Saturday, February 05, 2005

Pride and Prejudice - A Short Story

Having nothing better to write tonight, I thought that I would post a short story that I'd written when I was sixteen years old, in tenth class. It is actually a spoof I wrote on one of the most painful short stories we had to study in Hindi. I think my version is much better! Hehe! The original, in short, deals with a peasant girl, Madhulika and a prince Arun, who falls in love with her. He wants to attack Madhulika's kingdom, and she agrees to help him, but at the last minute, her conscience pricks her and she surrenders herself and gives up Arun's hiding place to her king, who then asks her what she would like as a reward, and she says, "Death!" Very pointless story, if you ask me.
It's more or less the same as I'd written ages ago, with only minor adjustments I've made over the years.
Am going to post it in installations, one page everyday. So here goes!
With due apologies to the late Mr. Jayashankar Prasad, I present to you my version of his ‘inspiring’ short story, “Puraskar”.
I’d also like to apologize to the late Ms. Jane Austen, for ‘borrowing’ her title.

Wet constellation… that does not sound quite right! Maybe I should not attempt such an in-depth translation. Lets start again:
There was moisture in the atmosphere. In the sky, black clouds could be seen. Thunder could be heard, which sounded like the Gods were playing the drums. From a clear corner in the sky, the ‘Golden Man’ (the sun, you dud!) was peeping out, watching the retinue of the king. From the valley, beneath the chain of mountains, the aroma of the wet mud of the plains could be smelt.
From the gates of the town, people started to hail the king. In the crowd, the fanner on the elephant could be seen seated high above its trunk. The group, which permeated, of happiness and joy drifted forward like waves in an ocean.

(Whew! That’s it! I’m not going to translate anymore, from here onwards; it’s all my creation!)

A celebration was being held in Kaushal – the kingdom of King Gaja Raja Rajeshwar Randheer Raghuveer Raj. Every year a field of one of the peasants was chosen as the best. The king would then plough it (about a centimeter at the most!) and thereafter it would become his. The peasant would receive four times of what the field was worth in gold coins. The kings and princes of the neighbouring kingdom were also invited for this celebration.
This ritual may seem quite fair, but it was not. In this way the kings would snatch all the lands (which anyway belonged to them in principle, so I really see no point in this ritual) from the poor peasants, who had no choice whatsoever in this little transaction. They were led to believe instead that this was a matter of great honour for them.
Well anyway, that year the field of our heroine, Madhulika, was chosen.
Madhulika looked beautiful even in the garb of a peasant; and she had caught the eye of a prince, Tarun (young) Arun. He was absolutely mesmerized by Madhulika.
After ploughing the field, Gaj (doesn’t this sound much better than Gaja Raja whatever?) gave a tray of gold coins to Madhulika. He was as captivated by Mads as was Tarun Arun. He grinned at her goofily. Mads bowed her head and refused to accept the coins.
Gaj still smiled goofily at her and asked, “Why aren’t you taking this money, sweetheart?” Mads was annoyed, she replied, “My father, Sinhamitra, who kept your honour in the battle against Magadh, had taught me quite a few things in his life time. I cannot accept these coins (as much as I would like to) as I am too proud to do so. And by refusing them (however crazy it may sound), I would do my dead Dad proud… And oh yes! Dad taught me one more thing: ‘stay away from lecherous kings!’” Saying so, she looked disgustedly at the salivating Gaj.
Not having heard a word of what Mads had said, he nodded his head and said, “whatever you want sweetie!” and then he took her aside and whispered, “If you feel bored or lonely anytime, you know that the gates of my palace, to be more precise, the doors to my bedroom, are always open for you!” He then walked away with the help of a stick.
[Hooked yet? Want to know more? Well, you'll just have to wait for tomorrow's installment!]

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