Living in Banasura's kingdom was suffocating - the grey concrete walls, dimly lit windows, damp floors, with no sight of gardens or anything beautiful, made me nauseous and ill tempered. I often argued with my father, who was Bana's minister, as to why we had to live here? And he would only reply with a guilty smile. Banasura, was one of the most powerful demons. Strong and fierce, he had also managed to seek a boon from Lord Shiva by pleasing him with his devotion. And now, Lord Shiva guarded the gates of Banasura city himself. It was difficult to escape from Bana's clutches.
The only solace I found was in painting and in the company of my dear friend, Usha, Bana's daughter. She was beautiful and kind, unlike her father, and together we dreamed of getting out of this place someday.
One night Usha dreamt that she was in the company of a very handsome prince. She instantly fell in love with him and he too showed great interest in her. On waking up, Usha was quite distressed on finding out that this was only a dream. She insisted that the dream meant something significant and that such a prince must exist somewhere.
"Please Chitralekha, you must believe me when I say I love him, and if I can't be with him I have no desire to live." she said teary eyed.
I could feel my friend's anguish and decided to help her. "How did he look?" I asked her, hoping if she could describe his features, I would be able to make his portrait and help identify him. But all she said was that the man of her dreams was of dark complexion and princely appearance. Knowing this would be of little help, I set out to paint all the Gods and Kings and Princes that might have come in her dream.
I drew Lord Indra and Brahma, and then many of the devas. But Usha rejected them all. I then drew the pictures of kings and princes, but she declined saying none of them resembled the man she saw.
I then drew Shri Krishna, and saw a flicker of recognition in Usha's eyes. " I see some resemblance, but the man I saw was much younger" she said.
"Was it Pradyumna, Krishna’s son?" I said, showing his portrait to her.
"How about this one?" I asked, handing her yet another picture. Her eyes grew wide and stunned she kept staring at the picture.
"Yes! Those are the very eyes that stole my heart! Who is he?"
“It is Aniruddha, Pradymna’s son, the grandson of Lord Krishna” I said hesitantly.
"Are you sure, it's him?" I voiced my concern on how difficult it would be to get the two of them together, knowing that the hallowed Kingdom of Dwaraka, would never want to be associated with the land of daityas (demons).
"Please, you have to do something!" Usha yearned, ignoring any logic.
The following night, I set out for Dwaraka kingdom to abduct prince Aniruddha. It was the only way out. Earlier that day I had met sage Narada, and he had promised me his help. I was aware that seeking his help could mean some trouble, as he enjoyed fueling the fire wherever possible, but I had no other choice.
As I crossed the gates of Dwaraka, Narada true to his word, helped me walk straight to the chambers of the prince without anyone attempting to stop me. I induced a magical spell on the prince, which made him fall into a deep sleep as I carried him away to the other land.
Usha couldn't contain her happiness as she saw Aniruddha but I requested her to be discreet lest she raised the suspicions of any of her father's guards. While Aniruddha slept unaware, I secretly prayed that no harm would befall on us. I knew that a battle was in the making. As soon as Lord Krishna would know his grandson had been captured he would come raging and destroy the kingdom of Bana. My only hope was that the prince would fall in love with Usha, and that the dream was in fact not just a manifestation of Usha's desires, but of his as well.
When Aniruddha opened his eyes, he immediately recognized Usha. They confessed their love for each other and I urged them to agree to a Gandharva wedding before any evil force tried to separate the couple.
While on one hand the sweet ringing of conch-shell horns filled the air as garlands and smiles were exchanged by the two young lovers, sage Narada was busy brewing conspiracy as he went to Lord Krishna and informed him that his grandson was taken captive by Bana.
At the same time, Bana was made aware of his daughter's betrayal and despite our cries for peace, he bound Aniruddha's hand and feet and put him in prison.
It was not an easy task to defeat Bana's army with Lord Shiva guarding his kingdom. But with clever tactics, Lord Krishna proved to be a powerful force. Bana was not the one to give up that easily and soon the fight took an alarming dimension, with Lord Krishna using his invincible Sudarshan Chakra to strip Bana off his hundred arms.
All this while, me and Usha were praying to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. We pleaded for them to intervene and stop the bloodshed as the two families were now one with the marriage.
When the benevolent Lord Krishna heard of this, he called back his army and forgave Bana. He preached to Bana the importance of his daughter's happiness and in a moment all hatred was forgotten and the lovers united.
I may have let my friendship for Usha blind me to what was right, I may have used my skill of chitra lekha hastily, I may have assorted to extreme measures to bring prince Aniruddha to Usha, but if that meant being a part of the greatest love story of our times, I would do it all over again.
Come and say Hi! over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
If you want to read more of my short stories, click on the below image.
These short stories were developed during the A-Z challenge in 2014. Each story is based on 26 colours which commence with every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. The themes developed in these stories range from marital despair to urban city-life blues, from love to loss, from child abuse to infidelity, divorce, and much more.
Do read and share!