This one comes to us from India, and features one of my favorite Gods-Ganesh, of infinite compassion, clearer of obstacles, who holds the rat sacred. That alone gives it some mega-points. I'm particularly fond of Ganesh because of an awesome comic by the incredibly talented Ursula Vernon (The comic is called Digger, go read it! DO IT! And buy her prints and books!) and because gods who like rats are cool.
How the Old Woman got her Wish
Once there lived a blind old woman with her son and her son's wife. They were very poor.
As are most faerie tale/folklore heroes, probably for relatability considering the times.
The old woman used to pray to Ganesh every day. Every day Ganesh would appear before her and say, 'Old woman, I am moved by your devotion. I will grant you one desire. So ask me for something, tell me what you want.'
The old woman would reply, 'I don't know what to ask for. There is nothing that I want.'
Anyone else notice that the younger heroes of faerie tales and folk stories immediately wish for wealth or power or something like that, but the older ones, particularly the old ladies, are much more humble and usually don't ask for much, if anything at all?
Ganesh would say, 'Then ask your son and your daughter-in-law for advice - they may be able to tell you what to ask for.' But the old woman wouldn't.
Dude, do what the god says. He's a god. He knows things.
This went on for a long time. One day the old woman gave in and agreed to do as Ganesh suggested and ask her son and her daughter-in-law for advice.
When she asked her son, the son replied, 'Ma, ask for wealth.'
When she asked her daughter-in-law, the daughter-in-law replied, 'Mother-in-law, ask for a grandson.'
They're poor and the daughter in law wants to throw in a child so they can have yet another mouth to feed? Granted, women of that time (and to this day, in many cases) weren't considered of any worth unless they were producing children, so I guess I can understand. Considering how poor they are, the son's request isn't too far fetched either-he may sound greedy to most, but we don't know just how poor they are. For all we know they live in a box in the gutter at the end of the drainage ditch on the camel farm.
The old woman considered their advice and said to herself, 'They have told me what they want, not what I want. So let me ask my neighbor. Let me see what she will say.'
Seeking an outside source for advice-she's already proving to be much smarter than those whipper-snapper heroes!
So the old woman went to her neighbor and said, 'Ganesh has told me to ask him for something. What do you think I should ask him for?'
The neighbor replied, 'Why should you ask for wealth or for a grandson? You still have a few more years to live. So ask for sight, so that you can see.'
Not a bad suggestion. If she could see she may very well be more capable of helping to provide for her family, to help with that whole 'poor' problem.
The old woman returned home and thought to herself, 'To keep my son and daughter-in-law happy, I should ask Ganesh for what they want. To make myself happy, I should ask him for what I want. So what should I ask for - wealth, a grandson, or my sight?'
I foresee a clever solution.
The next day, Ganesh appeared again, and as usual, said, 'Ask me for something, old woman, tell me what you want.'
The old woman had made up her mind. She knew exactly what she wanted. She replied, 'I want to see my grandson drinking milk from a golden bowl. Give me that.'
And there it is! Old women in these stories are clever. Well, either clever or witches who want to eat children. So...yeah. Kudos to this lady!
Ganesh laughed and replied, 'Old woman, you have tricked me! You have asked me for everything! But a promise is a promise and you shall have what you want.'
Kudos to Ganesh as well for being so good-humored about it all. Not a lot of gods or spirits or fae types appreciate being tricked, even harmlessly so.
Ganesh gave her what she wanted - and the desires of all three, the old woman, her son, and her daughter-in-law, were fulfilled.
And that's why you don't mess with little old ladies, because they're very smart, can trick you out of the clothes on your back and probably have a god or other supernatural being of some kind in their corner!