'Don't you get tired of pulling me down every time, my king?' The corpse asked almost sighing. 'I have lost count the number of times that I have flown away from you! Any sensible man would have given it up! But you.....' There was a tone in the Vetal's voice which conveyed the exasperation and the grudging respect for the king.
King Vikramditya said nothing and hauled up the corpse and put it across his shoulders and set off towards the Kali temple. He mused as he thought the words of the Vetal. Somehow throughout the night...through all the stories, it never occurred to him, not once, to walk away....Somehow that option never entered his mind....
'Ok king! So what story shall I tell you now?' The Vetal paused for a few seconds. The king almost wished that the Vetal did not know anymore stories. Invariably the stories of the Vetal were extremely interesting and the questions asked by the Vetal were so intellectually stimulating that King Vikramaditya had been unable to keep quiet...And then the process started again....The corpse flew back to the tree and then the king dragged it down....King Vikramditya sighed.....
'Ah!' The delight in the Vetal's tone was unmistakable and the king was almost depressed. He was sure that the Vetal had found the perfect story to lure him into talking again.
'Do you want to know the story of the men who came forward to marry one girl?' The Vetal asked not really expecting an answer. The Vetal continued after a few minutes of silence.
'Not far from here, in a rich and prosperous kingdom, there lived a pious priest. Now the priest had a beautiful daughter by name Mandakini.
The daughter was extremely intelligent and beautiful. When she reached of marriageable age, she did not have one suitor....' King Vikramaditya looked a little puzzled as the laughing voice of the Vetal continued. 'Mandakini had three handsome and well brought up men who were willing to marry her!'
Each one came and told Mandakini and her father that they loved the girl very much and desperately wanted to marry her!
In the excitement of the days that followed, Mandakini neglected her health. Unfortunately for her she was afflicted at that time, by a dangerous disease which proved fatal....The three men and the priest were horror struck when Mandakini died a few days later....
The three men were heart broken. One of them decided that he had nothing to live in life and gave up everything and became an ascetic. The second man took the ashes of the girl and kept it close to himself. So mush so that he spread the ashes even in his bed so that that he felt that he could always be close to her even when he was sleeping. The third man took her bones and kept them with himself. He decided that he would take the bones to the Ganga and give Mandakini a proper funeral so that she would be assured of a place in heaven.
The ascetic roamed many villages and saw many strange sights. As he was roaming through a village he was invited to stay in the house of the one of the men there. The man seemed extremely secretive about one particular room in his house, which he always kept locked. Out of curiosity the ascetic peered inside the room when the man was inside it. The ascetic was stunned to see that the man had indeed a powerful secret with him. The man had a book with him which when recited could bring the dead back to life!
Dizzy with disbelief and not caring about anything, the ascetic stole the book and ran from the village. He ran and ran and finally came to Mandakini's village. There was the man who still had kept Mandakini's ashes safe with him. The two men called the third man who had gone to Ganga and asked him to bring Mandakini's bones.
When the man returned with the bones and the ashes were placed near it, the ascetic read out from the book. The three of them watched with bated breath as the mantra in the book began to take effect. The three men watched stunned as Mandakini opened her eyes as if waking from a sleep.
Now came a bigger problem.
'Mandakini is mine!' The ascetic screamed. 'I was the one who brought the book which brought her back to life....So I am the one who can marry her!'
The man who had gone to Ganga laughed hollowly. 'You! Exactly on what would you have used the mantra, if I had not brought the bones with me! It was only because I kept the bones safe that your mantra has any effect! If anyone, it is me who has the right to marry her!'
The last man laughed bitterly at the two of them. 'Mandakini has always been with me! The years that she had been dead, I stayed in her house and she stayed with me in the form of her ashes! I will have to be her husband!'
'The question this time, is whom do you think is the best person to be her husband?' The Vetal asked slyly.
'The man who slept on her ashes! He is the only person who can be her husband!' came a prompt reply. 'The ascetic who read the mantra was the one who gave Mandakini, life! A man who gives life is the father! So he cannot marry her. The man who took the bones to Ganga, performed the duties of a son, so he is also ineligible to marry her! So the only person who can marry her is the man who had the ashes with him! He slept on the ashes out of love for her! So he is the only one who can be the husband!'
King Vikram sighed as he felt the corpse fly away from him....