Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 8

 

CHAPTER VIII.

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THE RECOVERY.


Time flies. Do whatever you will, Time will fly and not remain still. Whatever condition you may be in, Time will fly and not stop its career. Way-farer! are you being roughly handled by the storm and rain? Are the clouds roaring loud and deep over your head? Are the winds blowing wildly? Are you dripping in rain? Is your helpless body being mercilessly pelted by hail-stones? Don't you find a shelter for your head? A little patience, friend; this day will go away and not stand still. Wait a bit, this ugly day will pass away, 'there's a gude time coming'; the sun will rise again. Wait for the morrow.

Whose days do not go away? Whose days stand still to perpetuate his misery? Brother! why then weep? Whose days sit down to perpetuate his happiness? Why then swagger?

Whose days do not go? Tilottama is rolling in the dust, yet the days are going away.

Revenge has made Bimala's bosom its home, and with its tooth has spread venom into every fibre of it. A moment of suffering from its sting is insupportable, how many moments go to make up a day! Still have her days not gone away?

The victorious Katlu Khan is lying in the lap of luxury. His days are passing happily, but still they are passing away and are not stationery.

Jagat Singha is lying on a sick-bed. Who does not know what a lazy foot Time has with sick people? But still the days have gone away.

Yes, the days have gone away. By degrees, Jagat Singha began to recover. Having escaped the jaws of death, the Prince rallied daily. First his bodily uneasiness disappeared, then his appetite returned, next his strength returned, and with it brought anxiety.

His first thought was—"Where is Tilottama?" The more he rallied, the more he asked all that came in his way concerning Tilottama, in a disconsolate temper of mind; but none returned any satisfactory answer. Aesha did not know—Osman did not say—the servants and maids either did not know or did not say, having been forbidden. It was a bed of thorns with the Prince.

His second thought referred to his future. "What is to come?" Who could return a ready answer to this question? The Prince saw that he was a captive. Through the kindness of Osman and Aesha, he was living in a well furnished and perfumed chamber instead of in a prison; he was tended by servants and maids; he had everything ready before asking; Aesha was tending him with more than a sister's care. Still a person mounted guard at the door; he felt like a bird in a golden cage, fed with sweet drinks. When should he get free? Where was the likelihood of his getting free at all? Where were his troops then? How did they fare, deprived of their officer?

His next thought respected Aesha. "How has this fascinating and bewitching creature,—how has this image of benevolence and goodness descended upon this clay world of ours!"

Jagat Singha saw that Aesha knew no rest,—no fatigue,—no neglect. She was ceaseless in her attentions. So long as the Prince's illness continued, he daily saw her coming in the morning, like the 'sun new risen', with a graceful pace, holding a nose-gay in her hand; daily ha saw her remaining in the room even till the usual hour of bathing and breakfast had gone by; daily he saw her returning soon, after performing those necessary actions, to be engaged in tending him so long as the Begam did not send her maid, (with the exception of short interruptions from urgent business.)

What man has not lain on a sick-bed? But if ever it has fallen to the lot of any to have been tended by a radiant girl at his head, and to have been fanned by her lily hands,—he alone can say that disease is not altogether unpleasant.

Reader! wish you to form a lively image of Jagat Singha's situation? Well then, lie down (in imagination) on his sick-bed, your entire body suffering from severe pain. Fancy yourself a captive among foes; next fancy a richly furnished, deliciously cool and perfumed chamber. Fix your gaze at the door; suddenly your countenance shows expressions of joy; yonder comes the person who under this hostile roof looks on you as a brother; the person is moreover a woman—a youthful woman—a very full-blown lotus. Lying at length, you are looking at her steadily. Look what a grace is seated on that form—just tending to be tall, with all the members perfectly symmetrical—a very goddess with her divine perfections—a very queen by virtue of Nature's sanctifying chrism. Look, how graceful is her step. Have you heard of the elephant's gait? What is that? You talk of the motion of the swan? Mark the girl's step. The sounding instrument keeps measure in music; your heart keeps time to the music of her steps. See the bouquet in her hand. Do yow see the flowers have lost their hue before the superior brightness of her hands? Do you see that the golden chain has grown dim before the brightness of her throat? Ah! what's this? Why have your eyes forgotten to twinkle? Do you see the graceful manner of her neck? Do you see how happily the dark ringlets have fallen over her alabaster neck? Do you see how sweetly her pendants are waving? Have you marked the gentle inclination of her head? That is owing only to her slight tallness. Why are you looking so steadfastly? What will Aesha think of you?

So long as the illness of Jagat Singha required her services, Aesha was every day ceaselessly engaged in tending him. As the Prince grew better and better, the visits of Aesha became rarer and rarer; and when he was perfectly cured, she seldom came to him, only visiting him once or twice at long intervals, and ?when she came, she almost always came attended by Osman. As in winter the sun imperceptibly glides away from the body of a shivering person, as it gets late, even so did Aesha disappear from Jagat Singha as he recovered.

One evening the Prince stood at the window, looking beyond the fort. Men intent on business or pleasure were streaming to their respective destinations. Sadly the Prince fell to comparing his lot with theirs. At one place some people had formed themselves into a ring round some person or thing. The Prince's glance fell that way. He gathered that the men were engaged in some amusement; and that they were attentively listening to something. What the person or the object in the middle was like, the Prince could not see. He felt rather curious. After sometime, several of the audience went away; and his curiosity was satisfied. He saw a man was treating the people to some reading from a few leaves, which resembled a puti.[1] The person of the reciter rather awakened his curiosity. He might pass either for a man, or for a middle-sized palm tree 'scathed by heaven's fire,' and shorn of its leaves. He was as tall and as broad; but the palm is never loaded with so huge a proboscis of a nose. His manner was of a piece with his shape. The Prince fell to studying most heedfully the various gesticulations of the hand, the head and the proboscis with which the reciter accompanied his reading. Now Osman entered.

When they had saluted each other, Osman asked,

"Pray, Sir, what are you looking at so intently at the window?"

"Something like a piece of wood," replied the Prince. "You can see it, Sir, if you like."

"Hav'nt you seen him before, Prince?" asked Osman after seeing the man.

"No," replied the Prince.

"He is one of your Brahmins, Sir," said Osman. "His conversation is quite elegant. I saw him at Garmandaran."

The Prince grew anxious. He was at Garmandaran? Couldn't he then tell anything of Tilottama?

"What's his name, Sir,?" asked he in agitation.

Osman thought for a while, and said, "His name is rather hard to tell; it can't be so easily recalled to mind, Ganapat? No, Ganapati?Gajapat? No, Gajapati? What more?"

"Gajapati?—It's not a Bengali name; yet I see the man is a native of this country."

"Right! He is a Bengali; a Bhattacharjya. He has got some title. Elem—elem—what next?"

"O no, Sir, Bengali titles never take in the word elem. The Bengali for elem is vidya[2]. He might be a Vidyabhusan or a Vidyabagish."

"Yes, yes, vidya and something more. Stay—what do they call an elephant in Bengali?"

"Hasti."

"What more?"

"Kari, danti, varana, naga, gaja—"

"Ah! here it is; his name is Gajapati Vidyadiggaja."

"Viddyadiggaja! a rare title as I live! Nothing could match the title except the name. I feel curious to talk with the man."

Osman Khan had heard a wee bit of Gajapati's conversation; and saw no harm to any talk the Prince might hold with him.

"No harm," replied he.

They thereupon went into the next room and had Gajapati called in by a servant.

 

 

  1. A Ms. of palm-leaves.
  2. Learning.