The Story of the Pineapple Girl
Translated by Kabir Chowdhur
Days rolled by. After a long while the real Pineapple girl rose from the lake where she was thrown in by the fisherwoman in the shape of a beautiful lotus and began to float in the serene waters of the lake. Many people tried to pluck that lotus from the bosom of the lake but none could go near it. As soon as some one went near the lotus it eluded his grasp and floated away to some other part of the lake. Our young man, in the course of time, heard about this strange lotus and went to try his luck. On going to the lake he found may people were trying to get hold of the lotus but with little success. Our young man watched the scene for a while and then got into the lake and stretched his hand towards the lotus. At once the lotus snuggled into his hands. He took it into his hands tenderly and brought it home. Then he placed it in a pot and told his wife not to touch the pot ever. After this he left home and went to work. Now the fisherwoman's thought were all centered on this pot. She waited for some time and when she saw that her husband had gone far away from home and was not visible any more she stealthily went up to the pot, took off the lid, and saw that inside the pot there lay only a lotus and nothing else. This made her very angry. She took out the lotus from the pot, tore it into shreds, and threw the tiny shreds outside their room in a corner of their yard.
Thus passed a long time. Everybody forgot about the flower. In due course the fisherwoman became pregnant with child. She tasted this food and she tasted that food, but she found no joy in any disk. One day she discovered a gourd creeper in the corner of the yard where she had thrown away the torn shreds of the lotus. She saw a gourd there and at once her tongue watered for the taste of that fresh vegetable cooked with fish brought from the bazaar. She went up to her mother-in-law and told her about her wish. Her mother-in-law said, “Well, my dear, you are pregnant with child and soon you will be confined. Who knows if you will survive the child-birth and come out or die in the process? Do fulfill your wish.” So saying she went out and plucked the gourd from the tree ; and when her son came back from the work she asked him to go to the bazaar and get some fish to be cooked with that vegetable. The son did what he was told.
The fisherwoman cut the gourd in the fine slices. As soon as fish was brought she prepared the fish, mixed the fish wit the vegetable, sprinkled some spices over them, threw come cooking oil in the pot and put the pot on the oven. When the fire became strong and a sizzling sound began, the gourd started to cry out from inside the pot placed over the oven,
O fisherwoman, woe to thee.
Take off the lid, for God's sake,
And let me escape.
When the fisherwoman heard these words she became very frightened and gave a piercing shriek. Her mother-in-law came running from the next room and on hearing everything said, “Don't touch that food, my dear. It is possessed by some evil spirit.” This further upset the fisherwoman. She quickly threw away all that she had cooked and then felt somewhat calmer.
After this incident many days passed. Now just at the spot where the fisherwoman had thrown away the cooked gourd there rose a big 'bel' tree. Soon it bore a number of fruits. The tree had many branches and gave a nice shade and it was cool under its branches, The fisherwoman often used to put her domestic chores close by. Often she too came and sat under the tree for a little breeze when it was hot and sultry elsewhere.
One day when the fisherwoman was working inside the house leaving her child in the cool shadow of the Bel tree a big, hard fruit suddenly fell smack on the head of the baby and killed him instantaneously. The mother was working inside and thought that her child was sleeping in peace. After some time on completing her household chores she came outside to her baby, only to find that he was struck dead by a fruit falling from the tree under whose shadow he was lying. The fisherwoman was overwhelmed with grief at the loss of her son and wept bitter tears. But what was the use? Her tears could not bring her dead child back to life. So at last she stopped crying and buried her son. Then she called in some hired labour and had the Bel tree cut down.The tree was full of Bel fruits. All who passed by the felled tree took one or two fruits with him.
Now there lived a woman in the neighborhood who made her living by making garlands and selling them to the king's household. As she went by the Bel tree she noticed one particular fruit hanging on to branch that glowed like gold. She plucked it, too it to her home and kept it in her loft. After that she had her meal and went to bed.
At midnight the Pineapple girl came out of that Bel fruit, swept the courtyard of the flower-girl clean and shinning, and finished all her household chores. Then she went out to the garden, gathered all kinds of flowers and wove many garlands, after which she neatly arranged them on a tray, took her bath, and went back into the fruit. When the flower-girl awoke in the morning she found to her great surprise that someone 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. 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. How 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 this job for me”. When the King heard this he was very pleased with her fine workmanship and skill, and have her four times the usual quota of rice used to give her on the other days.
So the Pineapple girl went on looking after 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 house in place of her old thatched hut.
The story of the thread-less garlands spread far and wide and in 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.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009