Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 16
There was dancing that nigh?t in the ?harem of Katlu Khan. He did no?t, lik?e the Mogal Emperors, ?celebrate his ?anniversary in festive mirth and gaity in the midst of his courtiers;—his nature was intensely selfish, and ever cr?aved for the lusts? of the flesh. That night he was surrounded by his sweet-h?earts, and was engaged in mirth and fun with them. There was n?o ?other danci?ng girl,—no other spectator. No ?o?ne could go there except the eunuchs. Some were dancing, some were singing and some keeping measure; the rest s?at round ?Katlu Khan and listened.
Nothing that ?could please t?he se?nse was lacking there. You entered the chamber, and a grateful cool?ness spread itself over? your body, on a?ccount ? of the odour of? f??ragrant waters, which kept continually spr?inkling?. The sp?lendour of ever so many silver, ivory a? c?rystal ?vessels daz?zled yo?ur sig?ht. No end of flo??wers—he?re in garlands—the?re in heaps—and t?here again in bouquets;—?they g?raced the hair of th?e fair ones,—they gl?eamed mildly over their neck?. Some ca?rried the flowery fan—some were? dec?ked in flowers—some were thr?owitng bouquets ?at?? others, Th?e odour of the flowers—the odour of the perfumes??—the odo?ur of the lamps—the odour of the fragrant bosoms of the lo?vely damsels themselves;—the air was sick with odour. The splendour of the lamps, the splendour of the flowers, the splendour of the ornaments, and finally the splendour of the side-glances da?rted incessantly from the eyes of the women. The music of the ?vina and other instruments swelled the ai?r, accompanied by the sweeter, clearer s?trains of the fem?ales; a?t intervals? the tinklings? proceed?ing from th?e feet of a dancing-girl took the soul with 'enchanting ravishment.'
Look there! reader, how yonder female dances; so dances the lotus-embosom?ed sw?an when the waves ?are up. She i?s looked on by a circle of lovely, cheerful faces. Look where sits she of the blue attire—her cloth glittering in stars of gold—what a pair of expansive eyes! how deliciously blue like the sky!—what lightning flash in her side-glance! Look at the other fair one, who bears a diamond-star on that spot of her forehead where her hair begins to part. Do you see what a sweet forehead she has? Serene, expansive, clear—h?as such a creature been meant by Heaven for the harem? Look at that lovely brown girl decked in flowers. Do you see how well her floral dress sets off her person? Flowers were meant for the fair. Do you see yonder girl with cherry-ripe lips, which are at present slightly compressed. Mark how her bright complexion comes out from behind her glossy, blue vesture—so looks the moon at its full in the cloudless heavens. Do you see that fair one there with the swan-like neck. She is talking and laughing. Look how her pendants are waving. Who are you, my fair one, with such a fine? head? of ? h?air? Why have you let your ringlets down to your breast? Do you show how the snake twines itself round the lotus-bud?
And who are you, my fair one, who seated beside Katlu Khan, are pouring out the 'rubied nectar' into the golden glass? Who are you at whose 'bright, consummate' charms Katlu Khan is incessantly casting eager glances? Who are you that are firing his bosom with your infallible side-looks? I know that glance,—you are Bimala. Why are you pouring out so much liquor? Go on,—go on—more—you have, su?re, got? the dagger within your dress? Of course. How can you then laugh in such a mann?er? Ah! it is no common laugh. Katlu Khan is looking at you in the in the face. What's that? Side-glance! What's that? What again? See if you have not maddened the flushed Musalman! Perhaps, it is by means of your wiles that you have at once made yourself the sole mistress of his heart. And how could it be otherwise? Such a laugh! such a carriage! sucu a sweet, playful talk! such a side-glance! Again the cup! Have a care, Katlu Khan! And what can Katlu Khan do? With what a glance Bimala is offering the glass! Ha! what's that sound? Who is singing? Does it proceed from human or from angelic lungs? Bimala is singing with the singers. What a voice! what strains! how fine the measure! Katlu Khan, what's this? Who has captivated your mind? What are you gazing at? She is smilingly casting her side-look at every cadence; she is piercing your heart with more than a dagger's sharpness. Do you see that? The glance alone is bewitching and it is accompanied by music! And do you see how her head waves gently with every glance? Do you see how her pendants are waving? Ha! pour the liquor again, pour, for God's sake. What's this? What's this? Bimala has risen up and begun to dance. How beautiful! what a manner! The glass! What a person! What a frame! Katlu Khan, my lord! have patience! patience I say! You are in a flame! Ah! Katlu's body is burning! The cup! ah! the cup! Ha! what again? Again the laugh! again the glance! Wine! wine! What is is, eh? Kanchali?
What's that, my lord? What's that?
The circle of women rose up with a chorus of laughter, and fled.
Suddenly the lamp went out; Katlu Khan cried "Where are you, my charmer?"
Laying one hand on Katlu's shoulder, Bimala said,
"Your slave's at your feet, lord." Her other hand held the dagger.
Katlu Khan drew Bimala to her breast, and embraced her deeply. The next moment he shrieked out frightfully, cast her away at a distance, and sank in the bed. Bimala had sent her sharp dagger to the hilt into Katlu's breast.
"Vile murdress! damned wretch!" exclaimed he; his throat gurgled he spoke.
"No murdress, no wretch, but the widowed wife of Virendra Singha!" said Bimala, and off she went.
Katlu was fast losing his speech; still he kept up crying with all his might. Bimala too ran and cried. On reaching another room she heard some people talking. She flew like wind. She found some guards and eunuchs in the next room. Hearing the cry and seeing her flurry, they asked,
"What's the matter?"
"Death and r?uin," exclaimed the inventive Bimala, "make ha?ste, Sirs; ?some robbers have entered? the chamber; perhaps? they have mu?rdered the Nabab."
The men ran off in hot haste towards the room; Bimala ran to the gate of the inner apartment. There she found the guar?d in a p?rofound sleep throngh inebriation, ? and cross?ed the gate witho?ut hinderance. It was the same throughout. She ran uninter?ruptedl?y. On coming to the outer gate, she found the guard? awake. One of them, on seeing Bimata, said,
"Who is there? Where are you going??"
There was now a tremendous uproar within the inner apartmen?t; all were running in that direction.
"What are you doing here, sitting idle?" said Bimala; "don't you hear the noise?"
"What is it about?" enquired the gu?ard.
"Confusion!" exclaimed? Bimala, "t?he Nabab ha?s been a?ttacked."
Off ran the guards, leaving the gate; Bimala slipped ou?t without obstruction.
When she had gone some way from the gate, she found a man standing under a tree. Bimala imm?ediat?ely reco?gnised him as Abhiramswami.
When she came up, Abhiramsw?ami said,
"I was extremel?y anxious. What?'s the noise for??"
"I have? aveng?ed my ?wrong!" replied Bim?ala. "We shoul?dn't tarry he?re; let us h?asten to the cottage. I will let you know all afterwards. Tilottama is there already?"
"She is g?oing with Ashmani," said Abhiramswam?i. "We s?hall overtake her soon."
They w?alk?ed away hastily. On reaching th?e cottage soon, they found that through Ae?sha's kindness?, Tilottama had just come with Ashm?ani. She saluted? the? fee?t of Abhiramsw?ami with a low reverence, and began to weep. After solacing her, he sa?id,
"By the grace of ?God, you h?ave come out of the clutches of the sinful wretch. ?No tarrying here a moment more.? Should the Musalmans trace us out, they will aven?ge their murdered lord by taking our lives. Let us quit this plac?e this very? night."
All agreed to this proposal.
- A stringed instrument of the Hindus.