Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 1/Chapter 3

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It was a delightful part of the jungle where the robbers brought Kalyani. But it was dark, and there were no eyes trained enough to appreciate its physical beauty. Like the nobility of a poor man's heart, the forest was beautiful sans appreciation. The entire countryside was starving, yet here were flowers whose fragrance lightened the darkness. The robbers having put Kalyani and her child on a clean plot of ground covered with flowers, sat in a circle around their victims. Soon they became involved in a heated discussion of how to dispose of the woman and her child. They had already taken possession of Kalyani s jewellery and one group was busy dealing out the ornaments. When the distribution was over, one man barked: 'What can we do with gold and silver? Will someone here give me a handful of rice for this jewel? I am hungry — I'm about to die of hunger! For the last few days I have eaten only leaves from the trees.'

'Rice, give us rice,' shouted another, 'We are all about to die of hunger. Give us rice, rice! We don't want gold or silver or precious stones. Give us rice, rice!'

The leader of the robbers tried to stop them from shouting, but without success. Louder and louder they talked in abusive language.

Soon they were about to come to blows. Angrily they pelted the leader with the jewels.

The leader fought them, until they all attacked him together and mercilessly beat him. He was so weak and so emaciated with hunger that struck by a few blows he fell to the ground and died. Then one of the hungry men cried angrily: 'We have been forced to eat the meat of jackals and dogs. Now lest we die of starvation, comrades, let us eat this man.'

The entire band shouted with approval. One man began to prepare a fire for the feast. He gathered dry creepers, wood and straw, and lighted a flame with flint. Soon the growing fire revealed the green branches and the foliage of the surrounding trees — mango, palm, tamarind and date. The leaves looked almost ablaze with light; the grass became radiant; in the far corner the darkness by contrast appeared darker. The fire was ready. One of the crowd, dragging the dead body by its feet, was about to throw it into the hungry flames when another member of the group shouted: 'Wait, wait a minute! We have decided to live today by eating human flesh. Why eat the dried flesh of this old man? Let us eat the flesh of those we have brought here today. Let us roast the young woman and her baby. Lets eat their tender meat.'

'Roast anything,' shouted a third, 'whatever you want, but be quick about it — I cannot stand this hunger any longer.'

They all shouted joyously at this happy idea and looked eagerly at the spot where Kalyani had been lying with her daughter. But lo! the spot was empty. Neither the mother nor the daughter was there.

Taking advantage of the quarrel, Kalyani had run away further into the jungle. Infuriated with the escape of their victims the ghostly men shouted furiously, 'Catch! Catch! — Kill! Kill!' They scattered into the jungle in search of the mother and the child.