Ayana: The Journey

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And a face was before him, a face that was beautiful, yet fierce. It too was wreathed in flames and it spoke. “Ravana! Your days are numbered!” He screamed. Captured by an evil that had been stalking her since her previous life, Sita's only hope of rescue lay in her husband's love and tenacity. But an ocean lay between Rama and her prison. And the lord of Lanka was prepared to sacrifice his entire race to keep her....

Fantasy / Adventure
5.0 1 review
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Chapter 1

Ravana stood stunned as Vedavati was burnt to ashes. The shock kept him paralyzed. He had never expected her to actually carry out her threat of immolating herself. And all because he had caught her by the hand!

Ravana felt a constriction in his chest. A pain he had never felt before was consuming him. He felt angry, humiliated, rejected. He felt – sad. And it surprised him. Never had he grieved. Not for anyone had he grieved. And now, for this woman he had seen for the first time on this day, he grieved. He grieved for the loss of her life, for the futility of her death. For no matter how he looked at it, he could not see the sense behind it.

Her curse, he did not worry about. He never had to force a woman before. They were all too willing. He knew how arrogant that sounded, but that had been his experience so far. Maybe that’s why he did not take Vedavati seriously when she begged him to let go of her hand. She had felt smirched by his very touch. He could see that now, though he had refused to believe it then.

The fire died out, as suddenly as it had sprang up. Ravana looked at what once had been a living breathing woman. A beautiful woman. Strong too, he thought. So strong spiritually that she could call forth the God of Fire to consume her to ashes at the touch of a hand that was repellent to her.

May be it was better that she chose to end her life, especially since she was saving herself for that nursemaid of the devas. Ravana felt anger boil inside him at the thought of Vishnu. What a waste for this woman to want that fellow for a husband! He had told her that, and it had angered her further. He might have forced her, if she had not won her freedom in such a drastic way, for the fact that she loved Vishnu had angered him beyond reason.

He gritted his teeth. Vishnu! He had been the one to foil all their Asura ancestors’ plans for world domination. Ravana thought of all the great Asuras who had been slain by him and he felt anger again, hot, boiling, uncontrollable rage. If he had done battle and defeated them, perhaps it would have been justifiable. But most of the times he had just tricked them.

And all for what? So the devas could lead their cosseted lives. How many times had they been defeated in battle by the Asuras! And every time they would run to their nursemaid in Vaikunta. And the so called preserver of Dharma would rush forth to help those helpless idiots. Dharma! What Dharma was it that they had been denied their rightful share of Amrit after they had toiled so hard along with the Devas for its retrieval from the Ocean? What Dharma was it that tricked Bali, his ancestor? He was a Just King. Dharma! The only Dharma Vishnu knew was to keep the Devas safe and in comfort with the Asuras groveling at their feet.

All that would end now, reflected Ravana. They had now established their stronghold in Lanka. He had defeated those worthless Devas in battle. Again. He was invincible. And Lord Brahma’s and Lord Siva’s boons had made him all but immortal. Not even Vishnu could touch him now.

Lord Siva! Now, that was a God worth worshipping! He played no favourites and he took care of his devotees. Not like that Vishnu. If Vedavati had not spoken Vishnu’s name, perhaps he would have let her go. Perhaps. She was very beautiful, after all.

A slight breeze started stirring up the ashes, bringing Ravana out of his reverie. Soon, the wind would be blowing the ashes away and there would remain no sign that Vedavati ever was, that she lived, breathed, prayed for Vishnu to become her husband, and ended her life to avoid being soiled by Ravana’s touch.

Ravana looked at his right hand. A burn mark was there. That was the hand that was holding her when she called forth the fire to consume her. It had burned his hand and he had let her go.

Ravana again felt the unfamiliar pain, but it was not physical. He could not understand it. He had never loved anyone deeply. He had not allowed himself to love anyone to the point life would be impossible without that one. He cared for his wives, his children and his siblings. Or rather he took care of them. Love was alien to his nature. He had desired many women and Vedavati was just one of them.

Or was she?

Even through the shallowness of his nature, Ravana was touched by Vedavati’s sacrifice. He had never been exposed to that kind of purity or steadfast resolution. He had blinded himself to all that. But now, Vedavati’s shocking death had made it impossible for him to ignore it. And in spite of him, he was impressed by her.

What a queen she would have made!

Never stopping to consider, Ravana gathered up the ashes in his angavastra. He would not consign her to the winds. He was not prepared to let go of her and her memories. He would keep her ashes, keep them safe in Lanka. So that he could remember sometimes that he had once been touched by someone who was so pure, so innocent and yet so powerful that she had come to mean more to him than all the living women in his life.

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