The Tale of Pumpkin Boy

                                                                The Pumpkin Prince

            In a village lived a couple. They had a son who died after a month of his birth. The disheartened couple buried the child in their kitchen garden. When the summer rains started, a pumpkin plant grew up just above the patch of the kitchen garden where they had buried the baby boy. The pumpkin plant grew up and its runner climbed up the tree top. On the top of the tree, a pumpkin appeared from the runner. Every day the couple would lament on the death of their son in recollection. One day the couple lamented long in the memory of their dead son. After a doleful bewailing, they consoled themselves. The old man, then, went to the field to plough; the old woman stayed back at home. In the day, when it was time for having snacks, the old woman recalled her son and in grief, said, "If I had a son, he would go to the field with refreshments for his father. But I have no son to do so. What shall I do?"  As she said so, a voice came from the top of the tree. She looked up and heard the pumpkin on the tree speaking, "Mother, I am here. I will go and give snacks to my father. The woman was surprised. In a surprise, she looked up the tree, and saw a pumpkin on the top.

In a surprise, the old woman said, "Who is it?"

The pumpkin responded, "It's me, mother."

"Pumpkin, you call me mother and say you will go to the field with snacks for the father"

            "Yes, I will," the Pumpkin replied. He added, "Tie up the snacks on my stump and roll me down the hill so that I get to the field the father is ploughing. And I will give him the snacks."

            In a jeer, the old woman said, "If the foxes ever ploughed the field, the land would never remain barren. If that could happen, I won't be in such a condition."

            The Pumpkin said, "Mother trust me. Tie up snacks with my stump and I assure you I will give it to the father down there in the field. The old woman accepted the Pumpkin's plea, tied up the snacks with the stump and rolled the Pumpkin down the hills. The Pumpkin rolled and rolled down the hill until it finally got stuck amid a bush. It could not roll any further. So he started shouting, "Father, come and get the snacks. I have got the snacks for you with me."

            The old man heard the voice and was surprised. He rummaged, "I have no son. Who could be calling me "father"?

            When he was repeatedly called, he left the yoked oxen in the field and climbed up the hill and started listening where the voice was coming from. When he reached near a bush, he heard the voice again and saw a pumpkin stuck in the bush with a pack of refreshments tied to the stump. The pumpkin called him, "Father here is the snacks, please eat it. The old man pulled the Pumpkin out, carried the snacks and the Pumpkin with him. On reaching the field, he started eating. While he was eating, he recalled, " If I had a son, he would plough the field as I ate sitting here and the yoked oxen would not remain idle over there."

            On hearing father's sense of loss, the Pumpkin spoke, "I am here father. Tie me to the handle of the plough and I will plough the field."

            "Pumpkin, you say you will plough the field?" How would you do it?"

            "Believe me. Tie me up with the handle and you will see I can plough."

            The old man took the Pumpkin and tied the stump with the handle of the plough and it started ploughing. The rest of the day, the Pumpkin ploughed the field. At the sunset, the old man set off the oxen free and readied to go home. Again he lamented, "Had I a son, he would take the plough, the yoke and the oxen home. I am unfortunate, I have no son."

            The pumpkin spoke again, "Tie me with the tail of the oxen and I will go home carrying the plough and yoke." The old man tied it to the tail of the oxen, and it went home carrying the plough and yoke.

            At home, the old man rolled the Pumpkin towards a dark corner of the room. The couple took food and slept. At night, the Pumpkin started speaking again. He started calling the father and asking him for his marriage, "Father, I want to marry".

            The old man said "who would give his daughter to a Pumpkin like you?"

            The Pumpkin insisted, "I don't know about it, but I want to get married."

            The old man was put in a dilemma. He got up early in the morning and pondered what he should do. He thought of the village chief in the next village who had seven daughters. He decided to ask him for the hand of one of his daughters to the Pumpkin. In the morning the old man went to the neighbouring village chief and told why he has come to his place.  The chief replied, "What can I say. Ask my daughters. If anyone of them agrees, I have no problem."

            The old man now asked the chief's eldest daughter who immediately denied, "Shall I marry a pumpkin as if I have nobody else to marry."

 The second one said, "I would rather boil and eat the pumpkin than marrying it". All the other daughters negated except the youngest one. The youngest daughter agreed to marry. She said, "May it be a pumpkin or cucumber, if her parents arranged her marriage, she would be ready to get married to anybody". She told the old man to ask her father.

            The village chief said that he has no problem if his daughter is willing. The old man told the chief about the willingness of the youngest daughter to marry. The chief then agreed.

            The old man went home and then went to the astrologer to consult him about their marriage. The astrologer looked at their horoscopes and viewed that their planetary positions perfectly matched. The gunas (quality) of the Pumpkin and the girl matched perfectly. The astrologer sent the old man home asking him to arrange the marriage of the girl and the Pumpkin. He added that the Pumpkin possessed the virtues of a prince.

            The old man then arranged the marriage of the Pumpkin. He offered feast to the villagers, asked them to go on wedding procession. He arranged the bands and Hudkya (traditional singers and dancers) for the wedding.

            The wedding procession got to the bride's house. The marriage took place. The bride was then brought home in a palanquin with horse riders behind.

            Days of the girl passed with the Pumpkin. Winter came. It was the month of January (Magh)--a month when Hindus offer sweet foods along with yam with great reverence to their daughters. The girl wanted to go to her mother's home, but thought of the old in-laws. She thought how she should leave them. When the Pumpkin learnt about her desire, it  asked her why she would worry and told her that it will take her to her maternal house.

            Then the Pumpkin and the girl went to her parent's home. The foot trail heading to her maternal home passed through a thick jungle. In the middle of the jungle, the girl saw wild banana ripe on the runners. The girl wished, "Had I a nice young husband, I would have the pleasure of eating the delicious wild bananas hanging on the runners on treetops. But my husband is a Pumpkin incapable of climbing the tree, an appendage.
Hearing it, the Pumpkin aptly said, why do you worry? Lift me, climb the tree and put me on the tree top where wild bananas hang on the runners, leave me there, descend down, sit on the ground. I will pick up the banana and throw them for you to eat. The girl did so. The Pumpkin picked the banana and threw them down the tree. As the Pumpkin was climbing down, it fell down and broke into pieces. From the broken Pumpkin rose a young Prince like man with legs as plump as the banana stalk, a face like that of the shining moon.

 The girl's happiness knew no bounds. She had got in the Pumpkin a prince as her husband. With great pleasure and pride, she went to her parents' home. His sisters and other girls in the village gathered and started asking her, where is your groom, the Pumpkin. The girl told them, "The Pumpkin I got married to is this prince." when his sisters and the other girls knew that the Pumpkin she was married to was a prince, they all started serving her and the prince. Some started giving them food; some others helping them clean up; some others started giving water.

The next day was the first day when the sun was supposed to start moving towards the northern hemisphere. There was a tradition among the village boys to go on chasing the wild fouls and pigeons. The prince went too on a hunt. He chased and hunted fouls and pigeons throughout the day. In the evening, he returned hungry and waited outside the house for long. He waited for his wife to come out and give him water to wash his feet. But nobody came. He did not know that his wife was dead. She was actually killed by the envious sisters and village girls. When nobody came out for a long time he asked what had happened. But nobody told anything. Other girls gave him water to wash his feet and he went in. However, he did not notice his wife. He asked about her and nobody told anything. Then he slept. He waited for her the next and the next and the next day, but she did not come. Finally one of the sisters told him, "When you were haunting in the forest, your wife had died and we cremated her and did not tell you anything about her death so far thinking that you would get shocked and would cry."

All the sisters now started urging him not to lament on her death, but marry all of them and carry them as his wives. Though saddened, he accepted and took all of them home. But at home, his wife came disguised as a bird. She came, sat at the door and started chirping and asking "why did you bring them all."

She said, "They all hatched a plan and killed me so that they could marry you."

 The Pumpkin Prince asked, "Are you telling the truth." She replied in affirmation and asked him to kill all of them and sprinkle their blood on her body which will revive her again. He then killed and threw them. He sprinkled the blood on the chirping bird and his dead wife revived. All those who envied died and they both, the Pumpkin Prince and the girl lived happily ever after.