This is a folktale from Tamil Nadu.
Long, long ago in a big village in Southern India, there was a man who was very miserly. He was a very smart fellow who was known NOT to feed a single person ever. His neighbours had named him Kodaakkandan (loosely translated as Mr. Never-Give). Kodaakkandan used to go to the nearby city and beg money from people saying that he needed to feed ten people everyday as a good deed. He further used to tell them that if they gave money to him and helped, they would also get the good effect of doing a good deed.
Unsuspectingly people used to give him money. Kodaakkandan, of course, never fed one single person and took all the money for himself. If any donor gave material in the form of rice or ghee or vegetables, he would keep a small portion of that for himself and his wife and sell the rest. In fact, if anyone came asking for food, he would feign a look of sympathy and tell them that the lunch was just over or give some such excuse.
Slowly people came to know what Kodaakkandan was up to and that’s when he got this name of his.
In the nearby village there lived a man called Vidaakkandan (loosely translated as Mr. Never-Leave). He got his name because was a nagging fellow, stubborn to the core and if he asked anyone for anything he would never leave them till he got what he wanted. He had seen Kodaakkandan begging in the city in the name of feeding ten people every day. Somehow he caught scent of Kodaakkandan’s residence and came one day to see him and partake in the ‘feeding’. Kodaakkandan gave the usual excuse that ‘feeding’ was over that day. But Vidaakkandan being Vidaakkandan, he appeared early next day at the door of Kodaakkandan.
Kodaakkandan did not expect this. So, he said “My wife is very ill today and so we could not cook and feed anyone…”
“No worries” said Vidaakkandan. “I know cooking very well I can help you cook. At least you can feed one person today and your longstanding practice of doing a good deed by feeding won’t be broken…” said he, grinning ear to ear.
Kodaakkandan was in a fix. He could not say no as he would be exposed otherwise.
“Let me go and ask my wife. She is too ill and if it is not a disturbance to her, you can cook in my place” said he. He went inside while Vidaakkandan waited outside.
Going inside he whispered to his wife, “Wifey! This man outside is insisting to come even after I told him you are not well. He says he will cook for us. Good for us. You will be saved of today’s drudgery. So, you pretend to be ill and lie on the mat covering yourself with the blanket.”
The wife agreed and Vidaakkandan was called inside while the wife lay on the mat in the room wearing soiled clothes, covering herself with a thick blanket and a towel tied around her forehead. She was groaning and moaning so loudly that Vidaakkandan could hear.
Vidaakkandan actually seemed to know cooking and he made food in sumptuous quantities and the aroma of the food indicated that it was top quality food.
Now Kodaakkandan’s problem was how to send Vidaakkandan out. So, he gave him a copper coin and said, “Go and buy banana leaves for the three of us from the market so that we can eat our lunch.” (In those days they ate on banana leaves)
After Vidaakkandan left, Kodaakkandan told his wife, “O Wifey! This man has done a good job but I could not find any excuse to send him away. So, I sent him to the market on the pretext of buying banana leaves. Now he will be back any moment. I have an idea. When he comes near the gate I will signal to you and you start yelling at me and I will pretend to beat you. Seeing us both fight, he will leave the place and then we can bolt the door and eat the lunch ha ha ha!”
“Excellent idea” said the wife.
When Vidaakkandan appeared near the gate, Kodaakkandan signalled to his wife and she started yelling at the top of her voice as to why he was wasting so much money by feeding people. She ranted on and on as to how poor they had become due to his ‘generosity’. Kodaakkandan on his part, yelled back and bent and hit the ground as if he was hitting her and she wailed, screaming back.
Vidaakkandan entered the house and was surprised at this fight. He walked past Kodaakkandan and went into the kitchen to keep the leaves. The back door leading to the road at the back of the house was also wide open. The yelling and ‘hitting’ in the room continued for some more time. Now, Kodaakkandan peeped into the kitchen to see if Vidaakkandan was still there but thankfully, he was not seen. He was neither in the kitchen, nor in the back yard and he had not gone out past him through the living room.
Now Kodaakkandan was very sure that Vidaakkandan had left through the back door. Smiling to himself that his trick had worked, he closed and bolted the back door. However, Vidaakkandan had climbed on to the loft in the kitchen and was sitting smugly watching the fun.
Kodaakkandan called out to his wife, “O Wifey! Get up and wear clean clothes. Come let us enjoy the food!” The wife also changed into clean clothes and laid two leaves on the kitchen floor to eat the feast.
Kodaakkandan chuckled and said, “How nicely I beat you without hitting? ha ha ha ha!”
The wife said, “And how nicely I shed tears without crying? hi hi hi hi!”
Then, to the utter shock of both of them, there was a loud thud near them and it was Vidaakkandan who had jumped down from the loft.
“And how nicely I came back without going? he he he he he he!” Vidaakkandan was roaring with laughter.
He had had the last laugh and of course, the nice food he had cooked!
In my growing up years, persons who were nagging and stubborn used to be referred to as ‘Vidaakkandan’. Similarly, miserly persons were referred to as ‘Kodaakkandan’.
Now I know why!