This story is based on “Jack and the beanstalk” renamed as “Flora and the beanstalk”.
Flora was an adventurous young girl, living in a faraway land. She had an eye condition since she was 5 years old, her vision was very low. Flora went and consulted every doctor available, and they all had only 1 thing to say, “This cannot be treated. Your vision will continue to dim. However if you wear specs and come for regular check-ups, then it will remain the same.” Flora and her mother agreed to this and she started wearing specs and carried a low vision cane everywhere which assisted her in moving about.
But these specs were very costly, so were the daily visits to the doctor. Her mother barely managed to make ends meet. She owned a small piece of land on which she worked. To continue Flora’s visits to the doctor her mother sold the land to get some money. After the land, their only source of income was a cow. Flora’s mother used the milk given by the cow to make dairy products like butter, curd and ghee and sold them.
Alas, misfortune struck and one day, the cow stopped giving any milk. Now they were left with no option but to sell the cow. Flora’s mother began preparing to take the cow to the market when Flora piped in and said “Mamma! I can do this! Please let me take the cow to the market and sell her.” Flora’s mother surprised but happy with the enthusiasm, agreed. Flora got ready, took her little pet dog, Tommy, her cane and the cow and set off.
While walking, Flora and her little animal party encountered an old woman, who asked her, “Dear child, where are you going? And where are you taking this cow?” Flora responded, “Ma’am, the cow has stopped giving milk and is of no use to us. I am taking her to the market to sell her.” The old woman thinks and then said, “Well if you are selling a cow then why don’t you sell it to me? I actually have the need for one!” Flora agreed and asked the lady to pay. The lady took out something from her pocket and said “child, your hands are full, I will put the money straight in your bag” Flora rushed back home elated with the successful transaction and immediately began to narrate the incident to her mother. As soon as her mother heard the story, she demanded for her bag and to her dismay found no money in the bag! Instead there were a handful of beans. Her mother was furious. She shouted at Flora for being so irresponsible and gullible, and took the beans and threw them out of the window. Flora became extremely sad. While lying in bed feelings of guilt washed over her and she began to cry. Slowly she drifted off to sleep.
Flora woke up next morning to find the room dimmer than usual. She felt worried that her vision had worsened. This puzzled her. She got up to investigate. She could not understand why there was not enough sunlight coming into the room. She walked up to the window to look outside. And what she saw left her speechless. The beans that her mother had thrown out, had grown into a giant beanstalk overnight which seemed to touch the sky! Flora was unable to contain her excitement. She was curious to know what was on top, and she wanted to touch the sky. So she silently slipped out of her house, cane in one hand, while her mother was still sleeping and began to climb the beanstalk. She had climbed only a few steps when Tommy came running as well. So Flora decided to take him along. She put him in a basket and carried him while she climbed the giant beanstalk.
The climb seemed to go higher and higher, it felt never ending. She crossed birds while she was climbing and then suddenly reached a cloud. The higher she climbed the thicker the clouds became. Tommy was also very curious about these new surroundings and suddenly jumped out of the basket and onto a cloud. Flora screamed as she thought he might fall. But he didn’t. He was walking all over the cloud sniffing everything. She gingerly put one foot on the cloud and then the other and began walking, awestruck by the beauty that surrounded her. In the distance she saw the silhouette of a castle. At first she believed her eyes were playing a trick on her but as she went nearer, the castle became clearer.
She approached the castle and knocked on the door. A lady appeared at the door and asked her, “Who are you? How did you get here? What do you want?” Flora said, “My name is Flora and I climbed the giant beanstalk and I landed up here! I am very hungry, can you give me something to eat?” The lady looked at her suspiciously and agreed. She observed Flora using her cane and asked her, “What is that? Why are you using that? Can you not see?” Flora responded by saying, “I can see, but very little. The cane helps me”
They entered the castle and she found a spread of the most delicious food on the table. Flora and Tommy tucked in hungrily. The lady looking over at them said slowly, “Eat fast! My husband will wake up any moment now and if he sees you, he will eat you”! Flora, thought that the lady was joking and laughed! “Why would he eat me?” The lady said, “My husband is a giant! He eats anything that he sees!”
Realizing that she was not joking, Flora got scared. And suddenly they heard a loud thumping noise. They were the footsteps of a very very big person. Flora grabbed Tommy and hid underneath the table. The giant entered the room, sniffed the air and said in a booming voice, “there is something different today. I can smell it.” His wife responded by saying, “don’t be silly, it must be the delicious food I have cooked.” The giant got confused and looked around the room, he said again, “I think I smell a human here” and his wife dismissed it again and asked him to go and sleep. The giant was not entirely convinced, but shrugged his shoulders and went back to sleep. Flora emerged from underneath the table, white with fear and started moving as fast as she could. As she was about to leave she spotted a pretty black bag near the entrance. She asked his wife, “What is that?” His wife explained that, that was their pouch of money. Flora stared at it longingly, and thought about how her mother will not have to struggle anymore if she had that money. The wife looked at her longing gaze and decided to give her the pouch. Flora was beside herself with happiness and skipped back home.
Flora could not stop thinking about the castle and the kind lady and decided to go up there again. She knew she was risking her life but she could not stop herself. Slowly and steadily she climbed up again, reached the castle and peered through a window. The giant and his wife were sitting at a table with golden eggs and they were discussing how they could sell the eggs to make money. Flora upon seeing this, thought to herself, this could end all our problems! If I get the hen who lays gold eggs, my mother and I will never have any money problems! Suddenly there was a tap on her shoulder, she turned around to see the wife standing over her. She asked Flora, “Why are you here again? He will eat you! Go!” Flora begged her to give her the hen and promised that she will not return. The wife’s heart melted and she agreed. She gave Flora the hen secretly and asked her to leave.
The next day, flora could not resist. She had to go up again. So she set off. This time, as she lurking near the castle, she heard a melodious tune. She peeped in to see, the giant playing a beautiful piano. She was enamored listening to the music. The giant stopped, stretched and yawned. He walked away. Flora thought to herself. If she had a piano, she could learn how to play and perform in front of everyone else! Just the very thought sent tingles along her spine. However, she could not ask the kind lady for anymore favors. She tip -toed into the room, picked up the piano, which was surprisingly light despite its size, and made a dash for it. The giant however, saw her running away with it and caught her. He was furious. He was about to strike Flora when his wide stepped in and asked him to leave her be. He told him that her need was greater than their own and he can let this go. They could simply buy a new one. The giant tired with so much activity, simply said today I will not do anything as you have stopped me. But tomorrow I will go down and teach that girl a lesson. Flora ran for her life, scared and confused.
The wife followed her down the beanstalk and met her mother. She explained everything to her mother whose face fell upon hearing all of this. She asked the wife, “but why did you do so much for my Flora?” The wife sighed with sadness and said, “I had given birth to a baby girl a long time ago, she was born with no sight. As soon as the giant found out, he got her killed. He believed she was useless and life was not worth living if she could not see. I look at Flora and I am reminded of my own child which is why I wish to help her as much as I can” Flora’s mother touched by this thanked the lady and said that they will plan something for the next day. Flora was very scared. Her mother calmed her down and told her not to worry. She had a plan and asked her to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a rough day.
The next day, the giant came down and knocked on the door. Her mother opened the door and asked, who do you want? He said, “I want the girl who has been stealing from me! I will teach her a lesson”. Her mother says, “Oh Flora? Okay, I will get her. Why don’t you wait here, while I tidy up the house.” The mother went in and wrapped Flora up in a bed sheet and asked her to pretend to be asleep. Confused, Flora did as she was told. She put a little cap on her bed to make it look like there was a small child sleeping there. Then the mother invited the giant in. Giant noticed the little bundle on the bed and asked, “Who is this?” the mother replied, “She is my younger daughter, Flora has gone out to the market and she will be back in a while. Why don’t you wait for her here?” The giant agreed. Hours pass and Flora did not return. The giant began to get angry and yelled, “Where is she? I have been waiting for so long!” Flora’s mother said, “Chill, I’ll give you something to eat and you wait a little more.” She handed him a sandwich. Giant took a huge bite and his mouth filled up with blood. He exclaimed in horror, “What is the meaning of this? What have you given me?” Flora’s mother looked at him in surprise and asked, “You don’t eat this? This is my Flora’s favorite meal! I have added nails to the sandwich! She loves eating them!” The giant, shocked by this piece of information, got a little scared. He started to think that maybe Flora is someone to be scared of, and could be stronger than him! He told the mother that he will come see Flora later and ran back to his castle.
Flora and her mother came out with an axe and cut the beanstalk down. Her mother warned her that something like this should not happen again. It was a grave mistake which should not be repeated. Flora agreed. At the end, they lived a happy life by selling the eggs and the money they had. Flora even learned how to play the piano!
Written by Ashwini
Translated by Malavika Goyal
Audio edited by Kriti Banga
*This story was written as part of Rising Flame’s One Billion Rising Campaign where we rise for the rights of women and girls with disabilities.