Just as I woke up with my eyes wide open,
You stood in front of my eyes!
No, imagination is not always deceptive, Saryu’s dream didn’t lie, and her hope didn’t swindle!
Even this summer evening Saryu is seen plucking flowers in the same garden, lost in thought as usual. She looks quiet and pleasant as before, her face calm and composed. Yet little change in her appearance is noticeable. Dream makes her eyes sparkle. Her movement shows pretty well how the transformation inside prepared her to live with her new fantasy as she stepped into her youth.
Suddenly, the silhouette of a young Rajput warrior getting down from his horse at the gate makes the girl quiver in excitement. Also the Rajput warrior spots her – the exquisite beauty and the blushed face keeps Raghupati mystified for few moments.
When the first love enchants human heart with all its charms, the torrents of elation overflow the mind like moonlight, and when the first love of the youth surges splashing its colour on entire earth and the sky alike, a heavenly abode is created in this world. This couple’s fanciful abode is already created. Within moments Saryu bows her head in embarrassment – hurriedly enters home to inform her father about the arrival of the guest.
This time Raghupati reveals lot about himself – his homeland, origin of his family and parents while talking to the priest in the evening. The impressed priest embraces the soldier. He is happy to learn about the young man. He has heard about the reputed warrior clan of the young man, knows stories of courage and generosity of his forefathers. Glad seeing the descendant of that family had taken up forefather’s profession, he declares, “I adopted Saryu as my daughter; I am accepting you as my son today. With the Grace of God, if I can get Saryu married to your kind of a suitable groom, I will be able to die in peace. May God bless you both.” Saryu hears all from the next room. Her tender body shivers with nervousness as if a leaf struck by wind.
Raghupati came to escort Janardandev and his daughter from Toran to Rajgad by Shivaji’s order. Making arrangement for the long travel takes almost a week. His stay in the priest’s home in the meantime brings him the delight of watching Saryu plucking flowers every day. His heart beats faster whenever he sees her. He feels too nervous to talk to her these days. Even during the journey, the emotion from the bottom of his heart does not remain hidden from her eyes. Raghupati the cavalier accompanies her palanquin. Be in the rocky mountain path, or in the forest, in the barren fields or by the rivers, the sleepless warrior guards her. Every woman understands a man’s care, his eagerness. The presence of the man makes her eyes glitter. Unhidden passion in his eyes bewitches her.
After a few days, they reach a village in the evening. The fort of Rajgad is built on the hilltop adjacent to this village. Janardandev sends message of their arrival to the Maratha king asking for permission to enter the fort next day. After dinner, the warrior tries to talk to her hesitantly, “Allow me to leave, my lady!” The words fall in her ears like much awaited raindrops in the desert. Her drenched heart starts dancing. He repeats, “I shall depart now. Tomorrow you will enter the palace. I will have to join my duty.”
Finally the lady finds the strength to talk. “You have taken good care of us. You always kept a strict vigil so that I and my father arrive here safe. God should help you win the battle and fulfil your dreams. How else but praying to God can we express our gratitude?”
Raghupati remains as polite as ever, “I am fortunate – I could ensure your safe journey to the fort as ordered by the king. I cannot claim credit for this. Still, if you are satisfied with the service of this soldier, please don’t forget me.”
Saryu understands the meaning hidden in these words. She bows her head. The soldier gathers courage to tell, “Pardon my desire. Your father is affectionate to me. Hope you too aren’t disappointed with me. If God supports me, if I am able to fulfil my ambition in life, I will come back to tell you the words of my heart. Please remember me till then.”
He leaves. Saryu keeps on looking at the road through which he rode. In the middle of the night, the sleepless lady prays to God with a deep sigh, “God, please be the witness. Help my warrior. Let him reside in the heart of this poor girl forever.”
Photo: Wikimedia commons