From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of the Bull
(Retold by Kabir Chowdhury. These stories were previously published as a collection of folk tales by Bangla Academy.)
Continued from the last issue
THE girl ran towards the field and reached it when Ghafoor was busy eating his daily ration of sweets given by the young bull. As he ate he talked with the bull. The girl softly came up to them, watched her step-brother take the dainty sweets, and said, “What is that you are eating, brother?” Ghafoor was surprised to see his step-sister there. He quickly turned to her and wanted to know what brought her there. She avoided answering him and instead asked, “What are you eating? Why don't you give me some if it?” Ghafoor tried to dissuade her from eating the sweet, but at last he had to give in to her importuning. So he gave her a little bit of the sweets he was eating. As soon as she tasted it the girl cried out, “Oh, brother, how delicious this sweet is! Well, you eat this everyday and yet you have never told me about it, nor have you ever given me even a tiny little share of this divine dish!” Ghafoor said. “All right, from now on I'll give you a little of this sweet everyday, but remember, don't tell anybody about it. If you do, I won't give you anything.”
Soon it was dusk, Ghafoor went back home with the cattle. His step-sister had also gone back to her mother in the mean time. In spite of Ghafoor's warnings she told her mother all that she had seen at the grazing ground. She told her of the sweets that she had herself eaten. Then her mother said, “All right, baby. You must go there again tomorrow and find out how Ghafoor gets the sweets. And bring back a little when you return home.”
Gradually the night ended And the dawn shone People got up and washed their faces. And ate their breakfast. Then they took their ploughs And went to the field Leading their bullocks in front of them.
Ghafoor led the cattle in his charge to the grazing field as on other days. As they proceeded, the young bull turned to Ghafoor and said, “Look, brother, you must be careful and see that your step-mother never finds out about the sweets I give you. I am sure once she knows about it she will drive you away and me, too.”
Ghafoor said, “I swear I'll never tell her anything. You have saved my life, dear friend. But for you I would have starved to death.”
The day advanced. In the afternoon Ghafoor got a big clean banana leaf and the bull lowered its horns on the leaf and poured forth sweets. Just at that moment Ghafoor's step-sister came up to them. There was nothing that Ghafoor could do. He gave her some of the sweets. She ate a part of it and hiding a part under her clothes took it home and showed it to her mother. When her mother heard everything and saw the sweets for herself she exclaimed, “So that is how that boy is growing so healthy and strong! Look, baby, from tomorrow you will take the cattle to the grazing ground. Then you will have those delicious sweets. Ghafoor will stay at home and we shall see how he can manage to grow so fat and rosy-cheeked.”
Ghafoor knew nothing about these plans. He came back home at dusk with the cattle, washed himself, took his humble meal of broken the scornfully served by his step-mother, and went to bed. That night the farmer's wife said to her husband, “Ghafoor has been working very hard in the field all these days. It is a tough job to look after the cattle in winter and summer, during sunshine and the rains, and to see that they are well fed, and that they do not come to any harm. It does not look nice either to let the poor boy work so hard without giving him some rest, particularly since he is my step-son. You know, people will blame me and say that I treat him badly because I am not his own mother, Why don't we send our daughter to the field from tomorrow and let Gahfoor stay at home and rest for some time?" The farmer was very pleased to hear his wife's words. He said, "Indeed it would be a very good thing to do. Let out daughter go to the field with the cattle from tomorrow. This will give Ghafoor, poor boy, a chance to rest for a few days." The poor father had no idea of the plotting of his crafty wife.
Next morning Ghafoor's father told him that from that day his sister would take the cattle to the field and look after them. He turned to his son and said, "Take rest for a few days. I think you have earned it." When Ghafoor heard this he didn't know what to do. How could he say 'no' to his father? Quietly his slipped to the cow-shed, and fondly caressing the bull said with tears in his eyes, "Brother bull, a great misfortune has befallen me. From today I shall be deprived of looking after you. My step-sister will now take you to the grazing ground. Those are my father's orders, dear bull."
The bull couldn't check his tears when he saw Ghafoor weeping. He said, "Why did you let your sister share the sweets with you? Well, what is done is done. Now don't worry. Since you have called me your brother, I shall truly act like one and see what I can do for you. Now go to your room and don't fret." Ghafoor felt somewhat consoled and left the cowshed.
Ghafoor's step-sister took the cattle to the grazing field. He mother had given her detailed instructions as to what she was to do. When it was afternoon the young girl collected a banana and placed it before our young bull. But instead of pouring out sweets through his horns the bull trampled on the leaf with fury and tore it into shreds. The girl got no sweet sand went without food the whole day. She grew hungry and ill-tempered. In the evening she started back for her home leading the cattle before her. When she saw the young bull before her on their way back to the farm, suddenly she grew angry and she hit him hard with the stick she held in her hand. In the twinkling of an eye the infuriated bull rushed at her, pierced her body with his horns, and came back home carrying her dead body on his shoulders.
The farmer and his wife were overcome with grief when they saw what had happened. Though the farmer's wife had guessed the true reason behind the tragedy, she had refrained from breathing a word to her husband. But she was furious with the bull and decided to get rid of him. She said to her husband, "Look, this is a murderous bull. It is a killer. It has killed our daughter, and who knows whom it will kill next? Let us get rid of it. Let us sell it off at once."
The farmer considered the suggestion and appropriate and wise one. He said, "You are right. Day after tomorrow we shall have our weekly market-day. I'll arrange to sell it off then."
To Be Continued
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