Dearest Srimati Kamal Mani Dasi, long may you live!
"I am ashamed to address you any longer with a blessing. You have become a woman, and the mistress of a house. Still I cannot think of you otherwise than as my younger sister. I have brought you up to womanhood, I taught you your letters; but now when I see your writing I am ashamed to send this scrawl. But of what use to be ashamed? My day is over; were it not so how should I be in this condition? What condition?--it is a thing I cannot speak of to any one; should I do so there will be sorrow and shame; yet if I do not tell some one of my heart's trouble I cannot endure it. To whom can I speak? You are my beloved sister; except you no one loves me. Also it concerns your brother. I can speak of it to no one but you.
"I have prepared my own funeral pyre. If I had not cared for Kunda Nandini, and she had died, would that have been any loss to me? God cares for so many others--would He not have cared for her? Why did I bring her home to my own destruction! When you saw that unfortunate being she was a child, now she is seventeen or eighteen. I admit she is beautiful; her beauty is fatal to me. If I have any happiness on earth it is in my husband; if I care about anything in this world it is for my husband; if there is any wealth belonging to me it is my husband: this husband Kunda Nandini is snatching from me. If I have a desire on earth it is for my husband's love: of that love Kunda Nandini is cheating me. Do not think evil of your brother; I am not reproaching him. He is virtuous, not even his enemies can find a fault in him. I can see daily that he tries to subdue his heart. Wherever Kunda Nandini may happen to be, from that spot, if possible, he averts his eyes; unless there is absolute necessity he does not speak her name. He is even harsh towards her; I have heard him scold her when she has committed no fault. Then why am I writing all this trash? Should a man ask this question it would be difficult to make him understand, but you being a woman will comprehend. If Kunda Nandini is in his eyes but as other women, why is he so careful not to look towards her? why take such pains to avoid speaking her name? He is conscious of guilt towards Kunda Nandini, therefore he scolds her without cause; that anger is not with her, but with himself; that scolding is not for her, but for himself. This I can understand. I who have been so long devoted to him, who within and without see only him, if I but see his shadow I can tell his thoughts. What can he hide from me? Occasionally when his mind is absent his eyes wander hither and thither; do I not know what they are seeking? If he meets it, again becoming troubled he withdraws his eyes; can I not understand that? For whose voice is he listening at meal-times when he pauses in the act of carrying food to his mouth? and when Kunda's tones reach his ear, and he fastens to eat his meal, can one not understand that? My beloved always had a gracious countenance; why is he now always so absent-minded? If one speaks to him he does not hear, but gives an absent answer. If, becoming angry, I say, 'May I die?' paying no attention he answers, 'Yes.' If I ask where his thoughts are, he says with his lawsuits; but I know they have no place in his mind; when he speaks of his lawsuits he is always merry. Another point. One day the old women of the neighbourhood were speaking of Kunda Nandini, pitying her young widowhood, her unprotected condition. Your brother came up; from within I saw his eyes fill with tears; he turned away and left them quickly. The other day I engaged a new servant; her name is Kumuda. Sometimes the Babu calls Kumuda; when so doing he often slips out the name Kunda instead of Kumuda, then how confused he is--why should he be confused? I cannot say he is neglectful of me, or unaffectionate; rather he is more attentive than before, more affectionate. The reason of this I fully understand: he is conscious of fault towards me; but I know that I have no longer a place in his heart. Attention is one thing, love quite another; the difference between these two we women can easily understand.
"There is another amusing matter. A learned <em>pandit</em> in Calcutta, named Iswara Chandra Bidya Sagar, has published a book on the marriage of widows. If he who would establish the custom of marrying widows is a <em>pandit</em>, then who can be called a dunce? Just now, the Brahman Bhattacharjya bringing the book into the <em>boita khana</em>, there was a great discussion.
"After much talk in favour of widow-marriage, the Brahman, taking ten rupees from the Babu for the repairs of the <em>Tote</em>, went his way. On the following day Sharbabhoum Thakur replied on the same subject. I had some golden bracelets made for his daughter's wedding. No one else was in favour of widow-marriage.
[Footnote 6: The village school in which Sanscrit is taught.]
"I have taken up much time in wearying you with my sorrows. Do I not know how vexed you will be? but what can I do, sister? If I do not tell you my sorrows, to whom shall I tell them? I have not said all yet, but hoping for some relief from you has calmed me a little. Say nothing of this to anyone; above all, I conjure you, show not this letter to your husband. Will you not come and see me? if you will come now your presence will heal many of my troubles. Send me quickly news of your husband and of your child.
"P.S.--Another word. If I can get rid of this girl I may be happy once more; but how to get rid of her? Can you take her? Would you not fear to do so?"
Kamal Mani replied--
"You have become quite foolish, else how can you doubt your husband's heart? Do not lose faith in him; if you really cannot trust him you had better drown yourself. I, Kamal Mani, tell you you had better drown yourself. She who can no longer trust her husband had better die."