The Story of Disru (PRINCESS OF DIMASA)

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(Reproduced from C.A. Soppitt “An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Kachari Tribes in the North Cachar Hills”, Assam Secretariat Press, 1885)

A King once lived, whose principal amusement consisted in hunting elephants. One day information was brought in that a large herd was in a forest, some day’s journey from the capital. Upon this, the king determined to start at once, and to remain out in the jungle until he had accounted for the greater number. In taking farewell of his wife, who intended shortly to present him another child, he said “Children we have in plenty: our daughters especially being exceedingly numerous. Should the babe prove to be of the female sex, you had better get it, but if a male bring it up”. Then taking an affectionate farewell of the wife of his bosom, the king and his followers started off. In due course the queen was delivered of another girl, a child of surpassing beauty. Remembering her husband’s parting instructions, she was in a great state of mind, and did not for a long time know what to do. At last one of the maids suggesting that the infant should be made over to her and the matter kept quiet. The king and his party in the meanwhile had wandered about the country, hunting the herd of elephants, and it was some years before they had destroyed all of thought of returning home. On reaching the palace, the king’s first enquiry was about his wife and the child born in his absence. In great fear and trembling, the queen said a daughter had been born, and, in accordance with his instructions, had been born, and, in accordance with his instructions, had been made away with. Greatly to the relief of the household, the father believed the tale and rejoiced exceedingly at not having another mouth to fill.

A few days after this, while walking on the borders of the palace tank, a wondrous fair damsel appeared at one of the doors of the palace and attracted the king’s attention. Before he had time, however, to enquire who she was, the maid disappeared. The vision had so fired his imagination that he at once assembled his courtiers and insisted on knowing who the girl was. For a long time no one was bold enough to speak out, but at last an old follower, much in favour at court, informed him that the girl was his own daughter. The king laughed at this, saying – “Do you think because I’ve been in the jungle all these years that my wits are blunted? Was I born yesterday, or even the day before that I should be taken in with these simple stories? You lustful old sinner; methinks you have your eye on the damsel as a means of consoling yourself in your sinful old age; you old reprobate! However, it won’t do. Such beauties are not for commoners but are reserved for royal houses. I intend to take the girl unto myself as wife.” Hearing these words, the old follower was sore distressed and said “Oh, King! Long have I lived in this world, but a father marrying his own daughter I have never heard of; the disagree will be very great.” The king, however, still refused to believe the words of his people, and fixed a day for the marriage ceremony. The girl, Disru, was now told by the mother of the circumstances connected with her birth, and between them they arranged a plan of escape from the palace. The night fixed upon for the flight, an enemy of the queen’s informed the king of the project, but luckily too late for him to do anything but follow them up. For days and days he tracked the footprints until in the far distance he saw a large city, and heard the sounds of many voices. Fancying that he could now secure the runaways he rushed on, but suddenly found his progress barred by a guard of women of gigantic stature, who informed him that he had reached the bounds of “woman’s land,” beyond which no male was allowed to stray. He expostulated, but all in vain and ultimately returned to his kingdom a sadder and a wiser man.