Monday, July 17, 2006

Mystique myths

Manikanthan's mind wavered a bit. In front of him stood a beautiful woman. With hair that touched the ground; in the wind that was blowing, it swayed like a wave. Her eyes white, as white as milk. Her eyes enticing, one could get lost it the depth of them. Her eyebrows an absolute arc, as if it belonged to an apsara. She was no less than an apsara.

'Now I know why the devas fight over women,' thought the young prince. As he took in the beauty in front of him, his mind wavered a bit. "Who are you? What are you doing here? This place is not safe," he said. She turned her head towards him. She had a smile on her face, and a look of admiration. In awe of the young warrior, she replied, "You do know me. Moments ago you were in a battle with me. I am the Mahishi, the one with the face of a buffalo. You killed me and the devas celebrated by showering flowers on you, by hailing you as the saviour. If you are as kindhearted as they say, if you are the saviour indeed, now is the time to prove that."No, you can't be Mahishi. You have such a sweet voice, you are such a beauty."

"Of that, let there be no doubt. I became Mahishi after the gods cursed me. My name is Leela."
"And how can I help you?" "Marry me, you must. For it were you who saved me from the curse.
And you cannot leave me here in the forests, on the banks of the Azhutha, where tigers and leopards roam freely. And death hides in every nook and corner." Ayyappa stood there in thought. Deliberating. She was asking for the impossible. I have pledged to be a brahmachari. Not for me the pleasures of love and comfort of wealth. I was born a prince, but I will live like a sanyasi. Not even Bhishma did that. And then my mother wants her son to be become the king, not me. "The Sun rises only in the east. It is a truth that can't be changed. As is my brahmacharya," said Ayyappan, the prince who knows only giving, like Karna of the Mahabharata. Leela was madly in love with him. She could think of only one life, with him by her side. She begged and cajoled, then she insisted. "If I ever have a husband, it will be you. My word is as precious as yours. There is no life for me without you," when she said this, her face was filled with sadness, but determination. And that swayed Ayyappan, the prince who knew only to give. 'My birth was an improbability. I had to be born of Hari and Hara, two men. But it happened. Now I have to give a similar boon to Leela, the woman in love with me, whom I can't ditch, for I am responsible for her plight,' so thought Ayyappa.

And then he said, "If I ever marry anybody, it will be you and only you. The year no new devotee comes to see me, I will marry you. Till then you will live here by my side, right next to my hut. My devotees will come to see you as they come to see me. To them you are the Malikapurathamma. And I give you my word, I won't look at any woman other than you."
* * * *

Leela is in a bad mood. But she has no one to turn to, no one to confide in. In this isolated hill, she has been staying alone, alongside Ayyappan, for many years now. In solitude, in the hope that one day her love will meet success. But a news has come that troubles her. And she doesn't know whether to believe it or not.
"Lord, have you heard what I heard? All these years I lived trusting your word. Never did I trespass into your quarters. Now, a woman says she came here, and even managed to touch you," Leela blurted out. Ayyappan didn't know what to say. He also had heard the news. Now, some people are fighting for entry of women into his home. Television channels are holding debates, so are newspapers. Some talk of gender justice, some others of belief. In the din everybody has forgotten about Leela. Nobody respects her love for him. How sad.
Ayyappan was lost in his thoughts. And Leela was complaining. And her voice grew louder and louder. Even the divine are not immune to domestic quarrels.

1 comment:

shriram said...

excellent