From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of the Bull
Continued from the last issue
WHEN Ghafoor heard about it he was very upset. He rushed to the cowshed and said to the bull, "Oh, dear friend, now they are planning to sell you off. I don't know what will happen to me after you go away from here. Who will take pity on me in my sorrow and grief? To whom shall I relate the tales of miserable life and seek solace and comfort?"
The bull heard him quietly and said, "Don't lose heart, my friend. If you act exactly as I tell you there will be no problem, and you won't have to suffer." Ghafoor promised to follow the bull's instructions to the letter. The bull said, “Now listen carefully. This is the plan. After your father sells me to somebody in the market the buyers will pay him the price and will start taking me away with them. When they lead me away a few steps you would rush to them and ask for the rope tied around my neck, claiming it as your property and not included in the sale. They may look surprised and argue for a minute or two, but then they will surely take the rope of my neck. As soon as they do so I shall give a mighty low. The moment you hear me low you will jump on my back, after which I shall take care of the rest."
The words of the bull made Ghafoor feel much better. He went back to his room and waited patiently. At last came the market-day. The farmer told Ghafoor to bathe the bull with care and to feed him well. He wanted the bull to look smart and trim. Ghafoor did as he was told, and when it was time to got to the market he led the bull and went ahead, while his father followed him. When they reached the cattle market their bull drew the attention of all. He looked so healthy and strong. All the buyers thronged around him and asked the farmer his price. Ghafoor's father wanted a hundred rupees for the bull. Well, that was his price, and he would not sell it for a penny less. At last a buyer came up, counted the money, and handed over the amount to the farmer. Then he took the bull by the rope around its neck and started to Ghafoor said to his father, "Let me go and get the rope around the bull's neck. That belongs to me, father." He didn't wait to hear what his father said. He ran towards the new owner of the bull, caught up with him, and said, "Listen, Sir, we have sold the bull to you and it is now certainly yours. But, you know, he was very dear to me. Let me have the rope around his neck as a token of our long association and love. Won't you give it to me, Sir?"
The simple, unsuspecting buyer took off the rope from around the bull's neck without a word and handed it over to Ghafoor. Immediately the bull lowed and handed it over to Ghafoor. Immediately the bull lowed and sank down, when Ghafoor promptly jumped on its back. The bull at once rose into the sky with Ghafoor on his back. The amazed people all around, including the poor buyer, looked up at the bull as it flew away with Ghafoor on his back till they went out of sight.
The bull carrying Ghafoor with him flew on and on. They covered many miles, flew over many kingdoms, and then came to a deep forest. The bull landed there and settled under a big tree. He asked Ghafoor to go and get some fruits from a neighboring tree. Ghafoor climbed the tree and brought enough fruits for two which they ate with relish. Then Ghafoor cleaned a small area under the big tree, and since the night was already quite advanced, both of them went to sleep. The wild, savage and ferocious animals of the forest smelled a human being in the deep jungle. They tiptoed around Ghafoor wanting to tear him into pieces and to feed on his tender flesh, but as soon as they saw the blessed bull they quietly slunk off, leaving Ghafoor and the bull to sleep in peace, unharmed and undisturbed.
Gradually the night ended, The sun rose on the east and the day dawned. Ghafoor and the bull too awoke from their sleep.
The bull, on waking up from his sleep, said to Ghafoor, "Don't look so disheartened, Ghafoor. Go and gather those big leaves and shrubberies and creepers, and build a small hut.
Then go to the neighboring village beyond the forest and get a plough, an axe, a hoe, a spade, a pair of shear and some paddy seedlings."
Ghafoor following the suggestion of the bull quickly built a little hut with the help of creepers, leaves and branches of trees. Then he made his way with difficulty through the thick forest and went to the village at the edge of the forest where he worked as a hired laborer for a few days; and with the money thus earned he bought the implements and the paddy seedlings that the bull had asked him to get. And then he returned to the forest with all those things. He cleared a plot of land, tilled it and sowed the seedlings there. The bull and Ghafoor lived in the little hut and ate the fruits growing abundantly in the forest, and the latter looked after his paddy field with zealous care and appreciation.
Thus days rolled by. Soon six months were gone. The paddy ripened in the field. Ghafoor harvested and gleaned it with the help of the bull. He collected the grains with a gay and happy heart. He somehow managed to live the life of a busy prosperous farmer in the depth of this wild forest far from the madding crowd. He had enough food to eat and he no longer suffered the pangs of hunger that had once made his life so miserable. But yet sometimes he felt sad and restless. The bull noticed this one day. He went up to Ghafoor and said, "I know, dear brother, why you are sad and restless. All right, let's do something about it. Now listen carefully. See that hint of a winding path going to the south? Follow that path straight till you come to a huge, tall, dark tree. Pluck a piece of bark from that tree and return straight to me. Do not look back even once. You will hear all kinds of voices calling you, but do not look back, for, if you do, dire consequences will follow, and you may be burnt into ashes."
Ghafoor listened carefully to the bull's words and with the name of Allah on his lips took the path that ran southward. He went on till he reached the tree mentioned by the bull, As soon as he came to the tree, he swung his spade and cut out a piece of its bark with its sharp blade. Then he started on his return journey with the bark held tight in his hand. And, wonder of wonders, he heard the voices of his parents calling him from behind, asking him tearfully to stop for a minute and look at them. But Ghafoor, forewarned, paid no heed to such calls. Instead he ran all the faster and returned to his friend, the bull, with the bark and placed it before him.
The bull bent low, murmured something, and breathed on the bark, and in the twinkling of an eye the bark was transformed into a beautiful young girl.
Oh, she was so beautiful that if you saw her once you wanted to see her again for all eternity.
To be continued
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