The Yamuna gurgled under the moon. Crickets chirped in a rhythm. The dark leaves of the tree didn’t dare to breathe. The young maiden who was sitting under it had just then fallen asleep. She had been spending most of her time under it for the past few days. She looked forlorn. She talked to herself at times, cried and smiled in a way the heartbroken do.
Other girls, her friends came to her many times and tried to console her, make her eat something and persuade her to come with them but failed.
The maiden was neither fragile nor a conventional beauty. But there was something about her, an inexplicable quality that seemed to radiate from every cell of her body that made her luminescent. Even in her intense sorrow, it did not leave her.
She craned her neck at the faintest rustle from the leaves around her. The slightest change in the direction of wind made her turn and look. Her heart grew heavier by the minute and she breathed with great effort.
The tinkling of the cowbells in the morning and the sight of cowherds made her burst into a fresh bout of tears, “Oh why, the cheat hasn’t shown up still. He said even he can’t exist without me, liar” she said aloud in false anger.
At times she felt she heard the captivating melody from a distance. She ran to the river bank only to realise it was her imagination.
A thunderstorm reminded her how she had met him for the first time all those years ago. After that, they had never stayed without meeting each other for such a long time.
He was known all over the place for his mischief and pranks. To think he could play one on her!
One day all the sorrow welled up in her erupted. She called her friends and said, “Listen, friends, I know even he can’t stay longer without meeting me. He will come to meet me anytime now. I want you all to stand guard at my doorstep and not let him come in”.
Her friends tried to advise her. “O fair one, are you sure you want to treat him this way? You may regret it later”. They too were only too familiar with the irresistible charm of her beloved. They too adored him.
“If you wish to remain as my friends do as I say. It is high time he stopped playing with my feelings so carelessly”.
Her friends were not convinced but agreed. They stood guard at the entrance of the house.
The sun went down and soon it became dark. The pathway lit up with the fireflies. The golden-yellow robes reflected on the dark handsome face that wore a beguiling smile. The friends swooned at his otherworldly charm for a moment before they remembered the promise they had made to the maiden.
They stopped him.
“You cannot enter the home, O dark one”
He gave his most charming smile.
“I know she is as eager to meet me as I am. Why are you stopping me?”
“We will hear none of it, O charming prankster. She is angry and hurt. We are not to let you in”.
The ardent visitor felt a pang and his smile faded but the words could not wipe his divine countenance.
The maiden inside the house could hear her beloved’s voice that she had longed to hear. She felt the breath returning to her lungs. Her tears stopped. She expected him to walk in at any moment.
Instead, her friends came in and informed, “O fair one, we did as you had ordered. He was really sad and he left”.
The maiden fell into a heap as a fresh wave of sadness washed over her. She kept asking herself “What have I done? Have I made him love me less? Why didn’t he barge in? Oh, when will I see him again?”.
Her friends were dismayed as they saw her drowning to the depths of despair. They went out. They discussed among themselves whether they should try to find him and bring him back. “At this rate, she will become very weak and sick”, they lamented.
A lady who was passing by noticed their agitation. She enquired “What is the matter? Looks like I can help you. I have the cure for every kind of malady”.
They looked up at her calm face and wise eyes. They said,” Our friend is in a very bad condition. She is pining for her lover whom she just now sent away in anger”.
The lady smiled. She said, “Take me to her. I can help her”.
The friends took the lady along with them to the maiden’s cottage.
“O fair one, the lady here tells that she can help you.”
But the maiden sat motionlessly, her eyes transfixed on nothing. She said “He hates me. How can he not? When he came to me with so much love, I chased him away” and broke into a sob.
The lady took the maiden’s palms in her hands and pressed them gently. “Oh, fair one, it is not so. He loves you more than he loves anyone.”
The maiden said “But now, he doesn’t. Otherwise, he would not have left” and tears continued to roll from her eyes.
The lady clasped the maiden’s hands firmly, looked her in the eyes and told her, “He cannot hate you. You are the energy that energises his soul. It’s your breathing that is keeping him alive. It is your smile that is the source of his joy”.
She recognised the touch, the firm grip. How she had craved for it for days and nights! Her heart skipped a beat. Her mouth slightly opened in wonder. She gazed intently into the smiling, all-knowing eyes. “Krishna???!!!”
The Dark Lord dropped his guise and spread his arms wider. The words the maiden had longed to hear were spoken.
“Radhaa!!, My beloved, I am here!”.
Radha rushed into the arms that embraced the universe.