Leelo Tungal. “Our Grandma is a Witch!”

A prosaic retelling

I’ll tell you a secret now – I hope it doesn’t make you too jealous. The thing is – our grandma is an honest-to-goodness witch!

No, Grandma is no bag of bones and she doesn’t have a tuft of hair growing from her chin like some other witches do. Actually, she’s quite pretty – almost as pretty as I am.

Grandma doesn’t murmur spells or fly on a broom, either, but she does know all kinds of witch’s secrets.

She doesn’t hex or cast spells or carry a black raven around on her shoulder, but everything she says comes true as if it were magic.

For instance, when I climb to the top of a birch tree and am just about to reach the uppermost branches, Grandma calls out: “Don’t climb, otherwise you’ll fall!” And a second later, I tumble down to the grass with a thud.

For instance, Grandma tells me: “Don’t eat so much ice cream – just so you know, a fourth helping will make your throat hurt!” And guess what – four hours later, my throat really does hurt and I’ve lost my voice!

My sister is just as big a sweet tooth as me, and one day, we discovered a damson-plum tree full of berries out in the yard. But when Grandma found us eating them, she exclaimed: “You shouldn’t eat raw berries – that’s very dangerous!” And once again, her witch’s wisdom hit the mark – oh, how badly our stomachs ache now!

My sister and I got into a heated debate over which one of us would put a bouquet of tulips into the prettiest vase. When Grandmother saw what was happening, she shouted: “Careful, crystal is fragile! Quit your scuffling this instant!” It sure is too bad that we didn’t believe her witch’s-wisdom – now, there’s only a pile of broken glass where the crystal vase used to be…

Witches, by the way, have a habit of scolding you sometimes. Recently, Grandma got angry and said: “Thunder and lightning! You shouldn’t eat too much candy, otherwise you’ll have holes in your teeth soon!” But how could we do as we were told when they were so sweet?! We devoured as many of them as we could. Now, we’re sitting quietly with Grandma in the waiting room of the dentist’s office…

When the first day of winter came and I ran out to ice skate on the pond, Grandma shouted: “The ice is still too weak!” And then there was a shattering sound and a splash – suddenly, I was in the ice-cold water.

Luckily, Grandma bolted right over to save me.

Witchcraft is a mysterious thing! Grandma had to treat me with her witch’s remedies for an entire week before I could get out of bed healthy again.

When I got a brand-new bicycle and rushed outside to ride it, Grandma told me: “Ride slowly and carefully at first! Make sure the road isn’t bumpy and whatever you do, don’t let go!”

Well, I guess witches are able to predict the future! Luckily, my fall wasn’t that bad – my new shirt was just torn to pieces. My bumps and bruises were cured before long with the help of Grandma’s witch’s medicine, but a big bandage still covered my forehead for a long time.

So, now you see – our grandma is a bona fide witch! But sometimes, she concocts a magic batter out of ordinary flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. She pours it onto an ordinary pan, smiles, and then says a couple of secret spells. And believe me: that’s how Grandma conjures up an amazing pancake that can only be described using magic words!


Translated by Adam Cullen