returns the same way, and stops again at the same fellow’s. Now the fellow feeds him and gives him plenty of wine, so our man gets drunk and falls asleep on the bench. There were a group of gypsies close by with a donkey, so the fellow goes and exchanges the donkey.
Next day our man wakes up, takes the donkey and leaves. Once home, he says: “donkey, shit!”
But the donkey – just shit. So he takes a stick and gives the donkey a good beating.
– Now I will be merciless.
So he starts his way to find the old man and fill up the wind’s asshole. He meets God again.
– Buddy, take this crutch, but don’t say “crutch, encrutch” until you get home. He takes the crutch, then stops again at the same fellow. Now he is treated to a bigger feast. Meanwhile, they decide to kill him after they see what the crutch will give them, to avoid any further trouble. So the fellow tells his wife:
– Woman, let’s go with the crutch in the cellar, we’ll close the door and say “crutch, encrutch”.
So they do. But the crutch starts to beat and crush. When the man woke up after the good dinner, the man and his wife were almost dead as apples.
– Pal, we’ll give you back nut and donkey, but, pray yourself, just take us out of here. But the man left them to be beaten up to the end. Then he took the donkey, the crutch, and the nut, and went home.
There he got so rich, that news arrived at the king’s court. With the money he had, he managed to plant and grow golden wheat. And the king heard about the golden field, and sent two servants, to ask for some seeds, so the king could sow them.
– Tell the king I won’t give him anything – I want to see what he can do to me.
Hearing this, the king got terribly angry, and preparing his army, went to war against the man. You know, the king was leading them all. So he came to the man’s door and shouted, asking him to get out. But the man, although rich, still had our kind of clothes, not new Polish ones1. So he puts the crutch under his mantle and gets out. Now the king, with his thousands of people, was ashamed just to go over this single guy. He said:
– Man, you show your strength first.
– So be it, kingie-dingie. Crutch, encrutch, for each soldier, two, for the king twenty-two. The crutch, still goddish, kept knocking on head after head.
So soldiers and king were driven mad. Thus the king ran away, and the man remained in peace, to live a long and good life. Pray God that He will give such a life to my children.


1 There is an interesting bit of social history encapsulated in this phrase. During the first half of the nineteenth century Romania, formerly an outpost of the Ottoman empire, got very quickly westernized. In particular, urban higher and middle class were keen to adopt western clothes (jacket and trousers) instead of traditional mantles and cloaks. Note that the new outfit was commonly called “German clothes” (straie nemțești), but the narrator seems to have been closer to Poland…


Illustration: Madhushree Basu

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