ललका पाग: THE RED HEADWEAR (Collection of Stories by Rajkamal Choudhary)
There can be no confusion in identifying a Maithil woman. They are quite different from the womenfolk of other provinces and their attire… During the Maghi Purnima fair held on the bank of Ganga at Simaria ,Pahleja or Mahadeopur ghaat a Maithil woman can be distinguished with a worn out clothen bundle on their head and in a pitched rhythmical voice calling their companions with their typical names such as – ‘O Munia’s Mother’ ,O Bisanpattiwali, or Hey Bahina, Hey Paan, Hey Chaanan ,O Mother etc’
A Maithil woman chirning wheat in ‘Jaanta’, thrashing rice in ‘Dheki’ , making flattened rice (Chuda) in Ukhari, making paste of rice on ‘Silout’,and singing some new or old lyrics traditionally sung on these occasions .A maithil woman smearing the basil stand with cow-dung; a Maithil woman painting blood-red and white coloured leaves and flowers with vermillion and rice-paste on Aripan …. And Maithil woman playing hide and sick, sama-Chakewa,and Jatt—Jattin.
And Tripura or Tripur alias Tiru was a typical Maithil girl of this class.
Even before she had reached the age of playing with the broad ‘shikha’ of her father, the learned Pundit left for the heavenly abode and then , only three persons were left in the family— Tiru’s weak and helpless mother, her elder brother Jhingur Nath and Tiru herself along with the Koshi flood, rampant Malaria , complaints of the neighbors and many other things.
Within a few years, Tiru with a protruded belly caused by jaundice,with lots of wounds and carbuncles on the body, eyes full of dirt and filth,
wiping her nostrils with worn –out frock , wandering from this orchard to that orchard,went under a sea-change and was metamorphosed into a soft ,fair-complexioned ,beautiful heroine of Baanbhatta.,the great Sanskrit poet.
When Jhingurnath returned home , nearly eleven or ten years
after his father’s sad demise, it was pitch-dark evening.. Shyingly he asked a young girl drawing water from the well just close to his house, “ Is my mother there in the courtyard?”
“ Who are you?” inquired the girl drawing water from the well
“I’m Jhingurnath ,son of late Pundit Tek Nath Jha.”,replied Jhingur Nath .The girl threw a look at him and fixed her eyes on his face for a little while and then leaving her pitcher on the well rushed to her courtyard—“ O mother, Bhaiji has come. He is there at the well….”
Holding a big leather suitcase under his left arm , Jhingurnath slowly followed her towards the courtyard.
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