164. The Wife who Died
An unfaithful wife plotted with her maid.
"Tell my husband I'm dead!" she said.
The maid took the grieving husband to the burning-grounds and showed him someone else's remains.
Tearfully, he accepted the ashes and bones.
Then, he prepared his wife's funeral. The maid recommended the wife's lover as a worthy brahmin the husband could employ.
As the pretend-brahmin was conducting the ritual, the wife appeared and joined in the feast.
"How can this be?" exclaimed the husband, amazed that she could attend her own funeral.
"Your wife's great chastity," explained the maid, "allows her to enjoy the funeral feast."
Inspired by: The Ocean of Story by Somadeva, translated by C.H. Tawney: Volume 5.
Notes: This is Story 102. In the original story, the foolish husband conducts a whole series of sraddha rituals, and the wife appears again and again at each one, supernaturally. For more about sraddha rituals, see Wikipedia.