In a small village lived Amar Dan Charan with his family. Though the size of the family was small, his financial position was very tight due to continuous famines, which had been ravaging for over a period of seven years.
That year there were no monsoon showers, but in winter there were heavy rains. The villagers were happy at the thought of grass for their cattle and some greenery for their livelihood, which depended on cattle – wealth. But Amar Dan was not able to sleep that night when there were heavy rains. Not because he was old, but because he was over-whelmed by the worry about his only daughter Ujali, the motherless child, who was growing up as a young and bright maid as her name suggested.
The night was dark after rains as clouds were still there in the sky. Amar Dan heard the footfalls of a horse advancing towards his hut. He called his daughter and told her about the sound he was hearing. She suggested that there might be dacoits around. She took out the sword of her father and came out to see who might be there. She was surprised at the sight of a youngman sitting stock – still on the horse. She called her father to come and have a look at him.
Amar Dan came out and saw the youngman who seemed to have lost his consciousness because of heavy rains. He asked his daughter to take the horse – rider in the hut.
Ujali was hesitant. She expressed her thought to her father and how could she invite a man inside her hut when he was a stranger and also unconscious. Amar Dan insisted that the man must be given a shelter and treated like a guest. He was of opinion that a man in trouble had come to them for help and their religion enjoined them to treat a guest well. Besides, it was also in consonance with the Rajasthani tradition.
Ujali obeyed her father, put the youngman on her shoulders and took him in. She stood however, amazed when she saw the man in the light of earthen lamp. He seemed to be from a royal family.
Now, Amar Dan inquired about the condition of the guest. Ujali told him the he was not in his senses and that his clothes were all wet because of rain water. Amar Dan came in the guest and felt his pulse. He got worried at the feeble beat of his pulse. He asked his daughter to light some fire. The youngman needed some heat because he was shivering. Ujali informed her father that because of continuos rains, the stock of fuel was almost exhausted. Then he told her to put all the available clothes on the body of the youngman so that he could be warmed up. Ujali said that his clothes were wet. Amar Dan then asked Ujali to remove his wet clothes and put dry clothes on him. Ujali hesitated. Amar Dan told her to obey, as a guest is like a god and to save his life was a pious act. Ujali obeyed. She removed all wet clothes of the youngman and covered him with clothes available in the house. She was also feeling concerned about her father, because in the act of saving the guest, she would lose her father as no clothes were left behind to save the old man from the cold on that awful night.
Amar Dan after sometime, again felt that the condition of the young man was not at all improving. Now there was nothing left in the house to save him. An idea came to the mind of Amar Dan. He asked his daughter to keep three things in mind – keep your promise, follow up the ideals of the family and provide shelter to a guest who comes for help. Then, he said that if the man died at their place, it would be a sin. Therefore, he said to Ujali that she should stand before ‘Karni Mata’ and accept the youngman as her husband and to save him by sharing his pains. Ujali was in a fix. It was something unusual she was asked to do. But, father’s word was everything for her. She, therefore, sacrificed her feeling at the altar of duty, accepted him as her husband and passed the night with him.
Two days after, when the clouds were clear, Ujali’s friends came to inquire about her. They were informed that Ujali was married. They were all surprised at the manner Ujali was married, as no traditional customs were followed. People of the village also became inquisitive about this marriage. Amar Dan was not able to give any details but narrated the whole situation, which prompted such decision.
The youngman was now all right. He was hale and hearty. He gave his introduction as Jethwa. He stayed with Ujali for few days and then asked permission of Amar Dan to go home with the promise that he would come back soon and take Ujali with him. He was allowed but requested not to forget Ujali and to return soon.
Now Jethwa was back home after a long time. He belonged to Porbandar. He was the only son of his royal parents. They were worried about of their son. They were now so happy that for a few days they arranged functions, invited people and rejoiced. Jethwa was all the time thinking of Ujali. One day when probed by his mother, he told the whole story of his marriage. His father was not happy but ultimately consoled himself saying that second marriage was allowed in their family and that he would therefore arrange one according to his choice. But when he came to know the Ujali belonged to a ‘Charan’ family, he was annoyed as Rajputs and Charans were considered to be having the same blood and could not marry among themselves. He was, in fact, so angry that he punished his son by putting him behind the bars as to mete out justice.
Ujali waited for long. Ultimately, she lost patience and came to Porbandar. She contacted the king. The king said that relation between her and his son could only be of brother and sister. Ujali was not ready to accept what the king said and remarked that her relation was above all relations and no other marriage was imaginable.
When she felt that it wouldn’t be possible to change the king’s mind, she climbed to the top of the building and jumped into the nearby sea. Her body was searched but she was lost into the deep sea and could not be traced. The queen came to her son in the jail and informed of this incident. When his senses returned, he too went to the top of the building and jumped into the sea to be united with Ujali.
Thus, a tragic end came to both Ujali and Jethwa, who are remembered even today for their love, mutual respect and sacrifice.
Jethwa and Ujali – A Story of Love and Sacrifice – Rajasthani Folktales