Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 22
The flower blooms. Abhiramswami went to Garmandaran; and with great pomp and eclat celebrated the nuptials of his grand-daughter and Jagat Singha.
Jagat Singha had invited his friends and acquaintances from Jahanabad to his wedding. The friends and relatives of Tilottama's father also came and made merry on the auspicious occasion.
Jagat Singha had given notice to Aesha as desired. She came with her youthful brother and some of the inmates.
Although she was a Musulmani, yet such was the regard and affection which both Tilottama and Jagat Singha bore to her, that she was welcomed into the inner apartment of the castle, with her maids. The reader may think that, weighed upon with a load of grief, Aesha could not enter into the general joy and gaity of the occasion. But it was not so. Blessed with a cheerful heart, she delighted all, like 'a bright consummate flower,' waving in the crystal brook and gleaming in the autumnal moonlight; her laugh spread lustre before her path.
The small hours had begun when the marriage ended. Aesha then prepared t?o return wit?h her attendants. Laughing, she took leave of Bimala. The latter, who knew nothing of Aesha's heart, said with a laugh,
"Dear P?rince?ss, no?w it will be our turn to be invited on the auspic?i?ous occasion of your wedding."
Leaving Bi?mala, Aesha came to ?Tilottama, aud t?ook her to a soliary chamber.
"Sister," said she,? taking? Tilottama's ha?nd, "I go now. M?ay you enioy happiness and length of days. T?his? only is my heart-felt prayer."
"And pray," sa?id ?Tilottama, "?after how long shall I see you ag?ain?"
"Alas! ?How can I" replied Aesha, "entertain the hope of ever seeing you again?"
Tilottama became sad. Both remained silent.
"Whether we meet or not," said Aesha after a pause, "but will you forget Aesha?"
"Would the Prince,?" replied Tilottama, laughing, "ever forgive me if I forget Aesha?"
"I am not pleased with these words of yours," said Aesha seriously. "You must never mention me to the Prince; promise this."
Aesha understood that the circumstance that her future happiness had been utterly blighted for Jagat S?ingha, smote him severely; and the least mention of her to him would awaken his grief.
Tilottama promised to do so. Aesha went on,
"But don't forget me either. Pray, do not reject the things which I give you for memory."
She thereupon called her maid, and gave her orders?. The woman brought in an ivory box, containing jewel?s. Aesha sent her aw?ay, and beg?an with her own hands to deck Tilottama.
Although the daughter of a? wealthy land-holder?, Tilottama was struck with the rare workma?ship of the variou?s ornaments, as? also with the brilli?ant lustre of their gems. With her own l?oad of ornaments which had be?en given to he?r by her? father, Aesha had ca?used thes?e rare jewels to be prepared for Tilottama. The la?tter spoke in admiration of the jewels.
"Si?ster," ?said Aesha, "do not admire these. What tinsel are they in compa?rison with the gem wi?th which? you have adorned your bosom this day!" Here she strove hard to check her tears. Tilottama knew nothing.
When the adorning was over, Aesha took hold of both hands of Tilottama, and fixed her eyes on Tilottama's face. "Me thinks"—thought she, "my love will never be otherwise than happy with the possession of this open, lovely countenance. When Heaven has willed it so, my only prayer to Him is, may the Prince be ever happy with this girl!"
"Tilottama!" said she, "fare-well. Your husband may be engaged;—no use of losing any more time in taking his leave. May God grant you long life. Wear these jewels. And my—your best jewel wear on your heart."
Her utterance became almost choked in saying 'your best jewel.' Tilottama saw that Aesha's eye-lids were trembling with the weight of tears.
Tilottama melted in sympathy, and said,
"Why are you weeping? Eh?"
Anon the flood gates were opened.
Without staying there a moment more, Aesha hastily left the chamber and got into the litter.
When she reached home, it was still night. She changed her dress, and stood at the window of her room, through which the cool air was blowing in. The sky more deliciously blue than the dress she had just changed, was studded with myriads of twinkling stars;—the trees in the dark sent a murmur as their leaves were swayed by the breeze. On the top of the castle, the owl was shrieking low and deep. Below the rampart in front, on the other side, and the wall of the castle down Aesha's chamber, lay the moat filled with water, holding silently and still the image of the sky.
Sitting at the window, Aesha reflected long. She took out a ring from her finger. The gem which graced it was the home of poison. Once she thought,
"I can at once quench my thirst for good, by sucking this gem." Again she thought,
"And is it for this that God has sent me into the world? If I am not equal to this trial, why was I born a woman? And what would Jagat Singha say, on hearing it?" She thereupon put on the ring. On some thought or other, she again took it out.
"It is beyond the power of a woman to resist this temptation; I'll cast it away."
Saying this, she threw the ring into the waters of the moat.
Printed by G. C. Dey, at the New Sanskrit Press,
14, Duff Street, Calcutta.