Friday, July 16, 2010

A Brave Girl

It was one evening after the rainy season. Outside Bethur, along the road on the banks of Ganga, three horses were galloping. Two riders were young men and one a girl.

When one of the young men overtook her, the little girl galloped her horse faster and overtook him. Was the young man to accept defeat? Of course, he tried to overtake her but his horse stumbled and he feel down.

"O Manoo, I am dead"

When she heard that sorrowful cry, the girl rode back. The young man had been hurt and wad bleeding. With difficulty she lifted him mad him sit on her horse. By that time the other rider also joined them. All the three returned to the palace.

When the horse returned without the rider, Baji Rao the Second, the Peshwa of the Mahrata Empire, was quite disturbed. Although Moropanth who was with him tried to soothe him, his mind was troubled. When his children returned he breathed a sigh of relief.

The injured youth was Baji Rao’s adopted son Nana Saheb and his companion, his younger brother Rao Saheb. The girl was Manubai, the only daughter of Moropanth, a member of the Peshwa’s council.

When they returned home Moropanth said:

"Manu, how unfortunate! Nana has been seriously hurt."

"Not so, father; he has been hurt just a little. Did not Abhimanyu continue to fight although seriously injured?"

"Those times were different, Manu."

"What is the difference, father? It is the same sky, the same earth. The sun and the moon are also the same."

"But Manu, the fortunes of the country have changed. This is the age of British. We are powerless before them."

The father’s reasoning did not appeal to the daughter. The father himself had taught her the lessons of the lives and the examples of the saintly Seeta, the brave Jeejabai and the brave Tarabai.

Another incident happened in the same town of Bethur: Nana saheb and Rao Saheb went out on an elephant. Baji Rao wanted to send Manubai with them. Moropanth also wished it. But their wish was not fulfilled. Nana Saheb asked the mahout to move on. Manu was disappointed.

The father said to the daughter when they were back home: "Manu, we must move with the times. Are we chieftains or kings to ride elephants? We should not wish for something for which we are not destined."

"No, not so, father; I am destined to own not one but several elephants," replied Manu.

"So, be it."

"Father dear, I will not practise shooting with a rifle," so saying she left.

Observing her manly qualities Moropanth was troubled.


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