Rini Basu

Children Stories Fantasy Children


Rini Basu

Children Stories Fantasy Children

Gopal And The Beanstalk

Gopal And The Beanstalk

6 mins

Once upon a time there lived a boy named Gopal. He and his parents used to live in a small hut in a remote village of Jalpaiguri in the foothills of the Himalayas. Gopal's father was a farmer and his mother worked as a domestic help in the house of a rich man. In spite of being poor they were honest people and tried to impart the same ideology into their son.

Every morning Gopal used to go to the village school. Unlike the other boys he was not averse to studies and scored reasonably good marks in his exams.

One day their English teacher told them the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The teacher's narrative was engaging and the children listened with interest. When the story was over they clapped with enthusiasm.

But Jack's story perplexed Gopal. The more he thought about it the more confused he became. First of all he failed to understand how a weak, herbaceous beanstalk could carry the weight of a boy. Secondly, was it really possible for a beanstalk to grow to such an indefinite length? How could Jack find a castle in the empty sky? He might have landed up in the moon or some other planet, but how could he survive there without oxygen? Anyway, Gopal was ready to excuse these disparities as the imaginative qualities of a fairy tale. They were like Cinderella's glass slipper which did not vanish along with her other magical things. It remained on the staircase so that the prince could find it and later marry Cinderella.

Coming back to Jack and the Beanstalk, the factor that disturbed Gopal most was the character of the protagonist. The Giant's wife allowed Jack to stay in her house, gave him food and saved him from her husband more than once. But what did Jack give her in return? He told her a bunch of lies, robbed her husband thrice and then killed him! Gopal failed to understand how anyone could be so ungrateful. The most appalling part was that, Jack's actions had been glorified in the story and he had been presented as a hero! Gopal wondered what impact such fairytales would have on the tender minds of children, who were the target readers. What would they learn?

So engrossed was he in these thoughts that when his mother gave him money to buy potatoes from the market, he bought bean seeds instead. His angry mother, alike Jack's Mom, threw the seeds into the backyard garden.

To his utter amazement, when he went to the garden on the following morning, he saw a huge beanstalk standing there.

Gopal decided to try out his luck like Jack. He pulled the beanstalk to check it's strength. It felt surprisingly strong. Without losing a moment he began to climb it. Before long he found the Giant's castle beside a high-altitude village on the top of a lofty mountain. Just as in Jack's story, the Giant's wife welcomed Gopal in the castle and gave him food. When she warned him about her husband, Gopal wondered if he had reached the wrong castle or the lady had remarried. But there was no way to find out.

This Giant was also dangerous and his wife hid Gopal under his bed. The Giant had his food and ordered his wife to bring his hen. This hen turned out to be a duplicate copy of the previous one. It laid as many golden eggs as it's master ordered it to do.

'How many such hens can a man...rather, a Giant possess?' wondered Gopal.

After some time the Giant felt tired. He kept the hen in a cage beside him and went to sleep.

Gopal was in a dilemma. It was a golden opportunity for him to steal the hen and run, just like Jack had done. But would it be right? The lady had been so kind to him. He had always criticized Jack for his ungratefulness. How could he follow his footsteps now? Then a thought struck him.

It was very much possible that this Giant owned innumerable such hens. Hence the absence of one wouldn't matter much to him.

Gopal thought how much this hen could help his family overcome their poverty. His father could repay his loans and buy acres of land. His mother wouldn't have to toil in the rich man's house from morning till night. He could get a proper education. They could live in a proper house and might even buy a car. The provocation was too much.

Gopal stealthily left his hiding place, stole the hen, opened the door and took to his heels. Soon he reached the beanstalk. He climbed it down and reached his hut.

Then everything happened just as it did in Jack's case. Gopal's family became very rich. They lived in a palatial mansion and enjoyed every material comfort. Gopal nurtured no hard feelings towards Jack now. In fact he felt grateful to him for showing him the way to become rich.

Gopal was now no longer the bright student he once used to be. He had lost his inclination towards studies. Who needed an education when every earthly material could be attained without any labour? One morning after four years, he climbed up the beanstalk and visited the Giant's castle again, just like Jack did.

But this time Gopal was in for a shock! He found the castle under lock and key.

"Where is the Giant who lives in this castle?" he asked a passer-by.

"He now lives in a hut in the village with his wife," replied the passer-by.

"But why?" asked a surprised Gopal.

"Someone stole his precious hen and so he became poor. He couldn't even pay the taxes for his castle for the past three years. Hence the government has forced him to evacuate. Now he works as a peasant in the village and his wife is a domestic help in a rich man's house."

Gopal was shocked to learn this. Ironically he felt no regrets, but he was worried about something else. He returned to the beanstalk and quickly climbed it down. Upon reaching his mansion he hastened to the yard to bring an axe. Without wasting time he started chopping off the beanstalk. Soon the huge plant stumbled down in a mountainous heap on the ground.

Gopal heaved a sigh of relief. He would not need the beanstalk now, but who knows, it might have been useful to someone else. Without the beanstalk his hen was now safe. He had proved that he was cleverer than the Giant. He was cleverer than Jack too as he didn't have to commit a murder to keep the stolen hen to himself.

Gopal smiled happily as he entered his house. Now they could live happily ever after.

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