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The 4th Widow of AyodhyA-Part 7 of 8

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Fri May 02 1997 - 07:09:04 PDT

                 THE FOURTH WIDOW OF AYODHYA (continued)
                      ---------------------------

Rama reached out and clasped his brother's hand warmly.

He rose.

He raised his head slowly and gazed at the gushing waters of the Godavari
for a long moment with tear-stained eyes.

Lakshmana couldn't help noticing that his brother's large, sparkling eyes,
red and rimmed with sadness, as they were, looked even more arresting and
attractive than usual.

Rama held Lakshmana's hand and spoke almost in a soliloquy.

"My dear boy, I grieve .. I do, yes. 

"But I grieve not for the reasons you presume.

"You speak of the losses I've suffered... a kingdom, wife, friends and
family...these are but familiar milestones along the oft-travelled journey
in life men of this world undertake. Everyone ... and not only the Lord of
Ayodhya .... suffers such fate... such losses wrought by "karmA". It's all
in the nature of this "samsAra", my brother... what's so unique about my
plight ? What is there to grieve about it ? The misery of any human in this
wide world is no less distressful than mine! And it's futile to be
distressed about a stark fact of existence, Lakshmana!

"In any case, Lakshmana, did you think I'd any doubts about reclaiming Sita
and the Kingdom of Ayodhya and all that you say's been lost ? Did I ever
doubt it?

"You're wrong, Lakshmana ! 

"Believe me, now, when I say this ! As long as you, my dear and brave
brother, are by my side, I can win back this whole world if were I to lose
it this moment!! Yes, as long as I have you at my side, Lakshmana, there's
nothing that's impossible for me!

"Nay, brother, you mistake me ! I grieve not for the reasons you speak about
! My grief springs from elsewhere .... and for reasons more painful than I
can bear to explain!" 

Lakshmana heard and was astounded by his brother's remark.

He turned to Rama and grabbing both his hands, looked into his eyes and said
intensely:

"If you grieve not for what I think you do, Rama, then there's nothing you
should really grieve for! Tell me now what it is that distresses you!
Nothing is beyond repair and nothing is beyond me! I'll remove the cause of
your despair! Tell me, my brother, what is it that pains you ?"

"No, there's nothing you can do about it, Lakshmana", said Rama sadly, his
face melting into a wan smile.

Lakshmana didn't understand.

After a while Rama began to speak again in a mellow, tremulous voice :

"In the great palace of AyodhyA today, dear Lakshmana, there are 3 widows
who grieve ! Who're they ?"

Lakshmana looked dumbfounded.

"Answer me, Lakshmana, who are the 3 widows ? And whence the sorrow in their
hearts ?"

"Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi" murmured Lakshmana.

"And what is their sorrow ?"

"All three grieve for a departed husband. Two grieve for sons they shall
never see for 14 long years. And one ... one grieves for a son she sees
everyday but whose love and esteem she knows she's lost forever."

Then Rama continued, "Lakshmana, my dear brother, there's a fourth widow in
AyodhyA for whom I grieve! I grieve for a poor soul whose pain and sorrow is
greater than that of the 3 widows you speak ! My heart breaks, O Lakshmana,
whenever I think of the suffering that daily visits the fourth !"

Lakshmana looked utterly puzzled.

"Who is this fourth widow, Rama ? Tell me about her! What's her sorrow ? If
I can alleviate it I'll go immediately to AyodhyA ! If that will ease your
own pain Rama, tell me, command me now, this moment, and I'll go forth to
meet this 4th widow ? Who is she ? Please tell me !", beseeched Lakshmana.

"The misery of the 4th widow, my dear Lakshmana, is unending... her tragedy,
unspeakable!"

"But you have to tell me about it first, dear Rama, please!" begged Lakshmana.

"I'd surely tell you Lakshmana and share my burden with you ... if only I
were sure you're strong enough to bear it yourself! 

"I know your heart, my dear Lakshmana! Your's is the heart of a simple
warrior. It can deal competently with death on the battlefield ; but I doubt
it can cope with the agony, the pathos the men of this world put up with
...in the oppression, in the ordinariness of ....daily living."
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(to be continued and concluded)

sudarshan