A drama based on a folk tale. Dramatization: Mahesh Paudyal
[Princes Mangala and Janjala are step-brothers. Mangala is the only son of the first queen, while Janlala is the eldest of the seven boys born to the second queen. Their father, the King of a kingdom in the Far Western Hills of Nepal, is quite old. He is convinced that he won’t last very long. So, he invites his sons to distribute land, property and royal responsibilities so that they won’t quarrel after his demise. When the curtain lifts, we can see the King, and the two Princes talking.]
King: My children! I am quite sick, and it seems, I won’t last long. I want to see that after my demise, you get along quite smoothly in a friendly way. Come; let me show you your shares of property. I begin with the land we have. You know, you are eight brothers altogether. The fairest deal is that, we divide the total land into eight equal pieces, and each of you will be the master of one.
Mangala: That’s not fair, Father. We have two mothers, you know. Divide the land into two, and give each half to the mothers. This means, I will own half, and Janjala will divide his half among himself and his brothers.
Janjala: That’s never heard of, Father. Land is not divided in the names of the wives. The fair deal is, divide the land into eight pieces, and give a piece each to eight of us. That settles the issue.
Mangala: That won’t do. Right is right. I am heir to the crown, and so, by rule, I am the law. You will have a half, and divide it as you may. I am the Lord of the remaining half. Final!
King: My chest aches on the left. Auch, it’s so painful. I think I am leaving. Boys, settle between yourselves. Allow me peace. Ah, my eyes blur and I see nothing.
Janjala : Father, peace be with you. I pray for you! But then, as you used to say, the law is blind. I will not let Mangala befool me and my brothers.
King: Here I go, boys. May God be with you both!
[The Princes cannot settle the issue. As a result, there is a battle between them. Janjala is defeated, and he, along with his brothers, is exiled to the hills of Babauri. However, he is determined to taking revenge. After some time, he sends an invitation to Mangala for hunting deer in the mountains.]
Mangala: (to his wife): Janjala has sent a message.
Mainawati: What does it say?
Mangala: He has invited me to a hunting expedition in the mountains. I think there is no harm in going.
Mainawati: He cannot be believed. He can trap you. No, I won’t allow you to go.
Mangala: I think there is nothing wrong in hunting. He has no army with him; he can do me no harm.
Mainawati: You can never say that. No, you are not going.
Mangala: I am going. That is final.
Mainawati: You know I am expecting, and the child can be born in a few days. You cannot leave me alone in such a condition.
Mangala: You have the whole palace with you. The maids are there with you all the time. I shall instruct the royal physician to remain alert. But I cannot postpone my trip. Here I go. Take care, Queen, and take good care of the prince that will be born to you!
[Up there in the hills, Janjala plots and feeds poison to Mangala. Mangala is dead. Then, Janjala comes back, captures the throne and declares himself the King. In the meantime, there is a rumour that Mainawati has given birth to a son. Janjala orders his soldiers to capture the child and kill him instantly.]
Mainawati: Brother Saraiya! You are my trusted brother. So, let me tell you something. I am sure, Janjala will send his henchmen to kill the Prince.
Brother Saraiya: I don’t think so, Your Majesty. He must not be so cruel to an infant.
Mainawati: You can never trust Janjala. All his actions so far suggest, he is the most callous human being in the kingdom. I have a request.
Brother Saraiya: I am at your service, Your Majesty.
Mainawati: Take the Prince and flee from the backdoor. Take him to the mountains where you have your ranch. Let him grow as a cowboy. When he comes of age, tell him his stories.
Brother Saraiya: That’s fine, Your Majesty. But then, how can I make a Prince grow up as a cowboy? That is against his right.
Mainawati: Nothing is against one’s rights, if it is done to save life. There is no stuff dearer than life in the whole world.
Brother Saraiya: As you say, Your Majesty. But then, I can foresee another problem. Janjala will soon know about the Prince’s birth. He can either come himself, or send his henchmen to capture and kill the infant. What will you say to him?
Mainawati: All he will do is kill the child any moment he lays his hand on him. He will not stop to see how the child looks. I will smear some blood on a pumpkin, and wrap it in clothes. Janjala will never know, as he is always blind with anger.
Brother Saraiya: As you say, Your Majesty.
[Sariya leaves from the back door. Janjala comes in.]
Janjala: Where’s the infant?
Mainawati: Here you are, Your Majesty!
Janjala: Hmm, that’s so good of you. Soldier, take the child out there, and throw him off the cliff. That will end the entire story.
[A soldier lifts the cloth-wrapped pumpkin and exits. Janjala leaves. Up there in the mountains, Saraiya raises Prince Bimal with all love and care. When Bimal is sixteen, Saraiya tells the entire story. Enraged, Bimal organizes an army and attacks the palace. He wins everyone else, and finally, he is in the throne-room, facing Janjala. ]
Bimal: What do you say now, Janjala?
Janjala: No one calls me by name. Everyone says, ‘Your Majesty!’ Who are you here, showing such impertinence?
Bimal: Janjala, I am Bimal, your nephew and the son of your brother Mangala. You thought you killed me the day I was born. In fact, it was a pumpkin you caught. I escaped somewhere, and I grew at a place I will never tell you. Now that I have defeated all of your forts, you have no right to continue on the throne.
Janjala: Soldier, come in! Solider, there’s an intruder!
[No one comes in; Janajala looks tensed.]
Bimal: No one will come to your aid, Janjala. I have killed most of your henchmen, or they are my prisoners now. All you can do now is, take the crown off, leave the throne and surrender. Your days are numbered.
Janjala: O no! Solider, soldier! Come in; there’s an intruder.
Bimal: No use, Janjala. There’s no one. Fight alone if you can.
Janjala: I have done no wrong. Your father was unfair in the land deal. Moreover, he waged a war and drove us into the mountains. I had to kill him for justice.
Janjala: I know no politics. You are guilty of infanticide. You virtually killed me the day I was born.
Janjala: If that was a pumpkin I killed, I am not to be accused.
Bimal: That is an excuse. Your intentions were criminal; you need to be punished for that. Here I make the move. Call all your deities if they can save you.
Janjala: Mother, save my soul!
[Janjala takes his sword and attacks Bimal. Bimal counters the attack, and charges a sharp blow at Janjala. Janjala falls on the floor and dies. Bimal seizes the crown and sits on the throne. Outside, the commoners join Bimal’s soldiers in shouting their slogan, “Long live His Majesty! Bimal’s the new King!]