From the Galpoghor Series:
The Story of Malan Kumar and Kanchan Shundari
Translated by Kabir Chowdhury
Continued from the Last Issue
The King agreed to abide by his conditions. Then amidst great rejoicings and festivities the Chief Minister and the Princess were married. The festivities continued for one month.
After the wedding the Minister began to live in his independent, separate house where no one's entry was permitted. Days passed. And then one day the Princess's lady companions said to her, "Well, Princess, after your wedding your husband is living in a separate house while you are living in another house away from him. What point is there in such a marriage? Come, let us take you to your husband's quarters today." No sooner was this planned than done, her friends left the Princess in her husband's house. When the Chief Minister saw the Princess there he was very upset. What was to be done now! He thought for a moment and then said, "Princess, there is a solemn agreement with your father and that agreement must be honored." Then he told the Princess the details of the agreement.
The Princess was terribly disappointed. She grew heart-broken and dispirited and fell ill. She grew thin and pale. Her rosy color turned ashen. The Minister asked her one day if she had told her mother about her problem. The Princess said, "No, I haven't. If tell her she will relate the story to others. And I'll feel so humiliated."
The sad plight of the Princess touched the Minister's heart. Tender and loving feelings arose in his mind and he said to the Princess, "Will you cook for me today in my house?" She agreed. She cooked the food and then they both ate. After the meal was over both of them went to the tank to have a bath. There the Minister sat by the bathing ghat and turning to the Princess, said, "Do you think of what I think?" The Princess said, "I think of what you think. I love what you love." When the Minister heard this he said not a word more, but quietly took off his clothes. and lo, what did the Princess see! Her husband was a woman! Then Kanchan Kanya, dressed as the Chief Minister, told her entire story to the Princess. She said, "Now today I am a King and you are my Queen. Let no one know the true state of affairs. If someday we get him then he will belong to both of us. Both you and I shall then be his."
So they continued to live in this fashion. Days and months and years rolled by. The old King grew older and died. Kanchan Kanya became the regular King of the country and the Princess became the queen.
Now what was Malan Kumar doing all this time? We know that he had fallen asleep in his home. When he awoke he saw that it was already morning. He found that Kanchan Kanya was gone. There was no trace of her anywhere. Crazy with grief he began to call her name aloud: Kanchan Shundari, Kanchan, Shundari! He roamed from city to city love-lorn and grief-ridden. He joined a singing troupe and poured out the sorrows of his soul in his songs.
At last one day his wandering career brought him to the land of Kanchan Shundari. Soon everybody heard about this Malan Kumar, a singer of great merit. Kanchan Shundari's subjects came to the King and said, "Sire, a new singing troupe has come to our land and they have one member who is such a sweet singer and so handsome to look at!"
At the request of his subjects the King arranged a performance one evening in the courtyard of the palace. Kanchan Shundari, too, was present there.
Malan Kumar appeared on the scene with other members of the troupe. And then he began to sing.
O how I wept for you, Kanchan,
How I roamed from land to land!
O Kanchan Shundari,
You promised me your love,
You said you would come with me,
And then, at the last moment,
Where did you go away,
After a long time Kanchan Shundari heard her name uttered by an unknown member of a singing troupe. All her old memories crowded in her mind. She sent for the singer and asked him, "O singer, how and where did you learn this song?"
Malan Kumar said, "Kanchan Shundari was the daughter of a King who ruled in a land far from here and Malan Kumar was his Minister's son".
The King, who was rally no other than Kanchan Shundari, said, "Who are you, O singer? What is your name?"
He replied, "O King, I am that unfortunate Malan Kumar."
When Kanchan Shundari heard this, her joy and happiness knew no bounds, but she could not reveal her identity yet. After all she was ruling this kingdom as its King. So the King turned to the singer and said, "You are wandering from one country to another singing songs day and night for the sake of your beloved. Will you still go on singing like this if you get your beloved?"
Malan said, "No, Your Highness."
The King then said, "Send back your companions, O singer, and be my guest in my house."
The King asked the queen to cook nice and palatable dishes.
After the meal the King brought the Queen, beautifully dressed and bedecked with jewelry, before the singer and said, "Look, singer, is this your beloved Kanchan Shundari?"
The singer said, "No, Your Highness, she is not my Kanchan."
Then Kanchan Shundari put on her own clothes and appeared before Malan Kumar without any disguise. Malan at once recognised her. At long last the two we re united.
Malan Kumar married Kanchan Shundari and the Princess and lived happily in that land for many years. He was the King, and Kanchan Shundari and the Princess were the two Queens of the King.
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