The Story of the Pineapple Girl
Translated by Kabir Chowdhury
Once upon a time there lived in a country a fun-loving indolent young man. He hardly ever did any useful work.
The princess of that land used to go to a lake every day to take her bath. After taking her bath in the lake she would fill her earthen pitcher with water and carry it back to her home. The happy-go-lucky, lazy young man watched her daily from a distance but did not dare indulge in any prank or mischief.
One day the princess had her bath in the lake, filled her pitcher with water and started back for her home when our naughty youth suddenly threw a stone at the princess' pitcher. The pitcher broke into pieces and fell on the ground in hundred fragments. The princess returned home in tears.
Now the King had three wives. All the three queens, however, had but this one daughter among themselves. When the princess came back home weeping all the three queens became very angry and upset. On enquiry they learnt that the idle, good-for-nothing, mischievous young man had broken the princess' pitcher by throwing a stone at it. When they heard this they consoled the princess and said, “Don't weep, darling daughter. We'll see to it that the young man is taught a lesson. We shall not call ourselves our father's daughters if we can't have him driven out of this land.”
So saying the three queens took three pitchers and went to take their bath in the lake the next day. The naughty young man was sitting by the lake on that day too. After a while the queens finished their bath, filled their pitchers with water and started back for home. When they came near the young man he bent low and picked up a stone, all set to throw it at their pitchers, The queens forestalled him said, “Hey, young man, are you so upset by out beauty? It is a pity you have not yet seen the beauty of our youngest sister 'Anarashi' (Anarash in Bengla means pineapple). We wonder what you would do if you saw her but once. There is no one in this whole world as beautiful as she.”
When the young man heard this he became very excited. He felt that he had to have glimpse of Anarashi at any cost. He begged the queens, “Please tell me where the Pineapple girl lives. I won't hurt you. I'll do you no harm. Just tell me how and where I can find Anarashi-Kanya.” Then the queens said, “You cross the land of fourteen kings and then you will reach the land of the pineapple girl,” and saying this they went away to their home. And our young man started at once for the land of the Pineapple girl.
He went on and on and covered mile after mile. He paid no heed to the distance he covered, the hunger he felt, the pain he suffered. He pushed forward relentlessly. He failed to keep count of the rivers he crossed and the meadows he traversed. Thus he passed through the land of fourteen kings and at last come to the country where lived the Anarashi-Kanya. But on arrival there he found himself in a fix. It was a country of witches and giants. The Pineapple girl was a far cry, one needed all one's wits about oneself just to keep alive in this land. After all, the Pineapple girl was not more precious than one's own life. So the young man first began to think of his own safety. While he was thus busy thinking, an old woman came up to him. The young man was very upset at the sudden appearance of this old woman. He thought: now this witch would surely kill me. But in a moment he recovered himself from his right, took heart, and tried to save his life by playing a trick on the old woman. He looked up and facing her smilingly said, “Well, auntie, how are you?” The old woman took him for the son of his brother, affectionately greeted him, and brought him over to her home. There she gave him food to eat and water to drink. The young man was extremely tired with all the pain and hardship of the long journey he had undertaken. He was ravenously hungry too. He quickly finished his meal and went to sleep.
The old woman looked after him well and made his stay quite comfortable at her home. Thus passed nearly a week. And then one day the young man said, “Auntie, I have come here with a mission, and I shall die if my mission is not fulfilled. You must help me in the matter.” The old witch said, “Well, what do you want from me? What can I do to help you?”
The you man said, “I don't want any money or riches from you, auntie, you just give me the Pineapple girl.”
When the old woman heard this she became quite annoyed. She turned to his nephew (so she thought) and said, 'Don't you ever utter again the words you have just said. Whoever can dare get hold of the Pineapple girl? A million soldiers always guard her zealously. Not to speak of devils and witches and giants, not even a bird or an insect can penetrate that closely watched zone where Anarashi-Kanya lives. If the soldiers see anyone approaching that place they shoot at sight with no warning. Don't you ever thing of going there. You will just get killed for nothing.”
When the young man heard this he said , “I am already nearly dead as it is. I cannot live without the Pineapple girl, so if I die trying to get her there won't be much harm done. You must find out some means, auntie, so that I can go and look for her, or I'll kill myself here and now before your eyes.”
The old woman did not know what to do. When she saw that he was adamant and was not to be dissuaded by any means, she turned him into a mayna bird and addressed him thus, “After you fly for a while you will come to a pineapple orchard. That's where the Pineapple girl lives. You will find there a pineapple radiating brilliant rays like lighting. Pluck it out with one single pull and fly back here in the twinkling of an eye. But make sure that none sees you as you go in and as you come out, or your very life will be at stake.”
Our impetuous young man said, “Don't you worry, auntie. I'll do exactly as you have said and no one will see me as I go in or come out.”
TO BE CONTINUED
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