Being the son of the King of the Devas has its perks, even if one is born out of wedlock.
I mean, not only are you trained in the use of the deadliest weapons, including the dreaded thunder – you are also treated to a banquet with a feast fit for gods.
Dad even allowed me to sit on the throne in the evening while celestial music played and somrasa flowed. If I had any reservations about the hard-work required to get to heaven, I witnessed the flash of divine light. As the spirits rose and things became heady, food appeared in ambrosial splendour – and the fare included the best aphrodisiacs, the viand tailored to the vine.
When the pleasures of the palate had taken ecstasy to ethereal levels, the thoughts of my four brothers walking the forests kind of flitted by. Bheema, the stud, would have loved the feast. Nakula and Sahadeva would have enjoyed the attention. And Yudhisthira? Well, he would have created the impression of not caring the least, but there would be an inner glow if he sat on the throne with Draupadi.
I banished the thoughts – after all, these were the fruits of labour, of preparing for war. However, I need not have bothered to struggle against my conscience. Soon, my brothers were as far from my mind as possible. For there had appeared the heavenly bodies. One by one, they came in, with movements of luscious rhythm and grace, platonic levels of sensual perfection.
I had heard of their beauty, the fire of desire that they worked up, the greatest feats they managed with the slightest movements of the arched eyebrows. But even all the legends had not prepared me for the absolute bliss. It was as if a secret door of paradise had been opened exclusively for my manhood, where it was stroked, pampered and cultured.
Rambha, Tilottama, Menaka, each a fountain of desire waiting for parched thirsty lips of the enchanted to gulp down their nectar of delight. And outshining all of them was Urvashi – the charmer nonpareil. The sparks of attraction reached me through aggressive ripples that seemed to have lives of their own. I gaped at her, perhaps my mouth hung open. The somrasa had done its bit, and as she twisted and turned in step to the heavenly music that played from the band of Chitrasena, I leaned back and was fully smitten.
Through the corner of my eye I saw Dad looking at me with amused eyes and I hastened to concentrate on the food and wine. After all, my ancestor Pururavas had had some sort of a fling with the magnificent lady in front of me, and with all the gods watching, I could hardly afford to demonstrate my lust.
However, with time, music and wine, the gyrating heavenly hips, and the heaving beatific bosom, my little general was no longer under my command. He was threatening to put on a massive demonstration on his own. It was one of those rare moments when I envied Karna for his Kavach and Kundala. Forget wars, they are so very essential for such circumstances. I could bear it no longer and excused myself from the festivities, quickly stumbling to my sublime bedchamber.
Seeing the way things stood I took matters in my own hands. Five times in fact, once each for Rambha, Tilottama, Menaka and twice – oh, dear god – for Urvashi.
At last the fire in my loins was doused – with the most liberal flow, egged on by the consumed amounts of somrasa, saffron, shilajit, watermelon juice and artichokes. The throbbing had subsided and the little man was at last lying quietly when there was a soft knock on the door.
I wrapped my waistcloth around me, made sure my hands were wiped clean and opened the door. And then I started violently.
There she stood, the epitome of human and divine desire – the nymph from whose every posture poured liquid eros. Urvashi waited like a spectacular pitcher full of sex appeal sloshing about, with currents and undercurrents that swept men off their feet and carried them to the gorgeous depths, to the point of no return.
“Shall we?” she did not say it, but passed the message in a series of eye signals that made every hair on my body stand on its end. She was there for taking, for having, for ravishing – and the fool that I was, I had spent myself five-fold.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” was all I could manage.
She laughed in a silvery chime that could easily have been a ray of moonlight reflecting off a celestial pool.
“Shy, are we?”
“Yes, yes, I know ... very chivalrous and all that ... but your dear dad saw you ogling me and sent me over. Now isn’t that sweet? Parental Guidance at its best.”
I tripped over the loose end of my waist-cloth.
“Er ... ma’am.”
She passed me and walked in.
“The King of gods does treat his son well, I must say,” she said looking around. “You can cut out the ma’am business, now. In fact I am curious to see the great warrior’s most potent weapon. Pierce me with it.”
I grimaced and groaned, my hand painfully patting the flaccid fellow who slept all worn out.
“You know, there are whole cities that know you by your loins,” she continued.
Well, many many years later, these very words would be transliterated to create a memorable villainous dialogue. But, at that moment, I was on the verge of kicking myself.
Since desire of manhood would not rise, a sham of manly dignity had to be used to cover it up.
“I’m sorry ma’am, there is no way for this to happen.”
She started like a shell shocked siren. The many, many layers of her charms seemed to be peeled away, and the raging slighted woman stood bare in front of me.
“I beg your pardon, young man?”
She had glanced down, perhaps wondering if I was a man of flesh and blood and I quickly covered up the inert area.
“This is not meant to be. You are beautiful and all that ... but ...”
“But what? Have you had too much to drink?”
“I mean you were involved with Pururavas.”
“He is my ancestor. You ... you are kind of like my mother.”
She stood there, looking aghast.
“Well, was that it? I reminded you of your mother? Were you reminded of suckling your milk as well? Was that why you were gazing steadfastly at my breasts.”
I mumbled ... “Er ... not quite ...”
“Listen here, you upstart. I have felt enough gazes on my bosom to know what’s what ...”
“But, ma’am you are really like my mother ...”
“Pretend that you are Greek. Oedipus complex and all that...”
“Er ma’am – I don't know what you are talking about."
"That Krishna doesn't tell you anything of importance, does he?"
"But, say, how would you like to have people calling me mother-f***er?”
Her gaze burned through my vital organs.
“If you were so conscious of what people called you, you wouldn’t be carrying that great bow of yours called Gandiva. You want me to give it a shortened nickname?”
“But, look here ...”
“Have you been spending too much time with Krishna? Or Chitrasena? Gay as a picnic basket when I, Urvashi, come and offer myself to you on a heavenly salver?”
“Now, really ma’am ...”
“Don’t enjoy making love, do you? Let me make it easy for you. From now on you will be an eunuch ... wait a minute, shouldn’t it be ‘a eunuch’? These are always confusing. Anyway. Whatever it is, you don’t need to bother, for your precious article is not going to work any way.”
“Er ... ma’am, are you cursing me?”
“You bet your cute unfelt ass I am. And I will give you a piece of advice, kind of a freebie gift to go with it. Forget the arms and weaponry of Yama, Shiva and your precious dad, who has no idea he has fathered a disabled son. Spend time with Chitrasena. Pick up the finer points of music and dancing. As an eunuch, it will serve you well.”
“But, I say, dash it ...”
“Don’t provoke me any further, you ... you ...If you were man enough to disrobe, I would dash it for you myself.”
She turned and walked out, haughty and hyper – and even as she went away my eyes would not leave her wondrous behind.
It took a couple of moments for the enormity to strike me between the eyes. The heaven reeled before me. If she had really cursed me ...
The Morning After
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” dad said with feeling . “And I dare say neither has heaven.”
“I wouldn’t try this on earth either,” I agreed.
Dad nodded. “If you get a chance, that is ...”
I looked at him as Chitrasena patted me on the arm. “Do you think the curse is binding?”
Dad shrugged. “She has inscribed it in the divine database, so the curse is there to stay ... but ...”
I looked at him eagerly, eyes forlorn with hope. “But?”
“The valid duration has to be set by EOD tonight. I guess she has set it for lifetime by default, but if we can get her to soften ...”
I winced. “Dad, could we use some other word?”
“Well, we will try to get her to customise it and shorten ...”
“Okay ... I will stop talking. Chitra, come let’s go ...”
Chitrasena spoke now, “I will hitch up a plan with His Highness, but it won’t hurt you to workout with me from now on. You know, the curse will stay for some time and the better your music skills are the more you can deal with it. Unless of course you want to prey on the families with newborns ...”
I shuddered, and they left me ....
Soon, the celestial band echoed from a far corner of heaven. Chitrasena was at his innovative best with composition and my dad’s voice came through ...
“If there’s no freedom, what use then my kingdom ?
To reduce the sentence, is to win it dear
... Let him please enjoy, his youth without fear.”
In other words ... the song which was modified in this manner thousands of years later...
“Agar Azaadi na ho to, Swarg Milane se hoga kya?
– Jeet ka, mantra hai, Take It easy policy.
Chaar din ki chandni, yeh jawani fantasy ...
Urvashi, urvashi take it easy Urvashi ...”
Hideous as it might have sounded to my sensitive soul at that time, it worked. By the proverbial End of Day, Chitrasena came in with the glad announcement that Urvashi had set the period to one year.
“Works rather well for your incognito exile ...,” was my dad’s advice that was borne along by the Gandharva.
Dad had not been able to deliver the news in person. He was busy assuaging the ego of his greatest apsara, convincing her that she still had it, by filling her calendar with new sages to seduce.