Mirror tells lies, Shadows go away!

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Sita & Draupadi – Do you really know them?

It was difficult to tell for how long or for how many days we were walking on this Great Journey. The great journey was known as anumarana, it meant self-killing following a loved-one’s death. After death of Krishna, me and all of my 5 husbands had decided to follow him to heaven through anumarana as we felt that the purpose of us being on earth was served.

On this last pilgrimage, so called great- journey ,we were supposed to cross whole country to reach Himalyas, climb our way to heaven on Mount Sumeru.

This journey is also said to be a churning process, filtering out the saints & leaving behind the sinners. The bigger the sinner, earlier he falls. Only the persons with pure soul will be completing the journey to heaven. Angels in heaven dislike the company of anyone who’s unlike them!

Strange thing about this journey is that no one stops for others when they fall behind. You keep marching ahead to your voyage, without looking back at those who stood with you in your dark times in your life. Strange, isn’t it?

It is stranger for women-we can’t have a barren existence .Emotions, for us, are vibrations of heart-beats.  May be that’s why most women preferred the tradition of sati in that age – burn yourself along-with your loved-one. Think that was better than dying very day!

We had crossed the Ganges, then the Himalayas and now we were in a completely barren land, a treeless plateau. Sunrays were gone like the children leave a noisy street at dusk.Darkness crept over the land. It was a moonless night in the bleak and cold December.

All six of us were walking in single file and like every other day. And every day I had to put extra energy to keep pace with the men ahead. Unbroken silence , the only thing one could hear was  the sounds of crushed dry leaves. Many a times Bhima would try to crack some jokes to lighten the mood of everyone but would be met by discouraging cold stares of Yudhishtra.

“Why can’t we laugh? Is there a rule? I am bored”Bhima had complained once.

“Bhima, you know that the biggest sinner dies first in this excursion. The laughter has fallen, he was the first one to fall It seems it had committed lot of sins”, only I had responded to him, trying to bring others also in the discussion.

I was expecting a snub from Yudhishtra but he didn’t look back.

Like always, he avoided to get engaged in our jokes. Yudhishtra was like this only- always keeping to himself, always taking a higher ground by not indulging in ordinary chit-chats, ignoring, like we were lesser mortals. At times we all felt like bonsais under the shadow of a great banyan tree named Yudhishtra, so called king of religion.

Anyways I had stopped caring about him or anyone else. I didn’t have any clue when I changed from a passionate young girl -to a wife wanting to keep everyone happy, then to a hater & then to an indifferent individual-life makes us chameleons, changing us with times. To me this last journey of our life was one another ritual like many others- a ritual of walking to death.

Every step in this walk is assumed to be a step towards awakening, a step towards purity, towards God.

Somehow it was not working for me. For me every step was a step towards new questions

I had questions. Questions like what if I had said yes to Karna, what if I had said no to Kunti for accepting all the Pandvas as my husbands, what if I had raised my voice when each of my husbands was marrying to second or third women!

I was questioning the futility of this walk-to-death ritual, futility of all kind of traditions, futility of war and the victory we had, futility of life & love that I never got, futility of almost everything.

Rejecting Karna, accepting five men as husbands and then giving-in to their whims & commands, my fall from grace in Duryodhana’s court, forgiving Ashwathama who had unethically killed all of my sons –till date I was struggling to come to terms with several of my actions.

On each of these occasions, some part of me died. I had felt suicidal on each of these moments.Every window, lakshagriha,every knife in the kitchen, the bull fights –all of these looked like perfect instruments for a suicide.

Imagining myself dead, I had rehearsed it many times in  my mind .Wanted to escape from the world that was not  for me, I felt bonded to traditions, I felt that I was not acting like me. I thought if I die, my soul will fly, free like a bird.

You may laugh at me, thinking me as a weak !But this death -urge is common across the people with too many broken dreams,among the people who want to start afresh.

Suicide never happened. I continued to live. Something stopped me every time. I was the daughter of  fire, born from  a yagna. That fire was always burning inside me & that melted away my every craving for death into a molten lava –simmering but without smoke.

Or maybe this fading picture stopped me to take the . I had always carried this picture with me – it was my constant and secret companion. I would talk with it whenever I was alone.It has been a witness to every instance whenever I cried, complained, cursed or prayed

It is a picture of Sita and Rama, I had found it hidden in my clothes while leaving Panchal to start my new life with Arjuna, a subtle message on how to behave as an ideal wife. Mothers use every occasion to carry home the point. Mothers, the born artists! They craft, mold and prepare their bubbly but vulnerable daughters for this men’s world.

Sita was a society’s role model for every married girl on this part of the earth, an epitome of willingly accepting and sacrificing everything for the sake of husband, for the sake of upholding dignity of family, she was a personification of submission and calm.

At every crucial juncture of life, I thought of Sita.I thought how she will behave and act in a certain situation, I thought she was looking at me, judging me, always.

And I could connect well with Sita. For me she was not only a goddess, but also an absent friend, a missing sister. We both were abandoned daughters, having no real parents! She was born from earth and I from the fire. We were both raised as well as married in royal families.

But we were dissimilar in many ways . She was married to the one she loved whereas I had to marry five men, spending an year with five man turnwise, living five different lives.Her husband crossed seas to save her, my husbands didn’t move an inch to safeguard my honor. Her brother-in-law respected her & defended her, whereas my brothers-in-law were waiting for their turns to sleep with me. She would get worshipped as goddess & me ??? I had questions.

I still remember the day when Kunti got angry on me

It was the  day ,Yudhishtra had put me on stake in the game of dice & lost, I was crestfallen.I thought  it can’t happen to me ! I thought it was a bad dream. But the messenger from Duryodhana’s court was real. He had come to fetch me as I was now slave to Kuru kingdom.

I got angry, lost my control ,torn between abruptness of my fate  and hate for my eldest husband.

I had  shouted  back ,asking the messenger to get an answer from Yudhishtra ,” Whom did you lose first , me or yourself? I must have an answer to this question.If you had lost yourself first , you could had no right to put me on stake , hence…”

“Why you live by your own code? Why you always want to prove that you matter? “This was voice of  my mother-in-law ,Kunti.

 

“Please stop. You are being a wrong role-model for the daughters of every age. Chaste women don’t ask questions from their husbands.” she was addressing me in a derisive tone.

Wrong role –model? Me?

The one who abandoned her dreams to keep her mother-in-law’s word! The one who got married to her five sons so that they can remain united? The one who divided the heart in compartments to keep a room for  each of them! The one who spent thirteen years in exile with her children so that they can have freshly prepared food everyday,leaving my own children behind with my parents!

Strong and resentful I may had been, but never ran away from my duties.

Kunti’s words pierced my soul. Arjuna has broken my heart but Kunti had broken my life.

That night I could not sleep. I had cried,had pulled out the picture  and I stared at it for whole night-talking ,shouting ,questioning .

Then I noticed the blood , the drops of blood  spread all over the picture . Sita’s heart was bleeding! I could see that she could sense my struggles, my helplessness, and my sacrifices and the abuses I had to bear –all of this while trying to follow the path shown by her – accepting and sacrificing everything for the sake of husbands and families.

That was a very long day & a long night -I had dozed off with an assurance that I was not alone and there was someone who could understand my pain, Sita’s heart was bleeding for me.

I was woken up by Bhima next morning. I remembered what had happened in the night. I wanted to look at the picture again.

Mornings are so different than night. Sleep is like a drug, takes you away from daily miseries and anxieties.,you wake up being more rational.

The picture was wet, had few red wet patches. I think the wetness was due to my tears, tear-drops falling on Sita’s red saree, mixing with the infirm colors.

I felt  alone all alone,  no-one to share my feelings , no-one to console me , no-one there to cry with me –even my role-model in the picture. I had questions for myself, and few questions for  her too.

I didn’t want to leave this world with unanswered questions, didn’t want to leave the world with burdened soul.

We had crossed the Ganges, then the Himalayas and now we were in a completely barren land, a treeless plateau. Sunrays were gone like the children leave a noisy street at dusk. It was a moonless night in the bleak and cold December. Darkness had crept over the land.

I decided to stop, I didn’t want to go further.

I purposely fell.

“Look brother,she’s fallen!”Bhima had said.

”Why did she fall?’  Bhima was always like this –concerned ,innocent but a bit idiotic.After walking so many months, anyone can be overwhelmed by fatigue & can fall.

“Bhima, keep going. She fell because she loved Arjuna the most”,Yudhishtra answered without looking back.

I had fallen, but I had not toppled over dead. I was conscious. I could hear my first husband.I recognized the hurt and contempt in Yudhistra’s voice. Yudhishtra was not a man of many words, always kept his feelings with-in. He could find only one flaw in my life. Or it was his own wound. Type of wounds that never show on the body but they are more hurtful.

For a moment I was startled and I felt regret for him but that was only for a moment. I remembered Yudhishtra approving her mother’s command of me being married to five brothers –cutting my personality into five parts as a possession.

Did Yudhishtra ever thought about the pain I had experienced that day. I had killed my mind but can we control the heart? Actions can be made equal, but can we measure love! Could I measure my love & divide it in five equal parts –equal for each of five?

When I fell, I felt like hitting someone, someone that stopped my further descent. A giant body, supporting my not-so-straight spine. I could see a squirrel, gaping at me. Could hear the sound of some nervous birds like I had disturbed their sleep.

Oh it was a tree, a giant banyan tree. We had seen only few trees in this otherwise barren land. I had rolled over the slope .Birds had woken up by the thud sound of  collision -between me &  the banyan tree .

“Welcome back, Sita”

Sita? Who was this taking Sita’s name ? Was someone addressing  me as  Sita? Or someone has seen Sita ? It was centuries when Sita had taken final refuge in the arms of her mother, the earth.

I could not think more,my eyes slipped shut. I faded in and out of sleep for some time and then finally darkness took over me.

“Wake up,” it murmured.

I moved a bit, tried to open my eyes.

“Wake up, you are sleeping since last 24 hours” said a deep voice cutting through the layers of the darkness.

A speaking tree? I thought I was hallucinating!Was I dreaming? Or I was dead?

I was frightened for a second but then it was a pleasant change. I wanted to have some conversation,  I was restless ,no -one had not spoken a single word to me in last few days, wanted to speak to someone.

I felt happy. At least someone realizes that spoken words are important. The words that you want to say, if you don’t spell out, those will be left behind with you leaving a regret on your soul.

I wanted to reply back but didn’t know how to start. My lips were not moving, may be I was dead.

“You are a day early ,Sita.You always used to come a day after Amavas, after the moonless night,” tree spoke again. It was like an old man’s voice, calm but full of heavy breathes.

“You are mistaken, I’m not Sita. My name is Draupdi”, my lips had parted .

“Oh,Panchali !”

The tree knew me!

“I’m an old tree now .With poor vision. I was expecting Sita, she is the only one who visits me regularly” it said.

“My name is not Panchali, I hate this name. Please call me Draupdi”, I said angrily,sounding hurt.

“But Panchali is a beautiful name, daughter of the king of Panchal.That’s what you’re”,the tree tried to calm me down.

“I know that & I loved this name.But now it seems a slur to me. You know Panch in Panchali means five in the language of our lands.And when someone calls me Panchali,I feel that someone is making fun of me,by calling me as a women of five husbands”,I tried to explain.

“Well ,then I will call you Draupdi” it understood. “Do you have a name? I will be more comfortable in talking to someone with a name”, I had started enjoying the company of the tree.

“You can call me Plaska, Sita gave me this name”

“ Plaska ,the Peepal, vriksha rajaya namah ,salutation to the king of trees.”

“You know a lot about me”, I think Peepal smiled

“Oh all of us worship you .Even great Krishna admired you & Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under you”

“So let’s see what can we attain today?” Peepal said in a preacher’s voice.

“You have a good sense of humor,” I said laughing.

“Thank Deva, you laughed. I don’t trust anyone who can’t laugh”,Peepal was serious

“That way you will never trust Yudhishtra, he never laughs”, I was still at pains, thinking about how Yudhishtra treated others.

“You want some food”, Peepal had ignored my comment.

“I’m not hungry, but you should first tell me how you know about Sita?” it was my turn to ask.

“Yeah she comes here every night, a day after Amavas”.

“But why?” I was curious.

“There are two reasons “,Peepal whispered.

“Oh, secrets! Between you and her?” I was anxious, it sounded so bizarre.

“Secrets! You are so funny. Just like her”, it chuckled.

I was always stimulated by trees, big trees. How they stood alone, like lonely persons. Facing rains, droughts, winds –all alone. Whole of their life, they struggle for one thing only, to grow, to stand up for themselves. How I always wanted to be like them.

“So Sita comes here to meet you”, I didn’t want to diverge.

“Yeah, we are very old friends. When Rama was sent for 14 years of exile, we spent lot of time together. Whenever Rama & Lakshmana will go for hunting in deep parts of the forests, I was the only companion for her”

“But it is a barren land, only few trees around!” I was not able to believe this strange talk.

“Times have changed. We had a river here for the company, great river Sarswati”

“Oh,I’ve heard about that”

“We used to talk everyday. She is just like you-beautiful, earthly and simple” Peepal was getting nostalgic.

“But why she comes now? I thought she finally returned to earth, her mother”, this what I had heard.

“You’re right but she had promised to meet me now & then, we are close friends”

“What’s the other reason”, I didn’t want to believe Peepal. I was trying to find a hole in this weird tale.

“She comes here looking for you, Draupadi. She told me that you will come here one day”.

I was shocked. Sita was waiting for me? Under a banyan tree? In a far-off place?

It was not true, I’d landed in an alien word, I thought.

A talking banyan tree & an ever-waiting goddess- I wanted to run away!

“I know, you always carry her picture with you “, the tree knew about it.

‘Yes, I always imagine her standing along-with me.I always think that my life has been shaped by her “

“Shaped by her?” Peepal was intrigued.

“Yeah, I followed her .Took her as a role-model and took all important decisions considering what she would have done if she had similar choices. “It was true not only for me as well as for every woman of our era.

“Come on, how we can follow someone who is born in a different age, different times & with different circumstances?”I was not sure whether this was a question or Peepal was talking to itself.

“Are you happy with all of your decisions? All the decisions that you took keeping Sita in mind?” Peepal asked.

Are you happy, no-one had asked me this question since I got married.Peepal was asking a question that a father or a loving husband would ask time-to-time- but I had got neither. It was such an easy question to answer if I looked back at my life –I wondered.

“Oh you’re thinking. Tell me what you would you answer if your father asks you this question?”

I was woken up from my thoughts .Peepal could read my mind.

“ To my father , brother and husband, every married woman will always say yes. That’s what Sita will do. After marriage ,your pains are yours own, you are not supposed to speak to anyone.You should live for others, key to your happiness lies in the happiness of others.”

“Yeah , and there are so many toys for women to keep them happy?’

“Toys?’

“Lipsticks, nail-polishes, clothes, jewelry-these are the toys. A woman should look happiness in these and should not expect more” Peepal was sad

“Are you serious ?”

“No, I am just adding to what you said. Women happiness should lie in the happiness of others and for her own, there are materialistic things”

“But that’s how the society is. Woman are not supposed to follow their own heart.” It had cost me my life-time to learn this.

“Are you happy?” Peepal asked again.

“I had everything but I had nothing. I had five husbands but no-one gave me love. Everyone got married to other women too. I had five sons but never could be a mother. I went with Pandvas in exile when the children were small and Ashwathama killed them on the night of Pandvas victory. I got no honor as wife, no joy as mother. I was only left with status, a status of a queen, a status of a wife of great warriors.” I was stop-less or it was my anger!

“You sound hurt”!

“I was used by everyone. First by my foster father who gave me to Pandvas to secure an alliance with them against Drona to take revenge, then by my husbands as a woman to sleep-with, as a bait in the dice game. I was used by Kunti to keep her sons together by using me as a beauty –trap and even by my Sakha, my friend Krishna when he threw me as a temptation to Karna to win him over , suggesting him that as sixth brother of Pandvas ,he will have a right over me if he joins his other brothers.” My inner soul was down on her bended knee begging me to stop.

“Calm down, everyone has some fair share of woes in this life”

“No, not like me. Look at your friend and my role –model, Sita. She got the man she loved, her children ruled the world and now she is worshipped as goddess, a role-model for all women”.

“But she also had to go to exile for fourteen years, following her husband” Peepal was trying to reason with me.

“Exile !For Sita, it was continual honeymoon- away from three mother-in-law, away from crowd, away from everyday duties. The forest having a river, beaches and endearing animals – it was like living in a resort. She enjoyed the hospitality rishis given to a would-be-king and his wife. Compare it with my exile! Pandvas acted like kings even in the forests despite having limited means. Preparations for every day ceremonies and rites was my responsibility. Attending thousands of guests everyday. And above all leaving my children back with my father so that I could fulfill my patni-dharma,my duties as a wife.”

“She was abducted by Ravana, I think you’re forgetting that”

“Oh it was like a romantic drama –heroine being taken away by a villain, a villain who won’t even touch her.Then hero comes and defeats the villain –a life every girl yearns for. Rama was an ideal man, Ravana was an ideal villain for her and even the exile to the forest was an ideal place for honeymoon for a newly married couple”. I never had thought that somewhere in deep, inside me, there was so much against Sita. When your mind is disturbed, your heart can become sick.

“Hope you remember her husband deserted her when he became king” Peepal tried to highlight the hardships faced by Sita.

“Yeah, that’s why she became a role-model, a goddess. Take the life as it comes but follow your husband’s commands every time and be ready to sacrifice everything if time comes”.

Peepal kept quite for sometime.

“You mean to say that a woman should enjoy whatever she gets but she should blindly follow her husband and elders in the family even at the cost of her own desires”.

Peepal was wise ,his was everything we women were taught in those days, he had summarized it beautifully in a single sentence. The fate of a women is not in her own hands.

“Plaska, That’s the best a woman can do. Follow the role –models  and  society and leave rest to the fate” I tried to add.

“Ha ha, you believe in fate! I thought you’re a thinking lady “either Peepal was trying to be humorous or there was a pain in his voice , I wanted to find out.

“Yes, I believe in fate otherwise how I can explain my life to myself. I have put my efforts to be like Sita, sacrificed all of my major desires but still I remained heart-broken throughout my life.”

“So you believe in fate” Peepal was trying to re-confirm.

“Yeah, I …………” I could not complete my answer. There was a tap on my shoulder, I turned around.

There she was, Sita….more beautiful , more magical , more angelical than I’ve ever seen in pictures or temples. Warm, radiant and calm- ripples of a huge thrill spread inside my whole body.

“So you believe in fate ?” Sita said.It  was not a voice but a melody , a kind of melody  that one can’t explain in simple words but can   only be realized  when it’s in the air.

“Yes” I was mesmerized.

She had a box, a small box made of cedar wood. She opened it and it contained a game-board and dices made of brass.It was a dice-game. How I hated it ! It was the instrument of my ultimate humiliation. Why Sita had it with her? She was a goddess, she would have known it.

“I know, you don’t like it . You had your worst moments because of it but it can also give you the best lesson of your life” she handed over the dice to me.

“I understand it but I never played it “I had said, with lot of anxiety.

“Come on, it is a friendly game. There’re no stakes involved.” She said  lovingly- in a soothing and assuring voice

I was hesitant, my hands were trembling.

“Throw the dice, darling!”

I rolled it, I got the smallest number possible on the dice.

“Now make your move”

With little pieces in my hand, I was looking at the game-board, thinking about the best option I had with the number I had got on dice. I made my first move.

“Game is over,” Sita said and started collecting the pieces, packing them back in the box.

I was dumbfounded, a bit ashamed. I thought I had made a very idiotic move. And  Sita might have realized that there’s no fun in playing with a novice.

“I’m sorry.I told you that I never played this game,” I had said ,trying to be apologetic .

“Oh no, you’re an excellent player. Your move was an excellent one.” She was still packing.

“Why you’re packing?”I was curious.

“Darling, it was never about the game,it was about the lesson,”she had said.

“Lesson?”

“Yeah lesson about fate. Tell me what was in your control – number on the dice or movement of pieces on the board?’ Sita was looking into my eyes.

“The number on the dice came randomly but I made the move after lot of thinking”

“So in a dice game, moving the pieces is a players’ hands but no-one can control what number would be there when one rolls the dice.”

“Yeah”

“Think about it” she said inquiringly.

“You do not know how the dice will fall. But once they have, how you move the pieces is in your hands. We cannot choose the circumstances of our life, but we can make our choices” I realized the gravity of my own words while speaking those.

We knew this game but none realized the hidden message. Even during the game, we kept on blaming the fate for our own poor moves.

“The fate word was devised to keep people away from disappointments. It was never meant for passing the blame for our poor choices. Nothing in life happens spontaneously” it was really a different way of looking at fate.

“I really regret my past belief about fate. How I found an easy scapegoat”, I was thinking aloud.

“Never ever regret any of your past actions because what we choose in the past is based on the choices we had and the awareness we had at that point of time” Sita was so clear in her thoughts.

“Believing fate was one aspect but I followed you as a role-model, where I went wrong? “I was hoping to get the answers to my lingering questions.

“You should know that role models are only of limited use” there was a mysterious smile on Sita’s face.

“Women are asked to copy you, sacrificing your own choices in favor of family, husbands”, I was wondering what she will reply.

“What choices I made that were sacrifices?” Sita was asking me.

“Oh, you were newly married, you went to forest with Rama ,you could have stayed back !”

“There are many things that only a wife would know. Warriors are like coconuts, strong on outside but weak in heart,Rama was not different. He will cry, will get frustrated, will question his own existence many a times. He was my partner, I was his Shakti, the power. I could not leave my partner alone in his tough times.”

“You got ready for Agni-pariksha, twice” I had questions.

“How do you know about these?” Sita had a counter question.

“Oh, I heard it from several others, saw it in various dramas when I was a child”,in our time there were hardly few things in writing.

“Darling, this world what you see, the beliefs that you have ,the fears that you have , it is all a mix of facts and fictions .All the knowledge of the past  has been passed to humans in the form of a story. Every story-teller adds his own emotions, his own perceptions to the facts to make his stories more interesting”

“So you are saying there’s not much truth in the stories about our gods and goddesses?”

Whatever Sita spoke was a revelation for me. We were not supposed to question gods, we were not supposed to discuss or analyze the facts, that was our society.

“A human mind is configured in such a way that in certain moments when we are asked to challenge our long held perceptions, beliefs would win over the facts “

“Why a story-teller will add fiction to the facts?” I was not still ready to believe that something can be wrong with whatever I knew about our gods.

“Whatever stories we know is a fusion of 3 things –facts, story-teller’s background & his own perceptions & what a society wants to add and can accept at that point of time”

“But why a society would want to change the story of gods?” It was something new for me.

“Because every society wants to project role –models as per the values they want to spread” This time Peepal had spoken.

Sita was drawing few circles on ground, writing something in each of those.

“You can read?” She inquired.

“Yes, I can”, her question was not so uncommon in those days as only less than 1% people could read in those days- some members from brahmins and few from royal families. Education for girls was almost absent.That was other reason that most of the knowledge passed through generations by verbal words only, depending upon the teacher or story-tellers.

“So what you make out from these 3 circles?’ she asked.

“It is same as what Plaska said- every story has three elements. But I’m still wondering why society will like to add or delete something from someone’s story?”

“Different societies have different values at different times, those values need to be stitched in old stories. When these stories are told over and over again, they help in reinforcing those values”. Sita was pointing to circle numbered 3.

“Like  Ravana is shown with ten heads ,highlighting his ten vices  or how  they twisted  Sita’s story “,Peepal was also taking interest.

“What was  to your story?’ I asked Sita.

I was always doubtful about Ravana’s story ,a human having more than one head but never a question came to my mind about Sita.

“Like I was always submissive , never opposed or asked questions !”

“But it is true , you never revolted!’ this was what I knew.

“Who crossed Lakshman rekha, the line drawn by my brother –in-law”

“You crossed it, but it was a mistake. Ravna, the demon took you away because of that” This is what all of us believed.

“And you know the demon came in the disguise of a  hungry  sadhu,a saint , I just wanted to give him food”

“But of you would have restricted yourself behind the line drawn by Lakshman, you would have been safe”I was trying all my argument.

“Lakshman rekha  was a symbol of “line of control” men draw for women, women are expected to live with-in those boundaries. I crossed that to upkeep my own values i.e. to feed the hungry. But this part of my real life has been projected in the way you see it.”

It was a different view of the same matter ,I had missed it all along.

“And you know she took refuge in the arms of mother earth in the end?” it was Peepal who was asking

“Oh yes ,I can recall that , when Rama came to take her back ,Sita had refused” I was clear about that.

“Rama had mixed personal matters with those of his kingdom. He wanted to be best husband as well as the best king. He abandoned Sita for greater good. But  for Sita ,her family was everything, she had left her luxuries to go to forest to be with her partner, she had raised her kids alone ,in a forest. Not going back was a symbol of protest from her. She could have indeed became a queen but she refused to bow down to the diktats of society. She had loved Rama whole of her life but she refused to accept every wish of the man of her life” Peepal tried to explain.

“So you took a stand for your own values , against excesses, but why society would project you as submissive “ I was having a new respect for Sita.

“Darling, human society came on this planet as animals and slowly they evolved into humans.They are natural-born killers. Hunting for food was primary job of early humans.The built of men was more suited for a predator role, hence men became dominant among two genders. Times changed but men were not ready to lose their dominant position.”

“Oh , so it became a power-struggle. Men only highlighted that  part of your life where you could be projected as  submissive and whenever you took your own stands, those parts have been pushed into background”, I was understanding the circle number three more clearly now.

“And remember women were not allowed to study, all story-tellers were men”, Peepal’s point made everything very clear.

“So I made a mistake by following you as a role-model. ”, I was wondering about my own stupid beliefs.

“Darling ,I was not your a role-model, your role-model was a Sita as projected by story-tellers &  society of your times” Sita was smiling

“So I should have said no to Kunti, should have protested when my husbands planned to marry other women”

“ Yup, like the way Sita refused  to join back Rama at the end or when she  decided to cross the boundary drawn by Lakshmna when she felt it was stopping her to uphold her own principles.  When a girl is born, society draws lines around her entire body and then there’s a manual of dos & don’ts. Old power-struggles will continue in all ages as these are ingrained in the DNA of humans. I am and will be the witness to it” Peepal was getting prophetic.

This was a moment of realization! A moment when I had realized that whole of my life was full of hardships and troubles because I follow a wrong role –model without applying my own mind. I had only seen what others wanted me to see.

I had lost Arjuna ,the man I loved, I lost my sons, I lost my face as I didn’t take a stand.I was wondering how my story will be told in the ages to come- Draupdi an idiot ,who held her beliefs without application of her own brain, a blind despite having eyes. Permanent markers handed over to wrong hands!

I started crying. A cry of mixed emotions –a sense of relief and regret on my stupidities. There will be a story , a story of Panchali , a story of a girl who foolishly got trapped in story-tellers web , who sacrificed her own soul at the altar of society .I guessed it was going to break me down. I could feel the tears brimming in me like water in a glass that is too full and is unstable.”

But I wanted a shoulder, a shoulder to share my grief, my inner screams, my pains, my follies. I wanted a shoulder to rest my head.

I stepped towards Sita, she smiled. It seems she understood!

She extended her hand, I tried to touch her. But there was nothing….it was like an empty space, like vapors, like clouds. She was there but not there, but I could see her so clearly –ever beautiful, ever divine, forever smiling.

“I am a soul, you are the body. I’m you ,you’re me “it was her sweet voice.

“It’s time to tell the truth, the time for climax?’ Peepal chuckled, at its humorous best, I could not help smiling , a smile on the and tears in the eyes, that’s what every girl wants at the end.

“Darling, it is me in you who came on the earth, let’s go back to a place where there’s no living in the past and there’s no worrying about the future” , Sita kept here absent hand on my shoulder.

These were moments of disbelief, moments of magic – the moments when your brain does not to believe your eyes.

“I know you won’t believe it, people will say that these things don’t happen. But right now, this is happening. These moments are not stories. I am here, and I am looking at you”.

“But what about the mistakes I made? If I am a goddess like you, how I could not understand the design?’ to build trust,one needs evidence.

“You are a goddess, I am a goddess  .We visit this earth on regular intervals to establish right role-models, to set the things right .We don’t want leave things to chance.’

“Me –a role –model? For what ? For whom?” I was wondering whether anyone will like to like me!

“ Draupadi was sent to be a role-model  as a lesson for those who blindly follow Sita, a Sita that is not real, a Sita whose real story is buried somewhere in the layers of that saree on those statues in the temples” Peepal was a real story-teller.

“Come in me , come with me , let’s wait about the next age, let’s wait for the next time when world needs us , we will come back, Sita will come back,Draupdi will come back with new lessons , new role-models “

“What about Plaska ? “ I wanted it to be with us ,with me, Peepal- the tree of enlightenment .

“I will stay back. There are many more who need my help .”Plaska was sad but firm.

“Yes , Pilaska will keep enlightening those people who take seven rounds of it, who tie a red thread to it”Sita said , there were blessings in her eyes for it.

“But I’ve been doing it since I was a child, I saw many others doing it but none of us got enlightened like me or Buddha!” again the question was from me , my last question.

“That’s another story,” Plaska said, smilingly.

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