Jung Bahadur desires a beautiful girl
- It is spring of 1847. Jung Bahadur is settling comfortably into his new role of Prime Minister. He writes a letter to an insignificant Subedar in far-off Dhankuta. History has not recorded what happens next. Here is that story.
May 28, 2017-
Dhankuta, Eastern Nepal
Subedar Saab? O Subedar Saab...
Mannu Singh was dozing off as usual when the screams roused him. Annoyed, he pushed himself off the armchair and headed downstairs.
At the courtyard, he glared at the post runner who was just standing there, brutish face fixed in a lifeless stare, arm outstretched, waving an envelope almost to Mannu Singh’s face.
Give it here, idiot!
This did not seem to produce an effect on the post runner, who remained frozen, dull eyes, gaping mouth.
Mannu Singh snatched the envelope off the imbecile’s hand, dismissed him, spun around, sat himself down on the peti of his house, and tore open the letter.
A personal letter from Jung Bahadur!
He straightened himself up and started reading. A frown slowly crept into his face and stayed there.
If you fetch a girl resembling beautiful English ladies within 2/3 months, I will increase your rank. I will also reimburse you for the costs of procuring the girl as described. If you can commit to fetching such a girl as has been described, go and do it. Also keep sending me news of all the places you cover in your journey. If you cannot bring the girl as described, come here immediately; use caution and prudence. May it be well.
So it had started!
Mannu Singh murmured to himself.
It had barely been six months since the Kot Parba, but Jang Bahadur had already adopted the ways of the Nepal Darbar. And why shouldn't he... He was Pri Minister of Nepal after all...
In the middle of deeply pondering the letter, the ending caught his eye again.
So I am to go immediately to Nepal if I refuse to fetch a girl. What will he do to me in Nepal? Perhaps it is best if I...
What happened? Who was that screaming like a madman earlier? Who is the letter from?
With these questions hurled out in her usual high-pitched voice, Mannu Singh’s wife bustled out of the house and planted herself in front of him. His mind had been busy parsing the letter and its implications: the expressed promises, the implied threats. The hag’s intrusive nagging startled him, broke his train of thought. And that shrill voice of hers... He used to like that voice when they first met, it made her sound innocent and light-hearted. He used to call her Jureli because of it. But now...
None of your concern!
Mannu Singh blurted out.
The old man has finally lost his mind! Who is the letter from? What does it say? Tell me!
Tell me what it says! Have you gone deaf?
Mannu Singh looked up with perpetual exasperation planted on his face. This had been his stock response to most of his wife’s intrusions over the last twenty years. He had argued and had been defeated too many times. He did not want to start now. In a resigned voice, he mumbled slowly:
This is from Jung Bahadur. He wants me to find him a girl.
Wh... What does that mean?
Jung Bahadur is the most powerful man in Nepal khaldo now. He wants me to fetch a girl for him... a girl resembling English ladies. You know... a fair skinned, young lass from the hills. She will start off as his concubine, but might graduate to an “under-the-stairs” queen if she is lucky... and even become a Badamaharani one day.
You don’t need to do that. You are not Jung Bahadur’ slave. You are a Subedar with a jagir and command of 45 soldiers. Let him find his pimp among the Dwareys and Ditthas here. All over Dhankuta, people call you Subedar Saab. They swarm around you when you appear. Don’t give all of that away just to cater to Jung Bahadur’s cheap whims.
Perhaps Mannu Singh was injured with the realisation that he could never dream of fetching a girl like that for himself. Perhaps he was ashamed of having to play pimp for Jung Bahadur, and burdened with the knowledge that he could not refuse. Or perhaps the honesty and soundness of his wife’s response stung him more deeply than he realised. Whatever the reason, the barrage of unsolicited advice from his wife suddenly made his confused impotent Nepali man-rage boil over. He rushed to grab the sturdy walking stick leaning ready against a wall and started thrashing with feral intensity.
Chothalni. You still dare to speak? Take that. And that. And that.
Parbatya text is from letter written by Jung Bahadur to Subedar Mannu Singh, as published by Dinesh Raj Pant in Purnima Vol. 89. Formatting into Jung Bahadur’s hand-writing, layout and design of image by author. More of the author's work can be sampled at www.dipeshrisal.com
Published: 28-05-2017 12:12
- Jung Bahadur Rana