Chandrashekhar (Mullick)/Part2/Chapter 4


IN high dudgeon indeed, Sundari had left Shaibalini’s boat. The whole of her return-journey she railed at Shaibalini to her husband. Investing her with such endearing epithets as, “ill-starred,” “black face,” "oven-faced,” and other good set terms, she materially contributed to his amusement. On returning home she wept long. Then Chandrashekhar returned and abandoned his native village. After that came a lull for a few days. No news of Shaibalini or Chandrashekhar could be obtained. Then Sundari donned her Dacca sari and began to put on her ornaments.

We have said that Sundari was the daughter of one of Chandrashekhar’s neighbours, by courtesy his sister. Her father was not entirely without means. As a rule, Sundari used to live with her father. Without exactly being a domesticated[1] son—in-law, her husband Sreenath occasionally lived with her father. We have also said that Sreenath was living in Vedagram at the time of Shaibalini’s misfortune. Sundari was practically the mistress of the house as her mother was a confirmed invalid. Sundari hada younger sister by name Rupasi who lived with her husband.

With her Dacca sari [2] donned and her ornaments on, Sundari said to her father, “I wish to pay a visit to Rupasi. I have had very bad dreams about her.” Sundari’s father, Krishna Kamal Chakravartti, was an indulgent parent, and after a slight demur he gave his consent. Sundari then went to Rupasi. Sreenath started home.

Who is Rupasi’s husband? He is the self-same Protap. After his marriage with Shaibalini, Chandrashekhar used to meet his neighbour's son Protap every now and then and he learnt to appreciate Protap’s character. When Sundari’s sister Rupasi grew up to maturity, he contrived to bring about her marriage with Protap. Not only that, Chandrashekhar as tutor of Mir Kasim had great influence with him, and he secured a post for Protap under Mir Kasim’s government. By dint of his own merit Protap began to prosper day by day. He was now a zemindar. He owned a big mansion and a widespread name. Sundari’s palanquin entered Protap’s house. On meeting Sundari, Rupasi made her salutation and cordially welcomed her into the house. Protap also came out and gave her a facetious welcome.

At a suitable hour Protap asked Sundari all about Vedagram, and after talking on sundry matters, he enquired about Chandrashekhar.

“That is exactly what I have come to tell you “about,” said Sundari, “Now listen.”

With these words she related in detail the expatriation of Chandrashekhar and Shaibalini. Protap was struck dumb in astonishment. After a while he looked up and asked with a slight acerbity in his tone.

“Why, didn’t you send me timely information about it?”

“Why, what’s the good of that?”

"What’s the good, you ask? You are a woman, I should not boast to you. If you had informed me in time, something could have been done."

“How could I know that you would stir in the matter?”

“Why, don’t you know that I owe everything to Chandrashekhar?”

“I know that. But I have heard it said that people are apt to forget their previous history in their days of prosperity.”

Protap grew impatient and speechless with indignation and abruptly went away. Sundari was very much pleased at this sudden outburst.

Next day with only a cook and a servant, Protap left for Monghyr. The servant was Ramcharan. Where he went, Protap did not disclose. He only said to Rupasi, “I am going in quest of Chandrashekhar and Shaibalini. I will not return till I ascertain their whereabouts.”

The house at Monghyr where the ascetic had left Dalani, was Protap’s lodging-house.

Sundari stayed with her sister for some time and railed at Shaibalini to her heart's content. Morning, noon and night, she would lay herself out in demonstrating to Rupasi that a woman more wicked and ill-fated than Shaibalini was never born. One day Rupasi remarked :-—

"All that is true no doubt, but why do you bother yourself by running about for her?”

“Because I want to knock her head off,” replied Sundari. “I want to see her sent to Pluto’s abode; I want to apply the funeral torch to her face, &c., &c.”

"Sister, you are a bit of a scold,” said Rupasi.

“It is she who has made me so,” returned Sundari.

  1. In India rich parents sometimes marry their daughters to poor men and maintain the sons-in-law in their own house.
  2. Saris made at Dacca are famous for their fine texture.