Batoko Shertuko was a Narte, a Chechen warrior in the old days. He defended the poor and was very brave and so all Chechens loved him. One day on the way to the market he met a young country lad who was crying inconsolably. Batoko Shertuko asked him the reason for such grief.
“I'm grieving for my mother, who has just died”, answered the young peasant lad.
“You should console yourself”, advised Batoko Shertuko, “but you should also give comfort to your mother”.
The lad stopped crying.
“How can I comfort my mother, if she has just passed away?”
“Kill one of your animals”, replied Batoko Shertuko.
“And that will console my mother?”, the lad asked incredulously.
And the great Narte, Batoko Shertuko, explained,
“Kill an animal in the name of your mother, in this way death will leave the body of your mother and pass to that of the animal”.
But the young peasant did not believe this.
“Why should I believe you?”
“If you don't believe me”, Batoko Shertuko told him, “ tell your best friend to come with me and, meanwhile, you sacrifice an animal in the name of your mother. Your friend will prove to you that it is true”.
The young peasant lad agreed and Batoko Shertuko and the lad's best friend went to the other world. The young farm labourer, meanwhile, killed a cockerel and a hen, plucked their feathers, cut them up and shared out the pieces amongst the poor of the neighbourhood, together with a basket of bread.
Batoko Shertuko and the lad's best friend arrived at a mountain in the other world where the dead mother lived. The dead mother told them the following,
“Tell my son that I very much appreciate the cockerel and the hen.”
And pointing to the top of the mountain, she showed them a cockerel, a hen and a basket full of bread. Batoko Shertuko and the orphan peasant's best friend returned to this world and Batoko Shertuko said,
“We saw your mother. She told us to thank you for what you sent her.”
But the young lad was very distrustful.
“Strange? Why?”, exclaimed Batoko Shertuko.
“Because I didn't kill any animal at all for my mother”, lied the young farmhand.
It was then his best friend spoke,
“Your mother has a cockerel, a hen and a basket full of bread.”
These words proved to the peasant lad that his mother had received the offering. Since then it is traditional in Chechnya to pay tribute to the dead by making a meal in their honour, and this Chechen custom has spread all over the world. And this was one of the most celebrated victories of Batoko Shertuko, the great Narte.
Text: Koldo Izagirre
Translation: Joe Linehan
Voice: Tim Nicholson