(This is a translation of the story 'Naseehaton ka Daftar' by Munshi Premchand)
Continued from Previous Page
Next morning, by ten o’ clock Babu Akshay Kumar had visited almost all the fashionable shops of the city. The shopkeepers were surprised to see him as he would never step into any of those shops earlier. What brought about such a drastic change in him? With a heavy heart, he spent some money.
As he reached home, Hemvati wiped off the sweat on his forehead and asked, ‘Where have you been since morning?’
Akshay Kumar replied in a serious tone, ‘I had some pain in the liver. So I went to Dr. Chadha.’
Hemvati hid her smiles and said, ‘You did not mention it to me. It is a serious illness.’
Akshay Kumar- ‘Dr. Sahab has said that there is nothing to worry.’
Hemvati- ‘Dr. Kichlu is an expert of this field. Who knows if Dr. Chadha was able to diagnose the problem properly or not?’
Akshay Kumar gave Hemvati a piercing look and started having his food. After that he went to his room to take rest. In the evening, as he passed through the clock tower and Anand Bagh on the carriage, his face shone bright with a sparkle of youth. He was somehow angry with nature for not having gifted him with physical beauty, something which he did not mind until then. Today he was ready to exchange his beautiful black gown and his diploma with a long slender nose, which he considered as a symbol of beauty.
Dr. Kichlu’s bungalow, beautified with greenery, presented a lovely scene at night. The pillars at the gate, the wide open verandah, the long rows of deodar trees- all were illuminated with the electric lights. The ‘Welcome’ note on the main door, the colourful birds sitting on the trees, the blooming flowers- all looked beautiful because of the lighting.
There was still time for the play to begin. But people were becoming restless. Dr. Kichlu was at the gate, welcoming the guests. Babu Akshay Kumar arrived at about eight o’ clock. Dr. Sahab extended a warm welcome to Babu Sahab. Surprised at the change in him, he looked at him from head to toe. He had never imagined that Akshay Kumar could ever turn out to be such a handsome man flaunting his beautiful clothes. It was a perfect example of a complete makeover.
People gathered around Akshay Kumar, surprised and confused. They looked at each other, hiding their expressions with their handkerchiefs, eyes sparkling with mischief. Every person enquired about his well being satirically.
Akshay Babu felt embarrassed and avoided eye contact with people. The moment he was left alone, he started looking for the woman in green sari and said to himself- ‘These are rogues; worthless people but very soon they will realise my worth. I shall show them that many beautiful women are attracted towards me – women who care for me and to whom I can open my heart.’ But the woman in green sari was nowhere to be found. He was soon tired of waiting.
The play started after half an hour. Babu Sahab went to the theatre hall disappointed by his search. He sat down, rather fell down on the chair. The curtain rose. Shakuntala entered along with her two friends, with a pitcher on her head, watering the plants.
The crowd went ecstatic, appreciating and applauding. The serious attractive shy Shakuntala, the lover as if came out of everyone’s imagination and stood on the stage. Akshay Babu recognized her, she was his beautiful Hemvati.
He could not hide his anger. ‘She promised me that she won’t go for the play. I made her understand for hours. She was ready to write down her inability to attend the function. But she ignored my advice and broke her promise, merely to please and attract other people, to make other women jealous of her. She did not even think of my feelings!’
Hemvati fleetingly glanced upon Akshay Kumar’s handsome personality, but did not even smile.
The crowd was intoxicated with the performance. But Akshay Babu could not concentrate. He went out several times, looked around wide-eyed, felt uneasy and came back irritated. It was twelve and finally he gave up. Cursing himself, he said, ‘I am such a fool! I believed a mischievous woman. I am sure one of these rogues is behind all this. That is why they were laughing at me. Oh, how sad! I wasted so much money! It’s so embarrassing! So many court cases have slipped out of my hand. I have belittled myself in front of Hemvati as well. And that too because of these people! Who would be as foolish as I have proven myself to be?’
Cursing himself, annoyed at his stupidity, he went back towards the function. Suddenly he saw a beautiful woman in a green sari under the tree shade.
His happiness knew no bounds. He blissfully ran towards her, and romantically said, ‘O beauty! I am indebted to you from the bottom of my heart for this kindness. I am already half-dead in your love and if you hadn’t turned up, then you would have to shed tears on my departure from this world.
Since yesterday evening, my heart’s situation has been inexplicably strange. My dear, yesterday I did not go to the court and had to forego so many cases. But I can even lay down my life for the pleasure of your company. I am becoming impatient now.
The fire of love has burnt down my patience. It is not desirable for you to remain behind this veil.
O Goddess of beauty! O beautiful soul! Your love filled words have aroused my desires. I offer my heart and soul on your feet.’
Having said this, Babu Akshay Kumar stepped forward and with the stubbornness of a lover, he unveiled the woman in green sari and found Hemvati smiling at her. All that he could utter at that moment was- ‘Oh!!!’
And then he could speak no more.
Beautiful pleasing Hemvati smiled and though she wanted to say something, Babu Akshay Kumar, to avoid any argument and further embarrassment, said, ‘Hemvati there’s no need to say anything. You won and I lost. This defeat shall never be forgotten!’