Read the previous part here…
She then said “You have no one to help you, once we reach the new village. I also wouldn’t have anyone to speak with, since I wouldn’t know anyone there. And so, I suggest that we take this cripple with us.”
“But I don’t have enough strength to walk myself, how will I carry this cripple?”, protested the Brahmin.
“I will ask him to get into this basket, and manage to carry him on my head”, she replied.
Love is blind, they say, and the Brahmin was as blind as they come. He agreed, and they continued on their journey, with his wife carrying the cripple on her head.
Soon they came to another garden. The exhausted Brahmin rushed to the well in the middle of the garden, had his fill of water, and then curled up to sleep right beside it.
His wife didn’t waste any time. With the help of the cripple, she pushed him into the well, and picking up his belongings, walked on to the next city.
They entered the city through the main gates, that were heavily guarded by the king’s soldiers, who were making their rounds to catch tax and toll evaders. They saw the basket on her head, snatched it from her, and took it to the king. And as soon as the king had it opened, he saw the cripple.
The Brahmin’s wife, who had followed them to court, arrived soon enough, weeping loudly.
“What is this?”, said the king. “Why were you carrying him around in a box?”
“This is my husband”, she replied, sobbing. “He is diseased, and so his family and relatives deserted him. I love him more than myself, and so decided to carry him to a place far away from there. This is how we arrived at your city.”
The king was overcome by compassion. “What deep love you have for your husband!”, he gushed. “From today, you are my sister. Receive two villages, enjoy their delights with your husband, and make yourself comfortable.”
In the meanwhile, the Brahmin too came to the king’s court. He had been rescued in time by a group of sadhus who had heard his cries, and he had walked on after thanking them profusely. He had then wandered into the city, happened to see his wife wailing and following the king’s soldiers, and had followed them into the palace.
When the wicked wife saw him, she panicked, and told the king “My king! This is an enemy of my husband, and has been following us to kill him. Please help me!”
The king ordered his guards to seize the Brahmin, and take him to the gallows.
“O king! I deserve one last wish”, said the Brahmin, as the soldiers began to drag him away. The king stopped them and said “Go on. What do you want?”
“This woman has something that she received from me. If you are a just ruler, please order her to give it back to me.”
“My sister”, said the king, as he turned to the Brahmin’s wife. “Give him back whatever you have taken from him.”
“But I don’t have anything of his”, she replied.
“I had given you half my life, by taking the sankalpa”, said the Brahmin. “Give me back those words.”
The Brahmin’s wife, out of the fear of being discovered by the king, repeated the sankalpa.“I give you life.”
No sooner had she finished saying this, that she fell dead.
The king was shocked. “How did that happen?” he asked the Brahmin. “Explain this to me.”
The Brahmin told him all that had transpired. The king realized his mistake, asked forgiveness from the Brahmin, and ensured that he was given a comfortable house to stay, and a job at the royal temple.
“That is why I say”, concluded RaktaMukha. “यद्-अर्थे स्व-कुलं त्यक्तं जीवितार्धं च हारितम् ।सा मां त्यजति निःस्नेहा कः स्त्रीणां विश्वसेन् नरः ॥ – I left my family for her, and gave her half my life, she left me now without a second thought, what man can trust such a wife?
“What they say is right”, said RaktaMukha, as he shifted from one branch to another.
न किं दद्यान् न किं कुर्यात् स्त्रीभिर् अभ्यर्थितो नरः ।
अनश्वा यत्र ह्रेषन्ते शिरः पर्वणि मुण्डितम् ॥ ४५ ॥
na kiṃ dadyān na kiṃ kuryāt strībhir abhyarthito naraḥ |
anaśvā yatra hreṣante śiraḥ parvaṇi muṇḍitam || 45 ||
What will not man for a woman do, when heads are shaved, at odd times too? What will not man for a woman say, when those who are not horses, neigh?
KarālaMukha said “How did that happen?”
to be continued…