Tales of Bengal eBook

Surendranath Banerjea
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 118 pages of information about Tales of Bengal.

CHAPTER XVII

Patience is a Virtue.

Sadhu Sheikh of Simulgachi was not long in finding a husband for his half-sister, Maini Bibi.  Before she was fourteen, a young farmer named Ramzan proposed for her hand, offering a den mohur of Rs. 100.  The den mohur is a device recognised by Mohammadan law for protecting married women from capricious repudiation.  The husband binds himself to refund a fictitious dowry, generally far above his means, in case he should divorce his wife for no fault of hers.  Ramzan was accepted by Sadhu, and the marriage was duly celebrated.  Maini Bibi was a handsome girl; but beauty was among the least of her gifts.  She was sweet-tempered, thrifty, and obedient, winning sympathy on all sides.  The one discordant note was struck by Ramzan’s mother, Fatima Bibi by name, who took a violent dislike to the bride and evinced it by persistently scolding and ill-using her.  Ramzan was completely under his mother’s thumb and saw everything with her eyes.  His love for Maini was slowly sapped by her innuendoes, and he treated the poor girl with something worse than coldness.  Maini, however, bore her hard lot without a murmur, hoping that time and patience would win back her husband’s heart.

On returning one evening from the fields, Ramzan was hailed by his mother who was evidently in a worse temper than usual.

“Hi!  Ramzan,” she shrieked, “I am an old woman, and you, doubtless, find me an incumbrance.  Speak out, my son; you have only to say ‘go,’ and I will leave this house in half an hour.”

“Why, what’s the matter, mother?” asked Ramzan with open eyes.

“Matter,” she yelled.  “Would you believe it, that black-faced daughter of a pig has actually abused me—­me, your old mother!”

“What did she say?” rejoined Ramzan angrily.

“My son,” was the answer, “you know how she neglects household duties, leaving all the hard jobs to me.  Well, this afternoon, I ventured on a word of remonstrance, and she actually abused me.”  And the old woman wiped her tears away with a corner of her cotton wrapper, adding with eyes cast heavenwards, “Merciful Allah, to think that I should come to this in my old age!”

“But what did she say?” repeated Ramzan wearily.

“She told me to my face that I had forgotten to put salt into the curry!”

“That’s hardly abusive,” rejoined Ramzan.

“You think so,” shouted Fatima.  “Now you’re taking sides with her against your mother, who bore you.  You will assuredly suffer in Jehannam (hell) for such a crime!  But I’ll have it out with that she-devil!”

So saying, she dashed from the room to the kitchen, where the luckless Maini was cowering in anticipation of a coming storm.  She was not deceived.  Fatima seized her by the hair and administered a sound thumping.

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Project Gutenberg
Tales of Bengal from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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