Here’s another love-story for those in love.
(If you are looking for The Game of Love – Play My Love My Valentine on your iPad.)
Dhola-Maru – A Rajasthani Folk Tale of Love
(Retold with love by me.)
It was quite early in the morning. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but all of Poogal was awake, and so was King Pingal. The Queen had gone into labor about 11 in the night and after more than 6 hours, there still wasn’t any news. The king loved his queen. According to the royal custom they had got married when she was four and he was eight. It was decided then, and he had been in love with the queen since – despite her not joining him in her forever home until she turned fifteen. Now, the king stood outside the queen’s chambers, waiting to hear whether he had fathered a prince who would inherit the kingdom after he was gone, or a princess who would bring joy and good fortune to Poogal.
“Maharaj, Congratulations! Our princess has arrived,” said the two women who had emerged from the queen’s chamber.
King Pingal had become the father of a lovely daughter. He and the queen already had her name ready. She would be called Maru.
“Dhola, stop playing with that wooden chariot. You need to get out in a real chariot and see the kingdom!”
Damyanti, Dhola’s mother was one of the most beautiful women of her times. She and Dhola’s father King Nal too had their own love-story, but just now she wasn’t thinking about Nal. Instead, she was worrying about her son’s love for his toys. He was four, and he should’ve outgrown his affection for those silly toys by now. After all he was a prince, and the future king of Narwar!
The first step towards making him more responsible was – find a bride for him. He was old enough to be married.
So Dhola and Maru got married. But then they won’t be together until Maru attained puberty, so after the marriage Maru continued to live in her father’s palace and Dhola returned to his. Unfortunately, Nal died soon after Dhola’s marriage. As Dhola was a kid when he had gotten married, he forgot all about Maru and when he grew up, he got married a second time to a beautiful and…cunning woman called Malwani.
All this time, King Pingal and Maru kept sending messages to Dhola, but Malwani who obviously didn’t want Maru to return into Dhola’s life, intercepted those messages, and Maru remained forgotten.
That evening was different in the Kingdom of Poogal. The folk-dancers and singers who were nomads had arrived in the kingdom and they had magical voices. Their voices were so beautiful that even the King heard about them, and decided that there must be a show for the royalty.
Maru too had heard about these dancers and how they moved from one kingdom to another, performing for the kings, the queens, the princes, and the princesses. So she called their lead-dancer aside and asked her to convey her message of love to Dhola through a song-and-dance sequence.
“Why must you send a message to him, princess?” asked Umar Sumara. He couldn’t fathom why the princess was unable to forget her husband. She had absolutely no recollection of the wedding and had never laid eyes on Dhola. Yet she appeared to be smitten by him, while he, Umar Sumar, who had been in love with her, and who did everything to keep her safe and happy, was constantly overlooked!
“Because he is my husband, and because our match was made in heaven,” replied the princess as she turned away from him.’
Malvani, Dhola’s wife, too heard of the folk-dancers and singers when they arrived in Narwar. Malvani was fond of music and she thought of arranging a program for her husband. The program however, was designed to remind King Dhola of his first wife, Maru. As he sat there watching the dancers replay his own wedding, Dhola was reminded of the day, and of his wife who must’ve grown into a lovely princess now.
He talked to the dancers, and to Malvani’s chagrin, he asked them to tell Maru that he’d come for her.
Dhola and his men were on their way to Poogal, when a disheveled messenger from Narwar reached them with a message. Queen Malvani was dead, and according to the customs, King Dhola must return to cremate the queen. Dhola however knew his queen well, and decided against returning.
While Dhola was approaching Poogal, Umar Sumara was planning too stop him from reaching there. Sumara’s heart was set upon marrying Princess Maru and he thought that if Dhola didn’t reach Poogal, she’ll forget him in time…leaving the coast clear for Sumar.
The sentry came into the King’s tent and bowed before him.
“Maharaj, a man wants to meet you. He has news from Poogal.”
“Send him in!” ordered an excited King who wondered whether Maru had sent him a love-message. He had no idea that the man who had come to meet him was a rival in love.
“Maharaj, Maru is already married to another man.”
King Dhola gave him a sharp look and asked, “who is she married to?”
Sumar, who was himself in love with Princess Maru couldn’t lie any more. And Dhola realized that he was lying.
So Dhola reached Poogal and brought his bride back to Narwar, where they happily lived ever after.
Leave them here and I’ll try to answer 🙂