Chandrakanta

With no one to stop him, Tej Singh entered the gate easily. He saw a girl carrying a lantern. Tej Singh quickly went near her, threw his lasso and jerked in a way that she immediately fell down. He rendered her unconscious. He took out a candle from his pouch and carefully took the form of the fallen girl. Then, leaving her there, he approached the palace. He saw Chapla, Champa, Chandrakanta and many other girls together, talking. Disguised as a girl, he went and sat in a corner.

Seeing him, Chapla asked,’ Ketki, have you done what I had sent you for that now you are sitting here?’

Hearing her, Tej Singh knew that the girl he had left unconscious was called Ketki.

Tej Singh, ‘Oh yes, I went to do your work but saw something on the way which I thought I should tell you immediately. So I came back.’

Chapla, ‘Tell us what you saw?’

Tej Singh, ‘Send every one away.  I will tell you and the Princess only.’

All girls were sent away. Only Chandrakanta, Chapla and Champa remained there. Ketki laughed and said, ‘I will tell you the good news if you promise me a reward.’

Chandrakanta said , ‘Of course we will reward you. Tell us the news.’

Tej Singh said, ‘First the reward and I will tell you. Or I am going.’ Saying this he got up.

Chapla could not tolerate such behaviour, ‘Why, what’s wrong with you today that you are behaving like this. I should drag you down back to earth!’

Tej Singh replied, ‘Am I any less than you that you would drag me and I would do nothing.’

Chapla could not stop herself. She ran after Ketki and caught her.  In their playful wrestling, suddenly Chapla hit Ketki on her chest and realized it was a man.  She jumped away.

False Ketki , ‘(laughing), Why have you run away. Aren’t we settling the score?’

Chapla drew out her knife and said, ‘Tell me O Aiyaar! Who are you, or I will kill you!’

False Ketki did not reply to Chapla’s challenge but brought out Virendra Singh’s letter and gave it Chandrakanta. Chapla also saw the letter carefully. She knew Virendra Singh’s writing. She realized it was Tej Singh because Virendra Singh would never send letters with anybody else. Despite her embarrassment, Chapla could not help but appreciate his cleverness. The truth was that she had fallen in love with him.

Chandrakanta read Virendra Singh’s letter lovingly and started talking to Tej Singh

Chandrakanta, ‘So Tej Singh, Is he in a good mood these days?’

Tej Singh , ‘How can the mood be good? He doesn’t care about food, is always sighing, keeps thinking about you day and night, he is restless to meet you. I have tried to explain the way things stand thousands of times, but who listens to me. He says he would come here himself. Somehow I stopped him this time and he agreed to stay back. So he has sent me with a reply to your letter.

Chandrakanta, ‘Alas, you have not brought him or I could have seen him. Krur Singh and his two aiyaars are causing a lot of trouble here. I tried telling father that they are my enemies but he does not listen to me. I will show him Krur Singh’s truth tomorrow. If he is supposed to be guarding the palace, how can he enter my garden?’

Saying this, Chandrakanta told Tej Singh about Nazeem’s arrest and his imprisonment in the dungeon.

Tej Singh was surprised by Chapla’s cunning. He had also fallen in love with her. After thinking, he said, ‘No doubt Chapla was clever, but she has also been fooled.’

Chapla was surprised. She could not think how she was made a  fool.  Finally she asked Tej Singh, ‘Tell me, how was I made a fool of.’ Tej Singh said, ‘Don’t you think that if Nazeem came to the garden, then Ahmed would also have come? Then why did you leave Nazeem in the garden? Don’t you think it would have been better if you had brought him to the palace after arresting him or taken him straight away to the king.  Ahmed must have freed Nazeem by now.’

Hearing this, Chapla was completely dumbstruck, ‘That’s true. I made a big mistake. Nobody thought about that.’

Tej Singh,  ‘Why should anybody else have thought about it. You are the clever one, the aiyaar. Shouldn’t you have thought about it. Anyway, just check if he is still there.’

Chapla ran to the garden. She saw the doors of the dungeon open. There was no doubt that Ahmed had freed Nazeem. She saw  the empty dungeon. Regretting her foolishness, she came back, ‘What can I say? Yes, Ahmed has taken away Nazeem.’

Tej Singh started teasing her ‘So you are the great aiyaara. You said we are clever, we are intelligent, we are this, we are that. And a small aiyaar has made a fool of you.’

Chapla was irritated, ‘I promise you I am going to arrest them and bring them to this room and teach them a lesson.’

Tej Singh said, ‘Ha, I have seen your craft. Now see how I arrest them one-by-one and imprison them in my kingdom.’

Tej Singh told Chandrakanta and Chapla everything, including where he had left Ketki and that they should fetch her from there

Before going, Chandrakanta told Tej Singh ‘You should come here in a day or two. Your coming gives me courage.’

Tej Singh left them and came to the gate disguised as Ketki. He saw some guards slowly regaining consciousness while others were still senseless. False Ketki rebuked them ‘Are you guarding the palace by lying about on the floor. Why do you take opium if it effects you so badly and you sleep like the dead. I will complain to the queen!’

The guards who had regained consciousness were scared and started pleading with Ketki.

Ketki said, ‘Alright, I will let you go this time. But this should not happen again!’ Saying this, Tej Singh went out. Out of fear, nobody even asked where Ketki was going.

  • Ahmed had been sitting on a tree in the garden when he saw Chapla arresting Nazeem. When he saw Chandrakanta, Chapla and CHampa returning to the palace, he realized that Nazeem must still be in the garden. He started looking for him. When he came near the dungeons Ahmed heard someone shouting. He immediately recognized Nazeem’s voice. He opened the doors of the dungeon and saw Nazeem. Quickly he untied him and said, ‘Hurry, Let’s get out of here and then tell me what happened.’

They went out of the garden. Nazeem told everything about his arrest by Chapla and the beating. Ahmed, ‘Dear Brother, Chapla is very cunning . Till we arrest her, none of our plans are going to work. And she is gradually training Champa also. If we don’t arrest her now, then, in a few days, there will be two. I mean Champa will be trained enough to help Chapla.’

Nazeem, ‘Right! Anyway, nothing could be done today. We escaped with great difficulties. Tomorrow this is the first thing we will do. We have to arrest Chapla any way that we can and put her in a place that no one knows. So no one will suspect us.

As the two went planning, they saw Ketki, Chandrakanta’s servant girl, coming. Tej Singh who was disguised as Ketki also saw them. Since he was already in disguise, he thought it was a good opportunity to trick them and arrest at least one.

So Tej Singh deliberately brushed against them. Nazeem and Ahmed started walking behind her to see where she went. False Ketki saw them and asked, ‘Why are you following me? Do the work that you are supposed to be doing.’ Ahmed said, ‘How do you know what we are supposed to be doing?’ Ketki replied, ‘Oh I know about everything. You should be doing the things that would make Chapla beat you up. What else will you do if there is no one to help you here.’

Nazeem said, ‘Ketki, such is the nature of our work. If we get scared of getting arrested or of imprisonment then we would’nt be able to do anything. If you want, you can help us. What ever we get, we will give you a share.’

Ketki answered, ‘I am not one of those who risk everything on possibilities. If you can give me something here and now, I can help you arrest Tej Singh. Otherwise do what you have to do.’

As soon they heard about possibility of arresting Tej Singh, they jumped with joy. Nazeem said, ‘If you help us arrest him today, we will give you anything you want.’

Ketki, answered, ‘I would not take anything less than one thousand rupees. If you are ready, give me the money.’

Nazeem, ‘Alright, Ahmed will stay here with you and I will get the money.’ Saying this, Nazeem left Ahmed  and went to Krur Singh excitedly.

After Nazeem left, false Ketki and Nazeem started chatting. Ketki took out some cardamoms from her pouch and popped them in her mouth. She offered some to Ahmed also. Ahmed was so excited by the possibility of Tej Singh’s arrest that without thinking, he popped the cardamoms in his mouth. Within a few minutes his head started feeling light. He immediately realized that it was a clever aiyaar who had tricked him. He drew out his knife and attacked Ketki. Ketki was ready and moved fast. She held his wrist so that he would not be able to do anything. In a few minutes, Ahmed fainted. Tej Singh tied him up in a bundle , put him on his back and immediately left for Naugarh. Light footed with excitement, he walked fast so that Nazeem would not be able to catch up with him.

Nazeem had gone to Krur Singh’s house to get the money. Krur Singh had been sleeping. When Nazeem woke him up. Krur Singh asked, “Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night?’

Nazeem told everything to Krur Singh. Krur Singh regretted Nazeem’s arrest but jumped up  on hearing about the possible arrest of Tej Singh. He said, ‘Here, I will give you one thousand rupees. Rather I will come with you.’ Saying this, he took the money out and returned with Nazeem.

When they reached the place where Nazeem had left Ahmed and Ketki, there was nobody. Nazeem was astounded. He immediately said,’ We have been tricked!’

Krur Singh, ‘Why Nazeem, what happened?’

Nazeem, ‘What do I tell you. It wasn’t Ketki but  some aiyaar who tricked us and has taken away Ahmed.’

Nazeem searched around to erase his doubts and finally the two turned towards home with heavy hearts.

  • After bidding farewell to Tej Singh, Virender Singh had returned to his palace. But his heart was not in the work. His father Surender Singh knew about his condition but he could not do anything because the king of Vijaygarh was more powerful and dominated the neighboring kingdom.

Early in the morning, Tej Singh returned with a bundle on his back. Guards saw him but were too much in awe to ask him anything. Tej Singh entered Virender Singh’s room and saw him awake. Virender Singh got up as soon as he saw Tej Singh and said, ‘What news have you brought , my brother?’

Tej Singh told him everything. Then he handed Chandrakanta’s letter and opened the bundle, ‘Here is the letter and a gift for you.’

Virender Singh was very happy. He read the letter several times and touched it lovingly to his eyes. Then he said to Tej Singh, ‘I think we should put Ahmed in a place where no one finds him. If Jai Singh comes to know, there will be big trouble.’

Tej Singh once again tied Ahmed in a bundle and called Devi Singh, another Aiyaar who was Tej Singh’s pupil, friend and brother-in-law.  When Devi Singh arrived, Tej Singh once again lifted the bundle on his back and said, ‘Come with me. I have some work for you.’ Devi Singh, ‘Guruji, give me the bundle. I will carry it. It is not right that you should be bearing the burden when I am around.’ Devi Singh took the bundle and followed Tej Singh.

The two left the town behind and following the difficult mountain trails for about two miles, entered a dark cave. After walking for some time, they saw light. Tej Singh stopped there and turned to Devi Singh, ‘Keep down the bundle. And listen carefully to what I have to tell you. Do you see this stone doorway. I will tell you how to open it. Whosoever I arrest, you should bring them here so that no one knows and no one can help them escape. Inside, we don’t need to tie the prisoners. We can just put a loose chain around the feet so that they are able to walk around. You would not have to worry about their food. There is a natural stream and lots of fruit trees. I will put this aiyaar here. After this I will ask the King for a leave of a day or two giving an excuse about some illness.  I will ask for a month’s leave so that I can go somewhere to recover. I will try to ask for a leave for you too. You should disguise yourself and stay in Vijaygarh and be on a look out for any kind of news or information. Tell me everything that you come to know and if you can arrest some trouble makers, imprison them here.’

After telling all this to Devi Singh, Tej Singh started opening the door. There was a face of a fearsome lion over the door. A hand could easily fit in its mouth. Tej Singh said to Devi Singh, ‘Put your hand in his mouth and draw out the tongue.’ Devi Singh did as he was told. As soon as he pulled out the tongue, there was a noise and the door opened.

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6 responses to “Chandrakanta

  1. Nicely done again.
    I can imagine the amount of time devoted to translate such a lengthy story.

    Just a thought. Since you are translating the story in parts, I think the readers would be hooked up to the story more if a particular part (for example this one) is ended on the right note.
    For example in this one the last few sentences could have been-
    ‘After telling all this to Devi Singh, Tej Singh started opening the door. There was a face of a fearsome lion over the door.’

    This concept is used by tv sitcoms a lot (remember Ekta Kapoor serials!).

    Good job!

    Like

    • thanks again. yes I thought i was doing that, but it seems I need to pcik even more exciting turns to leave the story… so check out the next installment . Thanks again abhishek

      Like

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