The First Marmot

A Wakhi folktale about marmot alarm calling


There once were two brothers who were in dispute over their land. After arguing for some time, one of them suggested that they ask the land who owned it. That night, one of the brothers took his young son and went out to the disputed land. There he dug a hole and placed his son in the hole. Before covering the hole he instructed his son to answer back that he was the owner of the land when the question was asked. The next day the two brothers went to ask the land who owned it. When the first brother asked, "do I own you?", the land was silent. When the second brother asked if he owned it, the land spoke back, "yes, you are the owner." The first brother was astounded and agreed that the other brother must be the real owner. Later that day, the new owner went to recover his son. When he got there, he called for his son. All he heard was a whistle. When he began to dig up his son, all he found was a marmot hole. The more he dug, the longer the tunnel was. He never recovered his son and all he heard were marmot whistles.

From: Blumstein, D.T. 1995. An ecotourist's guide to Khunjerab National Park. World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, Lahore.

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