Remembering “Dadur Dastana” (Grandpa’s mitten)

This morning my mother reminded me about a story we read in our childhood. The literal translation of the title was “Grandpa’s mitten”. Turns out that it is originally a Ukrainian folktale.

An old man had gone for his walk one wintry morning wearing his long overcoat, brown cap and matching mittens. On his way back, he stopped at the tea shop to grab a cup of tea. In order to count the right change, he took off his right mitten and put it in his other pocket . He continued his onward journey sipping on his tea. The mitten moved in the small pocket and soon fell out on the soft snow by the sidewalk.

A little mouse scurrying by got curious. When he entered the mitten, it was warm inside. The mouse decided to stay. After a while a bunny rabbit hopping about in the cold saw the brown mitten. “Is anybody home? May I come inside?”  The mouse saw a pair of big feet from the narrow opening and felt scared. “Oh sure, come in,” he said. So the rabbit  settled in front part. The mouse moved to the back. The north wind blew outside and they felt comfortable inside. Soon after a porcupine looking for things to eat on the ground, found the mitten and decided to explore inside.  “Is anybody home? May I come inside?” Though there was not enough room, the mouse and the rabbit did not want to argue with someone covered with spines. “Oh sure, come in,” they said. They moved further to make space and the porcupine wriggled in.

Attracted by the movements in the snow, an owl flew down from a nearby tree and alighted in front of the mitten. “Hoot hoot! Who is inside? May I join you ?” The mouse the rabbit and the porcupine were snug and warm inside. However, they were scared of the sharp talons of the owl.  “Oh sure, come in,” they relented.  The woolen mitten stretched and expanded when the owl pushed her way in.

It started to snow outside. Inside the bulging mitten, the animals were warm from the proximity and each other’s body heat.  A fox was walking by in the snow storm, shivering all over. He suddenly saw the whiff of steamy breath arising from the mitten and decided to take shelter inside.  “Is anybody home? May I come inside?”  His sharp teeth glistened in the gloomy afternoon. It scared all the animals and they agreed to his request without any protest. All the animals moved around to make space for the fox. The mitten now seemed to burst at the seams. The mouse had moved to the top of the fox’s nose. As he turned a little this way and that, his long whiskers tickled the fox’s nose. “Aaaachoooh!!!”

There came a huge sneeze from the fox. The force of it sent all the animals outside the mitten and it flew up in the air. Almost at the same time, the old man, missing his mitten, had retraced his path looking in the snow. Luckily, the empty mitten landed right in front of him. He happily picked it up and put it on. It felt a little loose in his hand.  But he did not give it another thought and was well on his way towards home….

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