Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 10

 

CHAPTER X.

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SWEET IMAGE, AWAY!


It is needless to say that Jagat Singha could not sleep a wink that night. His bed was full of scorpions; his heart burnt in anguish and pain. That Tilottama whose death would before have rendered his existence insupportable—that the same Tilottama still lived,—this was the only thing which he regretted.

How so? That Titottama still lived! That tender flower, that angelical sweetness, that soft splendour, that frame which rises before Jagat Singha'a vision whichever way he turns his gaze, shall the jaws of the grave close over such a frame! This earth—this spacious earth, shall it not contain a vestige of that frame? O heavy thought! O insupportable hour! Jagat Singha's eyes

Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum————————"

Anon the thought of the hellish Katlu Khan's pleasure chamber flashes upon his imagination; he sees that tender frame on the lap of the villain, and again his heart barns like a volcano,

That Tilottama whose image has been enshrined in his heart of hearts—that Tilottama is now an inmate of the Pathan's—aye,—that very Tilottama is now the concubine of Katlu Khan!

Can a Rajpoot pay his devotions to such an image any more? Is a Rajput worthy of his race who hesitates with his own hands to tear that image from his mind for ever?

That image has rooted itself deep in the mind of Jagat Singha; and to uproot it is to rend the heart itself. Ah! how shall he banish that lovely image for ever? Is it possible? So long as "memory holds a seat in his distracted globe," so long as flesh and blood remain, so long will that image lord it over his heart and soul.

Not to speak of his mental quiet, these distracted thoughts were fast depriving the Prince of his reason; his memory began to fail. When the night was about to go away, the Prince still sat up supporting his head upon his hands; his brain was reeling; he had lost all power of thinking.

His body ached for having sat long in the same posture; his violent mental agitation had spread fever heat all over his body. He came up to the window.

The cool summer breeze touched his forehead. There was darkness all round; a thin cloud had spread itself in the sky; the stars were not visible; only here and there a mild-gleaming star peeped out from behind a fleeting cloud. The trees at a distance had blended themselves into one another's being in the dark, and stood under the sky like a wall of darkness; the trees close by were glittering with crowns of glow-worms, which shone like so many diamonds. In a tank in front, the image of the trees and the sky appeared indistinct in darkness.

The night breeze which had stolen its coolness from the clouds, somewhat allayed the bodily heat of Jagat Singha. He remained at the window and stood placing his hand over his head. He had become exhausted through prolonged mental agitation, and from want of sleep. The contact of the grateful breeze made him desist a little from thinking, and somewhat diverted his thoughts. The dagger which had hitherto been piercing his heart was being replaced by the less poignant dagger of despair. The pain is in forsaking hope; when despair has once established itself in the mind, the pain is not so much; it is the blow which is attended with very great pain,—not so the wound, which though lasting, is not so painful. Jagat Singha was now suffering the lesser pain of despair. He looked at the dark, starless appearance of the heavens, and then with tearful eyes looked at the dark starless appearance of his own heart. The past now gently began to start into life at the touch of remembrance; childhood, youth with its delights, all came before his view; he was lost in his reflections; by and bye he became still more absorbed; by and bye his body began to cool down; he was fast growing insensible from fatigue. He felt sleepy, as he kept hold of the window. In his sleep the Prince dreamed a dream. It was of a very painful and agitating nature. He frowned in sleep; his face showed expressions of agony; his lips quivered; perspiration stood out on his forehead; his fists clenched fast.

He awaked with a start; he began to pace the room hurriedly; it is difficult to say how long he suffered in this way.

When the walls of the room were laughing in the morning sun, Jagat Singha was sleeping, stretched at length on the ground, without a bed, without a pillow.

Osman came and awakened him. When he rose, Osman saluted and handed him a letter. The Prince took it, and without saying anything, fixed his gaze on Osman. The latter understood that the Prince's mind was wandering. Thinking the time, therefore, as unsuitable for any talk on business, he said,

"Prince, I don't feel curious to know the reason of your lowly bed—not I. I had promised the writer of this note to deliver it to you. The reason which made me so long withhold it from you, exists no longer, you have learnt it all, Sir. I leave the letter with you; read it at your leisure. I'll call again in the evening. If you should wish to send a reply, I will have it conveyed to the writer."

Saying this, Osman left the letter with the Prince, and went away.

On being restored to his senses when left alone, he began to read Bimala's letter. After having read it from beginning to end, he prepared a fire and cast the note into it. He kept his gaze fixed at it, so long as it burnt; when it was completely consumed, he said to himself,

"I have succeeded in destroying the remembrancer, by committing it to the flames; memory too is burning in anguish, but why is it not reduced to ashes?"

He then finished his daily morning duties. After finishing his devotions, he reverentially bowed down his head to his guardian deity, and then clasping his hands and looking upwards, said,

"Father! forsake not Thy servant. I will act as becomes a Kshatriya; I only ask Thy blessing. I will banish from my mind the concubine of the casteless wretch; should the effort cost me my life, I shall have Thee in the next world. I have done what man can do, I will do what man can. O! Searcher of hearts! look thou into the very recesses of my soul and see whether I any more long for Tilottama, any more wish to see her. Only fell remembrance is torturing me incessantly. I have resigned the desire, shall I never be able to get rid of the memory? Father! have mercy upon me! or cruel remembrance will undo me quite."

The image is banished.

Tilottama! what are you dreaming of, girl, lying on the ground? The sole star at which you had been gazing amidst dismal gloom, will no more impart its light to you; the plank to which you had clung for life in this violent tempest, has slipped from your hold; the raft on which you had embarked your fortunes for crossing the ocean, has gone to the bottom!