With rounded breasts concealed by cloth of bark
Fastened at the shoulder in a fine knot
Her youthful form enfolded like a flower
In it`s pale beauty sheath unfolds not it`s glory
Her cheeks grow thin; her breast and shoulders fail;
Her waist is weary and her face is pale:
She fades for love; oh, pitifully sweet!
As vine-leaves wither in the scorching heat.
Hunting had always been an excellent pastime and the king had a great reputation of being an immense power in bringing peace to the forests and the sages, ridding the dark woods of demons and dangerous beasts. However, today he had gone too far in chasing that beautiful gazelle and in time had gone very far away from his retinue of soldiers and attendants.
His tongue was parched and his body trembled with hunger and fatigue. He smiled at the irony of events that a king so powerful as himself who delivered prosperity to thousands of his subjects was today at the mercy of the all-pervading lord for survival.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of small bells. As he struggled and heaved himself onto the nearest tree, he saw that heavenly woman, who dressed in hermit clothes was tenderly plucking flowers. Her every movement so graceful, accompanied with the bells that tinkled on the girdle that adorned her slender waist. The movement so magical that he almost mistook it for an unearthly vision of the great lord`s cosmic dance. Her slender arms and that vibrant, peaceful face glowing with radiance and piety in that otherwise dark jungle evoked complete awe and fascination in his mind.
The cups of flowers, she has just pluckedHave not as yet sealed themselvesand these tender shoots, broken offare still moist with their milky sap.
Upon moving himself in that painful and strange way, for what seemed to him, like generations, he finally reached a clearing. There was a thatched hut, with trees all around, with the fragrance of incense and sandalwood welcoming him. He reached up to the entrance of the hut and peered inside. And, there she sat that same woman, he had seen before. She was in meditation and he was dumbfounded again, by the beautiful picture of peace and auspiciousness, she painted upon the natural canvas of her surroundings.
After some time, he gathered himself to call her for help, but his body failed him again, his vision was blurred and in this dizzying state, he fell down unconscious.
And then suddenly out of the blue it struck him.! He had gone up to the hermitage, he had seen her, he had felt intense love for that divine woman, he had felt the pain in his body. He remembered falling down. What had happened..? His head started aching as he tried to see that picture again in his mind, in vain.
And then the phone rung. He picked it up. It was Jeevan!.
“Get up Lazy Goose!. I've been getting royal enquiries from your office for quite some time now.. Get up, go to office and ask that teammate of yours, never to call me again.!”, barked Jeevan. He hung up sometime later.
Sanjay slowly went about getting ready, but the thought of that dream or rather experience never left his mind at ease. He folded his bedspread and arranged the pillows, and then his eyes fell on the book. He opened it and read out a verse.
Now that the moon has set, the pool of moon-lotuses
Delights not my eye –
her beauty is but a memory
The grief of women left alone when loved
Travel far are beyond measure hard to bear
He was suddenly grief stricken. So that was it. He had fallen in love, with that women of his dreams. His one love was trapped in another dimension, where he could not reach, and the pain he now felt in his heart was the pain of separation, the pain of longing and the agony of loneliness.
The phone rung again. It was from his office this time. His teammate Vinay almost shouted in to the phone.
"Sanjay, you've got to be here. This release is crucial and we've got to ship it by tonight. Just be here man.!", he pleaded.
Sanjay still had the book in his hand. He kept leafing through the pages, in search of his love, in search of peace of mind, and then he saw those lines.
Required to perform duties in places
Widely separated, I am in two
Like a river that strikes a hill in mid course
And forced back parts
He realized his dilemma. He was lost in two places, his soul not deriving peace from both. Putting aside the book, he slumped down on the bed, and then he bent down and cried.
The phone started ringing again. It just kept ringing.
Verses taken from translations of Kalidasa`s AbhijnanaShakuntalam by Chandra Rajan - "The Loom of Time", Arthur Ryder.
Pics - Courtesy, Paintings of Raja Ravi Verma.