I was dirty, impure, and not fit enough to be adorned as the queen.
‘He has banished you!’
Those words stung like venom. He had banished me. The same man for whom I had traversed barefooted, the worst terrains of my life. For whom I forsake worldly pleasures for a humble wooden cabin in the midst of nowhere. This solitude made me realise what a waste of time my life had been.
Sage Valmiki had tended to my wounds bleeding from my feet, however the ones that tore my heart; shall never heal. He offered me this wooden dwelling in the remotest corner of the forest to spent sometime in solitude to rediscover myself. Indeed, it was time to do so. Sleep eluded me, but my mortal form had its demands, which needed to be fulfilled, thus my eyes surrendered to the shrouding darkness.
I was awake well before the sun dawned, not in reverence but in defiance.
Suryavanshi! Is he truly your lineage Suryadev? You symbolise permanence, one who never fails to announce the day with your emergence, even though this world you so love, has often betrayed you. He, who betrayed my trust for the sake of his reputation has no right to be entrusted with your name.
The sun mellowed but did not deter from his duty. His glaring rays reflected the rage within me.
A woman in this patriarchal world is a mere figment to adorn his man’s side, this lesson I had learnt the hard way. The story has and will be repeated. In the past, Ahilya was tricked by Indra and punished by her husband, Gautam; one a predator and the other a self-proclaimed judge.
Who gave these men the power to decide the moral code; a code written by and solely designed for men?
My babies inside me were quivering with the anger welling up in my core. As the sun-rays receded, I realised, I had to calm down for their sake. Worry about their well-being made me eat fruits which had been placed in this wooden hut before my arrival. I lulled them and myself to sleep.
The Sun did not grace me with his presence the next day. I felt guilty, as my rage had subsided. The winds blew harshly accentuating the feeling of loneliness in these barren woods. Did the winds carry raucous, mock-laden laughter or was it my imagination? I clasped my hands on my ears to escape the feeling of guilt arising within me and the sarcasm laden breeze. Were they Urmila’s for forcing her to live her youth in solitude or Mandodari’s for stealing her husband’s affection from her? Only if I could, I would have avoided these unfortunate incidences.
The clouds of guilt wept with me. We both drained our pain to free ourselves of the misery our life had bequeathed us with. Was it their curse that this misfortune had befallen me? My anguish rant the air like thundering vagrant clouds.
The earth shook, and so did my conscience. I wondered whether our blaming the men for every unfortunate event in our lives, was just. Had the moral code been written by men only, if so then isn’t it the women who supervised its implementation? Wasn’t Surpanakha wrong in enticing married men with her beauty and was I, myself not blinded with desire for the deer, that set the ball rolling?
I unlatched the window facing west, overlooking a pristine lake. The sun had decided to give way to the approaching night. His rays had speared in all directions, some leaves absorbed his warmth more while some couldn’t as they were shaded by gnarled branches. These leaves in the shade concluded that the sun was arrogant and disliked them. Little did they realise that it was time for them to leave their shaded habitat and grow out to comprehend the situation better.
The radiant moon showered its calmness over me. Its beauty reflected on the ripples of the lake, and I missed him.
Yes! I did love him.
A calm mind accepts the truth better and so did I. He too would be in pain. This moon was a witness of our longing and eternal love. It’s the destiny that decides one’s future. The circumstances that we face in life and our decisions, pave our way.
He was the same man who had cherished my love and fought for me. The man, who for a smile on my face, vowed to hunt the deer which he himself suspected to be a monster in disguise. The man who banished me from his kingdom but couldn’t from his heart.
Sage Valmiki had been right, I needed sometime alone to gather my thoughts. However, a sliver of doubt remained unanswered. Like all children, I evoked my mother for guidance, ‘Mother Earth! I feel cheated and violated. Guide me out of this misery. Tell me mother, what should I do?’
‘Accept and forgive. Accept what you can’t understand and forgive others and yourself.’
Her grounded advice seeped into my soul.
My questions answered and my wrath dissipated, I walked to the lake and dipped my feet in its naughty waves. The clouds had cleared and stars shimmered bright like freshly bathed kids.
Kids! I promised to raise my children like these stars, full of innocence, respectful towards their seniors like the sun and the moon and constant in their alignment.
I sat there until I witnessed the sunrise and turned back to see my temporary home and remembered the little hut I shared with my husband and brother-in-law some years back and felt so much at peace. These worldly tribulations could never create a rift between us. This cabin by the woods had served as an elixir to my mind. I shall play my role, and he shall tread his path. I am certain, we were destined to meet again, if only to separate.
image courtesy: unsplash