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The Beautiful Young Bride

About Kathakali Mukherjee

Kathakali Mukherjee, born 1971, was a student of Sanskrit – Epigraphy and ancient Indian history. But her interest in language and literary studies led her learning another couple of European languages as well.
She worked for media libraries in Kolkata; also spent several years as technical translator, process and team manager with German and Indian software companies in Bangalore. Currently staying in Gurugram or Kolkata, she is engaged with reading and writing.
Apart from experimenting with short stories, she works on literary translation of fable and fairy tales as well as historical fictions. She is exploring the treasure trove left by esteemed Bengali and German authors between 18th-19th centuries these days.
She writes poems during her busy days when time does not permit her to sit at the writing desk.
Her blog: https://medium.com/@KathakaliM and https://www.indiblogger.in/kathakalim
Her self-published works:
"You and me" is a collection of poems https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01NCSMHK9/
And her effort of translating a selection of articles from Lokrahasya “Secrets of the Humankind – Satiric Articles by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,”: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ebook-kathakali-mukherjee-secrets-humankind

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She was a beautiful country-girl. She went to the forest to get silage for her cows. She began cutting grass taking the name of god; did not even think of any evil, but four robbers came there as if out of nowhere, surrounded her and carried her away. They showed neither mercy nor compassion though she cried and flounced, pleaded and begged as much as she could. The robbers stayed in a house in the dark forest, far away from her home. Actually some of them stayed at home when others went out to rob people. Anyway, they did not do any other harm to the girl than kidnapping her and captivating her in their forest home. She was given the duty of housekeeping, cooking, baking and washing. She was doing fine, only trouble she faced was being guarded all the time. The robbers gave her a name, “the beautiful young bride”.

The girl had already spent one year in the robbers’ hostel when one day the robbers realized that they all would need to be together, leaving their dwelling, to carry out a robbery successfully. Since the girl was used to her life in the robber’s den, and never made an attempt to escape in the meantime, the robbers did not mind leaving her alone. Nobody expected that she would be able to find her way to home through that dense forest. Hence she was allowed to stay with herself without a guard in the forest home on the day.

What happened in reality? As soon as the robbers left, a thought of escaping flashed in her mind. Quickly she made a figurine out of straw, dressed it up with her own cloths, and placed her own hood on its head. She smeared own body from head to foot with honey and then rolled on a pile of bird’s feathers. At the end she became completely unrecognizable. What’s more – she looked like a strange bird. Placing the figurine with own cloths facing outside at the door, in disguise of a clown bird, she left in a hurry.

The leader of the robbers however could not trust her blindly. He suspected that the girl could have an intention of running away. As if forgotten something at home, he sent couple of his team to look for that stuff. On the way towards their den the robbers saw a feathered clown dancing, but thought it must be one of their cronies in disguise. Laughing in amusement they called the figure to ask:
“Hey Mr. Feather-sack! Where are you going?
Tell us what is our beautiful young bride doing?”

The girl in feathers was terrified at their sight, but somehow gathering courage she replied in a coarse voice:
“You know she sweeps and cleans our home
And through the window she looks at the road!”

Thus the girl came out of the robber’s den. She found the way out of the forest as well. She almost danced in joy when she reached a village! She purchased cloths, entered an inn, took shower and then began walking towards her native. She had to walk a long way alone, however arrived home safe. She did not leave her best days back in the robber’s home; that’s why was able to find a suitably brave groom to have a happy married life thereafter.

The robbers, who had left her without a suspicion, came back home. Seeing the figurine resembling the beautiful young bride at the window from afar, they shouted cheerfully greeting her:
“Thank God! O beautiful young bride!
Seeing you gives us such a pleasure –
How lovingly you look at our stride!”

But their greeting remained unanswered. The silence of their loved bride astonished them. As they came closer and saw no movement in her, they thought that she had fallen asleep. They called her in vain. Their requesting her to open the door also failed. After all their shouting and knocking, calling and scolding failed, the angry robbers thrashed the door into pieces, stormed up the stairs and grabbed the neck of the beautiful young bride! Gosh! A straw-doll fell in their arms.
The entire band of robbers screamed their heart out:
“Farewell to you, beautiful you bride,
You brought all of us such a pride!
So nice was the day when we met –
A house built for a woman is truly a bet.”

*** Author’s Note

Story of a girl’s being abducted and escape, not with the help of magic or supernatural help, but using own wit. Hence this comes in the category of Droll story or Schwankmärchen! I remember the story of Sulasa and Sattuka from Jataka which also tales the tale of a courtesan bride’s getting rid of her robber husband using her wit. But if we consider level of violence used, the Jataka story is closer to the Grimm’s story der Räuberbräutigam.

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