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Short Stories >> Kaak Palace

Short Stories

Written By: Smt.Sundri Uttamchandani
Translated by Arun Babani

"Swami, you can take care of the old traditions but not me, why? It is my wish not to stay away from you even for a moment."

"Don't be silly, my Pushp."

"Pushpa is dead. I’m your Laxmi. Narayan's Laxmi, Mother of the universe.”

"I don't like this face of a woman, in which there is demand, home and selfishness."

"Brahma is getting ready in my womb and at this time I am asking for your support, not for myself but to create a infinite human being for the universe, and even then I'm selfish?"

"You can do all this even while staying away from me."

"We can do it even staying together. But staying separate, the same thing appears like a stigma. Staying together feels like nurturing the old human race."

"Don't argue unnecessarily. The disciples are waiting outside with your baggage."

"What's happened to your mind today, my master?"

"Get up silly, don’t sob so much. You know that I cannot bear to see somebody's pain."

"Then my master, take unto you this pain of mine, or else I'll be lost."

"Don't worry. In Bombay Ramdas my disciple will take care of everything. I have an urgent work in Delhi; otherwise I wouldn't have allowed you to go alone at all."

Narayan's Laxmi pleaded and sobbed so much, but Godman Narayan had to attend a call from the vast universe. He ignored the woman's plight as insignificant and went away.

When Pushpa landed in Ramdas's house in Bombay with the disciples, she lost all the strange peace that she had brought from Nainital. Seeing her father at Ramdas's house she touched his feet with her head and called out “Baba”.More than surprise, that one word carried pain along with a feeling of deception which was not hidden from Damodar Das.

His gaze fell on the dark circles under his Pushpa's eyes. He asked her, "So you did not go to the forest (vanasthali)?"

"I had to go to Nainital to serve Swamiji"

There were indications of a terrible storm. Therefore, Pushpa could not raise her gaze. But even her downward gaze was a witness to her sin.

"You had gone alone to Nainital?"

"A disciple had come to call me."

Damodar fell into deep thought. When he raised his head after a moment, Pushpa noticed a determination. "There is no need for any further education. Come back with me to Poona. You considered your mother dead and your father too. You did not find it necessary to take permission?"

"But."

"But what..?"

"But Swaminarayan Swaroop takes these decisions."

"We shall take his blessings too."

Pushpa felt her father’s decision as strong and full of determination like a mountain. There was no question of saying anything. Although she couldn't believe that Damodar could have the courage to defy Swamiji's command.

The business work for which Damodar had come to Bombay was over within a week, but a strange incident too had taken place. Once, in the middle of the night, Pushpa with a cloth covering her face, overheard a conversation between Ramdas and his wife and what she heard shocked her.

"Who has filed the case?"

"A very important and well connected young widow."

"Are we too possibly going to be involved?"

"Swamiji has such a clever way of speaking, that the judges of the court will be speechless."

"Yes, God himself speaks through Swamiji's words. We foolish people.."

Pushpa could not hear anything more than that but this was enough to end whatever remaining devotion she had for Swamiji. Her mind grew restless. She became more uncomfortable in Ramdas's house. Her restless mind led her to Swamiji's ashram which was not very far away. The early morning rays of dawn, falling on the ground of the ashram looked vey restless. Even then the peace of the Ashram was intact.

Crossing the outer rooms, Pushpa walked on the cool floor of the ashram and reached Swamiji's room. Four girls were lying on the floor in salutations. Pushpa stood at the door. She felt like saying, "All this is hypocrisy." But the cold atmosphere echoed to her "All these people are so devoted to Swamiji that nobody will believe you."

Pushpa said, "I have proof."

"Carrying Brahma's image in your womb is a sign of Swamiji’s hypocrisy? Shame on you.”

A cool breeze whispered in her ears. The pride of motherhood made her hold her head high. She noticed college-going Meena in the corner. She was sitting cross-legged, closed eyes, holding flowers to offer to the picture of Swami Narayan. Pushpa had helpless tears in her eyes. She could hear the sound of vessels from the kitchen. Some girls were also perhaps washing buckets in the bathroom. Pushpa understood that Swamiji was surely arriving today. She confirmed it too. But she had to go to Poona with her father. There was just one hour left for the train. Pushpa hurriedly came to Ramdas. Panting, she said, "Today Swamiji is coming." Standing at the door, Ramdas was playing with his little child’s finger. Pushpa’s eyes brightened and she felt the movement of milk in her breasts. She stood there quietly. Ramdas suddenly realized and asked, "Who told you that Swamiji is coming?"

Pushpa felt that there was an attempt to hide this news. She was being looked at as a distrustful person, "But I am not just Pushpa. I am a mother." This thought made her rise above all others in pride. She said a bit sharply, "Ramdas I wish to meet Swamiji." There was no pleading for permission but a decisive tone in her voice. Ramdas had an experienced insight and he understood the whole thing. He said, "Respected lady, I wish to talk to you. Can you please come inside?"

Without waiting for an answer Ramdas walked ahead, followed by Pushpa. Coming into a private room, he closed the door. Pushpa sat down on a stool, without any fear.

Ramdas said, "I have some medicines which can free you from unnecessary troubles. This should have happened much before but it was set aside because of your father’s sudden visit."

Pushpa frowned. Lowering her gaze she said, "The lady does not agree to killing of the innocent"

Ramdas looked at her, this fairlady Pushpa, wrapped in a black-bordered sari actually looked like a goddess. "So much pride. So much confidence! From where did this goddess get it all! It was the first time that Ramdas had looked at this beautiful form in this semi-lit room. He felt as if the entire universe was eager to burst into some music. The gold bangles were shimmering on her fair, soft arms. Not hearing an answer from Ramdas, Pushpa looked up. She was surprised to see her own image in his eyes. There was a faint smile on Ramdas's face. Pushpa got up and said, "I remember Swamiji's message very clearly. If the beauty of the entire universe is not used in creating, then it will not find any completion."

"But." Ramdas obstructed Pushpa's way. Pushpa stopped, holding the door knob she said, "Tell me"

Rubbing his palms Ramdas said, "This is the first time Swamiji has made such a mistake. But the beauty of the woman is also responsible for it to some extent."

Pushpa looked directly and sharply at Ramdas. His gaze was lowered. There were beads of sweat shining on his forehead. Pushpa opened the door and walked away. Some girls strained their necks from the lunch room, looking at her they walked away, whispering to each other. A worker was sweeping the floor. He looked up and continued watching till she went out of the silver colored door.

Pushpa had been able to refuse her father for the first time in her life. She said, "If you are free today, come to the temple. I have to take a decision with Swamiji on some subject and I don’t want to come back home with you."

There was a big gathering to get a Darshan of Swamiji. The offering box was overfull. Suddenly a crumpled paper fell into Pushpa's lap. On it was written - "lady's facial expression are obvious, which should not be so. Swamiji is spotless. If the lady speaks something before the gathering, it will lead to bad consequences." Pushpa was furious. She got up but Swamiji firmly motioned her with his hand to sit down and he began his discourse, "the mind is very restless but it is also very weak. Through our inner wisdom we have come to know of a weakness of one disciple. But looking at the tears of regret in this child’s eyes the inner voice says 'may there be grace on this lost soul..'

Pushpa's gaze suddenly fell on Ramdas. He was standing with his head lowered, like a guilty person! Pushpa was surprised.

The gathering's attention was on Ramdas. He was standing with his head lowered. Though his hands were folded, his whole attention was on Pushpa and she was aware of it. Yet, she stood up. There was blood in her eyes, but before she could say anything, Swamiji said, "A creation is coming at our feet. A pure and holy picture. A benevolent soul is going to be achieved by our gathering.."

Pushpa walked firmly towards Swamiji and stood besides him. There was anger of goddess Kali on her face and a garland of flowers in her hands. The whole gathering was looking in shock. On many occasions before too Swamiji had invited some young Radha to sit beside him, but nobody had ever dared to walk towards him this way. Addressing the whole assembly, Pushpa said, "Today, this garland.."

Ramdas quickly came and bending his head, "I'm ready to accept my fault. You can bless this sinner with the garland."

Pushpa's face became blood red. Her lips began quivering. She lifted Ramdas's head forcibly and said, "Disciple, you are like a child to both of us."

As she quickly tried to put the garland around Swamiji, there was a commotion in the gathering and Swamiji calmly raised his hand and stopped the garland. He then calmly said, "The little girl has got greedy to malign the pure reputation of Swamiji. I accept that.."

Pushpa shouted, "Don't believe him. Swamiji himself is the father of my child.."

Ramdas angrily said, "You shameless woman" and he tried to drag her by her arm, but Pushpa forcibly threw his hand away. "Move away you sinner, You have seen the goddess face of a woman, Today you shall see her devil face too."

The gathering was in confusion. Raising her voice even more Pushpa said, "You coward what do you wish to prove by taking somebody else's sin on yourself, inspite of having a wife yourself? Do you want to prove that you are superior to Swamiji? You scoundrel, you yourself told me that this is the first mistake of Swamiji. My garland will raise him much higher than you."

Swami began laughing. In a very heavy and serious tone he said, "By moulding the crow one cannot mould the Ganga"

"No, Swamiji's sin!" said Pushpa, kicking the ground.

Swamiji was laughing, "Even Vishvamitra, Shivshankar and Brahma were not saved from a woman's deception. We all know that. But man is a picture of God. His blessings will surely be showered o you Deviji."

A man from the gathering came forward with folded hands, "Celibate Swami, you are so reputed that I suggest you don’t take the accusation of this foolish girl and spoil your image. This shameless girl.."

"Nobody has committed any wrong. Swamiji and I together have agreed to give birth to a holy soul for the universal good. It is for the beauty and power of humanity.." Pushpa became breathless. Some girls tried to make her sit. But when she saw their faces, she asked in disbelief, "But have your faces become so disfigured?"

"A criminal always sees others as criminals." boomed Swamiji’s voice, almost shaking the walls.

Suddenly everyone saw that Pushpa ran towards the door where Damodar Das was standing. Pushpa bowed down to him, saying loudly, "Bless me Baba, from today I am Swamiji's wife."

"You are nobody’s wife." rushing in, Ramdas said. "If you are Kalka then there is Yama here also. Damodar Das, don't touch this sinner. Get off from here, you sinner."

Ramdas raised his arm but Damodar Das protected Pushpa with his walking stick. He roared loudly, "You are a sinner. This hypocrisy of your is your sin. This girl is a Devi."

Ramdas said hatefully and mockingly, "She is not a Devi, she is a mother."

This pierced Damodar Das like spear in his chest. He said violently, "Give me a match box. Today I shall burn this Kaak Palace. Where is Swami?" There was commotion in the gathering. Fighting his way through the crowds Damodar Das kept shouting "Where is Swamiji? Where is Swamiji? Where is Swamiji?" This kept on echoing.

Where did Swamiji go?

Readers may not be interested in that.

But Pushpa?

Readers will surely wonder about her.

Suicide..?

New generation readers will not want that.

What about the birth of the holy soul for universal good?

That stigma will neither be accepted by Pushpa nor her father.

Marriage..?

Yes. That is what life wanted and perhaps even the readers would want.

 

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