Fiction Park

Jung Bahadur pardons an aspiring poet

  • A brahman sits in Kumari Chowk prison, accused of embezzling funds from Jung Bahadur’s Nepal. He makes a unique appeal to plead his case, an appeal that is appropriate for the tastes and sensibilities of Jung Bahadur and his brother. It works
- Dipesh Risal
Krishna Bahadur fantasised for a moment, goaded on subconsciously by the cruel logic of Jung Bahadur’s Roll of succession, which had already sown the seeds of discord within the Rana brothers, although none knew it yet, least of all Jung Bahadur

Feb 4, 2018- 

 

 

 

February 25, 1853

Dalaan of Thapathali Palace

Nepal Valley

 

Krishna Bahadur clutched the roll of papers tighter and entered the dalaan discreetly. Bam Bahadur’s court with Jung Bahadur had not ended. The two older brothers were going back and forth about matters of administration. They were beginning to get quite good at it. Krishna Bahadur watched tulu tulu with envy.

 

Bijay Raj has been quiet about the Muluki Ain draft.

 

                                               Dajyu, he is working the Gurus and Purohits. Some of the more British...umm..modern laws are not sitting well with the old timers.

 

What’s the news from Saheb jyu and Badri Narsingh?

 

                                               They are preparing to arrive here in May, Dajyu. There is no hint of mischief.

 

And that statue of mine, why is it not here yet?

 

                                                It has now en route from the Port of Calcutta. The British were asking all sorts of questions about it because of its size.

 

Good. The British probably were jealous!

                                                And.. umm... Prince Trailokya has requested that he be called “Walet Maharaj” from now on.

Jung Bahadur looked up sharply.

Whose doing is this?

 

                                                I don’t know Dajyu. Perhaps Gothu is at it again from Banaras? Perhaps the Chautaras?

 

Jung Bahadur did a quick risk assessment.

Fine. I don’t care. I approve.

 

                                                And that’s all for today, Dajyu.

Bam Bahadur wrapped up and returned Krishna Bahadur’s salute kindly on his way out.

One day I might replace you and after that, it is just one step to the main prize...

Krishna Bahadur fantasised for a moment, goaded on subconsciously by the cruel logic of Jung Bahadur’s Roll of Succession, which had already sown seeds of discord within the Rana brothers. But none knew this yet, least of all Jung Bahadur.

Instead, Jung Bahadur chided his loyal brother lovingly:

 

Ey Krishney... you have arrived? What... Dharma Narayan Sahu is giving you trouble again in the Tarai? 

                                                No Dajyu... I am here on a rather... trivial matter.

Well?

                                               There is this brahman, Dajyu. He has been doing chaakari to me for many years. With your approval, I gave him the khardari of Birgunj three years ago (if you recall). But he ate some funds... could not explain the accounts, so we locked him up in Kumari Chok nine months ago. Now, instead of going through the court process, he has taken to writing poems of appeal to me... They are... they are actually quite good.

Read it.

Krishna Bahadur hesitated again. He was but a rough-hewn Khas man of the hills, entirely alien to reading poems in strict Parabtya chhanda. Clearing his throat, he began:

 

I am now forty, with but 

one son of eight years  

‘Tis time for his coming-of-age, 

a time for joy not tears

But shackled I sit here alone 

in this dark cage

Wondering how to complete my 

only son’s coming-of-age   

 ...

Lords, while you preside over 

and rule this stage

I note that you have blocked a Brahman’s coming-of-age

So I have dared to appeal boldly, although ‘tis yours to decide

If you say “Brahman, my ass!”, so be it, I will abide

 

Jung Bahadur was amused, not by the tight metrical structure of the poem, but by the rough joke in the last line.

Hmm... A Bahun Baajey who fancies himself a poet, eh?

Jung Bahadur stroked his moustache absently, unsure whether the poem had moved him enough to act.

                                             Th..There is more, Dajyu. He sent another one four months ago. You might find this even funnier...

Let’s hear it!

 

Blessed with your daily grace,

I sit without ire, a world apart 

I watch dances for free through the night, immense peace in my heart

Sitting in the company of mosquitoes, bedbugs, a handful of fleas

The mosquitoes sing, the fleas dance I watch them all with glee

I have appealed to a hundred 

officials, they stay mum, as if in deep sorrow

And when a precious few word 

falls out, ‘tis always “tomorrow, tomorrow” 

Either fix it or say I can’t, what is with this tomorrow?

Before tomorrow becomes 

the death of me, Lord, please end my sorrow

 

Ha ha ha. 

Jung Bahadur was now genuinely pleased. Mosquitoes sing, the fleas dance! This kind of stuff, he liked. Having made up his mind, he spit out directives with usual crispness:

Release him and pardon the case. Send a jamadar to Kumari Chok now with the order... Make sure the brahman has enough money to return home...

As Krishna Bahadur made a quick note of the decision among his papers, Jung Bahadur had an afterthought: 

What is the brahman’s name, anyway? 

                                           Bhanubhakta Acharya, Dajyu.

                                                                            ∫∫∫

Poems in Parbatya from Motiram Bhatta’s “Kabi Bhanubhaktako Jiwan Charitra” (Biography of Poet Bhanubhakta) and other sources.

More of the author’s writing can be sampled at www.dipeshrisal.com.

Published: 04-02-2018 07:50

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