Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Introduction/Chapter 1

Chandrashekhar by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, translated by Debendra Chandra Mullick
Introduction : Chapter I




SEATED in a mango-grove on the bank of the Bhagirathi, a boy was listening to the twilight murmur of the waters. At his feet a little girl, stretched on a bed of. springing turf, was silently looking at his face. She looked and looked and looked : she looked at the sky, the river, and the trees, and again looked at his face. The boy’s name was Protap, that of the girl was Shaibalini. Shaibalini was then a child of seven or eight, while Protap was iust stepping into youth.

Overhead the Papia [1] flitted away flooding the skies with the modulations of its music Shaibalini in an imitative melody made the mango-grove on the bank tremulous with Vibration. The murmur of the Ganges mingled with the mimic song.

The girl with her small hands strung a garland of wild flowers, delicate as the hands which culled them, and hung it round the neck of the boy. Anon she took it off and twisted it round her chignon; the next moment she put it off, only to place it round his neck again. It could not be settled who should wear the garland, and so finding a fat sleek cow grazing hard by, Shaibalini wound the contested garland round its horns and thus the point was decided. Quarrels like this were not of rare occurrence with them; there being times when the boy would fetch the young brood from the nest of birds, and pluck ripe mellow mangoes in the season and give them to Shaibalini in exchange for the garland.

In the soft sky of the gloaming when the stars were up, they would start counting. Who has seen them first? Which of them first came in view? How many do you see? Are they four? I see five. There is one, there is another, another, another, and another. It is a fib. Shaibalini could not see more than three.

Now let us count the boats. Tell me how many boats are passing? Are they sixteen? Come, a wager! it is eighteen. Shaibalini did not know to count; her first counting gave the number at nine, but the next raised it to twenty-one. Then they gave up the counting, and both fixed their gaze intently on one single boat. Who was in the boat-whither was it going—whence had it come P—were questions which puzzled their speculative powers. Look how the gold is flashing in the splashes of the oar.

  1. The Indian sparrow-hawk, a song—bird, with a shrill, crescendo note.