Sunday, May 22, 2011

A love story

He looked up.

It was a hot, hot day. Very sunny. Very bright.

The cruel Sun seared his skin, already raw with wounds inflicted in the battlefield.

He lay on the ground, pierced by arrows cast by a man he wanted to fell so badly. And yet, it was not to happen.

He loathed his slayer-to-be. They had met before at various stages of life. One of them was destined to slay the other at some point of time. And when they ultimately met on the biggest stage of all, he was defeated. And killed.

As the final ounces of oxygen entered his lungs, he looked at his victor. He really wanted to know why he loathed his victor: that was one question he needed an answer to before he would actually pass out.

Was it because he was deprived of everything life can ever offer anyone, and his opponent had them all? That's not true, his reason whispered: if that was true he would have loathed the brothers of Enemy Number One to an equal extent. But he didn't.

And then, he himself was the ruler of a kingdom, however small. His enemy did not have that opportunity. He never shall, even if his side won the battle - he shall merely remain The King's Brother for a lifetime.

What was it, then? Was it jealousy? Did he envy the fact that his ascent as the undisputed numero uno warrior was stopped by the other man, when he was at least as good himself? No, that cannot be the case. He was known for being generous. Seriously generous. He would not give in to lesser instincts like envy.

What, then? Was it about Her?

***

He remembered the day when he saw her for the first time. There she was: dark, as her name suggested - as dark as the Earth; yet possibly as lethally radiant as copper. Her eyes magnetic enough to suck him in. Her lips the reddest of red, waiting to be kissed. Her waist exposed in a shameless grace to bridge her full breasts and hips. There was something about her that made a man's blood boil; made him try harder to prove himself worthy for her; or even kill another man.

The stage was set. As one mighty king after another bit the dust, he rose. There was a hush in the arena. Since this was a pre-pin era, the popular phrase could not be used: but the silence was unmissable.

This definitely seemed a person who can, they all thought.

So did she. She knew there was something taboo about the way she felt about him. So she put up an excuse - the best she could muster.

He felt defeated, dejected: he wasn't even allowed to have a go. He had wanted her. He had wanted her that very moment. He knew he would have her. He was capable. He was simply not given a chance. And it was she who had denied him the opportunity.

And then, he saw her go away with another man. A man who was already his rival on his route to become the supreme warrior.

Not loathing him was not an opportunity any more. He was a reputed donor, not known for his desires. For the first time, he wanted something this desperately. And yet, she shall never be his. Never. She chose him instead. How could he not loathe him? How could he not crave for her even more?

She never got to know.

***

She wandered about in a forest. It's been a decade since she had left her riches behind her and moved into the forest, living the life of a pauper.

She was hungry. Food wasn't easy to come in the forest: and she was tired of having venison for days at a stretch. Which was possibly why she couldn't resist the rose-apple (গোলাপজাম) hanging within her reach. The moment she plucked it, something strange happened: the tree reacted.

"Can you see the sage meditating there? He has been meditating without food for twelve years, which shall end today. He was supposed to break his fast with that fruit - but now that it has been plucked, he shall have to go hungry. And you're possibly aware of the consequences of getting on the wrong side of a sage who has gone hungry for twelve years and finds out that you have contaminated his food."

She panicked. She asked her husband, the person so skilled with arrows, to put the fruit back on the tree. He couldn't.

The tree told her that she was the only one who could put it back; provided she was chaste.

She tried, and to her horror, failed. The tree told her to ask herself. She kept on denying. The tree kept on asking, and reminding her that the sage shall open his eyes soon.

Terrified, she admitted the truth. She had to. She admitted in front of everyone that she had loved him. She always had. She admitted that she had always repented for rejecting him the other day; it had been a terrible mistake. She thought that he was the only one worthy of him, and had she married him, she would not have had to face the ignominy she had to: he would have protected her from everything.

What she did not admit was the fact that from the first moment she saw him, she had felt an irresistible, somewhat fatal attraction towards him. There was something very taboo, very wrong with that desire: it would have found a tigress a proper partner.

She had possibly chosen to remain away from him and nurture that craving forever. She had possibly rejected him because she wanted both of them to crave for each other for the rest of their lives. What if togetherness killed the passion ignited on the very first day?

But her words were good enough for the tree. The fruit was put back into place.

He never got to know.

***

He knew his end was near. He knew he shall have to die here, now. "What a wasted life", he thought.

He looked up at his father, who seemed expressionless, as always. He looked at his killer, who seemed unable to control his elation.

He smiled for that one last time. He knew his time was running out, and he shall not die in her arms. It was only a matter of time before his corpse would lie still on the blood-soaked earth.

He craved to see her once more. He wanted to make love to her in those last moments. Once. Just this once, he told himself. They've denied me a childhood, a position, an education, a status, everything. But even her?

He looked at his enemy again. The victor looked at the vanquished - quite oblivious of the latter's thoughts. He was waiting for the moment of death, waiting to get back to bed with the woman who ironically was his victim's only desire.

"Once a donor, always a donor", our hero told himself, as he breathed his last.

***

She did not cry when she got to know. She allowed her husband to make love to her. She possibly fantasised about a dead person for the first time that night. And that wasn't the last time she did that.

27 comments:

  1. Nice take, Ovi. The greatest donor of all had to give away his happiness as well.

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  2. This reminded me too much of Chitra Banerje Divakurani's 'Palace of Illusions'. If you haven't read it, you must, just so we can have an interesting debate about its merits.

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  3. Oh man!!! very very nice. I wish the entire story was written like this. My generation would have read it then atleast !!!

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  4. What’s your fascination with karno? Seems you really relate to him;-)

    “Her waist exposed in a shameless grace to bridge her full breasts and hips”-nice line

    “She had possibly rejected her because she wanted both of them to crave for each other for the rest of their lives”-that’s no excuse for true love.
    On the contrary,true love will and should turn to dust,to know the futility of it all.

    And If one believes in this infinite omniscient cosmic wisdom,no life is a “wasted life”

    And,can you find a better word for ‘donor’? that very word kind of killed my emotion in the end.

    And the darky’s reason for that post-coital weeping was not that of pleasure but of pain.

    You write well,
    not needed to be told repeatedly.

    p.s-read palace of illusions,by chitra d banerjee

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  5. "she'd possibly rejected HIM..."

    typo!

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  6. Once an O-, always an O-.

    Anonymous says: "And the darky’s reason for that post-coital weeping was not that of pleasure but of pain." But there WAS NO post-coital weeping ! That is the whole point- where pain and pleasure blur their definitions and create something complex, inexplicable.

    Ovda, once done with Palace of Illusions, give it to Bhabhi. She will have a ball.

    Also, why the emphasis on 'taboo', especially in a 5-husband marriage? May be I am forgetting some link.

    She was just attracted to him, she did not really love him.

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  7. tears-of joy or of pain?
    pain of pretence or that of sorrow?

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  8. At sunset, on the river bank, Krishna
    Loved her for the last time and left…

    That night in her husband’s arms, Radha felt
    So dead that he asked, What is wrong,
    Do you mind my kisses, love? and she said,
    No, not at all, but thought, What is
    It to the corpse if the maggots nip?

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  9. PS: it will make a nice movie..starting a with the last scene and going into flash back..coming back to battle ground ect..would love to happy ending though:-)

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  10. Awaiting more. Good one.

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  11. Somehow it makes me feel that it is an allegory than an ordinary story, probably because I spend a lot of time with you in a day.

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  12. However, I will give the story as a story 8 out of 10 and as an allegory (if I am not wrong!)..., leave it out of any score!

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  13. I had an orgasmic feeling reading this. I'm not sure about true love, but lust and desire flare up a lot more if left unfulfilled.

    You really know how to bring out "that" feeling. Keep writing.

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  14. gawd...is this the extention of your imagination?
    like nehru-edwina story?
    sully the mythology now...

    P.S.-the love that's remembered the longest is the love never returned.

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  15. Read the Divakaruni book, as suggested above. Amazing bit of writing on two of my favourite characters.

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  16. Very well-written on one of the most underrated relationships in Indian literature. You have that ability to make your characters three-dimensional.

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  17. Apart from all the writing - and very very good it was - I learned something fundamentally new today. Jaantaam na!

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  18. Deponti, Sumana, Sagar, Tamal, Rashia, Apoorva: Thanks.

    Anonymous-with-the-longest-comment: I appreciate the line-by-line criticism. Please continue to do the same.

    All: I shall definitely read Divakaruni's book, after THIS MANY recommendations.

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  19. great piece.It touched my heart and soul.

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  20. I agree to anonymous saying "no need to repeat". So will come straight to point why I have a big disagreement to the core theme of how our hero might have felt at his end.
    "Once a donor... " - I feel it demeans entire acts of charities throughout his life. Warrior with superior skills, he had been quite a human character in flesh and blood with many flaws, but sure his defect density curve stopped remarkably low with time (Chopra’s might have shown him all very smiling in the “Vastra-haran” episode (did they?), I would rather not believe that). He might have had love for his victor’s wife till the end, or might not. But after so many years after refusal, only ordinary Ram-Shyam-Paul-Dick will still carry that as hidden bitter remorse causing ill-digestions, and publicly donate a lot to all CM relief funds to earn fame.
    Our hero, being well above that level of ordinary mortals, sure had his skills (not just weapons) better perfected. I would rather love to believe when they both met on battleground (given their respective backgrounds and lifetime, particularly the victor enlightened with Geeta) were at the ultimate stage (or at least near) a true warrior can achieve, which is to lay down his sword (royalty for the philosophy goes to film “Hero”)
    p.s.: love the way of keeping minute details in mind (e.g. pre-pin era)

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. slanted towards karno...but bhalo...:)

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  23. OH MY GOD...beautiful... Simply beautiful...

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  24. sensual,sad,every woman has a Draupadi raging inside.Great writing.

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  25. It's about time we redefine "chastity" to give way to life!

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  26. And you get her reasons just right. Only, I think she grew up later and then it WAS late! I am sure she at some point wished she could fix things back, but of course, could not.

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