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Shakuntala’s many Ghar Vapsis


What am I?  A thistledown that rises on the wings of the breeze only to be beaten down to the earth by the mildest drizzle?  You push me around too much.  I want to stick to something somewhere for good.

My mother thought it fit to dump me in the forest after her dalliance with Vishwamitra was over.  My first longing for Ghar Vapsi rose amidst buzzing of bees and the tickling gurgles of the Malini.  I longed to be in the lap of my mother sucking love at her breasts, being looked on with fond admiration by my father.  But they both had their gods as convenient excuses.  Mother was performing a duty assigned to her by her gods.  I was a by-product that could be discarded.  Noboy understood my yearning for a Ghar Vapsi.  Vishwamitra, my dad, dumped me on grounds of asceticism.  What does asceticism mean shorn of love?  If a man can dump his own flesh and blood in the shape of an innocent little baby, what is the value of his asceticism?  The question made me long for another kind of Ghar Vapsi. 

Kanva gave me that Ghar.  On the banks of the Malini.  The deer that came to look at their elegant eyes in the mirror of the river’s crystalline waters became my siblings.  Together we created our Ghar in the forest’s glen and glade.  Together we drank the waters of life from the fountainheads and honeycombs.  Together we distilled the joy of life through the mists that filtered down the netted brambles and briars. 

Then came Dushyanta to pluck me away from my Ghar.  That’s the inevitable fate of every nubile girl, I learnt later.  Dushyanta touched the dandelions that quivered in my navel and distilled the joy of life through the tremors that rocked my sinews beneath his caresses. 

And then he forgot me.  Leaving me with yet another Ghar Vapsi longing.

What do you think I am?  A thistledown that should float in dance according to the tunes played by your gods and godfathers?  Am I your toy?  Or a sacrificial lamb whose blood should be shed to satiate the lust of your lecherous gods? 

Leave me alone with my deer on the banks of the Malini.  I don’t need your Ghars which stink of lust and greed, and fraudulent creeds.  There can be no Ghar Vapsi for me. 

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