The Epics

"To be Indian, or to simply live in India at any period in her recorded history, is to open oneself to the benign moral influence of two epics - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Caste, creed, colour do not matter here; what matters is the degree, range and subtlety of exposure, which in turn determines the quality of the affected person's 'Indianness', whatever that very large word means" - Professor Purushottam Lal

Oct 6, 2012

Vyasa's memoirs - An author's revenge

There she approached, her eyes wide with the eagerness of the first rushes of youth. The svelte waist moved in wondrous arcs with each step, every oscillation eloquently speaking of the blooming womanhood that peeped from underneath her girlish charms.

I was under the jacaranda tree, having put on my best tiger-skin and slapped generous portions of sandalwood on my arm-pits. The matted hair had been greased with oil, and I assumed I looked pretty nifty.
And as she turned on her way to the recreation gardens, I stepped forward – trying to make it seem like a casual coincidence.  She had passed me so often in the past without being even aware of my existence. I made sure she would see me this time – see the desire in my eyes, and the hint in my smile, as long as her eyes did not wander too far south towards that tell-tale region of the tiger-skin.

I flashed my most debonair smile, the secret longing revealed in a blinding dazzle ...
Blinding - what irony!

Was I too abrupt? She shrunk like a delicate touch-me-not who had been all but manhandled and closed her eyes tight shut. I stood there, my tender, juvenile heart shattered, feeling myself go down in ways more than one. She had stopped walking and kept her eyes resolutely shut.  Was I that ghastly? Was my complexion so dark that a slip of a girl would refuse to even look at me when I all but offered my heart to her?

I felt like grabbing her by the shoulders and forcing myself on her, then and there ... I, a sage in the making, a leading intellectual ... I know I am no kshatriya prince when it comes to looks, but am I so disgusting?
I could stand it no more.  I ran ... and I ran ... till the tears of the boy mingled with the heartbreak at the doorstep of manhood and I myself could see no more. I plunged into the river, washing away the ostentations of fancy – the sandalwood paste from my body and the fragrant oil from the hair.

Now, after all these years, when I think of her – and her beautiful sister who used to shudder and turn deathly pale every time she looked at me – I laugh, soaking in the delights of revenge.

One cannot mess with the author of a timeless best seller, can one?

I imagine the two of them, reading the epic over and over again, recognising themselves in the poem – as they come to life in my imagination. Where I have romped about with them on the floor, impregnated them, made my seeds live on in each – while out of age old habit they had trembled, shut their eyes and turned pale.

I can see them, helpless, the book falling from their shaking hands – as they are scandalised at the poetic justice that has been wrought.  As I force myself on them, into them, over and over – generation after generation – in the guise of a favour to their households, to be read and remembered by millions forever.

Wonder what their reactions were when they took up the epic written by the very adolescent rishi-boy they had rejected as nubile young females. I bet they turned pale and shut their eyes in horror.

1 comment:

  1. Arunabhada, this is really cool. Never thought of Vyas this way. In my mind, Vyas has been sort of like Hitchcock who gives a cameo appearance in his own bestseller :)