Kekayee to Dasarath by Kumud Biswas SignUp

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Kekayee to Dasarath
by Kumud Biswas
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  What's this I hear from Manthara, my lord?
Since one can hardly rely on a lowborn lass like her,
Let me ask you,
Why all these townspeople are in a festive mood?
Some are strewing flowers on the roads
Others are busy making garlands
With fruits, flowers and leaves
To hang on their house doors
As they do on festive days?
Why flags are flying from each housetop?
Why the infantry, the horse, the elephants
And the charioteers on their chariots
Are all parading in their battle dress?
Why battle drums sound?
What makes the womenfolk loudly cheer,
All around there are a lot of dancing and singing,
And playing of musical instruments?
Tell me please, my lord,
What religious ceremony you are observing?
Tell me, for whose well being
Kaushalya, your eldest queen, is distributing money?
Why in the temples bells are ringing
And conch shells blowing
More enthusiastically than ever?
Why the royal priest is busy observing rituals?
What is attracting a steady flow of visitors to the capital?
For what fun the ladies of the royal family
Are bedecking themselves with a lot of jewellery?
Are you preparing to hold a janjya
Before the wonted time?
Today what auspicious festival
You are holding in your city?
What royal enemy you have slain in battle?
Has another son been born?
Or whose marriage ceremony it is?
Is there a marriageable daughter in the house?
I feel so very curious to know!
Tell me my king, at this advanced age
Has fortune blessed you once more -
Ever so fortunate that you are -
With another woman full of fun?
Please tell me, my saint of a king!

Woe unto me, as I am bound to obey you,
Otherwise Kekayee would have told you frankly,
The great king of the Raghus is a shameless liar
He breaks his promises without any ado,
He is righteous in words
In deeds he is the most unrighteous man!

If a word of what I say is a lie
You are free to cut off my head, great king.
Or to paint my face in black dye
You may banish me to a deep forest!
But if it proves true
Tell me my great king of the Raghus
How shall you remove the blot
Or show your face in society,
Please think over it once.

My hips are no longer heavy,
Nor my thighs are plump any more
Like the trunk of a banana plant,
My waist is not so thin as of old
That made your madly roving hands
Compare it with that of a lion,
My peaking breasts are now drooping
And my lips are not juicy any more.
The fell time has robbed me
Of all the wealth of my youth
As the scorching sun of summer
Dries up the gardens with their flowers!

But now I must remind you of the past, great king---
When in my first youth
I had given you pleasure by my services,
Vowing by the god of truth
To me what promise did you make?
If maddened by sex
You wanted to cheat me by a false promise
Tell me so and I will bear that sorrow in silence.
I have heard so -
It is the custom with those sex maniacs
To steal the heart of the weaker sex
They resort always to craft and cunning
Throwing honesty to the winds
They pollute love with fraudulence.
Is the chief of men in the Raghu clan
Guilty of the same crime?
If that be so, then I must say,
On his clean forehead
The sun also wears a blot like the moon.

People praise you as God-fearing,
One who has overcome lust,
And always loves truth.
Why then, please tell me, why then do I hear
You are about to anoint
Kaushalya's son Rama as the crown-prince?
Where is your son Bharata, the gem of this land
And the crown-jewel of the Raghu clan?
Have you forgotten the past?
What wrong has Kekayee done to you?
Or what crime has my son committed?

You have as many as three queens, my king!
Of them what fault has been Kekayee's
In serving you and when?
You have four sons
But on what ground you judge Rama the best,
Possessed of all virtues?
Pease tell me by what spell
Your queen Kaushalya has charmed your mind?
What special quality you have found in Ramachandra
So that you want to satisfy his desire
Breaking your vow?

But why do I needlessly waste my words? -
Please do whatever you please,
Who can stop you, because you are the king.
Who can control a flood?
Is a creeper of any use in binding a lion?
Your bond slave is leaving your sinful city
In the garb of a beggar
I shall roam from land to land
And wherever I will go I will say
You are the most dishonest man.
I shall breed some talking birds
And teach them day and night with care
To tell my tragic story
After they will have learnt it
I shall release them abroad
To sing sitting on the trees,
'The king of the Raghus is the most dishonest man.'
And the echoes will also sing
'The king of the Raghus is the most dishonest man.'
I shall write on the barks of trees of the deepest forests,
'The king of the Raghus is the most dishonest man.'
I shall engrave it on the rocks
Of the high mountain peaks.
I shall compose ballads and teach village girls,
Clapping their hands they will dance and sing ---
'The king of the Raghus is the most dishonest man.'

If there be a moral order you will surely suffer
The deserts of your misdeeds.
You gave me hope and then disappointed me,
I want to see how you realize
What you yourself hope for.
Let you live in your house
With the one you have honored--
The queen Kaushalya on your left
(You are so old, yet so shameless!),
Your son Rama, now the crown-prince,
And Sita, the daughter of Janaka,
So dear to you as your son's wife.
With all of them you enjoy a domestic bliss
But let me leave!
And my son now virtually an orphan
Will get shelter with my parents.
I shall enjoin him on a vow
Not to depend on you,
Not to put his feet in your sinful city.
I write this with blood drawn from my breast.
If ever I have committed no sin,
If ever I have been true to my husband,
Which still I am,
Then let Heaven do justice in its own just way.

Transcreation of the poem Dasarather prati Kaikeyee by the first modern Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Datta.

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March 21, 2004
More By: Kumud Biswas
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