Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 4/Chapter 1

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The night of the great victory was a night of revelry. The Children went wild with the chanting of Bande Mataram. Some robbed the dead enemies of their weapons, and others seized their jewels and money. Some rushed towards the village and others towards the city. Under penalty of death the Children forced travellers and householders alike to shout Bande Mataram. Some looted candy shops for sweets, others the dairy shops for milk and butter.

The city and the villages became furious with excitement. The British had been defeated in battle! Their Indian loyalists had been defeated most ignominiously on all sides. The patriots set fire to the homes of the loyalists and harassed them in so many ways that they hurriedly left the villages and rushed to the city. The Children handled the pro-British roughly wherever they found them. Everywhere the British were in danger. They were assaulted at sight. Their homes, shops and factories were burnt to ashes.

News of the victory of the Children spread far and wide. Men, women and children, the old, the young and the invalid heard of it. Kalyani was joyous to learn of this triumph of her husband. She thought: 'Dear God, today your cause has met with success. I must start tonight in quest of my husband. Oh, most merciful God, I beg you to help me.'

She rose from her bed at midnight. Opening a window of her room she looked out. No one was to be seen in the by-lane. So she left the house and began to walk along the public road. Again she prayed: 'My God, my God, may I meet my husband tonight at Padachina.' When she reached the city gate, a guard asked: 'Who goes there?'

'I am a woman,' replied Kalyani, a little frightened.

'You are not allowed to pass.'

The Chief of the guards heard this and said, 'There is no objection to anyone going out, but no one can come in.'

So the guard said to Kalyani: 'Go, mother, there is no objection to your going, but it is dangerous for you to go out on a night like this. I do not know what might happen to you. You may be robbed or you may fall in a ditch. You should not go out at a time like this.'

'Dear brother,' Kalyani said, 'I am only a beggar woman. I have not even a penny with me. How can robbers molest me?'

'My little mother, you are young and beautiful. That is the greatest asset on earth. At the least hint from you I could turn robber myself this very moment.'

Kalyani quite understood; but she pretended ignorance and said not a word. The guard, much disappointed at this apparent lack of humour on her part, began to smoke his pipe of hemp.

Kalyani silently walked away.

That night the public streets were infested by rowdies. Some shouted, 'Beat him up,' and others, 'Run away, run away' Some were crying and others laughing. Everybody was suspicious of everyone else. Kalyani found herself in great difficulty. She forgot the way to Padachina; and she could not ask anyone, for all were in a fighting mood. Stealthily she made her way onward, walking only in the dark. Even so, she suddenly fell into the hands of a group of the wildest rebels, who shouted aloud to find such a prey, and rushed to catch hold of her. Kalyani ran as fast as she could, and escaped into a forest. Two men followed her even there. One caught her by the flying hem of her sari and cried, 'My darling, O my darling!'

But another quickly rushed to the scene and struck the rogue with a stick. Wounded, the villain fell back. The man who came to Kalyani s rescue was dressed as a sanyasi. He was young. He said to Kalyani: 'Please, do not be afraid anymore. Come with me; and tell me where you want to go.'

'I want to go to Padachina,' Kalyani said.

The holy man, surprised to hear this, said: 'What do you mean? Do you really want to go to Padachina?' And the sanyasi placed his hands on Kalyani's shoulders and scrutinised her face intently in the darkness.

At the forced touch of a man, Kalyani was both afraid and angry. Tears rushed to her large eyes. She was almost paralysed with fear. It was even beyond her power to try to run away. Suddenly the holy man whispered: 'I know who you are. You are our naughty little Kalyani.'

Kalyani was still more afraid at hearing such endearing terms from a holy man, and asked: 'Who are you?'

'I am your slave, Kalyani. Dearest Kalyani, I am your slave. Oh, most beautiful one, won't you honour me with your love?'

Kalyani pulled herself a few steps away from the stranger.

'Did you save my life only to insult me in this way?' she said, fire in her eyes and contempt in her voice. 'I see you are dressed as a holy man. Does a holy man behave like this? I am helpless here tonight. I cannot defend myself.'

'Oh, my best beloved, I have been longing for the warm touch of your divine body.'

And the holy man rushed towards her and forcibly embraced her. Kalyani laughed aloud. She cried most happily: 'You should have told me that you were a woman.'

'Sister,' Shanti said, you are looking for Mahendra, I know'

'Who are you? I see you know everything.'

'I am a sanyasini, a captain in the army of the Children. I am a very heroic person. I do know everything. The highway is very dangerous. You cannot go to Padachina tonight.'

Kalyani began to cry.

Shanti rolled her beautiful eyes and said: 'What should we be afraid of? We both can conquer thousands of our enemies with just the romantic glances of our eyes. Come, on second thought, let us go to Padachina.'

Kalyani was happy beyond words. She felt as if heaven had blessed her to gain the assistance of such a clever woman. She felt much comfortable and bold. She said to the girl clad in the garb of a holy man: 'I trust you, sister, I shall go wherever you take me.'

Shanti led her then through a secret path in the woods.