Indian Fairy Tales: Punchkin
Reading time: (3 minutes).
Now Balna's son was a bright, clever boy, so he said, "Do not fear, dear mother; the first thing to do is to discover how far the Magician's power extends, in order that we may be able to liberate my father and uncles, whom he has imprisoned in the form of rocks and trees. You have spoken to him angrily for twelve long years; now rather speak kindly. Tell him you have given up all hopes of again seeing the husband you have so long mourned, and say you are willing to marry him. Then endeavour to find out what his power consists in, and whether he is immortal, or can be put to death."
Balna determined to take her son's advice; and the next day sent for Punchkin, and spoke to him as had been suggested. The Magician, greatly delighted, begged her to allow the wedding to take place as soon as possible. But she told him that before she married him he must allow her a little more time in which she might make his acquaintance, and that, after being enemies so long, their friendship could but strengthen by degrees.
"And do tell me," she said, "are you quite immortal? Can death never touch you? And are you too great an enchanter ever to feel human suffering?"
"Why do you ask?" said he.
"Because," she replied, "if I am to be your wife, I would fain know all about you, in order, if any calamity threatens you, to overcome, or if possible to avert it."
"It is true," he added, "that I am not as others. Far, far away, hundreds of thousands of miles from this, there lies a desolate country covered with thick jungle. In the midst of the jungle grows a circle of palm trees, and in the centre of the circle stand six chattees full of water, piled one above another: below the sixth chattee is a small cage which contains a little green parrot; on the life of the parrot depends my life; and if the parrot is killed I must die. It is, however," he added, "impossible that the parrot should sustain any injury, both on account of the inaccessibility of the country, and because, by my appointment, many thousand genii surround the palm-trees, and kill all who approach the place."
Balna told her son what Punchkin had said; but at the same time implored him to give up all idea of getting the parrot.
The Prince, however, replied, "Mother, unless I can get hold of that parrot, you, and my father, and uncles, cannot be liberated: be not afraid, I will shortly return. Do you meantime, keep the Magician in good humour - still putting off your marriage with him on various pretexts; and before he finds out the cause of delay, I will be here."
So saying, he went away.
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Source: Indian Fairy Tales (1890), by Joseph Jacobs, illustrated by John Batten. Weblink..
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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