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King Vakra Nasa
by P.R. Ramchander

Once there was a princess called Shalini. She was a very proud girl. Her father Jaya Simha was a very pious man. When princess Shalini grew up, they arranged for her Swayamvara. This is a function in which all the kings who want to marry Shalini are invited and she would choose her husband from among them. Great Kings of all the kingdoms came for the Swayamvara. Shalini saw each of them and made very funny comments. For her one was a tall crane, the other was a fat tub, other was Ravana Rakshasa, and other was eight legged spider and so on. Among them was a great king. Shalini saw him and commented that he was Vakra Nasa (crooked nose). All the assembled people laughed. Then Shalini told her father that of the kings assembled there, none were to her liking. Jaya Simha became very angry and told, “If this is the case, you will never get married. I will give you in marriage to the first male beggar who comes to my palace.”

Next day morning, one beggar came to the palace and requested for some food. The watchmen took him to Jaya Simha. The beggar again asked for food. Then the king told, “Definitely I will give you food for today. But I will also give you princess Shalini.” Though the princess protested, she was given in marriage to the beggar. Next day the beggar told Shalini, “It is time for us to go to our home. So please start.” When Shalini came out of the palace she came to know that they have only to walk. All the next day they walked and they reached a big grape garden. Shalini asked the beggar, “Whom does this garden belong to?” The beggar replied, “of course to the king Vakra Nasa.” Shalini felt sad that she had not married King Vakra Nasa . They walked further and saw a very big pretty palace. Shalini again asked, “Whom does this palace belong to?” The beggar replied, “Of course to the King Vakra Nasa.” Shalini felt further sad that she had not married King Vakra Nasa . They walked further and reached a very great town. Shalini asked, “Whom does this town belong to ?” The beggar replied, “Of course to the King Vakra Nasa.” Shalini almost started crying. The beggar chided her and told, “You have not married King Vakra Nasa .You are my wife. So you should not wish for all these things.

Then outside the town, they went near a small hut. Shalini asked, “Whom does this nasty hut belong?”. The beggar replied, “It belongs to me and from now on , it is yours also. Enter the hut and clean it up.” Shalini found it very difficult to enter the hut. She did not know how to clean with a broomstick. She asked the beggar, “Where are our servants?” The beggar replied, “We are too poor. We do not have servants. In fact from tomorrow, you have to do some work.” Then the beggar asked her to cook. She had never cooked in her life. The beggar also taught her to cook. He asked her to make baskets so that he can sell them in the market. But her hands started bleeding. Then he asked her to make toys, so that he can sell them in the market. But then her hands started paining. So he told her, “You do not know any work. So you better sell pots in the market." Though Shalini felt bad that some of her father’s people will see her and laugh at her, she agreed. Right from the first day, she was able to sell lot of pots. They were able to buy things in the market, But after a week, One policeman came to the market, where she was selling pots and broke all of them.

Shalini cried. The beggar then told her, “Please do not cry. I have a friend in the palace. He has agreed to get you a job as the cook’s assistant. Shalini agreed. In the palace, the chief cook treated her very badly. Apart from doing work, she also had to take a bag from home and bring the beggar food from the palace. One day, the cook told that the king was getting married. Shalini had to serve food to the guests. She was given a good dress to wear. While she was crying and serving food, she saw King Vakra Nasa . He caught hold of her and dragged her to the marriage hall. The food she was carrying for her husband fell all over the floor. All people who were there made fun of her and laughed. Shalini started crying very loudly. Then King Vakra Nasa came near and told her, “Princess Shalini, do not cry. I am your husband . Till now I was the one who was acting like a beggar. I wanted you to learn how to live. I wanted you not to be proud. ”Shalini smiled and saw that her parents also had come. So the proud princess Shalini became the very good queen to the king Vakra Nasa.   

4-Dec-2005
 
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