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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The Crow Girl

Updated: Sep 9, 2023



Once upon a time, two potters' wives went off into the jungle to gather a special kind of clay needed for crafting pots. They carried their infant children on their hips, a boy and a girl. Their mothers set them down to play while they collected the soil. Little did they know what their innocent playtime would lead to.


In the skies high above, a kite and a crow observed the scene. Intrigued by the children, they decided to swoop down and join in the fun. However, their intentions were far from innocent. The kite snatched the boy away and, tragically, ended his life. Meanwhile, the crow whisked the little girl away to a distant part of the jungle, dropping her inside a hollow tree trunk.


Rather than crying, the child found amusement in her newfound companion, the crow. They played together, forging an unexpected bond. The crow, growing fond of the girl, would bring her nuts, fruits, and even bits of bread and meat whenever it could find them. As the years passed, the young girl blossomed into a remarkably beautiful, young woman.


One day, a carpenter ventured into the same jungle, looking to collect wood. His path led him to the secluded spot where the girl lived. She was sitting inside the hollow tree. Curious and puzzled by her presence in the remote wilderness, he approached her and inquired about her origins and circumstances.


She replied, "Please do not ask me questions, kind sir. I would be grateful if you could craft a spinning wheel for me; I am alone here, and I wish to occupy my time."


The carpenter, surprised by her request but respectful of her privacy, agreed to make her a spinning wheel. The crow, ever watchful over the girl, discreetly provided a spindle and some cotton for her.


As fate would have it, the King happened to be hunting in the same jungle one day. The sound of a spinning wheel caught his ears. Curious, he asked one of his attendants to follow the sound. After a thorough search, they found the girl by her spinning wheel and brought her before the King. The monarch was so entranced by her story and her beauty, that he requested her to accompany him to the palace and become his queen.


At the palace, she joined the king's six other wives, each with her own chamber and maids. One day, the king decided to challenge them to redo their rooms as exquisitely as possible. The six wives redid their room decor as they knew best, with ornaments, paintings, and fragrant rose-scented walls.


However, the crow-girl had a different plan in mind. She sought advice from her best friend, the crow. He promised to help her, and flew off, returning with a magic herb. He instructed her to rub it on her room's walls. She did as she was told, and lo behold! The walls transformed into shimmering, real gold—a sight so bright that it was nearly impossible to look at.


When the other wives found out, they were consumed by jealousy. Despite their best efforts, they had been outdone. Desperate to uncover her secret, they repeatedly inquired about her methods, but she remained silent.


The King, during his inspection of their rooms, was greatly pleased with the six wives, but was overcome with astonishment when he visited the crow-girl's room. From that moment on, he elevated her to the position of chief queen, and began to have eyes only for her.


Her new status and the King's affection fueled the jealousy and malice of the other wives. They hatched a wicked plot to bring about the crow-girl's demise. During a trip to the river one day, pushed her into the water and claimed that it had been an unfortunate accident.


The news of the crow-girl's supposed drowning devastated the king. He withdrew from public life, consumed by grief. Unbeknownst to all, fate had different plans for the seventh queen. She had not perished as everyone believed. Near the spot where she had fallen into the river, an invisible island concealed a massive tree. She had drifted to this island and climbed to the top of the tree, where the crow continued to watch over her, providing sustenance and companionship.


Weeks later, the king decided to take a boat ride by the same tree, seeking solace and reflection. There, the crow-girl spotted him and, unable to contain her joy, she shouted to him, "My beloved, come closer!"


Revealing herself to the king, he was overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of his cherished queen. He immediately brought her back to the palace. It was then that she recounted the truth of her ordeal. The King was furious upon learning the treacherous plot of his other wives, and ordered their immediate execution.


And so, the crow-girl's resilience, and love triumphed over jealousy and deceit. She lived on as the true queen of the kingdom, forever admired for her grace and wisdom.

 

Source: Trübner's Oriental Series (Folk Tales of Kashmir)

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