What do you call the love that is unfading, imperishable…the love that never dies…and stands tall even in the face of adversity…? Being in love is never easy, and when your mind is filled with questions and doubts about the one you love, keeping the trust intact is even more difficult. But some love transcends all situations and emerges victorious, and that is the immarcescible love this tale is all about.
Bhanumathi had been restless all evening. She had not slept a wink yesterday; her mind had been as turbulent as the ocean on a full moon night. Duryodhana had not visited her the night before, not that she had expected him to. She did not doubt her husband or his motives for one moment, but she needed answers. Answers, that would relieve of her discomfiture and assure her of his love.
There were sounds of footsteps and the maids hurriedly announced the arrival of Duryodhana before they left the couple alone. Bhanumati got up to greet her husband, and he immediately noticed that she was not her usual self.
“Bhanu, my love, you don’t look well today. What is troubling you?”
“Swami…,”she hesitated. What would she say? Wouldn’t her husband think she didn’t trust him enough? She lowered her gaze and turned away from him lest he see her lips quiver.
“Bhanu,” he said turning her face towards him, “Ask.”
“Swami, why did you order her to sit on your thigh? Why did you order her to be disrobed? Did you lust for Draupadi?” She stared at her feet, unable to look at him in the eye. She expected him to thunder in anger like he had done the evening before. Her body shook with trepidation and tears began rolling down her eyes.
“Bhanu, my sweet, innocent wife,” he said stroking her delicate cheeks and wiping away her tears, “I am a Kuru Prince. We have colossal egos, the size of mountains and inherent arrogance rooted deep inside us. Our egos and arrogance supersede everything. When someone angers and insults us, they incite the demon inside us, which is what she did when she mocked me thus, “A blind man’s son will be blind forever.” I became an incensed, egoistic man, I was the devil incarnate, and devils do not have a sense of right or wrong.” And then he looked at her lovingly, pulling her closer to him and embracing her in his warmth. "I never did lust for her. I just wanted to teach her a lesson."
The love they shared was beyond these questions. In a way, he was happy she had chosen to ask. If she had chosen to be quiet, she would have nurtured doubts in her mind and the love between them would be gone.
Bhanumati looked into his eyes for the first time since last evening. She saw a sincere lover, a loyal, trusting husband, who had valued her much more than any man had ever valued his wife, she saw a faithful friend, who did not think twice before breaking hackneyed traditions, she saw a doting father, who loved his children to bits. People might see him as a roaring, scheming arrogant villain, but to her he was the person she loved the most in this world.
As they sat in silence, Duryodhana held her hands and looked at her celestially beautiful eyes. Even though she seemed satisfied with his answer, she still looked like she had something more to ask. He waited for her to break the silence.
“Swami…would you have put me at stake?” she asked him, earnestly.
“You are my wife, the one who shares my life, and you could never become an article to be possessed. You are a symbol of my honor, my strength, the mother of my children…you are the reason I stand with my head held high. You complete me, my love, and you are too precious to be dishonored thus. I would never have put you at stake like that, not even if Dharma deemed it right.”
She looked at him with pride in her eyes.
“Bheem promised to kill us for dishonoring Draupadi, but had someone spoken thus about you, I would have torn him to pieces and fed them to the lions, right there,” he said holding her in his protective embrace.
As she lay contentedly in his arms, her heart was full of love for this man who respected and loved her so much. The turbulence in her mind had ceased. Her mind was now calm. The world might hate him for what he had done in a fit of devilish rage, but to her, he was a symbol of immarcescible love.
This tale is not to glorify Duryodhana. It is to talk about the love and respect he had for his wife, irrespective of what he was to the world. She trusted him too and when doubts threatened to destroy her peace, she chose to speak to him rather than keep her thoughts to herself. Communication is such an essential part of a relationship, and when people communicate it keeps their love imperishable.
This day....last year...I for Innocence