From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of the Pine-apple Girl
(Continued From the Last Issue)
At midnight the Pine-apple girl came out of that Bel fruit, swept the courtyard of the flower-girl clean and shining, and finished all her household works. then she went out to the garden, gathered all kind of flowers and wove many garlands, after which she neatly arranged them on a try, took her bath, and went back into the fruit. When the flower-girl awoke in the morning she found to her great surprise that some one had come to her home at night and had taken care of all her household works for her. However, she got ready quickly, took her breakfast and went to the King's palace with the garlands woven by the Pine-apple girl. Everybody in the King's palace was amazed to see the strange beauty of those garlands, People whispered: everyday the flower-girl brought garlands woven by cotton thread, but there was not an inch of thread of any kind in these garlands. Howe could this be?
At last the king asked the flower-girl to reveal the secret of this mystery.
On being asked by the King the girl said, "Well, Sire, I have not prepared the garlands today. I have a blind niece. She has done the job for me. When the King heard this he was very pleased with her fine workmanship and skill, and gave her four times the usual quota of rice he used to give her on other days.
So the Pine-apple girl went on looking after the flower-girl's work every night, and the latter took the garlands to the King's palace everyday and continued to receive generous rewards. Soon the flower-girl grew wealthy and built a lovely brick hose in place of her old thatched hut.
The story of the threadless garlands spread far and wide and in the course of time reached the ears of our hero. The talk of flowers reminded him of the lotus he had put in a pot long ago. He rushed to his room, took off the lid of the pot, and looked for his flower, but it was nowhere to be seen. Then he asked his wife about it who said that she had torn it into pieces many days ago. This saddened him but he did not say a word. Somehow it struck him that the Pine-apple girl was perhaps living these days in the home of the flower-girl. He thought: I brought the lotus from the lake, and from that lotus rose the Bel tree, and the flower-girl got hold of the particular Bel which harbored the Pine-apple girl, and now the Pine-Apple girl was doing all this miracle about the garlands for her. He pondered all day and decided to find out the truth from the flower-girl. The next day when the flower-girl was going to the King's palace along the road by the side of his home he called her to him and said, "Look, my dear flower-girl, I have been planning to pay you a visit at your place for a long time, but somehow I haven't been able to do so till now." The flower-girl replied with humility, "Shall I be so fortunate as to have a respectable gentle-man like you pay a social call at the place of a humble girl like me?" The young man said, "Oh, cut out all these genteel formalities. I'll see you at your place this evening." The flower-girl said, "I doubt, sir, if you will remember your words and act up to them." So saying she went away to the King's palace. Our young man was extremely restless all day. When evening came he went to the flower-girl's home. At first he refrained from broaching the subject nearest to his heart. Instead he started talking about various matters. They talked for a long time till the night was quite far advanced. It was a dark night. One could hardly see one's own body in the pitch-black inky darkness. So the young man said, "Flowergirl, I don't think I'll go home in this dark night. Let me be your guest for the night."
The flower-girl had no objection to this. She made bed for the young man in the loft where rested in a corner the precious Bel fruit, and then she went to the next room and made her bed there. The young man covered his body from head to foot by a thin piece of cloth and with wide open eyes watched everything through that nearly transparent cloth. When it was midnight he saw the Pine-apple girl quietly lip out of the hard crust of the fruit, go to the garden outside, gather flowers and weave her famous garlands without using thread of any kind. Then she finished some other household works, swept the courtyard, bathed, and dried her hair. Then she saw that the night was nearly over and the dawn was close at hand. She hurriedly went inside the Bel fruit and hid herself there.
When the day dawned the young man went to the flowergirl taking the Bel fruit in his hand and said, "I must to now, flower-girl. But before I go I have a request to you. please give me this fruit that I found in your loft."
The flower-girl was not willing at first to part with the fruit, but when she saw that he was insistent she allowed him to take it away and said, "Well, I got this from the Bel tree that grew in your yard. If you are so keen about it, then go ahead and take it. It is no precious jewel that we should spend so much time and so many words over it. I can get any number of such fruits if I just take the trouble to go out and gather them." The young man said not a word more, but quickly left for his home with the fruit in his hand. On reaching his home he placed it on a shelf and then went out to work in the field.
However, when his wife saw the fruit she became terribly angry. She recalled that it was a fruit like this that had caused her child's death. She thought: "Who knows whose death again will this fruit cause!" So she quickly lay her hands on it, took it with her to the threshing-room, threshed and ground it into powder, fried the powdered fruit in a frying pan till its was turned into fine ash and then scattered the ash in the air outside. The wind caught the ash and carried some of it to a potters' home.
This potter was a very poor fellow. He had neither a wife nor any daughter. But he had a male child, a son. The potter lived for his son and eked out a humble living by hard labor. In a corner of his yard he had two pine-apple groves. For four years he saw those pine-apple trees but never saw any fruit growing there. On that day, however, as he came out of his room he was astonished to see a bright red shining pine-apply peeping out of the leafy branches of a tree. He told his son not to tough that fruit. He said, "If we get terrible hungry some day and have nothing to eat at home, than only shall we pluck this fruit from the tree and eat it." And then he went out to the bazar to buy some rice. Hours went by and yet the potter did not return home. The potter's son grew hungry and at last unable to go without food any longer he went out and plucked the pine-apple from its branch. It looked so tempting and it smelled so delicious that his tongue watered. He had thought at first that he would wait a little while more for his father to come back, but that pious wish was never fulfilled. Impatient and greedy, he got hold of a knife and cut the pine-apple, and in the twinkling of an eye the Pine-apple girl stepped out and stood in front of him. The potter's son swooned and fell down. When he recovered that Pine-apply girl said, "Whey did you faint at my sight? I amy your elder sister, boy." The boy said, "I had nothing to eat all day, dear sister. That's why I fainted." the Pineapple girl said, "Get me some rice and I'll cook for you." He said, "Where shall I get any rice, sister? There is absolutely nothing at home that can be cooked and served as food." the Pine-apple girl said, "Please go and look again and bring me only two grains of rice. I'll that you get a decent meal." The boy turned the pot over and brought two grains of rice that he found there to the girl. The latter put the grains in the cooking pot, poured some water in it and placed the pot on the oven. When the rice was cooked they found that there was rice more than enough for three people. The boy immediately ate his fill. He had never tasted such delicious rice in his life before. Satiated and drowsy with full belly he went to sleep.
The potter came back in the evening after purchasing some rice from the bazar. His son woke from his sleep and told his father that his sister had arrived and had cooked some rice for him. He added, "There is plenty left for you too in the pot, father." The potter did not believe a word of what his son said. But his doubts were pleasantly dispelled when he saw the Pine-apple girl enter the room with a plate full of rice. He, too, like his son, hungrily ate the delicious rice with great satisfaction. He was tired and weary. After a hearty meal he felt sleepy and went to bed without delay.
As the potter and his boy slept, the Pineapple girl summoned at night by her magic charm hundreds of masons and quickly raised a huge building like a King's palace. The potter knew nothing about all this. When he woke up in the morning wherever he looked he saw only building after building. He was speechless with wonder. However, he gave up making pots with clay from that day and started to live like a lord in his palatial quarters.
The fame of the Pineapple girl's beauty spread far and wide in no time. All who saw her wondered about her. Sons and nephews of neighbouring kings wanted to marry her. They sent marriage brokers to the erstwhile potter but he said to all of them, "I can't say anything without consulting my daughter." So saying he went inside, talked to the Pine-apple girl and told them on his return to the outer house that she was not yet willing to wed anybody. Stories about this mysterious beautiful maiden reached our hero's ears at last. And sure enough he came one day to her home and as luck would have it he chanced to see her doing her hair after her bath. Their eyes met and he at once recognized her as the long lost Pine-apple girl. Old memories stirred in his heart and he grew anxious to win her again as his wife. He returned home and sent back a broker proposing for the hand of the Pine-apple girl in marriage.
This time the maiden gave her consent and the two were married. After the wedding the young man took his wife, the Pine-apple girl, to his home. At the sight of the new wife the fisherwoman became very angry and upset. She resented the Pine-apple girl's presence, but when the young man learnt from the Pine-apple girl that the fisherwoman was at the root of all her troubles and sufferings he became furious. He immediately raised a big knife and brought it down heavily on the neck of the fisherwoman killing her instantaneously. Then he threw her body into the river and began to live in peace and happiness with the Pine-apple girl. The virtuous and clever Pine-apple girl looked after their house hold faultlessly and the two suffered from no wants whatsoever.
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