I boarded the train from Delhi to go to Himalayas. I entered my coupe in First Ac, apprehensive about my co passenger. After all though have had several experiences of travelling alone willingly or otherwise yet each time the apprehensions were always there just below the surface waiting to break in.
The coupe was empty. It was nearing time for the train to depart and hence the other passenger should be arriving sometime soon. I purchased a copy of my favorite Women’s Magazine and settled down near the Window. After about couple of minutes another woman entered the coupe. She looked very different from the so called “conventional woman”. Tall, Stately and carrying herself with a Gait that would border on Arrogance. Yet her manners were impeccable. She did wish me “A Good Evening” as she was entering the coupe. Her thick long hairs could be envy of any woman. Like me even she was travelling light. It was good though a bit apprehensive to have such a companion in the train.
She began the conversation asking me if I travelled alone frequently. Well I said both Yes and No. I have travelled alone on a few occasions, yet never out of choice. She looked at me deeply as though measuring me for my words and said well we women have to bear with all sort of travails. Then she asked me where my spouse was. This was the moment I was afraid of. How could I tell her that I had been humiliated by my spouse grossly. Thence I had left him and chosen to walk away.
There was no way I could lie. So I merely ignored the question, to be answered maybe at an opportune moment i.e., once I knew this person better. It was a sufficiently long journey to familiarize with each other. I asked her where she was going. She just coolly said the final abode. And she was travelling alone as she had supposedly sinned. Now I knew her from periodicals that she was Draupadi.Panchali the wife to Five Husbands. I asked her about her sins, as she was so forthcoming about it. She said that Gods have condemned her of the sin that she loved Arjun more than her other Four Husbands. Hence she had fallen from the grace of God. She was much agitated about the issue and asked me” Could I i.e. Sita, as another woman say how and why does a woman love one more than others. Is there must be a reason for a woman to love, to love more, to love less. An emotion borne out of logic can be anything but Love”.
I said “I agree. Love is spontaneous. It is just a Flower of life. It blossoms unexpectedly. It is to be enjoyed and not analyzed. Analyzing it as a cause/effect relationship is demeaning love”
She said “Well she fell in love with Arjun, at the Swayamvar itself. His resoluteness and conviction did cast a spell on her. He had won her by shooting the Bird in its eye. The other brothers were mere beneficiaries of their mother’s blind wishes.
Suddenly I could not stop my self. I asked what made her abide such strange “SUGGESTION/DICTAT” of her mother in law. She said I had seen and gauged each of the five brothers as incomplete individuals. Though each was a great person yet quite incomplete. One was good in intellect or Dharma yet Naïve and impulsive. The second was only brawn no brains. Arjun the warrior her favorite too was devoid of much intellect. Nakul was extremely pretty and little else, whereas Sahadev was an Intellectual yet not a man of action. So when my Mother in law’s strange wish dawned on me, I did not revolt, but was exulted by it. Felt triumphant that I would have the attention of Five such exceptional persons and in Sum companionship of ONE COMPLETE MAN.
She told me well I do recognize you too. You are Sita the eternal victim. You have been the “unwilling yet Chosen” victim of the war where as I i.e., Draupadi was the provocateur of the war. You the Sita suffered silently, I Draupadi did not take the Humiliations lying down. My long Untied Tresses were the provocateur of the MAHABHARAT. I actively sought revenge to assuage my heart. You have suffered much greater injustices yet did not seek revenge. I suffered at the hands of enemies. The cause of your misery was largely your Husband. Though you were a Queen had very little time to enjoy it. Fourteen years of exile with Ram as a consequence of a Foolish Maid servant’s scheming was certainly not befitting of any Royalty.The King who could not see through such scheming and surrender to it did not deserve to be a king. And again Ram did gain by that exile.He became famous as a warrior and benevolent by giving away the kingdom after defeating Ravan. But what did I as Sita gain out of it. I was not necessarily required to leave the Palace. Yet I did to serve Ram. And what did I get in return. NO gratitude,non what so ever. I was kidnapped by Ravan and held captive for nearly one year. This captivity was not as humiliating as the release. Captivity was of an Ex Suitor, who having failed in his pursuits, had found an excuse and an opportunity and had made the best of it. Yet he did not assault me physically or otherwise. The Humiliation that I had to face on Release was much bigger Tragedy then the captivity. My husband who was supposed to be an Icon of Justice doubted my Chastity and wished an Agni Pariksha for me. Can any Agni Pariksha be more convincing then the Sixth Sense? It was worse then the turpitude I had to suffer in the Hands of Ravan. Then again a second exile because of an intemperate washer man’s diatribe was the final nail on the coffin of the relationship. I had conceived after more then 14 years. Yet my Husband to magnify his own greatness more or less divorced me. He was given to a false Kshatriya Pride, wherein women did not have an identity of their own.They remained a subset of their spouse and their wishes and desires did not have any significance.
Now it was getting late and we went off to our respective Berths to catch sleep. Draupadi seemed to be falling asleep in no time. Though the sleep eluded me. I was wide awake. This dialogue had sensitized me and made my memory bristle with thorns. Was a wife a prisoner to her husband? Did she have an existence outside her husband and family? No, I did the right thing by walking out of his life and make him feel that I did ultimately have the right to live or leave according to my wishes. He was a glorified Purushottam.I do not believe that he was an Icon for a husband.
And then again what did I think of Draupadi. Here she was Bold, Pro active a Provocateur. Her Tresses launched a thousand arrows. The more I thought of her, more she looked Iconic. An Icon of equality. She was all that I could not even dare to. I wondered had our lives been reversed how she would have lived my life.
As I chose to leave Ayodhya maybe she too would have followed the suit. Yet for Ravana to kidnap her would have been a much more difficult task. Probably she would have accompanied Lakshaman to look for Ram and not sit comfortably in the cottage. Most important of all the Agni Pariksha, well that I am sure she would had never condescended to . She may had left Ram then and there or made him look like those fools who appeared dumb when she argued in the Court of Kauravas during and after her “Cheer Haran”. No one could speak a word. Yudhisthir was the worst example of a Husband at that moment. She chastised him in the worst possible words. She challenged his right to place her as a bet. He had already lost himself. He was a slave himself, so how could he place her as a bet. Similarly she would have chastised Ram and made him apologies and/or would had Divorced him, instead of waiting and giving Ram an opportunity to Divorce her. She was the first feminist. It was impossible to disrobe her. Lord Krishna was only a ruse; it was her inner strength that was paramount. She was indeed “AGNI GARBHA” born out of the womb of FIRE. Whereas I Sita was born of “Earth”the bearer of untold cruelties. True to Shiva’s boon she was indeed a befitting wife to Five Husbands. The distinction between the two wombs i.e. “Fire” and the “Earth” explain the difference between ME and Draupadi. Now both of us have left our SPOUSES with our heads held high, and we go back to our origins to complete the circle. With this comforting thought I was able to close my eyes and pass away into the NEVERLAND.