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Ranjish hee sahi dil hee dukane ke liye aa…
As Radha looked at the crescent moon the early morning breeze caressed her face. The dim moonlight reflecting on her face was making her look ethereal. Far away on the banks of Yamuna, she listened to what sounded like someone playing raag sohini on the flute. Kanhaaaaa! She let out a sigh! She gagged her sobs with her dupatta to dampen any sound that could have woken up her husband Ayan – the chieftain of the Gawalas, and her children sleeping in the room nearby. Was she hallucinating, or was this real ? At this last “Peher” (phase) of the night when people are deepest in their sleep who will play the flute at Yamuna?. Her Kanhaa, the inimitable king of Mathura, who lived far away in a palace with his wife Rukmini and children will not come all the way just to play flute for her like old times, will he ?
Longing has no morality… it preys on you at odd hours…..
More than 5000 years later someone wrote a Ghazal for such longing
“Ranjish hee sahi dil hee dukhane ke liye aa,
Aa phir se mujhey chod ke jaane ke liye aa”
But this was another yug…another era.
For Radha this was a daily ritual, every morning at this hour she would quietly slip out of her bedroom leaving her husband and her children in deep sleep. She would wrap herself in a shawl, tip-toe through the hallways careful enough not to wake her servants up and sit right next to the Tulsi tree planted in her front yard. This had been a daily ritual for the last 15 years.
The scenes of her last meeting with Kanha often flashed before her eyes. What was meant to be just another clandestine rendezvous between the two lovers ended up becoming their last night together. It was a known fact that Krishna’s was not an ordinary human being, he had a prophecy to fulfil. The learned and the sages had confided in Radha and expressed their concern, “Only and only true love has the power to change the course of Krishna’s path and the purpose of his life” they said. Radha had to make a tough choice and a huge sacrifice for destiny to run its course. Kanha was left heartbroken and could not fathom the reason behind Radha’s decision. Their hands slowly unclasped and before Radha could even grasp the gravity of it, Kanha faded into the fog of her memories. In many ways Radha’s memory of “joy” had frozen in that moment. These were the wounds that even time refused to heal. She would often worry if with the passage of time she was going to forget how Kanha looked, his hands, his eyes, his touch. Well, probably not his eyes! If there was one thing that she would never forget, it would be Kanha’s eyes- piercing, alluring, playful and full of light. This separation had only fanned the intensity of her love and the fact that she had decided not to marry Kanha made matters worse.
Kuch to majburiyan rahi hongi yoon koi bewafa nahi hota
Guftgu unse roz hoti hai mudaton saamna nahi hota
Radha, a dutiful wife, a caring and nurturing mother was known in Vrindavan for her wisdom, strength and practical approach towards life. Women in the area would often seek her counsel for various issues. She also helped Ayan to manage the accounts and promote entrepreneurs in the area. Her life was full yet deep somewhere in some corner of her heart…there was a sacred place where she kept her love for Kanha alive. She did not even know if he ever missed her the way she missed him or if he remembered her at all? Her monotonous, predictable life had a set routine, she had no battles to win and no deserts to cross. Yet keeping Kanha alive in her memories was getting tougher and daunting as time passed.
She often felt like she was carrying him with her. In times of doubt she would have an internal dialogue with him to guide her. He was her internal moral compass, her guide. and in some ways she had become like him. She knew in her heart that the chances of ever meeting him again were almost nonexistent but in her mundane and lackluster life this hope and longing of seeing Kanha kept her alive and sane. This was her time not to be shared with anyone else.
Tum yeh kaise juda ho gaye
Har taraf har jagha ho gaye
Radha was ashamed, confused and angry with her destiny. She had to endure agony and love at the same time. To add to her misery were the boundaries of morality and the vows of marriage that made her unspoken love for kanha a sin in the eyes of many. As much as Radha loved Kanha, she loved and respected her husband Ayan too. So she decided to suffer in silence. It was just that the third phase of the night was unbearable to endure as this used to be the time she would meet Kanha. Radha would comfort herself by remembering good times and the moments of intimacy with Kanha and would find solace in the fact that it was a secret that she had kept from Ayan. She would cry her eyes out until her reservoir of pain emptied itself and then she would return back to her room as quietly as she had come out. This continued for what seemed like eternity but were only 15 years. Until that night!!!
That night as she was about to return back to her room she found Ayan standing right behind her. Startled, Radha made some excuse so as to cover her late night disappearance. As she started to walk back, Ayan held her hand and asked her to sit down. He sat right next to her near the Tulsi tree. If sighs could speak , tonight they were mute. There was a long pause, a very long one! Ayan continued staring at the stars and the crescent moon at the distance. The cool breeze from the far away Yamuna river was still caressing now tense face of Radha. She was not sure what was going on in Ayan’s mind. His silence was unbearable and her own guilt was weighing heavily on her heart. She could feel her heart almost beating through her nerves.
Ayan still looking at the moon, finally broke his silence and said “Radha, have you heard about Bramha Kamal?” Radha, continued to look into the vacuum of now-grey sky, he continued “It is a night blooming, wish fulfilling magical flower, so beautiful that it is said that lord brahma hand crafted every leaf of it in ecstasy. It blooms every 2-3 years and withers away within few hours. This flower is found in abundance in Himalayan valleys, however to grow this flower at home, one needs to be an expert gardener. This is a rare flower which grows out of its own leaf so while it needs nurturing and protection it also needs to be left alone. Only an expert gardener can do that. To wait in patience my dear is an intricate skill!”
Radha looked at him in surprise, trying to understand the context of this soliloquy. Her soft spoken husband was a man of action and few words. Radha had never seen this tender side of him.
Ayan looked at Radha’s beautiful light brown eyes and said “A woman in love is as beautiful as a flower but a vulnerable woman hiding her heartbreak is the most beautiful creation just like Bramha Kamal. During the day you are this strong woman, self-assured and gleaming with pride but to see you beautifully vulnerable one has to wait for the night. For the last fifteen years I have watched you from our bedroom window crying silently at this hour. It has been testing for me as well. Radha, the thing is that whether it is God or a human like me, men are very jealous and territorial in the matters of heart. We want complete control over our possessions and that’s why we like draw borders around our kingdoms. Sharing affection doesn’t come naturally to us. The thought of seeing you, my wife lamenting over another man should make me angry and jealous but for some strange reason it didn’t. I wanted to comfort you but that would be acting like an impatient gardener of the Bramha Kamal. This love and longing that you have for Kanha is very divine and my interference would have only made you guilty. You are not the only one Radha! Everyone in Vrindavan longs for Krishn. However my love for you is greater than my devotion for Kanha and I cannot see your suffering anymore. Radha it has been fifteen years! Do you want to meet him, I will take you!”
Radha was still silent! The morning breeze had stopped, the crescent moon had anchored itself to the low tide, the flute had mysteriously muted itself, the heavens were watching motionless, destiny clenched its claws—all waited in anticipation to know what Radha would want to do. Ayan was inching to know as well, her silence was piercing him like a thousand little needles. Radha while fidgeting with her earring finally decided to speak “Your Krishn, my Kanha is a king now, your Radha, Kanha’s Radhe is the wife of a chieftain now. If we meet it will not be Radhe meeting her Kanha, it will be a King meeting the wife of a Chieftain. We have all changed Ayan. Haven’t we! That is life and that is destiny. I do not cry every night because I want to meet Kahna or that I miss him dearly or that I am unhappy. I just long for who we were…when we were not all this…it is just that.”
Radha gets up, touches Ayan’s feet and as she begins to walk towards her room she turns back and says “No, I do not want to meet him but now I have a company for my morning sojourns.”
Agar tu ittefaqan mil bhi jaaye
Teri furqat ke sadme kam na honge
By: Sunayana Kachroo
Sunayana Kachroo is a poet, lyricist and film-writer. She has published her first collection of poems, ‘Waqt Se Pare – Beyond Time’.