Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sarayu’s Sorrow

 Fiction

He sat down on the bank of the Sarayu with a heavy heart.  The palace of Ayodhya stood silhouetted against the setting sun.  He could hear a cry rising beyond the scarlet horizon like the subdued rumble of a reluctant thunder.

He wanted her, to be with him till the end of his life, to be his life’s ultimate meaning.  But she had refused to undergo yet another fire test. 

“How many fire tests will be required before my husband can trust my fidelity?”  There was fire in her eyes as she asked that question.  But it was a subdued fire.  Like the fire inside a volcano.

“It’s not I who suspect your fidelity,” he explained.  “You know the people of Ayodhya.  They think any woman who has spent even a single night in the abode of another man is sullied.  And you know how many nights you spent in the abode of a rakshas.”

He was torn between conflicting desires.  He wanted her, body and soul.  His subjects loved him, no doubt.  Some of them even adored him.  Such love is impersonal, however.  There is nothing like the love of one’s beloved.   Had Ravana indeed not touched her?  Can a rakshas be so good at heart?  Are the people making unnecessary allegations and demands?  Hadn’t she already proved her innocence by jumping into the fire that Lakshmana had ignited at her insistence? 

People don’t like to see others living in love, he thought.  They like strife and violence.  The excitements of love are too frail for the rank and file.  They want war when they are bored with the mundane affairs.

And I?  What do I want?  He asked himself.  Whose love do I value more?  My beloved’s love that is as pure as the snow in the Himalayas or the love of my people that melts away when the sun shines?

He found it difficult to make a choice.

Commitment makes certain inhuman demands, he thought.  You have to give up something if you want to gain something.  Which shall I give up?  Do I dare?

The sky grew darker than usual.  The clouds came rolling like black rakshasas.  They began to rumble.  Like a tiger that was waking up from its slumber.  Lightning flashed.  One after the other.  They set the sky on fire.  They roared.  The roar was far from being subdued.  It terrified him.  It terrified the earth.  And the earth split into two.  He felt the tremor beneath his feet.

The night passed giving him nightmares.

Valmiki visited him the next morning.  Bhumi has received his daughter back, he said.  Your sons are with me.  They should be growing up in the palace.  What sin have they committed?  Or do you wish to bestow on them your guilt?

From his palace he could see the Sarayu flowing.  Her waters were sullied because of the previous night’s rain. 


What can I bestow on anyone?  He asked himself.  Except guilt, maybe.  


PS.  Inspired by Ram Navami.  Wish you all the joys and blessings of the festival.


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20 comments:

  1. wow you have a way with words Mr.Matheikal! I actually started sympathizing with Mr.Ram !

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    1. As I passed the Chattarpur Temple (Delhi) this morning, all decked for Ram Navami but with countless police people all around, this story began to generate in my imagination. Glad you liked it.

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  2. You've seen the story from a different perspective..a much human one ..rather than his God-like stature . In Bengali literature we have an ancient poet named Krittibas Ojha who translated Ramayana is Bengali verse. He portrayed the character of Ramchandra in this way....like a normal human being..vulnerable and full of emotions...

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    1. That vulnerable and emotional Rama must have been the real Rama, don't you think? People create gods. That's my view.

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  3. Yes, I fully agree with you on this point..human beings create Gods and a God's credibility always depends on his devotees.

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  4. Sir ...... i am speechless.... you have seriously potryed rama's real image and amazing one.....even ater beinng relegious hindu... i always wanted to analyse that why he left his loving wife... u made it easier for me.. thanks

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    1. Most welcome, Manish. Religion becomes more meaningful when we understand it deeper. Of course, rituals and mysteries may have their relevance for some. But for me, the rational-emotional approach works.

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  5. The story in Ramayana says that it wasn't the real Sita who was kidnapped by the demon king. See, how the stories and perspectives vary. Ram is known as 'Maryada purushottam', one who acts with the utmost decorum. So, he did what a king had to do and along with it he didn't allow Ravana to even touch Sita (a husband's duty). This is how I look at the story. I prefer the godly figure of Shree Ram. :)

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    1. There are many versions of Ramayana. There is a Buddhist version in which Sita is Rama's sister.

      The concept of "Maryada purushottam" has to be reexamined. During the days of Ram, it was a man's (as opposed to woman's) world. The man made all the rules and those rules determined the meaning of maryada. Are those rules and notions applicable now?

      Secondly, the moment you attribute perfection to gods you place them above and beyond you. Such gods are only fit for worship and miracles. The real gods should be within ourselves, with all their (our) imperfections and vulnerabilities. Only then they become meaningful to us, helping us in our search for meaning.

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  6. A nice and human account. I agree with views expressed by Maniparna...

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    1. I too accept Maniparna's view. It's a very rational approach.

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  7. Wonderful human perspective and a non-judgemental that leaves the reader thoughtful

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    1. Literature is never judgmental. Glad you found my account non-judgmental and thought-provoking.

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  8. Beautifully written. The noted Novelist Narendra Kohli has written Ram Katha in a series of his novels depicting Ram as a human creature.

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    1. Ram, Krishna, Jesus, Muhammed... weren't they all human beings first? Thank you for the compliments.

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    1. Thank you. Hope to be good enough in future too :)

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  10. Amazing...in a way this is the best version from Ramayana :)

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