‘It’s you, oh Lord,” pouting her lips
In disparage and contempt
Says Ahalya to an astonished God
Who was out there in his own exile.
‘It was not you whom I waited
All these years for the redeeming touch.
Why couldn’t he come, the one
With his mighty word and sword?
Benevolent as he is always asks the Lord
Why the redemption of stone did not amuse her;
The deliverance, a thing to cherish and nourish?
He probes with his bow like eye brows.
Thus speaks Ahalya her story
Of Eternal love and desire that had appeared
As carnal pleasures and lusty sin
In the eyes of those who did not care a bit.
The forest was glorious
In the spring’s caress
Blushing like a bride
The trees brought forth
Flowers on their branches.
Evening, filled with the
Songs of birds and spirits,
A mild sun painting sky with
Differing hues of orange and red
Filled unfulfilled desires in her.
The great sage had gone to the ghat
To do his evening ablutions and prayers
As a good wife it was her duty to stay
Within the hut and recited mantras
For the benefit of the worlds and unsure gods.
Within the closed eyes and quivering lips
Praises of gods and the eternal spirit
She saw the paths of serenity
And in the midst she saw under the
Canopy of desire, her man standing and waiting.
(Painting by Shibu Natesan)
He is always there, thought she
Shaking off her fears and doubts
And the duties of a sage’s wife
Cannot wander like a fox in the bushes,
She knew that for sure but how could
She help herself when love defeated
All proprieties of a devoted wife?
She has been pushing his form away
From her mind and soul for long
Failing day in and out, it was just duty
That took her all along with the one
Who had vaulted her life in sagacious virtues.
Each time he appeared as if from nowhere;
She knew he came through clouds
Through the eyes of peacock feathers
In the wind that blew from the hills
By the song that river sang to her
Behind the bowers and at the top of the trees
From the tip of a dream that stayed
He came each time to her
With passion filled eyes and an enigmatic smile.
Were those intrigues enough
Those bodily pulls strong
To capture a woman who had spent
Eons with a sage who breached no trust
But never loved the way the one could have loved?
She asked herself several times.
Scriptures that she recited
Reiterated wifely duties,
Day in and day out she should be the faithful
Following like a shadow of her husband
In words, deeds and the killing of desires.
(Painting by Shibu Natesan)
She had slept on the cold floor
She had sat in the middle of five fires
She had lied on the thorny bed
She had spent days without food
She had repeated the words
That her husband told her
She had sounded his thoughts
To the trees, streams and unsuspecting fauns.
Not even once the man asked
Whether she wanted anything
More than the prayers and wisdom.
He left her all alone for days end
When he went to give light
To the kings who were waging
Hopeless wars for women and gold.
She remained true and faithful
And each time the desirable one appeared
She averted her eyes to the vast lands of
Dried off dreams lay within her mind.
(Painting by A.Ramachandran)
In the form of the sage he came on that day,
Say the lore and histories written
And sung by those who want it to be,
So that they could protect the fame of a sage
Who was mired in his anger and impotency.
He had not come in the form my husband,
Weak, angry and complaining for
Gods abandoning him always but
Adamant in pleasing them by his
Eternal penances and recitals.
He had come in his own form,
So beautiful, alluring and desirable
Stood he there at the door step
Without violating even an inch
That the domestic sanctity had drawn.
He was so gorgeous to look at
And his eyes held the pain of abandoning.
His lips complained and uttered the loving
Words against me for keeping him long.
I was dumbstruck and numb
Could not say that I was duty bound
If I loved him back the heavens would break
And the world would fall apart in war and pestilence.
They say if a sage’s woman desires a man
Whom she loves and craves for union
The world would stop and kingdoms would fall,
On this lie they had made empires
And made special jails for women in gold and silver
They still remain like caged birds
That have forgotten the songs of love.
(Painting by A.Ramachandran)
He held my hands and thousand
Forests bloomed at once
Eagles flew all over the sky
Spreading their shadows below
As if they were the blessing hands of gods
And all those women suffered for their vows.
Along the spring we walked
In silence but hand in hand
I knew the throbbing of his veins
And the blood that carried his pains.
We looked at the sky that I had been seeing
For ages with an angry sage
But it looked so different and beautiful
I thought it was a new sky.
We walked in the unknown forest paths
Laden with flowers, grass and moss
Animals looked at us in wonder
Some of them started playing yonder.
Butterflies followed us everywhere
While we shared our stories there.
We did not indulge in carnal pleasures.
But he, like a peacock of thousand eyes
Looked at me as if I were the first woman
Who he was looking at for the first time.
He looked at me as if I was first time being looked at
And I felt so happy.
His touch sent me to the heavens that had not been
Mentioned in the scriptures that I was reading all around.
He took me to the visions that no god had promised
He took me to the beauties that no poet had written.
When he kissed me for the first time
I shivered like a flame under a breeze
When he held me close to his chests
I became a wild fire under a storm.
Words that had never existed or I thought so
Rolled out of my tongue that was touching his
Scriptures and sagacious words disappeared
As if they were ghosts shying away while day break.
(Painting by A.Ramachandran)
We were like two souls walking along
A river of dreams and desires
We were like two story tellers telling
Stories that remained untold for long.
We were like two eagles in the sky
Scaling heights and playing our might.
We became two children caught by
An innocent Game that they had just discovered.
We sang songs that never existed
And on my nape he exhaled a tune of love.
Along my back his fingers flew
Writing a pact that never broke.
Writhing in happiness like a swan
That about to take off from its watery abode,
I held onto him as if he was the air that I breathed.
Time I did not know existed, space
Was nothing but him who filled all.
Each pore in me thrived in ecstasy
And it was not just for an evening’s
Pleasure, but a pact eternal sealed by lips.
Oh Lord, you may call it carnal pleasure
Unbridled desires of a wanton woman
History would worship me for my patience
That made me to wait for your touch, they say.
Call it anything, desire or bodily pleasures
Love or pact or anything that you like.
But it was my deed conscious and aware
I knew that I was willing to surrender.
It was not his cunning tactics
It was not his arrogant attitude
It was not his salacious words
It was not his darting eyes
That sent more than one message at a time
It was my love and my longing
And my conscious decision to be with him
That led me to his arms and I am so happy
That I did though I paid for it being a stone.
(Painting by A.Ramachandran)
He came in and he saw us
I don’t remember it was a bad scene
He might not have even imagined
That his sagacious wife could be
So abandoned and happy in the
Hands of a man who shone like Indra.
He became aware of his shortcomings
In that moment of confrontation
People say ‘we were caught in a
Compromised position, what a fun’.
We were not in a compromising position
But I had taken a decision on my life
It was my deed and my word and I was
Fully aware of the love that I made.
The confrontation for him was
Like the striking of vajra, that he could not stand.
He looked at my beloved
With his raging eyes.
I could see his impotent rage
Not for his wife went loose
But for he could not dam that river
That he did not know flowed in her.
He thundered like a wounded animal
Threw curses at my beloved, who
Stood almost unchallenged and daring.
I will take her along with me
For I will adore her as my wife
I will never come to your vicinity
And will never hurt your sanity.
He was polite, but not desperate,
For a moment I thought that
Two men were making a bargain on me.
I hated them both at once but then recovered
As I could not hate my man, my love
Who then was standing the rage of a sage.
“Be a sahasra yoni”, a man of thousand vaginas
Cursed my legal husband of sagacity
And my man, my beloved and my only love
Turned into a man with yonis all over his body.
They say he was filled with shame,
But I would say he should have been filled with pride
For it was my yoni imprinted on him
As a seal of love and my devotion for him.
Why should he be shameful?
How could that piece of my body
Which is craved by each man on the earth
And fight wars to possess it,
Violate it whenever they get a chance
Burn it ruthlessly for dowry
Lech at it at dreams and literature,
Be a shameful one; shouldn’t it be a thing of pride
Worn by a man who won it by labour.
But for the world, something of power
Of a woman in love is a dangerous thing.
One should curse someone with the
Most fearful thing so that they could
Secretly enjoy it and put the other in shame.
What a shame, oh Lord.
But what a beautiful day it was, oh Lord.
My man went into exile
I don’t have a clue where he has gone.
Perhaps, in future the stories and histories
Would say that he was rescued by other gods.
Aren’t they too males, Oh Lord, like you
That they want their man back and manhood restored
For the peace and permanency of the world, Oh Lord.
But I heard the sage cursing me:
“Be a stone, an unfeeling rock
Lie their abandoned like a bad memory
And wait for your deliverance
When in Tetra Yuga, the Lord of Lords
Come in your way, still not knowing his destiny.”
And with a smile I took the curse.
I grew into a stone and I remember
The last thing I saw then was
The beautiful face of my man, my beloved
With a reassuring smile in his eyes;
My eyes turned into two pieces of granite.
(Take me Where I Belong- a painting by Shibu Natesan)
Is it like that, oh Lord, in your Land
You turn your women into stone
If they exercise their free will
And stand up for their rights?
Asks Ahalya, her eyes still wandering for her beloved.
The Lord, shocked by the severe utterance
Of the woman who had just come out of the stone
Looked at her with a sense of reverence.
In a flash, history came before his mind
And he knew that it was Ahalya and
Releasing her from the spell of curse
Was his duty which he now performed.
Gods know what they should say
When they redeem the cursed ones
From their dormancy and bring them into life
But here he remained silent
Not knowing what to tell this woman
Who had spent a stone’s life
Just for a glimpse of her lover.
“Curse me back to stone, oh Lord,” says she
For she wants to be with her man
Or she prefers a granite life to the one
She has just got as a boon.
Bewildered Lord looks around,
Lakshman averts his eyes,
Sages with them hang their head in shame
For now their tribe is brought to trial.
Trees look at Ahalya in anticipation
Birds stop chirping,
Grass hangs from the mouth of deer
A drop of tear stays frozen at her right eye.
Then she looks around, calls out his name
With his name echoing from the innards of forest
She walks into it, into the darkness of the unknown
A furrow appears deep down there
Drenched in light and fragrance.
Ahalya walks into it and into a new world.
And today she is everywhere
In every household, every library
Every street, every office, every studio
Every work place and make up rooms
Disparaging the touches of a benevolent lord
A sagacious husband who leaves her dry
She is eternally looking for a world
That does not turn her into a stone
Exercising her free will and desire.