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Champak and Parul

2006-07-13 21:35

  Once upon a time, in a land called Sunderpur there lived a king with his seven wives. He was noble, brave and valued honesty above all. His subjects were treated as his own children. He was liked by one and all but not so by his first six wives. They were cruel, haughty and jealous of the gentle and kind youngest Queen who was also the king's favourite.

  The king had all he wished for yet he was sad for none of his Queens had been able to give him an heir to the throne.

  The days rolled on and things continued much in the same way. The king grew more and more impatient for a child. However, his days of waiting were numbered now for the youngest Queen was about to fulfill his desire for an heir.

  The king's joy knew no bounds. Grand banquets were held, the royal treasury was thrown open and gifts were distributed to the needy and the poor. Never had the country seen its people in such a festive mood.

  All were happy. Everywhere there was gaiety but the first six wives grew more and more jealous of the youngest Queen till a time came when they could not stand the sight of her pretty face.

  Soon the time came for the youngest Queen to give birth. The king gave her a golden chain attached to bell and said, 'Dear Queen, after our child is born ring this bell and I shall be there beside you.“ With these words, he left for the audience chamber.

  Meanwhile the six jealous Queens were present when the youngest Queen gave birth to seven charming boys and a lovely girl. Before the bell could be rung, the six Queens quickly buried the new born babies in the royal garden.

  Having committed this heinous dead, the six Queens placed seven rats and a crab beside the youngest Queen. When she regained consciousness, the youngest Queen looked around her, expecting to see her babies. But lo and behold, instead of babies there were only rats and a crab.

  The other Queens laughed harshly. “This is what you deserve,” they said, “for having tricked the king for so long.” The poor youngest Queen could not bear the shock and fainted.

  The first Queen then sounded the bell for the king to come. Full of joy, he dispersed his court and came to the Queen's chamber with trumpets blowing. But when he was told that the youngest Queen had given birth to rats and a crab, all his joy and eagerness turned to fury.

  He immediately branded the youngest Queen a witch and banished her from his kingdom. The poor Queen labouring under the belief that she had given birth to animals left the palace much to the glee of the other Queens.

  The grief stricken king could not take any more interest in governing his kingdom. He neglected the welfare of his subjects and began to lead a lonely and miserable life.

  Nature however had witnessed the real drama. In anger, she did not allow her trees to flower or rivers to flow any more. There was famine in the kingdom and the king did not know what to do.

  One morning, the royal priest came in haste and greeting the king, said, “Your Majesty, I have searched high and low in the whole kingdom for some flowers for the royal worship. The only blossoms I found were a single parul and seven champak flowers, all growing on the same tree in the royal garden. But when I went to pluck them they scampered up the tree and said that only the king could pluck them. Your Majesty, kindly hurry. The auspicious time for the royal worship is running out.”

  The king hurried off to the garden and as he gazed at the flowers, he felt a sudden surge of love for the bright little blooms as if they were his own children.

  And indeed they were. The seven champak flowers were his seven sons buried in the ground and the parul was his little daughter. After burial, they had grown into lovely flowers.

  On seeing the king, the parul sang out:

  “Rise o rise, my charming brothers,Rise o rise, Princes of the land,Rise o rise, heirs to the throne,Look who is here to wreath you into a garland.”

  Hearing this chant, the champaks asked, “Sister Parul, should we allow the king to pluck us?”

  “Certainly not,” replied the parul, “Only the first Queen shall be allowed to touch us.”

  Astounded by their conversation, the king immediately sent for the first Queen. Seeing her the parul flower sang her song and the brothers asked the same question but now she asked for the second Queen to come. In this way all the six Queens were sent for but none could touch the flowers. Now the parul called out, “O king, we shall fall willingly when the youngest Queen comes here.”

  But where was the youngest Queen? Since her banishment, no one knew her whereabouts.

  A great search was mounted and she was found working as a maid outside the kingdom. She was brought back and as she looking up at the flowers, one by one they dropped into her hands.

  All at once, the parul transformed into a lovely Princess and champak flowers into seven handsome young princes. They flung their arms around the youngest Queen and cried, “Mother, at last we are together.”

  The awestruck king demanded an explanation. “Who are you?” said he, “Why do you address this ragged woman as your mother?”

  No sooner did he utter these words than the boys told him the whole story and specially about the cruelty of the first six Queens.

  At last the king understood. In a rage he banished the six Queens who wept and begged his pardon, but all in vain. The king asked the youngest Queen for forgiveness and the gentle sweet lady forgave him.

  The wicked Queens were sent away. The king lived happily ever after with the youngest Queen and his children.

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