Short Story Weekend – Kupti and Imani


A story from Tatterhood and other Tales edited by Ethel Johnstone Phelps, published by The Feminist Press, 1978.  This story is a tale from the Punjab region of India, was is adapted by Lenora Alleyne Lang and appeared in Andrew Lang’s Olive Fairy Book.  .

Kupti and Imani tells a tale of two very different sisters, the daughters of a great king.  One day the king asks the princesses  if they are satisfied to leave their lives  and fortunes in his hands and he receives two very different answers.

Kupti, surprised at the question, says “In who’s hands would I leave them, if not yours?”   Imani  says  “No, Indeed.  If I had the chance I would make my own fortune.”  The king, displeased with her answer tells Imani that she  is too young to know the meaning of her words.  In his anger he grants her wish.

The king gives Imani  to an old, crippled beggar as a servant and theygo to live in his tumble-down  hut  “which was bare except for an old bedstead, two old cooking pots and an earthen jug for water, and one can not get much comfort out of such things.” Imani develops a plan and, taking the old man’s last penny, she buys some oil and some flax.  With the oil she massages the beggar’s crippled leg, with the flax, on a borrowed wheel and loom, she spins and weaves a fine cloth.  Her care of the beggar heals his leg and her hard work brings them a small fortune in gold.

As the story develops Imani shows industry, wisdom and even develops healing powers.  Unlike most of the women in the folktales I grew up with she is a strong, kind, caring and wise heroine.

I love to read this book  to 1st and 2nd year elementary students.  We always have great discussions afterwards!


Filed under Once Upon A Time III, Short Story Weekend

4 responses to “Short Story Weekend – Kupti and Imani

  1. Stop making me want to read everything you read!

    (Just kidding. Don’t stop please :D )

  2. Vasilly

    I agree with Nymeth! I’ve never read this before. It’s on my list now. Thanks, Gavin!

  3. I love the idea of reading a short story a week, but they are more difficult for me to “review” than movies or novels at this point. What do your students have to say about this story?

  4. Richard – “Reviewing” stories is new to me. too. I am trying to give a hint of the flavor of the story. Students love this one and the others in Tatterhood. The younger ones like to talk about the differences between the sisters and the idea of living with and caring for a stranger, the old beggar. The older one, especially the girls, say “Well, of course Imani should choose her own future” and they all want to talk about cultural differences.

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