Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mandodari #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z


The skies were grey and thunderous, the flowers in my backyard were colourless and dead, and the palatial rooms seemed closing in on me as my husband informed me of his conquest. For sometime now, he had been obsessed with Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. When Surpanakha, came to her brother, complaining of how the princes of Ayodhya, Rama and Lakshman, had humiliated her and cut off her nose, Ravana did not think twice before marching out. Was he directed by the need for revenge, or was he enamoured with Sita's beauty, that led him to use trickery and force to abduct Sita, is a question I keep asking myself.

Whatever his reasons, what he had done was unacceptable. Kidnapping a woman, forcing her against her will, was not just an insult to Sita and me, but to all womankind. As the king and the ruler of Lanka, as a Shiva bhakt who he is praised for being a great sage too, he should have known better. As soon as I heard his relentless laugh as he brought Sita in Lanka, I knew this was going to end in the destruction of not just my husband but also his empire.

The next morning I went to the garden and found Sita crying. I offered her my apology and pleaded her to eat something. I was dying inside of shame and held back my tears with great difficulty. To my surprise, Sita was not only kind in her forgiveness but benevolent in her words and actions. I felt a calmness surround me as she held my hand and took the fruits offered.

Perhaps it was her divinity, the strength she gave me through her forgiveness, that I could look beyond my husband's folly and stand by him, despite him. Forgiving him, did not mean that I justified his crime. But it did mean that I would move on, and respect the responsibility I have, as a wife and as a queen. 

I understand imperfections. I understand that each of us have faults that with time we either learn to correct or love as is. I also understand lust, and know why Ravana might have faultered. Was I not once the apsara, Madhura? 

People know me as Mandodari, the daughter of Mayasura, the King of the Asuras, and the apsara Hema, and the wife of Lankapati Ravana. But before that, I was an apsara named Madhura. That life ended with a curse from Goddess Parvati. I was, as I am now, a huge devotee of Lord Shiva. I arrived at Mount Kailash to pay my respects to Shiva and captured with his gyaan, bhakti and shakti, I slipped and for a moment forgot my place. When Parvati saw us, intimately close, and saw traces of ashes from Shiva's body on me, she got furious and cursed me to turn into a frog and live in total seclusion in a well for twelve years. 

After serving my penance, it was Mayasura and Hema, who adopted me and named me Mandodari.

So, I do know what it feels to go wrong. And I do realize one can't avoid the consequences, however hard you may fight.

Over the next few days, I saw a side to Ravana I had never seen before. The war itself was a seesaw ride. At one point. Rama's side was looking depleted. But soon after, my son, Indrajit, and my brother-in-law, Kumbhakarna were killed. I saw my King battle till his last breath, alone but not ready to give up. He was too obdurate for his own good; wish he had just paid heed to my advice and let Sita go.

When I saw Ravana breathing his last, I was devastated. Our life, our good moments, flashed before my eyes and I wanted to give up, fling my body into the funeral pyre along with him. For if he deserved such end, if he was as villainous as people claimed, was I not to be blamed too? I did try to show him the righteous path, but perhaps I should have tried harder? I could not live with the guilt of 'what if' and so in my distressed state had rushed to end my life. It was then that Rama had intervened. As soon as I looked into his eyes, I knew at once that he was no mortal, but an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. 

I bowed down to Lord Rama and he consoled me and reminded me of my duties as a queen and my king's widow. I sat in a pool of blood, hand on my husband's still warm heart, as Lord Rama advised Vibhishana, the one who had betrayed his brother Ravana, to rule the Kingdom of Lanka and marry me and reinstate me as the reigning Queen. 

I could sense everyone around was as shocked as I. How could I marry my brother-in-law? The suggestion sounded atrocious but coming from Lord Rama I did not dismiss it at once. The pain of my loss grew with each passing day, and the only relief came when Vibhishana consulted me on matters of the state. 

It would not be fair to my people, I thought, if I clung to the past, felt sorrow over my husband's vices and blindly accept my widowhood. I agreed to marry Vibhishana, and on a day when the skies were blue and clear, the flowers in my backyard in full bloom, and the palatial rooms as grand as I had ever seen, I stepped onto the throne to guide Lanka towards the path of virtue.


©AditiKaushiva2017 


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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. 

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5 comments:

  1. Aditi, I loved the narration! For one, I wasn't aware Ravana had a wife; I only knew about his sister and his thirst for revenge. On another, I like the fair and just presentation in this - you have laid out the story, but it isn't biased towards or against anyone. Fantastic!

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  2. That's a lovely narration..I didn't know that Ravana had a wife..Think the Ramayanan major part was the revenge taken by Ravana for his sister

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  3. Beautiful narration Aditi.Nice presentation of Mandodari's thoughts.Waiting for your next

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  4. This is so wonderfully written! Your way with words Aditi - Hats off! I think it is the kindest thing, to have had those good moments!

    Ishieta @ Isheeria's

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  5. Wow this is simply brilliant. I was so engrossed in your story telling. How do you you come up with new ideas and stories everyday.
    Hey btw did you miss the letters between M and R... I can't find the posts.

    Yogasana
    Travel Tales

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