Durgesa Nandini/Book 2/Chapter 9

 

CHAPTER IX.

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DIGGAJA'S TIDINGS.


When Gajapati Vidyadiggaja was ushered in by the servant, the Prince asked, "Are you a Brahmin, Sir?"

Diggaja replied with a wave of the hand,

"यावत् मेरौ स्थिता देवा यावत् गङ्गा महीतले,
असारे खलु संसारे, सारं श्वशुर मन्दिरं।"

[So long as the gods choose to inhabit the Himalaya, so long as the Ganges waters this sublunary sphere, in this unreal world, verily the only reality is the father-in-law's house.]

Jagat Singha suppressed his rising laughter and bowed down his head. Gajapati uttered the benediction, "May Khoda Khan[1] bless the noble Babu!"

"I am not a Musalman, Sir," said the Prince. "I am a Hindu."

"The rogue!" thought Diggaja. "He is certainly a Yavan; he is only trying to humbug me. He has some motive for this, else why should he call me in? Noble Khan[2] Babu," said he sadly in alarm, "I know you, Sir, I live upon your bread; do not ill treat me, I pray you; I am your bond-slave, Sir."

Jagat Singha perceived the hitch.

"You are a Brahmin, Sir," said he, "and I am a Rajput. This language to me is therefore not befitting. Your name is Gajapati Vidyadiggaja?"

"Ha! look there!" thought Diggaja. "The fellow wants my name! God knows what a scrape he will bring me into! Have mercy upon me, noble Shaik," exclaimed he with joined hands. "Have mercy, I am a poor man, Sir. On my knees I beseech you."

From the Brahmin's extremity of fright, Jagat Singha saw it was impossible to make him answer his purpose by any direct means. Accordingly with the view of diverting his attention, he said,

"What puti have you got in your hand?"

"A work on Manikpir, so please you, Sir."

"You a Brahmin and carry a work on Manikpir?"

"Hem! hem! I was a Brahmin once, but not now."

The Prince was at once astonished and vexed.

"What say you? Didn't you live at Garmandaran?"

"Death and damnation O!" thought Diggaja. "He has even discovered that I lived at Virendra Singha's castle! He will deal with me even as they have done with Virendra Singha." Here the Brahmin burst into tears.

"Have mercy, noble Khan!" cried out Diggaja, rubbing his hands with might and main. "Do not belabour me, I beseech you; I am your slave."

"Are you in your senses?"

"Yes, your honor! I am your slave, Sir; I am your own, Sir!"

"No fear, man," said Jagat Singha, with the view of calming the Brahmin. "Pray, entertain us with a reading from your book."

The Brahmin fell to reading the puti in a sing-song way, his eyes still bedewed with tears. His tone was as much a borrower from crying as from sing-song. So sings a little boy who has just been pulled by the ear by the opera master.

After he had read for sometime, the Prince asked,

"Being a Brahmin, why were you reading a book on Manikpir?"

"I am a convert now," answered the Brahmin, stopping his sing song.

"How's that?" asked the Prince.

"When the Musalman Babus entered the fort," said Gajapati "they said to me, 'Come, Brahmin, we'll spoil your caste'; and thereupon they dragged me away, and forced me to eat the fowl palo."[3]

"What is palo?"

"The atapa[4] rice boiled in clarified butter."

The Prince understood what was meant.

"Go on"—said he.

"Then they made me read Kalmi,"[5] said Diggaja.

"Kalma; well then?"

"Then they said, 'You have become a Musalman.' Since then I am a Musalman."

"What of the other inmates?" here enquired the Prince.

"All the other Brahmins have fared like me."

The Prince fixed his eyes on Osman. Understanding his silent rebuke, Osman said,

"And where's the harm in it, Prince? We consider Mahommedanism as the only true faith; and consider it no sin but a virtue to spread it by any means."

"Noble Vidyadiggaja—" said the Prince without replying to Osman.

"Now, Shaikh Diggaja, if you please."

"Very well; noble Shaikh, know you anything of any other inmates of the castle?"

Osman grew anxious, understanding the motive of the Prince.

"Besides, Abhiramswami has escaped," said Diggaja.

The Prince saw that he must (if he should learn anything) speak directly.

"What has become of Virendra Singha?" asked he.

"The Nabab has beheaded him," replied the Brahmin.

The Prince's face reddened.

"What does he say?" he asked Osman. "Is the Brahmin telling a fib?"

"After trying him," replied Osman seriously, "the Nabab has executed him as a rebel."

The Prince's eyes flashed fire.

"May I take the liberty, Sir, to ask one thing more?" he asked Osman. "Was it done with your consent?"

"No; it was against my advice," replied Osman.

The Prince paused for a long while. Taking the opportunity, Osman said to Diggaja,

"You may go now."

Diggaja rose and was about to go away, when the Prince prevented him by catching hold of his hand.

"One word more," said he. "Where is Bimala?"

The Brahmin heaved a sigh; he also cried a little.

"Bimala is now the concubine of the Nabab," said he.

The Prince cast at Osman a glance like the lightning. "Is this also true?" asked he.

"What have you to do here any more?" said Osman to the person, without replying to the Prince. "Go away."

The Prince grasped his hand firmly; so that the Brahmin could not choose but stay.

"Wait a moment longer," said he. "One word more and I have done." Here his red eyes began to flash with living flame. "One word more; Tilottama?"

"Tilottama," replied the Brahmin, "also is now the Nabab's concubine. They are living in peace in the midst of every comfort."

The Prince violently pushed away the Brahmin's hand; the man luckily escaped going head over heels.

Osman was ashamed; he said in a soft tone,

"I am an officer merely."

"You are the Devil's officer," replied the Prince.

 

 

  1. This is an extremely ludicrous expression, showing the ignorance of Diggaja, who had been recently converted to Mahommedanism. The word Khan, which is a Mahomedan title, is never used in conjunction with Khoda (God).
  2. This is another ludicrous conjunction, the word Khan being joined to the word Babu applied to Bengalis as an honorific epithet.
  3. Diggaja here ludicrously confounds polao—a rich Mehommedan dish—with palo—a kind of gruel for sick people.
  4. Atapa means sunshine; atapa rice is rice dried in the sun.
  5. Kalma is a Mehommedan religious work. Diggaja calls it Kalmi—the name, familiar in Bengali households, of a salad!