As he walked aimlessly in the dark, Lakshman was not sure what he was feeling- angry, confused, scared - perhaps all of them. From a distance he could see the whole Ayodhya decked up to commemorate the princes’ marriages, but here he was, running away from all of it.
It all began, Lakshman thought, with the cocky, smart alec, too- big- for- his-boots Shatrughan. Shartughan along with their brother Bharat and father Dasharat had arrived in Mithila the day before to solemnize Ram and Sita’s wedding.
Rama and Lakshmana were sitting in their room when Shatrughna rushed in, breathless with excitement. He stopped abruptly on seeing his eldest brother there. “Oh Brother” he said folding his hands “I didn’t expect to see you here”. Shatrughan stood politely but it was obvious he was bursting to tell something. Rama, indicating to him to sit down, asked in an indulgent voice “Is there something you want to say Shatrughan?”
Shatrughan burst out, “Shrutakirti. …..I have found out……. Her name is Shrutakirti.”
Lakshman released the knot he was tying on his bow and looked up.
Rama looked amused. “Who is Shrutakirti?”
“Your youngest sister-in-law, brother. The younger daughter of Maharaja Kushdhwaja” replied Shatrughan triumphantly.
“So what of her?” persisted Rama, with a faint smile on his lips.
“Um…nothing. Nothing at all….Just that….Isn’t it a beautiful name?” replied Shatrughan, trying to control his excitement.
Lakshman looked at him disapprovingly.
“Did you find only the name beautiful or…..?” asked Rama with a laugh
“Now that you ask, brother, she is beautiful too. Very beautiful” replied Shatrughan, grinning.
Rama stood up and patting Shatrughan on the shoulder, left the room.
Shatrughan settled himself on a couch and closing his eyes murmured blissfully “Shrutakirti…”
Lakshmana left the bow he was stringing and walking up to Shatrughna, remonstrated with his twin.
“Shatrughna, is this any way to speak to brother Rama? How can you talk so freely about girls in front of him?”
“Why what was wrong in that? I only mentioned that Shrutakirti was a beautiful name.”
“How does it matter ?” grunted Lakshmana picking up the bow again.
“Will I not want my future wife to have a beautiful name? Shrutakeee…….erti. Sounds so good” answered back Shatrughna.
“Your future wife?” sputtered Lakshmana. “Chi….chi…Very bad. How can you think of getting married before brother Bharata?”
Shatrughna sat up on the couch and answered “Don’t worry brother. I have found out that Maharaja Kushdhwaja has another daughter. Maandavi..... she is going to be brother Bharata’s wife .
“Brother Bharata’s wife? You’ve decided that too?”
“No not me. Brother Rama will. Why did you think he just left the room? By tomorrow all our marriages will be fixed”. Shatrughna collapsed, laughing.
“It’s less than twenty hours of your arrival in Mithila and already you have found out so much?” asked Lakshmana incredulously starting to string the bow again. “From where did you get so much information?”
“Guess?” asked Shatrughna winking.
“Exactly, brother” replied Shatrughna getting up. Shatrughna walked and stood behind Lakshmana. Placing his elbows on Lakshmana’s shoulders he leaned forward and whispered in his ears “And guess what brother? Maharaja Janaka has one more daughter. Isn’t it perfect? Four brothers here and four sisters there”
The bow slipped from Lakshmana’s hand as he suddenly became very still.
Shatughana jumped forward and picking up the bow handed it to Lakshmana. “Don’t you want to know the fourth sister’s name?”
Lakshmana shook his head furiously
Shatrughna held his twin firmly by his shoulders and whispered “Urmilla”.