Sumukh and Gunakeshi by Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya SignUp
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Sumukh and Gunakeshi
by Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya Bookmark and Share
 

Love Stories from The Mahabharata  

Finally, arriving at Bhogvati, ruled over by Vaasuki, the despondent heart of Indra's charioteer Matali thrilled with hope. This is that Bhogvati, hallowed by the ascesis of that mighty Naga monarch, great as the snowy mountains. With scintillating net of gems overhead and precious ore flowing in hundreds of streams below, this Bhogvati is as enchanting as Vasav's Amaravati.  

Roaming through many kingdoms has Matali reached here. But nowhere has he come across such a beauteous youth fit to be approached to espouse his lovely daughter Gunakeshi. How strange that even in that land of immortals where Indra's sakhaa Matali dwells, even where the celestial Parijat blooms, he could not find one fit to take Gunakeshi's hand in marriage!

He had visited the city of Varan in the nether world of Patal, where for the welfare of the world Airavat drenches with water the breasts of the clouds. That Varan city where even the water-dwelling fish grow lovely drinking in the moon-rays, even there Matali did not come across any beauteous youth. Pundareek, Kumud and Anjan, the chiefs of the Suprateek clan, Matali had met. But none had he found worthy of Gunakeshi. Daughter of Matali, Gunakeshi, by the touch of whose neck the very garland of Parijat becomes even more lovely, there is none in Varan city for her wedding garland.
 
Finally, Bhogvati. Wearing begemmed ornaments etched with swastik, discus, pot and various other designs, hundreds of senior Naga chiefs and young Nagas have assembled in court. Approaching near the assembly-hall Matali noticed that facing the chief Naga Aryaka sat an attractive youth. It seemed as though touched by that godly visaged youth the bejewelled hangings of the Naga court were glowing brightly. This is that lovely youth whose enchanting presence can delight Gunakeshi's eyes every moment of her life. Who is this youth?
 
Pleased, Matali eagerly approached Aryaka the Naga chief and begged him,

'O best of Nagas, Aryaka, I wish to know the identity of this youth seated before you.'
Aryaka replied, 'My grandson, Sumukh.'
Matali said, 'If there be anyone in the three worlds fit to marry my daughter Gunakeshi, then it is only one person. And that is verily this grandson of yours, Sumukh.'
Aryaka: 'I am very pleased to hear this, Matali, charioteer of Indra.'
Surprised, Matali enquires, 'But despite being pleased why have you suddenly grown sad, Naga chief Aryaka? I find that your grandson Sumukh's face too has suddenly become overcast.'
In a pained voice Aryaka explains, 'I can understand your intention, Indra's sakhaa Matali and that is why I cannot but be sad.'
Matali: 'What have you understood Aryaka?'
Aryaka: 'You wish that this grandson of mine, Sumukha, who is so pleasing to the eye, should take your daughter Gunakeshi's hand in marriage.'
Matali: 'True, Naga chief Aryaka. Let your grandson Sumukh be the husband of my daughter Gunakeshi, who is a hundred times more lovely that the celestial nymphs.'
Aryaka: 'Who would not desire to establish a relationship with Indra's sakhaa Matali? But...'
Matali: 'Then why the hesitation, Aryaka?'
Aryaka: 'Sumukh's life-span is almost ended.'
 
Matali starts in anguish: 'Life-span ended'what is the meaning of this statement, Aryaka?'
Looking up with tearful eyes Aryaka says, 'Even after murdering my son Chikur Naga recently Garud, enemy of Nagas, is not satisfied. Garud has vowed that he will not rest untill, within a month, he has also slain my grandson Sumukh. You know, Matali, that encouraged by the protection he enjoys by the grace of Vishnu, intoxicated with what implacable blood-lust Garud is going on destroying the Naga race. How terrible is his racial hatred! Garud does not feel the slightest compunction in ripping open the breast of a Naga infant happily nursing at its mother's breast. Yet another unbearable tragedy is about to befall me, friend of Vasav, Matali. Naga-hating Garud's claws will rip apart this last solace of my life, my beloved grandson Sumukh.
 
'I have been pleased to hear your proposal, Matali, but I cannot agree to it. He whose death is impending, what is the use of welcoming into his life a momentary evanescent festival of joy? With the blowing out of the lamp of the wedding night, the lamp of his life will go out. It is doubtful if he will get even a day's respite to be entranced by the beauty of his beloved's face glowing with love. I can never ask you to give your daughter into his hands, Matali. That is my sorrow.'
 
Matali keeps sitting for some time depressed and worried.
 
Then he speaks in a voice throbbing with hope, 'Grant your assent, Aryaka!'
Astonished, Aryaka says, 'What is the meaning of your peculiar enthusiasm Matali? Do you desire your daughter's untimely widowhood?'
Matali: 'No, Aryaka. I desire the end of the cruel arrogance of Naga-hating Garud.'
Aryaka: 'But...'
Matali: 'Be assured, revered Aryaka, I shall leave nothing undone for securing the life of your grandson Sumukh. I hope that with the help of the king of the gods, Indra, my efforts will be fruitful.'
Aryaka: 'Then do so, Matali.'
Matali: 'But I wish to return to the kingdom of the gods taking your grandson Sumukh along with me, Aryaka.'
Aryaka stares terrified: 'In that city of the gods, Amaraavatee, who will shelter my Sumukh?'
Matali: 'I will.'
Aryaka: 'But I fear, Matali, that still Naga-nemesis Garud will find a chance of sating his blood-lust.'
Denying this Matali says, 'Do not worry, Aryaka. I am hopeful that Garud will never get such an opportunity.'
Aryaka: 'Do not speak of hoping, Matali; promise me.'
 
Suddenly, it is Sumukh himself who interrupts excitedly, 'Why do you vainly ask for a promise from Matali, the friend of the king of the gods, grandfather? There is none in your Bhogvati city who can protect me from Garud's attack. If I stay here there is no hope at all of my life being saved, grandfather. By going to the city of the immortals, with the help of Matali, friend of the king of the gods, there is still hope of life. I hope that if Indra, king of the gods, is pleased, then it is he who, by gifting nectar, can make your grandson immortal. Grant me permission to go to that land of hope, grandfather.'
Aryaka says, 'You may leave.'

Passing through the city gates of the city of immortals, the Naga youth Sumukh gazes with entranced eyes at the Parijat garden. The unfading Parijat'as though even in the very beauty of the flowers of the abode of the gods the joy of immortality blooms. Their leaves never droop. There is no decay, no disease. In the life of the heavenly city there is no pain of separation or estrangement. Here all is ever fresh, ever blooming, ever alive. Verily like the constantly honey-dripping Mandar tree, youth is here ever luscious. The breeze of the city of immortals carries only the waves of laughter of lovely lips. No sighs, no tears. The nectar-drenched heart of the abode of immortals, free from pain, is ever vibrant with joy.
 
Sumukh keeps staring unblinkingly, as if his imagination has grown thirsty to drink deep of the beauty of this city of gods blessed with immortality. A heart of Bhogvati, distressed with the anxiety of an endangered life, grows greedy and excited.
 
Sumukh says, 'I beg a promise of you, charioteer of the king of gods, Matali.'
Matali: 'Speak, what promise do you want?'
Sumukh: 'It is amrita, the nectar of immortality, that I want.'
Matali starts, 'How can I promise to bring you amrita, Sumukh?'
Sumukh: 'If the king of the gods wishes, he can easily gift me amrita.'
Matali: 'Yes, the king of the gods can.'
Sumukh: 'By pleasing and gratifying the king of the gods, obtain amrita for me, friend of Indra, Matali.'
Matali: 'But what if the king should reject my prayer?'
Sumukh: 'Then give me leave to depart, charioteer of Indra. Then I shall have no desire left for accepting your daughter.'
Hurt, Matali says, 'I am pained to learn of your resolve, Sumukh.'
Sumukh: 'Why?'
Matali: 'I cannot but be pained to see your reluctance to marry Gunakeshi, Sumukh.'
Sumukh laughs, 'What do you desire, charioteer of Indra?'
Matali: 'I want that you should live long. I wish that safe from the threat of Garud's terrible vow you should be my daughter Gunakeshi's husband.'
Sumukh: 'Who will grant me long life? Who will protect me from Garud's attack?'
Matali: 'I hope that at my request the king of the gods shall grant you long life.'
Sumukh: 'And if he does not? What if you perceive that the life of this short-lived Naga youth of will be torn to shreds in but one more day?'
Matali: 'What then?'
Sumukh: 'Then will you gift your daughter to me? Can you give me that promise, charioteer of Indra, Matali?'
Suddenly ashamed and embarrassed Matali replies, 'No.'
Again Sumukh laughs aloud: 'Why this reluctance, friend of the king of gods, in placing your daughter's hand in mine?'
Matali says, 'I do not know what fate has in store. Hereby I promise that for your sake I shall beg amrita of the king of gods. If I find the opportunity, then I shall approach Lord Vishnu too and say to him 'Lord, make immortal by gifting amrita that beauteous Naga youth Sumukh who shall be my daughter's life-partner.'
With a gladdened heart and eyes bright with hope Sumukh says, 'This promise of yours to try is enough. It is my faith that your effort will succeed, O Indra's charioteer, Matali.'    

Immediately after entering his house Matali heard from his wife Sudharmaa that Lord Vishnu was in Amaraavatee today. The news gladdened Matali, but the next moment, like one worried over a danger, he called, 'Gunakeshi!'
 
His daughter Gunakeshi appears before him, 'What is your command, father?'
Matali: 'The just-arrived stranger whom you have guided to that vine-covered grove in the Mandaar grove, can you guess his identity, daughter?'
Gunakeshi: 'No.'
Matali: 'He is the grandson of Naga Aryaka of Bhogvati city and
the son of the late Chikur.'
Gunakeshi: 'Why has a youth of the nether world come to the abode of gods?'
Matali: 'He who shall take your hand and become the companion of your life is this Naga youth Sumukh. But...'
 
Looking at Gunakeshi's blushing cheeks, affectionately Matali went on, 'But Sumukh's life-span is almost ended.'
 
As though suddenly the searing wind of a desert storm had pained Gunakeshi's two eyes, she keeps staring in pain. In an instant the joyful blush vanishes from her cheeks and in silence she tries to understand the meaning of this unbearable message.
 
Matali continues, 'Naga-foe Garud's resolve is that even within a month he shall take away Sumukh's life. That is why I am worried, daughter. Amrita will have to be begged for Sumukh from Lord Vishnu or the king of the gods. I must go immediately.'
Gunakeshi: 'May your prayer be fruitful, father.'
Matali: 'But I have heard that Lord Vishnu is residing in the city of the gods today. That is why I cannot leave with my mind at rest, daughter.'
Gunakeshi: 'Why?'
Matali: 'When Lord Vishnu has arrived, then his attendant Garud must have also come. I fear that at any moment the life of my guest, Sumukh, will be destroyed by that terrible Garud, mad for the blood of Nagas and infatuated with pride by Vishnu's grace. That is why I cannot leave free of worry, daughter.'
Gunakeshi: 'Please do not delay, father. Leave without any anxiety.'
Matali: 'As long as I do not return, the responsibility for protecting Sumukh's life is yours, Gunakeshi.'
Gunakeshi: 'Yes, father.'
 
Matali left for meeting Indra and, gazing unblinkingly at the Mandaar grove, keeps sitting Gunakeshi.
 
Only a few moments before Gunakeshi has guided to the recesses of the Mandaar grove a form that seemed to have been created with all the pleasant dreams of her nubile years. But Gunakeshi could not even imagine that truly that attractive youth will be as short-lived as an evanescent pleasant dream. Death has stretched out its arms for looting that youth's life. Yet he has come hoping for a beloved. To take away Gunakeshi of Amaraavatee as his life-companion a beautiful faith has risen up from the far depths of.
Suddenly, Gunakeshi starts, as if having realised what is passing in her mind. In the depths of her heart, in the waters of a lake is floating the face of handsome Naga youth Sumukh, crowned with a wedding garland. And Gunakeshi also realises that water is streaming down both her eyes.
 
It is these, perhaps, that are called tears. There is no place for these in the life of Amaravati. Then from where, and why, do these tears appear in the eyes of this dweller of the city of gods? Are these tears the first gift of love? 
 
'Whether you be immortal or blessed with long life or short-lived, whatever you might be, it is you indeed who are the beloved man of Matali's daughter, Gunakeshi. As if silently the music of a resolve keeps echoing within Gunakeshi. Your faith shall not be fruitless. Should death come to snatch you away, even if the opportunity to proffer the wedding garland does not arise, still Gunakeshi will cast around your neck the garland of her love-lorn arms. I am not amrita, nor am I the giver of life, but I can turn your death itself nectareous. Should the city of gods deprive you, should the king of the gods not give you amrita, still do not sorrow, Naga youth. Matali's daughter Gunakeshi will not deprive you. 
 
If you should truly go out like a short-lived tongue of flame, then, before you die out, feel on your breast the anguished, infatuated breath of your beloved, the daughter of Matali.'
The painful emotions of Gunakeshi's heart seem to have grown honeyed and agitated by the touch of these strange tears. But within the recesses of the Mandar grove have any similar anguished feelings, touched by tears, grown sweet and restless? One would like to know whether he is awake or has fallen asleep, that traveller who has arrived in the abode of the immortals from Bhogvati seeking a glimpse of his beloved's face.
 
Sumukh had fallen asleep. As if, overwhelmed by the scent of Mandar flowers, Sumukh were dreaming: The king of the gods has gifted amrita and Sumukh, son of Chikur, has gained immortality. No fear, no anxiety; an ever-joyous life, free of tears. No pain of leave-taking, no anguish of estrangement, no heart laden with sighs. Youth does not fade, body does not tire, complexion does not pale. But suddenly, at the touch of someone's scented hair, this dream laden with the scent of Mandaar is broken. Sumukh opens his eyes and looks up.
 
Before him stands Matali's daughter Gunakeshi.
 
Surprised, Sumukh exclaims, 'You? Today, at this inappropriate time, why have you come here, daughter of Matali?'
Gunakeshi: 'Why do you say 'untimely', son of Chikur? If the evening star rises a little earlier, does that distress the sky's breast? If the crimson rays of the dawn awake a little earlier, then does the lotus protest? You will take my hand, it is by greeting you as husband that my Parijat garland will be blessed. In a festival of the blowing of conchshells and the recitation of hymns he who will accept me as his beloved for all time, it is to him that I have come.'
Sumukh: 'Speak, why you have come.'
Gunakeshi: 'I wish to know what were you dreaming of so long, Naga prince?'
Sumukh: 'I was dreaming that the faith with which I had come to this city of gods has been fulfilled.'

 

Like freshly bloomed flowers, suddenly both of Gunakeshi's eyes too grow larger touched by some faith: 'With what faith had you come to the city of gods, son of Chikur?'
Sumukh: 'I have come to gain amrita.'
In a voice like a tortured shriek Gunakeshi asks, 'For gaining amrita?'
Sumukh: 'Yes.'
Gunakeshi: 'Is only amrita your goal?'
Sumukh: 'Yes, daughter of Matali, Gunakeshi. If I obtain amrita, if I can achieve god-like immortality, only then shall I call you to become my life-companion, Gunakeshi. Your father, Vaasav's sakhaa Matali, is aware of this resolve of mine.'
Gunakeshi: 'And if you do not get amrita, then?'
Suddenly Sumukh's face grows despondent like one afraid, 'Do not even utter such inauspicious words, Gunakeshi.'
Gunakeshi: 'Answer my question, son of Chikur. If your dream of gaining immortality fails, then will you reject the wedding garland of Matali's daughter Gunakeshi and depart?'
Sumukh: 'You tell me beautiful one, who luxuriate in the scent of the Parijat, if you perceive that an instant hence the life of Sumukh, son of Chikur, will be shattered by cruel and terribly Naga-hating Garud, then at this moment will you be able to place the wedding garland round his neck?'
Gunakeshi: 'I will, son of Chikur.'
Thrilled with surprise Sumukh says, 'What manner of love is this, lady Gunakeshi?'
Gunakeshi: 'This is a very simple, straightforward rule of love, son of Chikur. Gunakeshi has loved you, not your immortality. Gunakeshi loves you, not your life's eternity. Your heart is a hundred times more desirable and electable and precious to me than your life-span, O Naga prince. I am a lover. To me it is that momentary touch of your breast that will be eternal, son of Chikur, if in your heart there is even a drop of love for me.'
Sumukh: 'Forgive me, daughter of Matali. If I am unable to gain immortality, then the blood of my shattered dream will colour my heart. No flower of love will ever bloom in that anguished, despairing heart, Gunakeshi.'
Gunakeshi: 'Son of Chikur!'
Sumukh: 'Speak, daughter of Matali.'
Gunakeshi: 'Even with loveless eyes gaze only once at the youthful picture of this dweller of the city of gods, who craves your love.'
Sumukh: 'I have seen, Gunakeshi.'
Gunakeshi: 'Tell me, what says the desire throbbing in every drop of your blood? Don't your lips thirst? Doesn't your breath quicken? Speak, O Naga youth, cradled in the waters of Bhogvati, does not any impulse eagerly strain within the calm prison of your breast for touching your lips to the forehead of this maiden of the city of gods to win an instant's honeyed oblivion?'
 
Beautiful and undisturbed like the calm gem-encrusted mountain, Sumukh says, 'No, Gunakeshi. In a life without immortality this festival of momentary agitation and instant ephemeral desire is an utter mockery. Even though that mockery might appear attractive, I have no illusions regarding it in my mind.'
 
Silent, with bowed head, Gunakeshi keeps standing. Shades of the evening gather on the eastern horizon. The scent of the Mandaar grove grows even heavier in the cool breeze.
Lost in his own imaginings, absent-mindedly Sumukh gazes into the far distance. Perhaps by now Indra, king of the gods, pleased by the prayers of his dear sakhaa Matali, has gifted amrita. For making true the Naga youth Sumukh's dream of gaining immortality, Matali is bringing amrita. As though footsteps can be heard'perhaps Matali has arrived. Eagerly, with unblinking gaze, Sumukh keeps staring at the path towards the Mandar grove.
 
At that very instant, crying out like a terrified child, Sumukh shrieks, 'Save me!'
 
Like a gust of an all-destroying fire, someone's cruel and terrible breath rushing this way has stopped near the Mandar grove. Within the creeper-covered hut, like a thin leaf shaken by the wind, shivers Sumukh. He has come; Naga-enemy Garud has come to fulfil his terrible vow. The claws of death have drawn near to the heart of immortality-seeking Sumukh.
 
Gunakeshi says, 'Be at peace, Naga prince.'
Sumukh: 'Give me peace, daughter of Matali.'
Gunakeshi: 'It is I that am your peace.'
Sumukh: 'You?'
Gunakeshi: 'Yes, I.'
Sumukh: 'You will be able to save me from death?'
Gunakeshi: 'I am not amrita, son of Chikur. I can be your companion on the path of death, I can only sweeten the moment of your death.'
 
Like gusts of destroying fire, in uncontrolled fury Garud's breath seems to be straining impatiently on the path to the Mandaar grove. Staring at Gunakeshi's face in a calm voice Sumukh expresses his wonder,
 
'By sweetening the last moments of one on death's road what joy will you gain, daughter of Matali?'
Gunakeshi: 'That sweetness will become immortal in my life, till my very last breath.'
Sumukh says, 'You are a unique wonder of the many-splendoured heart of this world.'
Gunakeshi: 'I am a very ordinary heart of this wonderful world.'
Sumukh: 'You are beautiful.'
Gunakeshi: 'Only when you say so am I beautiful.'
Sumukh strives to hold back tears. In a broken voice, like a distressed plea, he says, 'I have a request, daughter of Matali.'
Gunakeshi: 'Command me, son of Chikur.'
Sumukh: 'With his body torn by ravaging Garud, may this son of Chikur see with his last breath that in the eyes of Gunakeshi of the abode of gods, two tears have sprung.'
'Son of Chikur!'
'Speak, lovely-hearted daughter of Matali.'
'Why this obsession for so very ephemeral two drops of tears?'
'I have realised, standing in the shade of death I have understood Gunakeshi, how much sweeter are these ephemeral tears than extreme joy. I have realised, that which can make even the moment of death honeyed is truly amrita.'
 
Blood-thirsty Garud's shadow has grown restless. For entering the recesses of the leafy hut two flaming eyes are drawing near.
 
Sumukh's voice trembles in helpless distress, 'Lost in dreams of immortality I had forgotten Gunakeshi that today is the last day of Garud's vow. This evening is the last evening of my life.'
 
Gunakeshi shrieks in torment, 'But you must not embrace death, son of Chikur!'
With a gentle smile Sumukh answers, 'There is no alternative, Gunakeshi. From that terrible assault, protected by Vishnu's blessing, how will a Naga brought up in the waters of Bhogvati save himself?'
 
'What is this Vishnu? What sort of blessing is this?' Churned up from within Gunakeshi, a fierce rebellion rears up as a harsh question.
 
The blessing of Vishnu, protector and maintainer of cosmic creation by whose grace all creatures born in the lap of the cosmos are cared for. With an unblinking gaze, like one absent-minded, as if in meditation stands and muses Gunakeshi. Then, slowly and gradually the shadow of a profound resolve trembles on Gunakeshi's lips. As if her meditative form were straining to listen to the language of an incantation deep within and the music of some creative glory in the rushing bloodstream: 'From the self of your beloved son of Chikur summon into the depths of your being new life, daughter of Matali. To destroy the emergence of life lies not within the daring of any terror protected by the grace of Vishnu. Not even Vishnu himself has that authority.'
 
Ravaging Garud's shadow falls right on the entrance of the creeper-covered hut. At that instant like a bouquet of Parijat flowers flung up, uncovering the glory of her nubile body, Gunakeshi, daughter of Matali, falls on Sumukh's breast:
 
'Before departing, make my dream come true, dear Naga youth.'
Sumukh: 'Do not punish yourself thus, maiden!'
 
In the corners of Gunakeshi's eyes two sweet and bright tears spring forth like pearls, 'Do not question, do not be surprised, do not hesitate, beloved of Gunakeshi, son of Chikur. In Gunakeshi's thirsting blood plant the seeds of your child's being.'
 
'Gunakeshi!' In a honeyed, loving voice Sumukh calls.
 
To drown in sweetness the moment of Sumukh's death, as though a tear-drenched and dream-immersed Parijat bouquet has lost itself in Sumukh's embrace.
 
Stars awaken in the sky. Kissed by the night breeze the Mandaar scent droops into sleep. The moments of the last day of month afflicted by Garud's heartless vow keep slipping away. The last hour of the night nears. Welcoming Sumukh's embrace, overwhelmed lies the sacrifice of maiden Gunakeshi's blooming youth.
 
The sky heralds the dawn; birds call. Garud did not get the chance to rend Sumukh's breast with his claws. Despairing, Garud's shadow moves away. Rending through the perfumed breeze of the Mandaar grove, frustrated Garud's scorn is echoed: 'Whore, daughter of Matali!'
 
Garud departs. Like the song of newly awakened birds trills Gunakeshi's voice. Abruptly breaking Sumukh's embrace, Gunakeshi stands up.
 
Sumukh starts at the laughter, but is wonder struck to see two tears held in Gunakeshi's two eyes. 'What is this, Gunakeshi?'
Gunakeshi: 'Your death, angered, denounced me and left.'
Sumukh: 'Why did that heartless one denounce you?'
Gunakeshi: 'Because it is I who frustrated all the hopes of that remorseless one for taking revenge. You are safe, you are free.'
'Gunakeshi! Life-giving Gunakeshi!' Unable to contain his wonder, Sumukh shouts out aloud.
Gunakeshi says, 'Now, disgusted with one night's foolishness displayed by a loose woman of the city of gods, go away to Patal, Naga youth.'
Covering her face with both hands, as though concealing an unbearably painful picture of that lovely face, swiftly Gunakeshi departs. Earnestly, eagerly calls out Sumukh, 'Do not go, Gunakeshi!'
 
Matali has returned from Indra, depressed, disappointed and overwhelmed with anguish. Indra, king of the gods, has not granted amrita for Sumukh. Only, very graciously, he has promised that Sumukh will be saved from Garud's fury. The king of the gods has only granted life to the suitor for his sakhaa Matali's daughter Gunakeshi's hand.
 
Sumukh bursts out laughing: 'You could not give me amrita. Then prepare to give me leave now, sakhaa of the king of gods, Matali.'
 
Matali stands with a fixed, vacant stare. The Naga youth Sumukh wishes to leave. After coming to the city of gods, despite gazing on the face of Matali's daughter, more lovely than the Parijat, no desire awoke in his breast, no greed flared in his eyes. That creature, greedy only for amrita, is leaving, utterly an ungrateful and heartless serpent.
 
Again Sumukh laughed, 'I shall not return alone, Vaasav's friend Matali.'
Taken aback, Matali asks in embarrassment, 'What are you saying, Sumukh?'
Sumukh: 'Yes, charioteer of Indra, Matali. In your abode of gods all the Parijats are false in their beauty. There is only one Parijat of the heart. Give me the permission to take it away with me.'
'Who is that?'
'One who has given me life. The amrita of the abode of immortals only deceives, friend of Indra. But even the very moment of death can become immortally sweet through two extremely ephemeral tears of two eyes.'
'Tears of whose eyes?'
'Your daughter Gunakeshi's.'
 
Indra's charioteer Matali's sad face lights up finally with joy.
 
Turning towards the entrance of his house, where a flower-bedecked swing lay in the shade, with a glad heart Matali calls, 'Daughter Gunakeshi.'
 
Gunakeshi appears to stand before him. Chanting mantras Matali gives Gunakeshi's hand in Sumukh's.
 
No more of the city of immortals. Out of this tearless land of eternal joy for proceeding to Bhogvati where life is short, happily Sumukh prepares. Tenderly he calls, 'Come, beloved Gunakeshi.'
 
In Gunakeshi's two anguished eyes those sweet tears again spring up: 'Tell me that you have no sorrow in your heart.'
Sumukh: 'What sorrow?'
Gunakeshi: 'For not having found amrita despite coming to the city of immortals.'
Eagerly clasping Gunakeshi's hands Sumukh says, 'I have got it, Gunakeshi.'
Gunakeshi: 'Got it? Then father did bring amrita?'
Sumukh: 'Your father has given me amrita.'
Gunakeshi: 'Where is that amrita?'
Sumukh: 'Here it is, in front of me.'
Gunakeshi: 'What?'
Sumukh: 'You.'  
      

28-Mar-2004
More by :  Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya
 
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