I bet my old friend Munshi didn’t take a lot of time to write this. And like so many other of his stories, this too is didactic. Not great with history, but my guess is that this was written to inspire the freedom fighters of that era. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it. Don’t think any Premchand fanatic will even read this, let alone accuse me of being audaciously silly to translate his stuff. Just a simple writing exercise, guys. Hope to do many more. Also, this is not an exact translation. Neither my Hindi, nor my English is good enough to do justice to one of the greatest names in Hindi literature.
The Vindhyachal mountain, in the darkness that pervades late after midnight, was looking like Kaal Dev (God of Darkness) himself. The small trees planted on the mountain were becoming invisible. The temple of Ashtabhuja Devi (Goddess with eight hands, durga) was being sprayed by small snow balls that were fluttering with the assistance of gentle breeze.
Half of the night had passed. There was a scary silence all around. The black waves of the Ganges was flowing peacefully beneath the mountain. Their movement was akin to a soothing raga (symphony). A few boats and huts built across the banks, had burning chulhas (stove) and one could see their light flames. In such a time, a woman clad in a white dress was sitting in front of the Durga statue – her hands clasped in prayer. Her face was yellowish and seemed pensive. After keeping her head bowed for a long time, she said,
“Mother! Since the last twenty years, there hasn’t been a single Tuesday where I have not offered my prayers. Not a single day has passed, where I have not meditated on your feet. You are the all-knowing queen of the world. Even after worshipping you so much, my wishes haven’t been fulfilled. Where do I go if I leave you?”
“Mother! I kept several fasts. Worshipped numerous gods. Went on pilgrimages, yet my wish has remained unfulfilled. After that, I came to your feet. You’ve always fulfilled the wishes of your devotees. Should I go away disappointed from your court?”
Suwama kept on praying like this for a long long time. Suddenly, there was an attack of stunning affection on her mind. She couldn’t see anymore, and a sound started buzzing in her head.
“Suwama! I am pleased by your efforts. Ask, whatever you wish for?”
Suwama was elated. Her heart started pounding. After a long wait of 20 years, she had finally received a sitting with the Goddess.
“Will the Goddess give whatever I ask for?”
“Yes, you’ll get it.”
“I have done some intense worshipping, therefore I will ask for a tremendous thing.”
“What will you take – Kuber’s wealth?”
“Then what will you take?”
“A well-mannered son.”
“Who makes the family proud?”
“Who takes care of his parents?”
“Someone who is strong and a scholar?”
“Then what do you call a good son?”
“One who serves the nation.”
“Your wisdom is praiseworthy. Your wish has been granted.”