Sunday, November 12, 2006


Shadows of evening slanted through the high windows. It was not time yet to light the lamps. In the fading light is the silhoutte of a female figure sitting across the front door with head back, resting against the open door. The smell of sandal and jasmine was floating around the house. Dressed as a bride, ThakuraNi Roopmati was staring into the sky. Her hand was playing instinctively with the colourful bangles she had worn--red and green and yellow and of of gold with pearls and stones set in them. Suddenly, she felt a tinge of pain and gave out a gasp. She lifted her head and brought her gaze down onto her right thumb. The bleeding had long stopped but the wound would take a day or two to heal. It was in the early morning that she applied rakta-tilak to her Thakur and sent him to the battle wishing that he come back victorious, as always.

They had said the enemy was already at the gates of the city. They had said they were outnumbered. They had said there was slim chance of victory. But this was not the first time that the Thakur led his regiment to battle to under the leadership of the MaharaNa. She remembered how she had laughed at the prospect of war and how spectacularly magnificent was the huge feast they organised, as was the custom of the household, before war. MaharaNa himself had visited their house.

Yet, there was a deep sense of misgiving and a premonition in her heart right from the time she received the news of the battle and slowly, those vague warnings and notions in her heart began to take a shape and become clearer. And when she saw her Thakur's face, blazing like the Sun, in the glow of evening lamp, she was no longer in doubt. She knew her Thakur was not going to come back this time. She knew this was her Thakur's last feast. She knew that she will be seeing her Thakur for the last time the next morning. But she was a Lioness among RajputaNis. She had a huge reputation of lifting the spirits of others around her. And so she hid her sorrow. No. The Thakur shall not sense her state of mind. He has to go and the battle has to be won. At any cost. She remembered how she had succeeded in lifting the sagging morale of other women who were aghast at the rumours of the losing battle and she smiled wryly at herself.

It was almost night, and Roopmati still did not get up to light the lamp. It was a sombre evening with dull skies and no wind and a few melancholy birds wailing. Lamps could be seen dimly flickering from Neighbours' homes. She succeeded in rallying the neighbourhood to thw cause, but who would assuage the storms raging in her heart? She wondered what was the use of the Durga puja, the tilak, and other such rituals when she could clearly see the truth naked in front of her waking eyes.

An hour later, an errand rider came running to her and bowed to her:
"Victory to you ThakuraNi!"

She did not move and kept staring far away beyond the horizon.

"ThakuraNi... Thakur fought valiantly and saved MaharaNa's life."

She still did not move. Her eyes closed, and tears waiting in her eyes saw enough reason to flow out.

Shree raaga.
Alap and dhamaar by Uday Bhawalkar.


Karthik Rao Cavale said...

I understand that that was an attempt to convey the mood of Shri in the form of a short story. Veer ras and Karunya ras, is it?

Gandaragolaka said...

I generally dont go by the defined moods of the raga. It doesnt help me in identifying them and/or relishing them.

This is somewhat based on how I feel Shree is. The visuals, I just conjured up (or may be they revealed themselves...) while listening to that Uday Bhawalkar piece today evening.