Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Proud Father

Dil Bahadur was a very dignified Rat with a handsome moustache and a portle bearing. He lived with his family in the grain storage room of a large Rana palace.

Dil had many children but none did he love more than his eldest daughter. When his child was born, there were so many well-laced stars in her horoscope that the Brahman had difficulty finding a suitable name for her. He counted on his fingers. He consulted his long red, book. At last he chose one name which seemed to fit the baby best-Lakshmi Devi, Goddess of Good Fortune.

Lakshmi Devi was a sweet-tempered, generous creature and she grew more beautiful as the years sped by. At last it was time for her to be married.

“I cannot marry her to just any Rat,” said Dil Bahadur to his wife one day. “She is far too beautiful. In fact, I cannot marry her to a Rat at all. Not one that I know is good enough for her.”

He paused to think for a moment. Then suddenly he said: “The sun is more powerful than anything else in the world. And he is handsome, too. I shall marry her to the Sun!”

When Lakshmi Devi heard what her father had in store for her, tears came to her eyes.

“But I do not want to marry the Sun, father,” she protested gently. “I want to marry another Rat just like myself.”

Dil Bahadu was very disappointed. He thought of all the praise he would receive from everyone if he arranged such a match. It would bring great honor to the Rana family.

“Think how many girls would envy you,” he said to his daughter impatiently. “Why are you so troubled? Don’t you like the Sun?”

“Of course I do, father,” sobbed Lakshmi. “But…”

“Then the matter is settled,” he announced, looking into the mirror to smooth his moustache. “I will arrange the marriage. You may be too young to appreciate it now, but when you are older and wiser you will be very glad that I choose the Sun for your husband.”

He put on his English suit-coat, tucked his kukari into his cummberbund, picked up his walking stick, and strode off down the trail.

When Dil Bahadur approached the Sun’s palace, he found the prospective bridegroom sitting in the courtyard smoking his hooka.

“Greetings, oh Sun,” Dil said respectfully, touching his palms together and raising them to his bowed forehead. “That is a good crop of barley you have there.”

“Ah, yes indeed,” answered the Sun, looking across his yellow fields. “This has been a very good year for barley. “

He offered Dil Bahadur a rug to sit on and after exchanging a few polite remarks with his guest, he said:

“What brings you so far from home, good friend, when the crops are almost ready to harvest?”

“Oh, Sun,” began Dil Bahadur slowly. “You are the richest and most powerful in all the world!” He paused to take a sip of sweet tea that had been put before him. “Therefore, you deserve the very best for a wife. I have a daughter whose beauty far exceeds my ability to describe it. She is a goddess of delight-helpful, kind and generous. She is worthy of the best husband I can find for her. It is a great compliment to you that I come here now to offer her hand in marriage.”

The Sun’s eyes betrayed a faint smile, but Dil Bahadur only noticed that he took another puff on his hooka.

“Thank you,” he said finally. “I accept your most generous compliment. But I must not fail to point out to you that there are others more powerful than I, whom you should consider for such a worthy daughter. Do you realize that the clouds are always getting in my way?” He raised his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “What can I do against them?”

Dil Bahadur could not control a sudden gasp. It had never occurred to him that anyone was more powerful than the Sun. His moustache trembled. “What shall I do now?” he thought to himself. “I do not want to offend him by withdrawing my offer, but there is no denying it., the clouds can cover him whenever they wish. Lakshmi Devi will have to marry a Cloud.”

“If you are not the most powerful in the world, surely you are the most honorable,: said Dil, regaining his composure. “When you are ready to marry, I would be happy to give you any of my other beautiful daughters. “

His finished his tea with ease, thanked the Sun for his hospitality, and hurried off to visit the Clouds.

“Where is your headman?” he asked a young Cloud. “You must show me to him; I have important business to discuss.”

The young Cloud hastened to do as he was told, and soon Dil found himself in the courtyard of the Chief.

“Great Mukiya,” Dil began, when it was time for him to speak of his reason for coming. “You are more powerful than anyone I have ever known. Why, you can even hide the Sun! I have a charming daughter- a gem who dazzles everyone with her beauty and grace. So many have come to ask me for her hand.” He took a long, slow sip of tea, sighing loudly with contentment as he put the cup down. “But I am very particular. What would you say if I offered her to you in marriage?”

The Chief of the Clouds raised his billowy eyebrows I astonishment. He thought Dil Bahadur had come to ask him for advice.

“Why, I-I would be flattered, you can be sure,” he stuttered. “But you would never forgive me if I did not tell you there is another more powerful than a Cloud.” The Chief tried to look very sad. “He pushes all of us about whenever he wishes. We are always at his mercy!”

“Who is that?” asked Dil in surprise.

“The Wind.”

“Well,” Dil answered, “I never thought of the Wind as a proper husband for my daughter.” He stared into his empty cup. “But of course,” he said suddenly, jumping to his feet, “if you say she must marry the Wind, she must marry the Wind. I will see to it that she does! Yes, I certainly will!” He gave Cloud a brisk, soldierly salute and hurried off to see the Wind.

“Wind, my friend,” Dil said, as soon as it seemed proper, “you are the most powerful being in all the world. You command the greatest respect. I have a daughter whose gentle manner is surpassed only by her good looks. She is a beauty, rare and wonderful, and certainly worthy of someone as great as you. She we arrange a marriage?”

The Wind gave a long sigh, to keep from laughing aloud. “I would be delighted to marry you daughter,” he said finally. “At the same time I cannot deceive you. It is true that I am treated with great respect. But there is another, more powerful than I, whom I cannot bend to my will,” He lowered his head as if the thought troubled him.

“Really?” asked Dil. “Who can this be?”

“The Mountain.”

“Dear, dear. I did forget how powerful is the Mountain,” said Dil. “Yes, you are quite right. Thank you, good Wind, for reminding me.” And after swallowing his tea in great haste, he hurried of to see the Mountain.

“Honorable Mukiya,” said Dil, as soon as he was seated, “no tea, thank you. I am her on urgent business. You are so powerful. You are so strong. You are so wise. None can call himself your equal. I have a very beautiful daughter who will make the most wonderful wife in all the world. You alone, deserve such a prize. Marry her and you will rejoice forever.”

“Marry her and you will rejoice forever,” repeated the Mountain. “Well, of course I would be honored to marry your daughter, but if you want to marry her because I am the most powerful in all the world, then I shall have to admit there is someone else more…”

“Oh, no,” interrupted Dil, in a tired voice. “Who can that be?”

“A tree,” said the Mountain, happy that the Rat was not going to argue the marriage. “If the trees were not holding me so tightly, I could travel all the way to India.”

“Who would have dreamed Trees would have more power than the Mountain, moaned the bewildered Dil. “I suppose I should thank you for bringing this to my attention. I shall go to them at once.” And off he ran to visit the Trees.

“Beautiful Trees,” he said, without bothering to sit down, “you are so powerful you can hold the Mountain in place. I have been searching everywhere for a husband worthy of my lovely daughter, and the search has led me to your door. If we can arrange a marriage for Lakshmi Devi with your distinguished Mukiya, you will be forever grateful to me. Such a union would brings years of greatest joy and prosperity to all you clan.”

The Trees looked at one another in disbelief.

“Is this talk coming from a Rat?” whispered a tall Tree to his neighbor. Then he turned to Dil Bahadur and asked: “Do you know who has more power than we have? Do you know who makes our lives miserable?”

“Well, no,” said Dil Bahadur. “I can’t imagine. Who?”

“Rats! You and your relatives. If it were not for the Rates who eat our roots and destroy our bark, we would be the most powerful creatures alive. We hate Rats! And you want our Mukiya to marry your daughter?” The trees began to laugh.

Dil Bahadur crumpled with shame. He turned and fled. He ran far down the mountainside- away from the laughing Tress, through the corn fields, and down into the rice paddies. Only when he reached the water mill did he stop to rest.

Suddenly Dil Bahadur Rana began to puff up until his English suit-coat strained at the seams. He have never known he was so powerful. Why, he must be more powerful than anyone else in the whole, wide world!

He jumped up and rushed home as fast as his little legs could take him. When he finally caught his breath, he arranged a wedding for his daughter with another Rat; and Lakshmi Devi lived happily ever after, married to someone just like herself.


Bahadur – Brave; often used as second name for the boys

Brahman – Member of the highest caste; a priest and teacher.

Cummerbund – Long cloth wound around the waist

Hooka – A large bubble-pipe in which the smoke is filtered through water before reaching the stem

Kukari – The famous Gurkha knife, used by most hill people for their cutting needs

Mukiya – The headman of a village clan

Rana – A Magar clan, not to be confused with a family of Chhetris by the same name who once ruled Nepal.

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