Krishna Kanta's Will (Chatterjee, Knight)/Part 2/Chapter 15

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CHAPTER XV.


Bhramar was gone. Her funeral rites were performed in the usual manner. At the close Gobind Lâl sat in the house. Since his return he had not said a word to any one.

Again a night passed. The sun rose on the day after Bhramar's death the same as on other days. The leaves of the trees glistened in the shadow. The tiny ripples in the dark blue waters of the tank sparkled in the sun. The dark clouds in the sky became white; it was as though Bhramar had not died. Gobind Lâl went out.

Gobind Lâl had loved two women, Bhramar and Rohini. Rohini had died. Bhramar was dead. He had been attracted by Rohini's beauty, he could not quench youth's unsatisfied thirst for beauty; so, leaving Bhramar, he had taken to Rohini; but no sooner had he done so than he fully recognised that she was Rohini, not Bhramar; that thirst for beauty is not love; that enjoyment is not happiness; that the deadly poison, produced at the churning of the ocean by means of the serpent Vâsuki, followed after the creation of the nectar that was borne in the cup of Dhanvantari. So, in like manner, be perceived that poison had resulted by the churning of the ocean of his heart, which could not be got rid of; that he must of necessity drink it. So he drank it up, even as the blue-throated god Sivâ had swallowed the poison of yore; and as with Sivâ, so with Gobind Lâl: the poison had lodged in his throat, it could not be digested, it could not be rejected.[1]

But then that formerly known relish, that pure nectar of Bhramar's love, mingled with heavenly fragrance, that heart-nourisher, that remedy for all ills by day and by night, awoke in his memory. When at Prasâdpur Gobind Lâl was floating in the stream of Rohini's song, Bhramar reigned in full possession of his heart; Bhramar within, Rohini without. Then Bhramar was unattainable and he could not give up Rohini—yet Bhramar reigned within, Rohini remained without. Thus it came about that Rohini so quickly died. If this is not obvious to every reader, then in vain have I written this story.

If then, making suitable provision for Rohini, Gobind Lâl had come humbly to the loving Bhramar, had said, "Forgive me, give me again a place in your heart"; if he had said, "There are no merits in me to induce you to forgive me, but you are so full of grace, out of your own grace pardon me," I think Bhramar would have pardoned him. Because woman is full of forgiveness, of compassion, of love; woman is the crowning excellence of God's creation, the shadow of the gods. Man the god's creation only. Woman is light, man is shadow. Could the light do without the shadow? (i.e., could a woman ever forget her love for man?)

Gobind Lâl could not do that. There was something of pride, man is full of pride, something of shame, the punishment of the evil-doer is shame, something of fear; sin cannot easily face virtue. So there had been no way of return to Bhramar. Gobind Lâl could advance no further. After that. Gobind Lâl became a murderer. His hope died out. Darkness could not approach light.

Then again, that unquenchable, burning thirst to see Bhramar tormented Gobind Lâl year by year, month by month, daily, hourly, at every moment. Who had ever possessed such a treasure? or who had ever lost such an one? Both Bhramar and Gobind Lâl had suffered, but Bhramar was happy compared with Gobind Lâl. His suffering was beyond man's power of endurance. Bhramar had a helper in death. Gobind Lâl had not even that help.

Again night passed, again earth smiled in the sun's light. Gobind Lâl came out of the house. He had slain Rohini with his own hands; he had in effect caused Bhramar's death also with his own hands. With these thoughts in his mind he came out.

I know not how Gobind Lâl had spent that night. It must have been a terrible night to him. On opening the door he encountered Mâdhabi Nâth, who stood gazing into his face—a face which bore the shadow of a disease beyond human remedy. Mâdhabi Nâth said nothing to him. Mâdhabi Nâth had mentally vowed he would never again in this life speak to Gobind Lâl. So he went away without a word.

Gobind Lâl on leaving the house went into the garden below Bhramar's window. Jâmini had spoken truly: it was no longer a flower garden. It had become a jungle of grass and weeds. One or two hardy, half-dead plants were to be seen amid the jungle, but they bore no flowers. Gobind Lâl walked long amid this wilderness. It became late, the sun's rays were extremely powerful, and at length, wearied with his long walk, he went away.

Thence, without holding speech with any, not looking at any one, Gobind Lâl went to the edge of the Barunî tank. It was half-past ten. The deep, dark blue waters of the tank sparkled in the burning rays of the sun. Numbers of men and women were bathing on the ghât. The children were swimming about, tossing the dark water round about in crystals. Gobind Lâl did not wish to join that crowd, so he left the ghât and went to that part of the bank where the flower garden lay. First he noticed that the railing was broken, the handsome iron gate had been changed into a bamboo hedge. Bhramar had carefully preserved all Gobind Lâl's property, but of this flower garden near the Barunî tank she had taken no care. Jâmini had spoken of it on one occasion and Bhramar had replied: "I am on the way to Death's dwelling, let that pleasure garden of mine also go to destruction. Sister, can I bequeath to any one that which formed my heaven on this earth?"

Gobind Lâl saw there was no gate, the railing had fallen. Passing into the garden, he found no flowering shrubs, only thatching grass. Wild arums and other weeds with cassia-trees filled the place. The creeper-covered bowers were all fallen, the statues lay on the ground broken in pieces, over-run with creepers, some still standing but mutilated. The roof of the summer house was gone, the venetians and sashes broken and carried away; all the marble stripped from the building and removed. In that garden flowers bloomed no more, nor fruit ripened. Even the pleasant air seemed to have ceased to blow.

Gobind Lâl sat at the foot of a broken statue. The mid-day come, he still sits there. The intense heat burns his head, but he feels it not, his life is going. Since night he had thought only of Bhramar, of Rohini, first one, then the other, continuously. Now Bhramar, now Rohini seemed to rise before his eyes; the world seemed filled with these two figures. Sitting in that garden each shrub took the form of Bhramar; Rohini sat in the shade of every tree. Now Bhramar seemed to be standing there, and again she was gone; now Rohini came, and she too vanished. Every sound seemed to be the voice of one or the other. The voices of the people on the ghât seemed now that of Bhramar, now of Rohini; now the two in conversation. The rustling of dry leaves seemed the sound of Bhramar's approach; the moving of insects in the wood, that of the flight of Rohini. The swaying of a bough in the wind seemed the expiring sigh of Bhramar; the call of the dayal the song of Rohini. The world was filled with Bhramar, with Rohini.

Twelve o'clock, half-past one, Gobind Lâl still there, at the foot of the broken statue, still in that world of Bhramar, of Rohini. Three, half-past four, Gobind Lâl has not bathed, has eaten no food, is still in that Bhramar-Rohini-filled pit of fire (the fire of remorse). Evening comes, but Gobind Lâl does not rise, he is senseless. His household, not seeing him all day, thought he had gone to Calcutta, so they made no search. Evening had fallen, the garden had become dark, stars glittered in the sky, the earth was silent, Gobind Lâl still there.

Suddenly in that dark, hushed solitude a great change came over Gobind Lâl's maddened heart. He clearly heard Rohini's voice as though she were calling out—

"In this place!"

Gobind Lâl no longer remembered that Rohini was dead. He asked, "What—in this place?"

And it seemed as if Rohini answered—"At such an hour!"

Mechanically he repeated, "In this place, and at this time—what, Rohini?"

Under the influence of his mental malady, he heard Rohini say: "In this place, at such an hour, in this water, I plunged."

Gobind Lâl, hearing this voice in imagination, asked, "Shall I plunge into it?" Again, in fancy, he heard the answer—

"Yes, come; Bhramar, sitting in heaven, sends to say that her merit has power to redeem us. Perform penance thus. Die."

Gobind Lâl closed his eyes. Exhausted in body and trembling all over he fell, benumbed, on the stone landing steps of the ghât. In his dazed condition he seemed to see Rohini suddenly dissolve into the darkness. Then, gradually filling the whole atmosphere with brilliance, the bright figure of Bhramar arose before him, and said: "Why should you die? do not die. You have lost me. Need you die for that? There is one dearer to you than I. Live and you will obtain her."

Gobind Lâl lay there in that senseless condition all night. At dawn, searching for him, his people carried him into the house. Seeing his state, even Mâdhabi Nâth pitied him. All strove to restore him. In two or three months he recovered his natural health. They hoped he would now dwell at home, but he did not. One night, without telling any one, he went away, and no one got news of him any more.

 

  1. See Appendix, Note 10.