Seasons of change and sprinkles of mirth had barged in their lives. The sparkly sun sky still fought with the fog of clouds but the jaded darkness surrounding hopes of everyone had now slowly cleared. With the wind of change blew conchs , the beating of the drums and tinkling of bells heralded the dawn of a new beginning. Who could give respite to her anxious soul? She ran as fast as she could. In her Solah Sringar , the bells attached to the hem of her lehenga bounced with her sashaying hips; she was no longer the putravadhu of the Raghukul but a mere women ,a sister who ran as fast as she could.
"Urmila...",Mandvi humped, tried to catch her ragged breath as she entered the room. The news was something which she couldn't hold with her. The maid servants were aghast, the transformation of regal well-mannered daughter-in law into a giggling teenage sister. How could Mandvi allow the pleasure of conveying the news herself to her sister?
The giggling's and whisperings in hushed tones from the equally excited maids made Mandvi flinch a bit. Managing her dishevelled veil clumsily she glanced at Urmila.
There she lied on her bed , calm ,serene ,frozen in time ,but moved in years. Sleeping blissfully, the petals of her lips as pink as the lotuses blooming in the Brahma Sarovar and hands as white as ivory , like the stalks of tulip buds. In full bloom of her youth ,but frozen for 14 years.
The Goddess of Sleep had not left her heavy eyelids and not a single drop of tear she had shed. She had the beatific smile embedded on her calm face. The stillness in the room was just like 14 years ago. The rick silks of the sheets were wrinkled with Lakshman's strong muscles cavorting with her in shy and wild abandon with a teary eyed goodbye one last time before leaving her. The golden chalice with which he had sipped water offered to him the last time was laying half filled with the traces of his lips, the half burnt cotton wick of the lamp with which she had vowed her undying love for him before parting told the story of the darkness that had shrouded her all those years.
Mandvi's eyes misted with tears of jubilation and it punched out emptiness in her heart. Urmila was cursed for 14 years but not anymore. The Vanvaas had ended and so did the drought days in Ayodhya. Ram ,Lakshman and Sita were back.
"Urmila! Wake up!!",Mandvi shook Urmila violently ,the jerks almost enough to shake up mountains but she remained unmoved. Fans were swayed ,skin was pricked and above all splashes of water were shining like dew drops on her on lotus petals but the frozen statue remained unmoved.
Thousands of lamps were swung , the bells tinkled ceaselessly ,the priests chanted and tears would not stop flowing from the eyes of the welcoming mothers and wives. Feet were touched , embraces made and the arti marked the beginning of the new chapter in the lives of the broken family members. There were smiles on their lips and dreams of a bright lovely future peeping through the blurry visions of the tear misted eyes. A pair were happy and restless all the while not being able to figure out the one whom he really wanted to apologise to. Amidst the hugs, cries and welcomes, Lakshman's breaths whispered, "Urmila",and sighed unable to locate her in the bunch of women. Had he forgotten her ?,he wondered
The wind blew harder and the winds of destiny brought forth with them , the breaths of a longing soul. The wind whispered near her fuller cheeks frozen in time,"Urmila" as if Lakshman had whispered near her ears.
The eyelids were not heavy anymore, they blinked open , the thousands of lamps lit by Mandvi in her room welcomed her blurred vision trying to focus back to normal. The Goddess of Sleep smiled from behind the curtains and vanished into nothingness.
"My lord", with an exclaim resembling a shrill cry ,Urmila woke up after 14 long years. Tear droplets starting pouring down from her eyes.Her heart knew the wait was over .His exasperated ,anguished and longing breath echoed in the room and engulfed her in its balmy fragrance.
The coronation was to be held without any further delay and customary greeting could wait. Every husband met their wives once before the ceremony but she knew her man would be hovering around his brother. She had always known that she was never his priority but then the choices she had made weren't easy. She chose to be the servant of her lord as he was to his brother; Urmila knew she will have to wait for her turn again. She looked at the jewelled mirror held high up in her hands which were thin and slender like lily buds. The dasis gaggled as they oiled her long mahogany curls, decorating them with little opulent and exotic flowers .Urmila sat there terribly anxious in her red sunset lehenga with an unknown turbulence masking her tender heart. Mandvi had instructed her to get ready as the coronation would begin in no time.14 long years had passed but to Urmila , it seemed like it had been just a few seconds ago. The dilemma in her heart was torturous and the chatter of the dasis made her irritated.
She wanted to rush towards Lakshman ,see how he was but etiquette would not allow her to meet him.He was with other males and a royal wife needs to wait patiently till her husband orders her to meet him.She was sweating profusely in anxiousness checking upon herself every second. What if he did not find her beautiful enough ?Mandvi giggled but her warm hands of assurance calmed her jittery shoulders as she spoke, "Calm down !!You look beautiful Urmila, just as beautiful as Brother Lakshman had left you".Urmila blushed furiously at the meaning of her words as she could see the teasing through her beady eyes; the cheeks turned a darker shade of winter cherries .The broad necklace studded with rubies hung loosely around her slender long neck. Her wrists were slung with jade bangles, the perfect ruby earrings hung down her small ears .She could still feel his whisper that woke her up near her ears. A broad waist belt studded with diamonds, rubies and garnets with a thin lining of pearls went around her slender waist, bangles swirled in her wrists and a perfect ruby stud pierced her nose. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror. The guise was perfect. Her every feature was accentuated with the linings of kohl and the colour of the roses. Youth had etched out her curves perfectly and the jewels added the much needed enchantment to them. Urmila's eyes were restless with apprehensions. For once she gave a careless glance at her alta decorated hands .The intricate pattern was engraved; the colour blossoming with happiness. Armlets slipped on her perfectly round arms and the anklets touched the lengths of her feet. She was in gold from tip to toe. Her countenance was grim as the dasis lifted her lehenga, the soft brush made from the finest bristles dipped in the molten red liquid alta placed in a huge copper plate and the dasi decorated her tiny feet with delicate patterns, each drop painting her feet with the color of purity and her signs of matrimony. She clutched to her mangalsutra which hung loosely from her neck and closed her eyes and then sighing deeply took the gold box in her hand. Picking up the fine red coloured vermillion between her thumb and index finger and it sprinkled ,the powder adorned her partition of the hair which finally rested with a mangteeka. She glanced at her reflection carefully in the mirror. A dasi came running, "Mistress the time for the coronation has arrived. Lord Ram has ordered everyone to join in."
Smile emerged on Mandvi's lips but a frown curled up upon Urmila's. Did her Lord not miss her even once. Why did he not order her to come and meet him? She knew she was being silly , but for once she wanted her master to command her. All her life it was she who sacrificed even before asking .But now she wanted more. He had to ask her to come and meet him. She would not see him until he begs her. A strange childish obsession captured her heart .Scrunching her nose and grumbling , she got up with hesitant steps and walked with the others heading towards the courtroom.
The sound of the conch was echoing like a roaring tiger. Tears of overflowing joy slipped like pearls from the eyes of the people.
"Hail the glory of Lord Ram and Sita" ,echoed in the atmosphere with the shower of millions of marigold and rose petals. Urmila cornered along with the other women watched her sister and brother-in law sitting on the throne amidst the cheers. Her eyes misted too. But her heart thumped audibly at the striking absence of the shadow of the king sitting with the dazzling gold crown. The people wondered too. Where was Lakshman? The search began and Urmila grumbled lowering her eyes. She will not be the first to see him, she had vowed. A huge roar of laughter echoed and as several heads pointed towards a sight which was hilarious. Urmila never raised her eyes and muttered complaints and curses beneath her breath. Shrutakirti elbowed her, "Look brother Lakshman is sleeping ",she giggled.
Numerous butterflies fluttered their innocent wings in the pit of her stomach ,heat beagn to seep through her pores and her cheeks coloured like the flames of the fire that burned in her heart. The mention of the name Lakshman brought with it incessant pangs of urgency. She knew not why she raised her eyes, she knew not why those lids remained un-blinked just as years ago she couldn't take off her eyes from the royal prince. Years ago a boy with a pride and valour so alluring had made her skip her heartbeat . Years later a flustered man with his legs hanging on the arm rest ,dishevelled hair and tanned body sleeping blissfully ,his snores so loud and audible even in the bouts of laughter made her heartbeat race a mile every second. Urmila couldn't help but grin and nod her head in amusement along with the others.
The torches were flaming at every corner. She nervously pulled her veil closer to her bosom but her heart was at peace , finally Her Lord had expressed his desire to see her after the whole long day. She knew her mother-in law had made this arrangements but she could not complain anymore. The sparkling sun of new hopes and aspirations had plummeted in the lake of darkness and to compensate for the loss of its myriad hues , the silver beaming big fat moon was peeping through the floating clouds. With thousands of aspirations in her heart and longings of years, Urmila gazed inside her own chamber which was beautifully lit up , the hundreds of linings of numerous fragrant flowers decorating her bed. But her gaze froze and she gasped, a rock solid frame was already sitting flustered on the bed. She couldn't help but smile. Her master was already there. Tears of extreme joy and extreme guilt terrified her. How could she make him wait and not rush to him .Her false pride and childish arrogance made her angry and she rushed at his feet and cried, "O lord I am sorry..I am really sorry for making you wait like this."
There was no response , nothing at all. She had expected a pair of hands calming her ,a pair of eyes with tears thrilled to see her, but instead droplets fell on her hair .Urmila raised her eyes to a man whom she could barely recognise. If someone had not told her that he was Lakshman at the coronation , she might have never been able to tell. In short a boy that had left him years ago returned as a man now.
The sight to which she raised her eyes made her freeze for a second and break into a hysterical bout of laughter mixed with warm saline tears. The sharp muscular and sturdy jaws were painted and smeared with the orange pulp of mangoes which he was sucking like a hungry child. One after the other , he slurped as the juices trickled down from the edge of his lips. It appeared as if he was so busy that he hadn't noticed Urmila. Urmila's heart melted ,she had heard he had not eaten in years. She said nothing but stepped aside ,as usual watching him from a space faraway yet close enough to sense him. The fruit bowl was on his lap and he continued eating for a while .Urmila chuckled;she bit her lips and her eyes glinted darkening with a hint of mischief.She walked up to him and snatching the bowl from him picked up a mango and pouted, "My Lord !!Don't you think you should share it. After all even I haven't eaten anything in years.",she rolled her eyes in feigned anger.
Lakshman raised his eyes and embarrassment made him blush and giddy headed but his stomach churned. Snatching back the mango from her squeezing his eyes he sunk his teeth and feisty craving lips back into the juicy pulp.
Urmila couldn't help but laugh ;however instead she folded her hands across her bosom and feigned anger, "This is not fair My Lord!!"
"Don't worry Dear I will bring you more with my arrows from the orchard if you please as I used to do before I left and now please do not stop me",he muttered for a while and gobbled the last bite hungrily.
Urmila's mouth was left gaping wide opened, "You ..You remember...? My Lord!!",she stuttered exclaiming. Her voice quivered as floods of memories thronged her.
She was left speechless when Lakshman's sheepish teasing voice brought her out of her trail of thoughts, "Yes I do remember my love!! And since now I have slain enough demons with my arrows which were your wish I will happily oblige you with my archery skills piercing mangoes for you for the rest of my life."
The world went blank for Urmila ,a shower of tingling stars. Tears misted her eyes as she stared at those eyes of Lakshman ; she could read them as ever .She could understand them even before he spoke. It was a moment relived and thousands of centuries passed within the ticks of time. He knew she would understand his pain and she knew what to do next. She took the remaining step forward like always and caressed him in her arms. Some things between them never changed. His strong ,shy ones followed her cue as always and the hearts were now parallel beating to each other.
"Urmila..Will you ever forgive", his heavy voice choked but his statement was cut short as Urmila laid her head on his strong bosom, "You need not be guilty my Lord as I have forgiven you already"
Hearts met ,souls met and lips too. -The shy ones with her ever craving ones. That night tears did not stop .That night she was unable to close her eyes. She turned and tossed .The strong arms were new to her ,the tanned skin grazing her skin was unfamiliar .That night she wanted to sleep resting on his bosom but the feeling was more thrilling to be precise ,she could never close her eyes.
Lakshman grumbled, "Why Don't you sleep ?"
"My Lord !! I can't sleep anymore ",she muttered innocently and continued, "But why are you so angry .Have I done anything wrong ?"
"No its because I am feeling so sleepy",Lakshman sulked. That night he could not keep his eyes open anymore. That night he wanted to open his eyes and admire the women which he had missed , yearned and craved every second of the last 14 years. But when the moment came , he was unable to cast his eyes on the changed woman who lied in his arms.
Both of them burst laughing at each other. Some things had definitely changed for both of them. While Lakshman dozed off snoring loudly within a few seconds, Urmila adjusted her head several times on his coarse muscular arms and patchy hands. She could not sleep anymore. Something had changed between them .She nodded her head smiling and lying beside him sensed his heartbeats near him. They were just the same. She did recognise them-Slow pacing and calm unlike the thunderous tornado who snapped every second in anger. Urmila closed her eyes in bliss and sensed the overwhelming rhythm which she recognised .Life could never have been more beautiful. The Goddess of Sleep chuckled looking at both the restless souls.
Topic started by manzilmukul
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