Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lakshmana and Urmila- Part IX


Lakshmana had been ready to fight on his brother's behalf and was dismayed when brother Rama brushed aside his offer and instead pointed out gently that their father's command was paramount to him. Lakshmana then proposed he would accompany his brother into exile but this too was brushed aside by Rama.  Deeply pained, Lakshmana stormed and ranted and threatened to put 'the old hag' behind bars.

Rama became alarmed. "You should not refer to Manthara like that, Lakshmana" Brother Rama had reprimanded him

"I was not referring to Manthara" Lakshmana had replied sulkily.

"Then who were calling 'an old hag'?" inquired Rama. Lakshmana did not dare to reply.

Comprehension dawned on Rama's face and his look became one of fury. "Lakshmana" he thundered "Is this any way to talk about Mother Kaikeyi?"

Lakshmana mumbled something about "deserves'nothing else'"

"Apologize at once" ordered Rama

"I am sorry, brother'." said Lakshmana meekly.

It was perhaps this incident which may have forced Rama to reconsider his decision.  Maybe Rama felt that to leave Lakshmana loose and unhinged in Ayodhya at such a time would be an open invitation to disaster. Maybe Rama might have thought that it would be safer to let Lakshmana accompany him where it would be easier for him, Rama to keep an eye on Lakshmana. Whatever be the reason, Rama accepted Lakshmana's proposal to follow him into exile.

Mother Kausalya then had come to him to persuade him to change his mind. It was bad enough for her, she said, to let one son go, how can he also think of leaving them? What would she tell Sumitra?  Lakshmana was getting impatient with these sentimental arguments. His place had always been beside his brother, and everyone had been happy with it. Now that his brother was being forced into exile, there was no reason why he should leave his brother's side

The lone sane voice, Lakshmana thought, had come from his mother- Sumitra. On hearing his resolution, she had come to his room - and placing her hand on his head- said, she had expected nothing less. Relieved, he touched her feet in salutation as she hurried out of his room to be back with the king- who was reportedly suffering from a nervous breakdown.

To hell with the king,
 thought Lakshmana. He was feeling particularly mutinous towards his father right now and didn't bother to keep himself updated about the king's health. But no doubt, brother Rama will want to take their father's blessings before leaving.

Lakshmana was sure he was not going to fall at his father's feet. Yet, with brother Rama's eye on him, he wouldn't dare not to either. The thought of his father had made him furious once again and he began swinging vigorously

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