I sit under the mango tree closing my dejected eyes,

Intoxicated by delusion, dream of holding her lotus feet.

My heart trembles the moment I hear sound of footsteps.

Since Raghupati came to the fort of Toran, not only his heart engrossed with obsession, the heart of a young girl also swamped with the blissful wave of first love. As he placed the neck-piece around her neck, her body shivered; her mind danced in euphoric anxiety. The warrior left taking his horse biding adieu; she stood motionless watching him at her window. 10 Lady-Observing-Lighting-in-the-Sky---Rajput-Ragamala-Painting-from-a-Manuscript,-Circa-1800

The young lady waits there for long. The horse with its rider left long back. She still looks at that direction like a frozen silhouette. A merry landscape lies before her eyes – the mountain range, the waving rows of trees on the top of the mountains, waterfalls taking forms of steams falling on the ground, the village huts down in the valleys, the stunning green fields draping those from all sides, a river flowing through the fields like the daughter of the mountain under the bright sun in the clear sky. Saryu doesn’t notice any of those; her mind roams somewhere else.

She remains lost throughout the day. In the evening, she serves dinner to her father, prepares bed for him and then retires to her bedroom. She stays awake mesmerized by the moonlight sitting quietly beside her window. Raghupati left a new emotion to fill her heart. Why did Raghupati look at her with such intensity? Was it a gaze of special affection? Was it true that a soft spot was evolved for her in the young warrior’s heart?

Impulsive emotion in a girl’s heart is usually not everlasting. The passion weakens soon. But sometimes the emotion called love in a girl of her age does not completely die. Once in a while, the thought of that young warrior crops up in her mind. Saryu, raised as single child, doesn’t have anyone but her father close to her heart. Her solitary life made her calm and thoughtful since her childhood. These days, during her daily chores, the thought of the handsome man who made her heart beat faster once, engrosses her once in a while.

Imagination is magical!  So many thoughts appear as she sits beside her window alone or takes a solitary walk in the flower-garden in the evening! The young warrior might have engaged himself in battles somewhere; he might have captured forts too. Does the dutiful man devoted to different thoughts, joys and worries ever remember her? Life is always full of hope – always flows as guided by hope be that fulfilled or not. Saryu’s magical imagination keeps of whispering in her ears – the warrior appear in her mind pretty often – she is intrigued by her hope.

Next moment she starts thinking differently – “It’s not possible that the young man still remembers this fort of Toran. A young man’s heart can’t stay single-minded. A wave in a river plays with a flower on the riverbank to fulfil its momentary pleasure. The flower dances with joy. Then the wave moves following own course leaving the flower to dry off. The wave once passed does not come back.”  She tries to console herself. Still, the mysterious hope doesn’t stop murmuring – what if the young warrior comes back to the fort of Toran once again?

In the middle of the night, the fort on the hilltop sleeps under moonlight; the girl’s mind gets crowded with illusions as she keeps on looking at the sky and the fair moon – how shall we trace those! She imagines a young cavalier on a white horse galloping towards the fort through the mountain route – few tufts of hair partially covering his forehead and eyes. She imagines as if the cavalier wearing a gold embossed headgear stopped his horse at the gate of the fort; his charming strong arms adorned with golden armlets knocks on the gate.

Months pass like that, and then a year, but Saryu’s waves of dreams don’t stop rolling. The warrior from homeland, whom Saryu once served food with lot of care in this distant territory, never goes into oblivion. Every now on then she recalls the charming look and divine physique of the man, who placed a chain around her neck. How deceptive imagination is!

Photo – Wikimedia commons