AUBERGINE GIRL There lived a poor Brahmin couple and had a little cottage with a thatched roof. They were so poor that most of the time they could not afford to buy any food and in order to stave off hunger, they searched the countryside for herbal foods and any edible grasses. They did not have any children and were glad to be so. They could not bear to have seen their kids suffering from hunger. Once they were searching for wild food, they came across a plant with shiny purple fruits and plucked some of that fruit to take home. They cooked some of the fruits but saved the seeds and planted them in their little back garden. With the passage of the time a small plant issued forth from the ground and in the heat of summer sun it began to grow forth. In the middle of the season there issued a purple flower on the plant, beautifying the whole garden with its hue. The couple took a fancy to it and spent their days in the garden, sitting and admiring that beautiful creation. Slowly the flower began to wither and they were so sad to see it dying and sat no more in the garden. But one day they noticed a small purple fruit with luxurious growth of leaves. They went to have a closer look and it was really a small aubergine fruit and they were so glad to have it in their very own garden. And the fruit grew and grew till it became bigger than the length of their hand. Its shiny purple surface was a joy to watch and though they were hungry they did not have the heart to pluck it and eat it. They had to look for other foods in the scrublands but as the dry season began, the wild growing herbs and fruits vanished and the fear of starvation came close to hand. They have not eaten for two days and the pangs of hunger overwhelmed their reasons and they decided to eat the fruit growing in the garden. The plucked it and washed it and as the brahmin woman tried to slice it, she heard a tiny voice imploring her to be gentle and not hurt it. The woman looked around to see where the voice was coming from but there was no one present. Thinking that she was imagining things on account of her starvation, she picked the fruit again and tried to slice it again and the same voice came through. Shocked she ran off and told her husband about it. They regretted plucking the fruit and pondered about the whole episode. There was no alternative course of action, they must have that sliced aubergine for food or they were going to die of starvation. This time the husband was charged for slicing the fruit gently and lo something dropped out of it when last slice was in place. They looked down and it was most exquisite creature and it grew and turned into a sweet figure of a girl. The couple jumped and hugged the gentle creature with a delicate touch afraid that they might hurt the fragile form. They had no child of their own and were anxious to adopt her as their daughter and named her aubergine girl. Life became sweeter for the couple and they showered all their love on her. She told them that she was the spirit of that plant and would help the couple in any way they liked. They told her that they were starving and would like her help in acquiring some food for their hungry bellies. The girl cast a spell on the garden and all sorts of plants began to grow there mostly of edible variety and they were so thankful for having that beautiful creature as their daughter and also have all the delicacies cooked for their food. They were no more starving and were thankful for that. The news of the beauty of the girl began to spread far and wide and the villagers visited the family in their quest for beauty. It happened that there was a rich women living in the village and thought herself to be superior to all the women of the district, in all the aspects of life. She was rich, beautiful and could command all the men under her seductive glances. When she heard about the beauty of that girl, she did not like it. Everyone was talking about and singing the praises of the brahmin’s daughter but she could not stand it. This jealousy planted a seed of evil in her mind. She called upon the brahmin’s house to see the girl and was stung by her beauty but she concealed her evil intents under the guise of friendship. She took gifts for her and her parents as to overcome their suspicions and invited the girl to her household for a meal and which she accepted. It was grand meal but she had put some slow acting poison in her meals and when the girl was drugged she began to ask her all sorts of things under the guise of friendship. This woman knew that the girl was not of human origin and must have other seeds of origin. She managed to coax the girl into divulging her secret about her soul being the spirits of the plants growing around her adopted parent’s house. She waited for the girl to linger in her agony and in the middle of night she raided the garden and destroyed all the plants. Dark clouds gathered and a storm rose at her death. Her parents waited for her to arrive back but she never returned and the brahmin couple lost all their interest in life and slowly died of grief and starvation. The strange truth was that when two of them died, they did not leave any bodily remains behind. The rich woman was happy and did not regret the murder of the girl and the dying agony of her parents. She was the fairest in all the land and it did matter to her. After few years the things began to change and the rich woman began to wither prematurely and loose her matchless beauty. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she was horrified to see haggard face of an old woman. Screaming and howling she went about the garden and asking pardon for her sins and offered her life in exchange for removal of the curse. Gradually she went out of her mind and took her life. The withered garden began to show signs of new birth and growth; and began to bloom again. An aubergine plant burst forth and the large shiny purple fruit appeared and out of it the resurrected body of the girl appeared. Her parents’ spirits also got revived and with that their bodies appeared again. The house bloomed and with it the garden. Three of them lived together in that land of beauty and love. Durlabh Singh© 2013.