Chapter 01 – Ulupi

I am at the river bank. The banks of the river Iravati, the river named after the mother of the great Naga king Airavata. I dangle my feet in the water. My clothes are getting wet.  Oblivious I sit on the beach. Close by I see a friend, a companion play with her grandchildren. I see her. When I look at her, I both sad and happy. Happy for her. Happy that a friend is happy. I am also sad. Very Sad. My heart cries out. If all was fine, I would have had my son with me. Today he is not there. My husband is not with me. I sit here all alone.

My skin is wrinkled, my hair grey. I walk with a help of a stick. My people are there to fulfill all my wishes. Happiness around me. And I am sad.

I am old now. Feeble. An old queen. No longer a queen but still treated as one. My subjects have been good to me. They have been kind to me when I have been said, they have been beside me when I have needed them. Now I want to be alone.

Dusk approaches. Also time for the tide to come in. My companions pull off the bank of the river. It is now time to go home.

Home.

A home is one has laughter. One has family. One has someone who can be called one’s own.

My home is empty. I have servants. I have friends. No family.

I think of days gone by. When I close my eyes and think I feel I can still hear the laughter of my companions as they run around. Chasing me, Playing Hide and Seek. Dodging the guava trees, the banana groves, the mango trees, hiding behind bushes. Running in the water,playing on the river bank, trying to catch the small water insects.

I see myself steling flowers, stealing fruits, playing games. Growing up. The daughter of the king, I had many friends. My whole life was full of fun and laughter. I was at no loss.

I see three girls running , playing, happy oblivious of the future. One of them is the daughter of the Naga King, Kauravya. That is me, your unfortunate, Uloopi.

I had been named Uloopi as I had a beautiful face, I am told. When in the summer evenings, I would stand near the jasmine vine, wearing jasmine garlands, artists would throng to capture me on their canvas, poets would come for a glimpse of my beauty, to write about their princess.

I see my myself, being trained, educated. The best of the teachers coming to teach me. I grew up, skilled in letters and also war craft. I also learnt medicine. The art of the physicians fascinated me. They would pluck leaves from various plants, mix them together and people would get well after that.

I trained my self to be a medicine girl. I learnt the sciences from the greatest of the sages. It was expected that I learn that. My mother would tell me that all Naga people knew the science and I was no exception.

My quest for knowledge was big. I kept learning. Then I discovered the hidden texts. The science of Sanjivani. The way to bring the dead to life. This too was a science. I learnt of the plants to be collected, how to process them and how to use them.

Weapons were another fascination. I learnt how to wield a sword, how to hold a bow, how to shoot arrows. I practiced well.

Arts were taught to me. I learnt the veena, I learnt singing and I learnt dancing.

I was the only child. When I attained youth , I was married off to a naga king, in the clan of Takshaka.

Like many other women I went off to my husband’s home.

A day after my wedding , my husband had to go to a war.

He went and never returned alive.

I was a widow. A young widow.

I was young, my beauty with me, pining for love, pining for a male companion.

My life went, sometime in my husband’s land, in the kingdom of Takshashila, on the banks of the Iravati river, or sometimes in my father’s home.

I tried my attention to learning. I read a lot, learnt all I could, pining for that one person who would come in my life and free me, deliver me from my passion.

 

 

 

 

 

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