The Odd Marriage
In ancient Pataliputra, there lived a wealthy brahmin who had one Son named Manohar. Now Manohar was extraordinarily handsome and quite learned too. Naturally, many families with marriageable daughters suggested suggestions in Manohar’s direction. Still, Manohar decided he wanted a bride of his choosing and set out to travel until he found her.
Manohar enjoyed his wanderings through the pleasant countryside, even though he had not found the bride of his dreams so far. Eventually, he came to the river Narmada, and a large wedding party was encamped on the bank!
Seeing the youth was alone, several of the party hailed Manohar and invited him to join the gathering, which was about to enjoy food and wine: before crossing the river. At first, Manohar hesitated, remembering that he had not eaten since early morning, accepted the invitation, and was soon the centre of attraction amongst the merrymakers,
Towards the end of the meal, an older man sat beside Manohar. “My son,” he said. “I wonder if you would do me a great favour?” I will certainly do it if it is within my power.” replied Manohar.
The man seemed delighted at Manohar’s prompt reply, “Well, the favour is not a very big one, really,” the man said smilingly. On the other side of the river, you see live Ratnadatta, who has a wonderful daughter. I am going there to seek her hand in marriage for my Son. But unfortunately, my Son is extremely ugly, and his looks may well repulse her. So I ask you to impersonate my Son until after marriage.
At first, Manohar felt like laughing at the man’s sheer rascality. But then he had more or less given his word, and it would be interesting to see what transpired. So Manohar joined the party when it crossed the river.
The following evening, after a long weary day’s travel, Manohar went to a nearby river to bathe. Having enjoyed a refreshing swim, Manohar was drying himself when, to his horror, he was caught in the clutches of a genie.
Ho! Ho! chortled the monster. “You will certainly make a tasty meal.”.
“You cannot possibly eat me “, Manohar replied indignantly. I have promised to do someone a favour. But if you let me go now, I promise to return immediately. I have to fulfil what I have agreed to undertake.”
“Bah! Do you expect me to believe such a likely tale”?” sneered the monster.
Manohar then told the genie how the wily bridegroom’s father had trapped him into the ruse of impersonating his ugly Son.
The genie seemed impressed by Manohar’s frankness. Go then, and keep your promise to this rascal,” he laughed, “But be sure to come to hack here afterwards.”
Manohar rejoined the marriage party, and eventually, they arrived at the house of Ratnadatta. There Was по hindrance in the wedding arrangements, as both Ratnadatta and his daughter Rupa felt that Manohar would make an ideal husband.
The wedding celebration was grand and colourful, but Rupa, the lovely bride, could not fail to see that her husband seemed ill at the case, and she wondered why.
Later that night, the young couple were left alone. Rupa, who was more than fascinated with Manohar, longed to talk and ask a thousand and one questions. But Manohar seemed more anxious than ever after pacing up and down. The groom suddenly announced that he was going into the garden.
Rupa realised something terrible was amiss, so she followed and discovered what was wrong.
Manohar made straight for the river to keep his dire appointment with the genie.
The genie greeted him with a loud laugh: “Very few mortals are as truthful as you. So you should make a very delightful meal.”
“Wait,” bid a voice, and when they turned round, there stood Rupa, “I am Manohar’s wife,” she said, walking towards the genie. Surely I will make a more tasty meal than my husband.”
But maybe I prefer to eat your husband,” said the genie
“Then,” replied Rupa with. a sigh. “Who will look after me when my husband has gone?”
“You can beg.” answered the genie.
But who will give alms to an accursed widow who lost her husband on her wedding night?”
Poor girl. I will grant you a boon,” said the genie with deliberation. “Whoever refuses to give you alms will vanish on the spot.”
“Then good genie,” said Rupa promptly. “Please give me alms,”
With a laugh, the genie disappeared into thin air. Manohar and Rupa hurried back to the house as dawn was fast approaching.
When they arrived, they were surprised to find the wedding party was getting ready to leave. The old rascal, who had enveigled Manohar into this adventure, called him to one side.
You have played your part nobly, my Son,” said the old rascal. “We are now returning home, and you shall be handsomely rewarded. Afterwards, you can quietly disappear so that my Son can be the husband of Rupa.”
Manohar was at a loss for a reply because now he had no intention of giving up Rupa, who had confronted the genie with such great courage. He decided to wait until they reached their destination, and then he would claim Rupa as his lawful wife.
When they reached the river Narmada, the old rascal explained to Manohar that, unfortunately, one boat would not carry the party across, so he was sure Manohar would not object to crossing in a second boat.
But, of course, he did not tell Manohar that he had bribed the second boatman to knock Manohar on the head and throw his body into the water.
As soon as the first boar reached the opposite bank, Rupa looked around for Manohar and asked the old rascal where he was Manohar.
Manohar has left us. But this is your husband,” said the old rascal, pointing to his ugly Son.
“How dare you suggest that person is my husband,” said Rupa. “If anything has happened to Manohar, you will answer for it with your head.”
The old rascal was frightened at this determined tone and tried to calm Rupa with soft words and promises. But it was of no avail. Rupa utterly refused to go further with the old rascal and demanded to return to her home.
In the end, the old rascal scared that his own life might be in danger, consented to Rupa returning across the river.
Meanwhile, Manohar, in the second boat, anxiously scanned the distant shore for a sight of his beloved Rupa and was taken unawares when the boatman struck him a violent blow with his oar, sending Manohar headlong into the river,
At first, bewildered by the blow and hampered by his clothes, Manohar was in danger of drowning. But somehow, he managed to survive and allow himself to be carried by the strong current. Manohar eventually managed to scramble onto the bank of the river, more dead than alive.
When he recovered, Manohar resolved to go to Rupa’s home and confess the sorry tale to her father. Imagine his surprise to be greeted by Rupa herself, and when all was explained, they often wondered afterwards whether it was fate or a wily old rascal who had brought them together.