From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of the Bull
Retold by Kabir Chowdhury
THE bull next went to another hill range further off, and there facing the great Kabali Cow said, "Mother dear, you gave birth to me, and during these years I have grown up to be what I am now. But today I am in serious trouble. Promise me that you will find a way to save me, or I shall take my life in your presence here and now." The Kabali said, "Well, let me hear about your trouble first." When the bull told her about his problem she said, "I can certainly arrange to have the tank filled with milk once it is excavated, but I can't do the latter, you know." The bull told her that the Demon King had promised to have the tank ready by tomorrow night, and he was now worried only about the milk. The Kabali Cow assured him that in that case he could go home and rest in peace. So far as filling the tank with milk was concerned she would take care of that. The bull now felt quite relieved. He came back to his den and in the morning sent Ghafoor to the King's palace. He said to Ghafoor before the latter left for the palace, "Tell the King to clearly mark the place where the tank should be excavated giving detailed measurements. Tell him that you will fulfill his wishes before this night is over." Ghafoor hurried to the palace, saw the King, and told him to have the projected tank area clearly marked. The King asked his men to take necessary action in the matter and it was done.
The day passed and night fell. When the first quarter of the night was over the Demon King sent his ten million demons to excavate the tank and they performed their job effortlessly and with ease before it could strike midnight. In the latter half of the night came the great Kabali Cow and poured her endless stream of milk into the tank till it was full to the brim.
Then the day dawned. Ghafoor went to the King's palace and said, "Come and see, Your Majesty. There's your tank filled to the brim with milk." The King was amazed to see that Ghafoor had done it again. He hid his disappointment and anger, patted Ghafoor on the back, and sent him home. Then he called the barber and scolded him severely. But the barber said unashamedly that he had still four sacks of wily plans left. He boasted, "I promise, Your Majesty, you will get that pretty woman in the end." Then he thought for a few minutes and said, "Send for that fellow again, Your Majesty, and ask him to get for you from wherever he can a young Afranga bird. Tell him that if he fails he will be put to death. This time, I am sure, he will never find such a bird even if he traverses the earth from end to end in search of it. Well, what do you say to it, Your Majesty?" the King said, "But if that fellow somehow does manage to get hold of an Afranga bird?" Then the barber said, "That's impossible, Your Majesty. Has any man ever seen such a bird?" The King allowed himself to be persuaded by the barber that here was a plan that could not fail.
As soon as five or six days had somehow passed the King again sent his court messenger to Ghafoor, and the latter, summoned the King, appeared before him and made his obeisance. The King acknowledged Ghafoor's greetings and said, "Well, Ghafoor, you have amply proved your ability to work wonders. Now fulfill one of my heart's fondest desires, won't you?" Ghafoor said, "What is it, Your Majesty?" The King said, "It is quite simple, Ghafoor. I want to have a glimpse of a baby Afranga bird. Please get hold of one and bring it to me." When Ghafoor heard the King's words he protested, "Pardon me, Your Majesty. This I can't do. Why, I have never heard of such a bird in my whole life. Where shall I find a baby Afranga bird?" the King, however, was not prepared to listen to any excuses. He said that Ghafoor had to do what he was told, or he would pay with his life for his failure. At last Ghafoor begged of the King to give him a day's time before he made any final commitment to him. The King agreed to it.
Pale with anxiety, tired and worn out, Ghafoor returned home and told his friend the bull about this new problem. The bull said, "So what?" Cheer up, my friend, and do as I tell you. Go to the King tomorrow and tell him that you will need six months to get hold of a baby Afranga bird. Tell him to provide you with rice and pulses for the six months that you will be away looking for the bird." Ghafoor did what he was told. When the King heard Ghafoor's words he said with a beaming face, "Take a year's rations if you like, and get the bird for me." Ghafoor said, "There is another thing, Your Majesty. Who will look after my home and my family when I'll be away?" The King, the Prime Minister, the Police Chief all looked up with joy when they heard these words of Ghafoor. This was exactly what they wanted. Trying heard not to look overjoyed the King said, "Don't you worry about that. We shall look after your home and your family during your absence." The Prime Minister, the Revenue Chief, the Police Chief, everybody echoed the words of the King. Standing back of them all, the barber also joined in and repeated the King's words.
So Ghafoor was given enough food grains for six months. He went back home with all those things and reported to the bull his conversation with the King. The bull listened to him with quiet attention and then asked him to get an iron cage made with a height of 6.5 feet, and about 4.5 feet in length and breadth. Ghafoor at once went to a smithy and had a cage made by the blacksmith the according to the above measurements. When he came back to the bull with the cage the latter asked him to place the cage by the side of their bed room and to keep the door of the cage open. Then the bull said, "Now go and get some wads of cotton and a big barrel of clear liquid molasses, tear the wads of cotton into shreds and put them in a big basket, and place the basket of cotton in one corner of your room and the barrel of molasses in another corner." Ghafoor followed the bull's directions to the letter, whereupon the bull called Ghafoor's wife to him and whispered something in her ears. Then he turned to Ghafoor and said, "Tonight you will get up on the tree at the back of your room. When you hear your wife coughing and clearing her throat, you too must cough and clear your throat.
All right?" Ghafoor nodded yes, and at nightfall cautiously climbed the tree at the back of his room and perched himself on one of its branches.
In the meantime the King thought, “Well, here is a golden opportunity. Ghafoor has already left in search of the legendary bird and that beautiful girl is now alone at her home.
What am I waiting for?” Talking to himself thus the King came strolling to Ghafoor's cottage and called, “O Lady, are you in?” A feminine voice answered, “Yes, I am in. Who are you, please?” The King said, “I am the King of this land.” Then the voice from inside the cottage said, “Is that you, O King? Please come in, Your Highness.” Hearing the welcoming words of the lady the King went in and took his seat in her room. Then he said, “Your husband has gone away to look for the strange bird, my heart's desire. He told me to look after you during his absence.” The pretty wife of Ghafoor said, “Who will look after me, if not you, O King?” The King said, “Of course, dear lady, I'll look after you. I have promised your husband to do so. Tell me, when shall I come?” She said, “Come tonight around eight o'clock to this place.” No sooner had the King left Ghafoor's cottage than his Prime Minister made his appearance there. He called out, “Lady, lady, are you in?” Promptly came the answer from inside the cottage, “Yes, I am in. Who are you, please?” The visitor said, “I am the Prime Minister of this land, my young woman.” Ghafoor's wife welcomed him in. The Prime Minister said to her, “Look, lady, Ghafoor has gone abroad to look for the strange bird for the King. Before he left he asked me to take care of you.” The young woman said, “Surely, Sir, that's only as it should be. Who will look after me if not you?” “Excellent, my pretty woman. So, tell me, when shall I come?” asked the Prime Minister. Ghafoor's wife said, “Come tonight around nine o'clock.” No sooner had the Prime Minister left the cottage than the Police Chief made his appearance there. He too was welcomed by the pretty woman and was asked to come to her arund ten o'clock the same night. And last of all came the barber. He too spoke in the same vein as the others. Ghafoor's wife told him to come to her around eleven o'clock.
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