A Blazing Tale of Love
Alirajpur is a small state in Central India. Raja Hari Singh was the ruler of this state and he lived in luxurious splendor with his family and two daughters surrounded by a retinue of servants, valets, and maids. It was all idyll and calm and when he looked out of the window he could not help and feel it was great to be alive. The Raja, however, had political ambitions and he plotted to become free after the lapse of the Raj, euphemism for British rule.
Back in the imperial headquarters, the news that the Raja was planning something drastic had been gleaned by intelligence. The home secretary was not at all keen that the Raja should make a bid for independence. He was very keen that the Raja must integrate with the newly formed Indian state. He called the C-in-C and asked him to think of a plan wherein a spy could be planted in the palace of the Raja.
It was 1946 and Princess Rajyshree was eighteen then and dimly aware that this idyll world would soon change, with independence around the corner. However, she and her sister were enjoying the regal splendor of power and glory that the British Raj conferred on them. They were oblivious to the agitation led by Gandhi for ‘Swaraj’. In any case, their father the Maharaja was a known opponent of Gandhi. He opposed Gandhi for he knew that in case the British went away all his glory and power would become like the mist.
However, the princess's mind was far away from Gandhi and Nehru. Her memory of that period is not of Gandhi and the independence movement. She loved the Raj as it brought stability and ensured that power and privileges remained with them. She was dimly aware that her father was plotting for freedom and she hoped he would be successful.
The C-in-C, on the other hand, was making his plans to send a spy to the palace of the Raja. He hit upon a novel plan. He had received a request from the Raja for a horse trainer to be seconded from the British Indian Army to the state to train his daughters. He called a bright young officer whom he knew and told him, " Robin, I am going to send you to a state in Central India to keep an eye on the Raja there and inform me of all plans and schemes the Raja may be hatching."
"That will be fine sir when do I move."
"There is a catch Robin, You will not go as captain Robin but as Sergeant Robin. The Q- Intelligence will brief you further."
It is worth mentioning that Princess Rajyshree the elder princess was beautiful. It is not for any praise but more as a statement of fact. She knew of her beauty as the resident British Captain was smitten by her. He tried many a ruse to come closer to her, but she spurned him and reveled in this act of petulance. Other men also eyed her with long glances.
She and her sister were both addicted to riding. It was their first love.
One day during December, when it was cold and dreary, her father called the two sisters to his study. As they entered the study, they saw him sitting on his favorite rocking chair smoking his pipe. He beamed when he saw them and motioned to sit down. After a moment he puffed at his pipe and said, “The British are scared as the army through which they controlled India is no longer their trusted servant, and I wonder what will happen to us once the English leave.”
He paused for a moment and took another puff at his pipe and continued
“Any way whatever is to happen will happen but so long as the Raj is there let us make good use of it”
He continued and with another puff announced grandly, “Girls” he said, “from tomorrow, you both shall have a new riding instructor”.
“Who is he?” I asked
“Ah! He is a Sergeant of the Kings Indian Cavalry and has been loaned to us by the Viceroy’s council and Commander in Chief at my request. His name is Sergeant Robin Smith and he is a specialist with horses”
“Really?” Rajyashre asked more out of a reflex than with any special consideration.
“Yes” replied my father,” and make the most of the days the Raj,it still covers us. He gestured with his hands indicating that the interview was over.
“What about this Robin Smith?” Rajyashree asked.
“Well, he is a soldier who has served with the Poona Horse cavalry in Mesopotamia and now is back from active duty.”
Falling in Love
One fine day they heard a commotion and the watchman rushed to tell them that the English Sergeant from the British Indian Army had joined them and had parked himself in the stables. Both the girls rushed to the stables to see the man who had come. One look at him and they were filled with awe of the man. He was over six feet tall with a trimmed beard and muscular body. In fact, he created the impression of a man chiseled from solid granite. The man rarely smiled or talked to them and gave the impression that he treated them with disdain; a fact that infuriated the princess. But he was a hard taskmaster and put the girls through our paces with finesse and power.
They learned fast and soon became adept with the horses in the stables. But despite their proficiency with horses, Robin Smith showed no appreciation or ever spoke a word of encouragement. Unknown to them the captain was actually keeping a close watch on the goings-on in the palace and the meetings being held by the Raja with enemy agents to declare independence as and when the British left India.
Naturally, the princess who was used to being fawned over by the palace staff found his indifference irritating and sometimes she seethed with anger. Her sister also felt hurt by the attitude of the trainer. One day while mounting a horse Robin looked at Rajyshree sternly and said,
“Rani Sahib(Princess), today we go for a cross-country ride.”
She could do nothing but agree, but a feeling of resentment built up within her against the trainer.
They put the horses through a cantor and soon had covered vast distances in the countryside. She handled the beast the way Robin expected, and they carried out all the required maneuvers. But her good work did not bring a word of appreciation from him, except a stony stare. She seethed with rage at this attitude and vowed to discipline him. By now sweat was trickling down her spine and she was tired. Robin seemed not to notice anything.
“I am tired,” she said pulling the horse up to a halt.
He looked at her in disdain and signaled a halt. She got off the horse and sat down on a ledge to recover her breath. She expected her trainer to say something. But he said nothing and dismounting off his steed, took off his shirt and started wiping the sweat from the horse. This act infuriated her and she asked, “Why are you behaving like this towards me.”
He did not reply but just stared at her as if she didn’t exist and continued wiping the horse.
“ Sergeant” she shouted, ‘answer me, you very well know my father is the ruler of this state.”
He looked at me with eyes that showed his contempt and continued stroking the horse. As he had removed his shirt, she was suddenly aware of the masculinity of the man. His indifference, however, irked her and she boiled with rage. She wanted to teach the man a lesson: prove to herself that she was a princess and he a mere sergeant, not even an officer. She lifted her riding crop and let it swish through the air, towards his chest.
“This will teach you to answer me!” she shouted.
But the man appeared to be superhuman. He just tilted his head, while his hand caught the whip as it sailed through the air in a vice-like grip. The resultant effect was disastrous as she lost her balance and fell in a sorry heap on the muddy earth. He yanked her up with his hand holding the collar of her shirt said sternly, “Now we go back, Rani Sahib.”
She reached the room and vowed to teach the trainer a lesson that he would never forget.
Her chance came soon. Her father had organized a hunt for the British Resident and all went for the hunt. She didn’t go feigning a headache, as she knew that trainer would not go with the hunt and would be in the stable. She vowed to teach him the lesson of his life. As the horses galloped off; she picked up her riding crop and swished it through the air a few times to get her confidence and then walked up to the stables. She was unaware that the trainer had stayed back as he was to receive information about the arrival of some contacts from the enemy and he wanted to find out who they were.
She reached the stable and entered shutting the large door behind her. She saw Robin sitting in a far corner of the stable. He was stroking a horse with a large brush. He did not notice her as she walked up to him with the whip. She wanted to whip him till he begged for mercy. She let the whip fly at the trainers back. The whip landed on the man’s back with a swish and she relished the sound as it cut into his flesh. He looked back and saw her and his voice was harsh; his eyes boring into me insolently.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
She did not reply, but let the crop sail through the air again. She again flailed her trainer’s back and the red blood seeping onto his shirt made her grunt with satisfaction.
He looked at her and her throat was suddenly tight and she was aware of the saliva flowing in my mouth, making her voice sound thick. Her heart began to hammer and she wondered what was happening to her.
Robin now stood up. She watched his every move. He turned to the horse and whispered soft words to the animal, He stroked the horse’s neck and the animal neighed. There was tension in the stable and this act of the trainer infuriated her.
“Why?” she whispered lifting the whip again to flail the man.
The trainer now stepped forward towards her. His face was stern and there was close to anger on his face and eyes. Her hand wavered as he put his hands on her shoulders. His grip was steely and she whimpered without knowing why. The whip dropped from my hand and she reached out for him, her hands shaking and trembling.
It was airless in the stable and she was breathless. Then it was all magic. He cupped her face in his hands as he realized her torment. She felt the firm fingers against the smoothness of her skin. He tilted her chin and her head fell back and lips parted as she buried her face against the nook of his shoulder, pressing her body against him. They sank together on the straw in the stable. Silence engulfed the stable. Her entire body was on fire as he unloosened the belt of her riding trouser. He took her till she felt she no longer existed.
After it was over she lay breathing and gasping for breath. Without looking at her lover, she pulled up her pants and ran out. Her sister met her `"What’s happened?"
"I am very much alive and kicking.”
“Daddy is looking for you, he wants to say something.”
“Ok, “she said, “ tell him, I am coming.”
“But what were you doing in the stable?”
“Nothing much, I just came to ride a horse, but the sergeant was not there.”
Unknown to her the captain was sending a message to headquarters. "Sir, 4 leaders are arriving in a short time, by the train and I suggest you apprehend them at the rail station. They have plans to help the Raja declare independence ".
The last part
The Raja was sitting in his study when princess Rajyshree entered. He looked at her and in a surly tone said," there appears to be a spy in the palace."
"How can that be?"
"Yes, it is very true. Four of my friends were coming to meet me but they have been caught at the railway station and put under detention, by the way where is the sergeant? Can you find him and ask him to come here."
The Princess was looking bewildered and wondering what is going to happen next. There was a loud honking of a car and after a moment the Sergeant now fully dressed as a captain with his medals entered the study.
Seeing him the Raja was shocked and so was a princess, " who the hell are you "she asked
The captain smiled and saluted him, "sir I am a member of the British Indian Army and I had been sent here to keep a watch on you and your activities. The enemy agents have all been put under detention and I suggest that you also see the writing on the wall."
Princess Rajyshree was thrilled that the man was an Army Capt and how handsome he was and all along he was posing as a groom. She regretted she had whipped him but then realized that she loved him and had given herself to him. She said, " captain and you have betrayed me"
The captain smiled, "your highness I have not betrayed you but believe me I fell in love with you the first day I saw you and that is why I was always harsh to you as I was trying to hide my feelings. Anyway, I am leaving, as the train leaves in another 15 minutes and I will be gone forever."
There was a moment's silence as he looked at the princess and said, "If you do decide to come with me to a world of adventure and love you can come to the train"
The Raja looked bewildered as Captain Robin Smith's saluted and went away
She looked at the Raja and could make out that he was in a state of shock. She told him, "father, I'm going with this man,"
She rushed out of the house. Time was ticking away as she reached the stable and then mounted a horse and rode out to the station. At the station, she saw the train had already left.
She was nonplussed for a moment before she gathered her wits and rode out confident that she would catch the train once it slowed down at a steep curve about 10 miles ahead. She rode over hill and dale and soon reached the spot where the train was to slow down. She stood on a small hillock and waved to the train. The engine driver saw her and slowed down the train even more. The captain also saw her and came to the door of the train, his heart was thumping. He realized the Princess was coming to go with him. He held out his arms and the princess began to ride furiously forward. She was confident she would reach the train and be in the arms of her lover.
She reached the train and was now running parallel along with it. The horse was frothing at its mouth as it strove to keep pace with the train. She shouted, "Capt take me with you, I have come, make me your woman."
He held out his arms. Did the princess go with him and did the captain gather her in his arms. Most likely yes, but that's another story.