The night stood well past midnight. A barn owl hooted somewhere outside, filling the emptiness of the night. The crescent moon hid itself behind the thick blanket of clouds. It appeared that bosom of the sky would soon burst open and heavens would wail their heart out. A cold sigh escaped my lips and another tear broke and fell to the ground. The lone night stands witness to my wait. A wait – which had now lasted centuries; a wait which is now my destiny and there isn’t anything I can do except live my fate.
I had everything at my disposal, all the riches and comforts of the world and yet I lamented in agony. The resplendence of the world and all the grandeur and splendor did not bring me a single moment of peace. The music of the world is a requiem to my soul. Cast into stone I drag my being from one end of the day to another. I still wear bridal raiment but my emotions are garbed in white. I bath in and soak in the anguish of being rendered desolate with every beat of my heart. I often wonder what did I do to be punished so. Why did God choose such a life for me?
I had been loyal and did love him with all my heart. I had never been the cause of his unhappiness or brought him grief for any reason. I did what ever it was in my capacity and often beyond it to keep him happy and content with me as a wife and the mother of his only son. The son who was the apple of his eyes, the one he doted on night and day. I never sought any worldly pleasures for myself or made requests from him. I worshipped him and considered myself more than blessed for just being in his company.
Yet on one similar stormy night, he walked out on me without a word.
I have still been unable to understand if I had done something to cause him to pour his wrath on me in this fashion. I clearly remember that fateful night. I had finished my chores of the day and came by and rested my head on his arm. He appeared thoughtful but I had no vision to foresee what his chain of thoughts would lead to. He was gentle and crooned affectionately to our son. I can distinctly recall as he held Rahul close to him with tenderness and kissed his forehead and told him to take care of his mother. Only if I had little inkling to what would that decipher to…
I was looking out of the window by our bedside and had exclaimed that it was a restless night. The wind whistled past the trees and made one uneasy. He did not say anything then and came around and lay next to me. The day had left me exhausted and I soon dozed off. That was probably the last time that I ever slept sound. I curse my sleep till date and have not been able to find rest for it was due to my sleep that I never got to know when he left my side and went away.
Since the night my husband left me at the mercy of my destiny, I have waited for him looking out of the window at the road that he might have walked. Every night since then I leave out a lamp burning by the window sill, lest he comes back the same way and has trouble finding me.
As a habit now, I looked out again. The visibility was low and the large undergrowth on the abandoned demesne did not help either. My heart felt empty.
Often I thought about the day that he would return and wondered what would I do? Would I be elated at his sight and go around and hold his feet and implore him never to leave me again or would the lava of anguish guzzling inside me, break loose and I be compelled to complain and be angry with him or would I just be stoned and die at his first glimpse, my wait being completed. I did not know.
I was told that great auspicious signs had preceded his birth and soothsayers and astrologers had predicted that he was born to become either a great ‘chakravarti’ king or a great holy man. How I wish someone had predicted the kind of husband he would be or at the least someone told me that I shall live to be a stone in a palace, flanked by riches and luxuries but no real life.
People bring me his words and his wisdom and his news through his scriptures. They say he reached beyond the reach of time and conquered the Future (Desire), the past (Regret) and the Present (Accomplishment) yet, for me the time stands still. They tell me that you, my Lord survived and battled all austerities for six long years before you, son of great king Suddhodhana and queen Maya got enlightenment and proclaimed the eightfold path as the key to lead one’s life.
But Lord, to you shall I ask, when you return, if my centuries long series of adversities and asperities are still not adequate, for me to be united with my soul, which resides in you.
You left me and Rahul and became the great ‘Shakyamuni’ searching Nirvana while I, still a humble mortal, subjected myself to the fate you chose for me and lived my life standing by the door you walked out from, never to return and am still standing there even in my after life, restless as ever. I never sought anything more than the happiness borne out of your love and the only glory that ever gladdened my heart was to be called the wife of prince Siddhartha. I ask you the wise one, to tell me if my little demands from life were too difficult to be fulfilled?
Had you confided in me what your heart sought when you decided to leave me, I would have gladly submitted myself to your wishes and set you on your quest myself. Why did you have to tiptoe your way out of my life? Did you fear that I would stand in way of your pursuit or did you know that you would not be able to look me in the eye before going away?
I don’t know my Lord, if you ever thought about me or your son ever again after stepping out of your palace and severing ties with the world. I don’t even know if you did achieve, what you set out to attain. What I do know, is that you, my Lord have been unjust. I seek your forgiveness as I accuse you of being so but no matter how the world looks upon you and worships you, I still see you as the person who vowed to be my provider and protector when you married me and who did not keep his word.
You are the supreme enlightened one, the Buddha, the teacher of ‘dharma’ to the world, and I pray that our paths cross again and I shall wait many more endless centuries through the circle of time and space for you to come by again. I would then dare you to look me up in the eye and tell me if you think it was righteous for you to leave me desperate and destitute.
Fifteen centuries have passed since you went away Lord and I still stand by the door and wait. My ashes flew through the air and touched you centuries ago but my soul still haunts the place where you left me. Time has changed what ever there was yet my still eyes watch the direction that once stood guard to your midnight elopement.
I, Yashodhara, wife of prince Siddhartha wait for my Lord, my husband to come by and salvage me from this endless cycle of life. My soul awaits his touch, my being craves his mercy, my nirvana awaits his return…..
O Buddha, your Yashodhara waits for you by the same pillar every night.