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Chandra Shekhar/Part 2/Chapter 4

 

CHAPTER IV

pratap.

Decorative S from Chandra Shekhar.pngUNDARI had left Shaibalini's Budgrow really in great indignation. All the way she came crying shame on Shaibalini. She kept her husband agreeably engaged by calling Shaibalini by such sweet epithets as an ugly wretch, a vile shameless creature and a contemptible black-sheep. Returning home she wept much for Shaibalini. Later on, Chandra Shekhar came and deserted his home. After that, some days passed in the ordinary course. Nothing was heard of Shaibalini or Chandra Shekhar. It was then, that Sundari put on a Dhakaishari and sat down to wear her ornaments.

It has already been said that Sundari was the daughter of one of Chandra Shekhar's neighbours and was related to him as his cousin. Her father was not a poor man after all. For the most part, Sundari lived with her father. Her husband, Sreenath, although not exactly an abject dependent on his father-in-law, used to come and live in his house often. It has already been said that Sreenath had been at Bedagram when misfortune befell Shaibalini. In fact, Sundari was the mistress of the house. Her mother was an invalid and unfit for domestic duties. Sundari had a younger sister—her name was Rupashi. She, for the most part, lived in her father-in-law's house.

Sundari, putting on the Dhakaishari and wearing her ornaments said to her father, "I shall go to see Rupashi—I had a very bad dream about her." Sundari's father, Krishna Kamal Chakravarti, was very fond of his daughter. He at first tried to dissuade her, but ultimately gave his consent. Sundari left for Rupashi's father-in-law's house, and Sreenath for his own.

Who was Rupashi's husband? It was that Pratap! After Chandra Shekhar had married Shaibalini, he often used to meet her neighbour's son Pratap. Chandra Shekhar became much pleased with Pratap's nature. When Sundari's sister Rupashi attained marriageable age, Chandra Shekhar brought about her marriage with Pratap. Nor was that all. Chandra Shekhar was Kasim Ali's teacher—he had great influence with him; he was, therefore, able to secure for Pratap an employment in the Nawab's service. Pratap's merit lifted him up higher and higher every day. He is now a Zemindar. He has now got a palatial house of his own and is known all over the country. Sundari's palanquin entered into his mansion. On her arrival there, Rupashi made a respectful bow to her sister and conducted her in, with much cordiality. Pratap came there and greeted his sister-in-law warmly.

Afterwards Pratap, at an opportune moment, asked Sundari all about Bedagram. After other topics, he made enquiries about Chandra Shekhar.

"I have come here only to tell you all about Chandra Shekhar. Just hear me", said Sundari and then narrated in minute details all the circumstances relating to the disappearance of Chandra Shekhar and Shaibalini. Pratap was struck dumb in surprise.

Raising his head a little after, he said to Sundari in a rather harsh tone, "Why did you not inform me of this so long?"

Sundari. Why, for what good?

Pratap. For what good! You are a woman—I will not boast of my powers before you. I could be of some help, if I had been informed.

Sundari. How could I know that you would help?

Pratap. Why, don't you know that I owe every thing to Chandra Shekhar?

Sundari. Yes, I know it. But it is said that people forget their past when they become rich.

Pratap got annoyed—he became agitated and left the place without a word. Sundari was much delighted to find Pratap so angry.

On the next day Pratap left for Monghyr with only a cook and a servant. The name of the servant was Ramcharan. He left home without telling any one where he was going. To Rupashi only he said, "I am going in search of Chandra Shekhar and Shaibalini. I won't return till I find them out."

The house in which the hermit left Dalani, was Pratap's lodging, at Monghyr.

During the few days Sundari was with her sister, she abused Shaibalini to her heart's content. In morning, in noon and in evening, Sundari would adduce to Rupashi thousands of arguments to prove that Shaibalini was the greatest of world's sinners and the most unfortunate of her class.

One day Rupashi said, "Quite so, but then, why do you trouble yourself so much on her account?"

"Only to knock down her head—to send her to Death's door—to put fire into her mouth," replied Sundari in anger, but with feelings.

"Ah, sister you are very quarrelsome," remarked Rupashi.

"It is Shaibalini who has made me so," was Sundari's feeling reply.

 

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