Tales of Nyala Duem of Trongsa have been told and retold time and again. It has been heard and read by many, often rendering goose pimples all over the body, while it’s notoriety and wrathful nature makes one extra cautious every time we pass through Nyala Lungma. There were times when demons were active in most places. Therefore, it’s quite uncommon in Bhutan not to find deities and demons residing on every mountain tops and deep down gorges. Where demons ruled, humans were either devoured or compelled to abandon their homes – the ruins of which can be seen even today in some places.
One such ruin can be seen at Nyalazur, a place situated at few hours walk from Banjar village (Tsamang Gewog, Monggar Dzongkhag) to the north. Today, traces of totally dilapidated walls of once a beautiful home of one of the families of that locality can still be seen in the forest. People of that locality believe the Demoness of Nyalazur as the youngest sister of Nyala Duem while Demoness of Nyalamdung (Khoma Gewog) under Lhuentse Dzongkhag is the middle sister of the three demonesses.
The nature of Nyalazur Duem had not been any different from her elder sisters. Travelers were often surprised with her unexpected greetings – if people wore caps, their caps were thrown away; if people wore swords, swords were thrown away; if people rode horses, they were pushed off the saddle suddenly; and on many occasions she devoured people’s lives. Therefore, during those days people dismounted themselves from the horses, removed their caps and swords as they reach that area and travelled silently and in groups.
The area once inhabited by humans was soon deserted; leaving behind only ruins of their homes as the power of Nyalazur Duem’s wrath and anger increasingly took away lives of humans. She had by then devoured most of the people in that area and only the last family consisting of father, mother and two daughters was left to her mercy. Of the two daughters, one was deaf and dumb. She was called Lemo, meaning a dumb person. The family lived in constant fear for the demoness might attack them any time.
One morning, as father left to fetch bamboo from distant mountains he told his family, “In the evening if you hear Throng…throng noise I may be coming back, that time one of you should bring me Thowa. But if you hear Tulung…tulung noise instead, be assured that it is none other than the demoness.” Thowa, a wooden hammer is used for flattening the bamboo before it is woven into a matt.
That evening, as mother and one daughter were busy spinning threads, Lemo sat near the door playing the game of five-stones.
“Tulung…tulung, Tulung…tulung,” mother and daughter could hear the noise come from a nearby forest. They knew that their father had been eaten up by the demoness, but there had been no time for them to mourn his death for the “tulung…tulung” noise advanced closer to their house.
“Two of us can somehow manage to escape,” thought the mother, “But, we need to do something to send Lemo first.” So the mother threw her spindle out the door indicating Lemo to run away. But every time, Lemo picked up the spindle and returned to her mother.
“If we wait for Lemo to leave first, we would be getting nowhere,” thought mother.
Meanwhile, the demoness unloaded the bamboo at the back of their house with a huge thud on the ground and shouted “Bring me Thowa,” disguised as their father.
The mother, leaving aside her spindle and thread, indicated to her daughters, “We run for our lives or else we doom here,” and sneaked out the door swiftly. Daughters followed her. While mother and other daughter could run fast at equal pace, Lemo was lagging behind. There was no way to take away Lemo together with them for the jaws of the demoness could strike them any time. So they ran and ran towards Banjar village, Lemo still following them.
“Alaa…la, Atsa…tsa…oooo,” was heard from Ludarpang as mother and daughter reached Pangmanaag. The demoness caught hold of Lemo there, and the heavy screams of Lemo resounded across the area.
The mother and daughter now decided to go to Chali village at their uncle’s place. Their uncle, a black smith by profession had married a woman from Chali and settled there. That evening, the demoness satisfied with her kill returned from Ludarpang.
At Chali, their uncle knew what he should be doing. He first made a sizeable hole for a hand to pass through on the door and kept it closed firmly. He roasted sands until it turned red and poured into Urka, a bag mad out of tanned animal skin and then positioned it near the door. He then placed his pair of tongs in the furnace with its tip glowing red hot in the fire. They waited patiently for the demoness to appear.
“Knock, knock,” the demoness came in the evening, “Open the door, or I’ll break it open myself,” she threatened.
“No. Why should I open?” replied their uncle, “If you want to come in, open the door yourself,” as he readied his pair of tongs for the game.
The mother and daughter were stuck in fear at one corner of the room, when the demoness pushed in her hand through that hole to open the door. While demoness was seeking the latch of the door, their uncle firmly clamped her hand with his red hot tongs and immersed it into that hot sand and never released.
“Atsa…tsa…tsa,” screamed the demoness in great pain. Their uncle ensured one of her hands is burnt totally to minimize the risk of further attacks on humans.
“Enough now, I’ll not come in,” shouted the demoness helplessly.
Once her hand got damaged irreparably, the uncle released her and the demoness went away immediately never to return again to do any harm to them.
However, the mother and daughter could not return home for fear of bitter revenge from the demoness and hence their home gave way to depredations of natural forces leading it to complete ruins, the traces of which is visible even today.
P.S: This story is narrated to me by my mother long time back and I could barely recollect its full sequence of the flow, therefore, I called up my mother again very recently to reconfirm its sequence and this is the outcome of it. Hope you enjoyed it.