Kamanita And Vasitthi
[Translated ~By KARL GJELLERUP]
THE MAIDEN BALL‐PLAYER
ONE DELIGHTFUL AFTERNOON we took ourselves to a public garden outside the town — a really magnificent park it was, lying close to the high with shady groups of trees, large lotusponds, marble summer‐houses and jasmine arbours. Here we were gently rocked on a golden swin by the attendants, while with ravished hearts we listened to the lovesick notes of the Kokila bird and the sweet chatter of the green parrots. All at once there rose on the air the merry tinkling of anklets, and instantly friend sprang out of the swing and called to me: “Look, Kāmanīta!The fairest maidens in Kosambī are just approaching, virgins specially chosen from the richest and most noble houses, come to do honour to the Goddess who dwells on the Vindhaya mountains by engaging in ball games. Count yourself fortunate, my friend, for at this game we may see them without restraint. Come, we must not miss our chance." Naturally I waited for no second bidding but made haste to follow.
On a spacious stage decorated with precious stones the maidens appeared, ready for the game. And, if it must be acknowledged that it was a rare sight to behold this galaxy of fair young creatures in all their glory of shimmering silk, airy muslin veils, pearls, sparkling jewels and golden bangles, what must be said of the game itself that gave to all these gracious figures such varied opportunities of displaying their wealth of subtle beauty in the most charming of positions and movements? And yet that was, as it were, but a prologue. For when these gazelle‐eyed worshippers had entertained us for a considerable time with games of many kinds, they all stepped back except for one, who remained alone in the centre of the jewelled stage: in the centre of the stage... and in the centre of my heart.
Then she did something that I had never seen and of which I had not even heard. She took two golden balls
and, while her feet moved in a dance to the tinkling of the jewels she wore, she made the balls spring so rapidly in lightning‐like lines, that it was as if one saw the golden bars of a cage in which a wondrous bird hopped daintily to and fro.
It was at this point that our eyes suddenly met.To this day, O stranger, I do not understand how it
was that I did not instantly drop dead, to be reborn in a heaven of bliss.
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At this instant one of the balls, which had hitherto been so obedient to her, escaped and flew in
a mighty curve down from the stage. Many young men rushed to seize it. I reached it at the same moment as
another richly‐dressed youth and we flew at one another, because neither was willing to yield it. Owing to my
absolute familiarity with the tricks of the wrestler, I succeeded in tripping him up.
At once, as any highly‐skilled player should, I succeeded in pitching it with such an accurate aim that it came down just in front of one corner of the stage and, rising again with a gentle movement, it landed as if tamed within reach of the fair player, who had not for a moment ceased to keep the other in motion, and who now wove herself again into her golden cage — amid the wild jubilation of the crowd of spectators. With that the
ball‐play in honour of the Goddess Lakshmī came to an end, the maidens disappeared from the stage and we
turned our steps homeward.
On the way, my friend remarked that it was fortunate that I had no business to conduct at court; for the
young man from whom I had captured the ball was no less a personage than the son of the Minister of State, and
everyone had noticed from his looks that he had sworn undying hatred to me.
I need hardly say that that night brought no sleep to my eyes, which I only closed in order to be possessed
anew by the blissful vision I had seen.
*********************************To be continued*******************
Edited by yawares
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