Sunday, February 21, 1999
THE Pathan is like a coconut. Within his rough and rugged exterior, he harbours a tender and faithful heart. He is capable, equally of intense love and intense hatred. He could be your most faithful friend or your bitterest enemy. As a friend, he could make the supreme sacrifice for you. As an enemy, he would neither give or accept any quarter.
Straightforward and simple at heart, he knows no fraud, no bluff, no hypocrisy. As for love, his heart is as responsive to its chords as any other in the world.
The classical love story of Dilaram will bear out the romantic and self-sacrificing aspect of the Pathan way of life.
Khadi, a handsome young man of Khorasan, had a beautiful dream. On waking up, he stretched his arms, took his axe and left for the jungle. In a hurry, he left even his faithful dog, which had rushed out to lick his feet, behind.
It was early dawn. The stars still flickered. He went deep into the jungle in search for a suitable tree to match the sharpness of his axe and the prowess of his arms.
As he found the tree he wanted, he went on striking at it with his axe in a wild, unrelenting manner. As the tree fell, Khadi sat down on its trunk in deep contemplation.
Was he in love? for "love illumines the heart of the humblest with the same grandeur as that of the richest and the mightiest."
Soon it was daybreak. The sun rose in the sky. The day advanced. The sun grew warmer. But Khadi was lost in contemplation of beautiful girls and galloping horses.
Soon he left the jungle and took his way back to the village. He had hardly gone a few paces then he felt that his dream was taking a concrete shape. He saw a beautiful girl, all smiles, walking towards him with a regal and tempting gait. Yes, it was Bibbo, his childhood playmate. As the two came closer they stood speechless for a while. Then Khadi spoke:
"Bibbo, dont you think this silence is suffocating and excruciatingly painful?
"Yes. But I havent sealed your lips, now come on" replied Bibbo. Bibbo suddenly noticed a snake nearby. She cried "Khadi, kill that snake." Khadi replied, "I never killed snakes. I have never been bitten by them. They are my friends. I dont harm them. Why should they harm me?
"Let me kiss your hand,"Khadi came closer and said. "Oh," said Bibbo, "my mother has told me this jungle is haunted. Some evil spirits must have whispered to you to talk to me in this manner."
"I love you Bibbo, dont you also love me?"
"I am not so immodest. Better talk to your father." Bibbo then quietly walked away.
Khadi became despondent. He could not follow Bibbo. She was rich, so he felt he would never get her. To forget her, he left Gulistan and the river Dilaram. He sought refuge in loneliness.
The sun set at Gulistan. But Khadi was nowhere to be found. Bibbos and Khadis fathers were away. So Bibbo took Khadis mother next day along with her to find out her lover but in vain.
Khadi had wandered away to Dilaram where he saw a caravan from India wending its way to Isfahan. Khadi was enchanted with the jovial atmosphere. He broke out into a melancholy song about love, loneliness, poverty and remorse. At this, all caravan revelry came to a halt. The sardar of the caravan sent for him and heard his story. He took Khadi along with him.
At night the guards were startled to see a ferocious dog snarling at them. Khadi came out to see the commotion. The dog, Khadis pet, came and licked his masters feet.
Four years passed. Bibbo was so lovelorn that she was nicknamed "Yellow Flower" by village girls.
One day Khadi wrote to his father, "I am returning to Gulistan by next spring."
Spring came. The caravan appeared on the horizon. Bibbo along with other girls waited on the roadside.
As the caravan came near, Bibbo asked whether Khadi was accompanying it. When told that he was, she was mad with joy. She, however, went home thinking it better to meet her love in the village.
The caravan encamped at Dilaram. The sardar of the caravan was seriously ill. So Khadi had to take him to his wife and daughter in the latters native village. Before departure, however, Khadi sent his dog to Gulistan. Khadis mother was jubilant on seeing the dog but was disappointed not to find its owner.
Khadis father waved his head in despondence. He scolded Bibbo, cursed the dog and fell asleep never to wake again.
The caravan sardars ailment worsened. He grew weaker day-by-day. Before his death, he entrusted his wife and daughter to Khadis care. He could not speak. But there was an entreaty in his eyes.
Khadi now sought permission to return to his Bibbo in Gulistan. The sardars widow was stunned. Khadi", she said, "my daughter is madly in love with you. How will she live?"
Khadi cursed his misfortune. But the sardars daughter consoled him and said, Khadi, I must have you at all costs. You may bring Bibbo too. She will be my co-wife". Khadi said he would return with Bibbo the next spring.
Khadi flew rapidly to Gulistan and reached Dilaram at midnight. He thought he would go to Gulistan next morning, lay down and went to sleep. Shortly, he was awakened by the pawing of his horse. He looked around, saw nothing and went to sleep again.
He had a dream. He was talking to Bibbo in the jungle. All of a sudden, she cried, Khadi, kill that snake". He felt shooting pain and woke up. A venomous snake had bitten him. He tried but could not mount his horse and died in minutes.
Next morning his dead body was discovered by passer-by. Villagers thronged to the spot. Bibbo threw herself on the corpse. When people separated them, they found she was also dead. Khadi and Bibbo were buried next to each other.
The sardars daughter heard of the tragedy.She rushed to the spot and prayed for her death. Her prayer was answered. She also fell dead and was buried alongside the two graves.
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