My mom shook me and I woke up with a start .
“Wake up Gungun !” she shouted as she was cleaning the bed .
“Let me sleep na mumma , how many times do I get a holiday .”I said going back to sleep. But my determined mom said “sleep whenever you want sleepy head, but don’t you remember today is Dussehra and we have to Ajji and Tata’s [grandparents in kannada ] house. You know how cross they’ll be if we arrive late for the puja.” I knew no one can argue with mom so I dragged myself out of the bed and freshened up quickly.
Dressed in traditional clothes we reached my grandparents’ house. When we went inside I saw my Ajji [grandma] chanting the ‘Ram Raksha Stotra’. I sat beside her and tried to understand what she was saying in Sanskrit. That day I insisted to stay with my grandparents. In the night I asked my Ajji about Ramayana. She then told me about the great lord Rama and the beautiful mother Sita. Also about the Great War, but the character who attracted me the most was Raavan. His personality was so different from all the different characters. I asked ajji about Raavan .She said that Raavan was a villain but on the other hand a great devotee and a scholar. That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking that how would it be if I could meet Raavan, everyone has a good side maybe I could his. Then suddenly something happened to me and I woke my ajji who always ready to talk about gods and goddesses. “Ajji, will Raavan kill me if I go and meet him?” I asked. “No my dear, why would he do that? He may have done some bad deeds but that doesn’t mean that he’ll kill anyone he sees” said Ajji in half sleep smiling on the stupidity of her little granddaughter. Of course she didn’t imagine that after hearing what she had said I would actually go to meet Raavan. But something else was running in my mind. I was going to meet Raavan! With the help of my time travel watch which I found under my pillow three years ago [wonder who kept it there]. I wore it in my hand and said “Take me to Raavan the demon king”. And before I could blink my eyes, I was in a grand castle with the most beautiful sculptures and infrastructure.
Suddenly my ears were filled with the sweet voice of the Mridamgam. I wondered who could be playing so beautifully and melodiously. I followed the music which led me to room lit by thousands of lamps and fragrance sticks. The room was filled with mild smoke and the sunlight made its way to the centre of the room where a masculine figure was sitting engrossed in playing the instrument. I sat at the doorstep not wanting to disturb the person but I myself couldn’t help but swaying to the beautiful tune. After a while the music stopped and a heavy voice startled me “Who is there?” it said. I was scared but stood up and went up to it. After seeing it was sure that he was Raavan. Such beautiful eyes, well build body with large moustaches and upon all the ten heads which looked at me in confusion. “I have come from the 20th century and I wish to know about you, the great Raavan.” He looked at me with kind eyes. I was relieved that his mood was good after playing the music. He said that he would tell me everything but only after giving me a new set of clothes as he could not bear to see me in ragged clothes. I was angry how he dare call my stylish shorts and crop top ragged! But anyway I couldn’t express it, right? So his servants made me wear some kind of long dress with golden embroidery and jewels, it was kind of uncomfortable, I missed my shorts and T shirt.
Then we went into beautiful room laid with hundreds of delicious delicacies. We sat down and started talking but my attention was at the sweets. “Raavan the most fascinating thing about you are the ten heads but I don’t understand that what do they depict?” I asked innocently. He sighed and replied, “I am always depicted as evil. The festival Dussehra which you celebrate means to kill all the 10 bad things which are present in us, my ten head symbolizes the ten bad things.” “What are the ten things?” I asked.”
- Ahankara (ego)
- Amanavta (Cruelty)
- Anyaaya (Injustice)
- Swartha (selfishness)
- Matsara (jealousy)
- Mada (over pride)
- Lobha (greed)
- Moha (attachment)
- Krodha (anger)
- Kaam (Lust)”
“Oh. Then the festival means the burning of these bad things” I said. One question was coming in my mind but I was too scared to ask it. Raavan sensed it said, “Ask whatever you want to without any fear. How did he know what I was thinking? I thought then I asked him with reluctance.
“Great Raavan, why did you kidnap…umm…I mean …abduct mother Sita?” I was ready for serious look from him but instead received a smile. “Dear you only believe on the things which the followers of lord Rama have written in the scriptures, but nobody has heard my side of the story.” “Really! I want to hear it, if you don’t mind telling me”, I said.
He continued, “When Sita’s swayambar (wedding ceremony) was organized all the great kings were invited including me and Rama. The truth was that no one except me and Rama could break the bow of Shiva. I had the first chance but from the people who were on Ram’s side suddenly gave me the news that my Lanka was on fire and my family and citizens were in grave danger. Without thinking for a moment I rushed out of the swayambar and flew to Lanka on Pushpak Vimaan. But when I reached there I realized that I have been fooled as everything was fine at Lanka. When I flew back, I saw that the swayambar was finished and Rama had won Sita.” “Oh! But isn’t that cheating!” I said angrily. “Yes it is, and cheating is the only thing I can’t bear at any cost and that is why I abducted Sita, but that was my greatest mistake.” he finished with a sigh. I continued, “Sorry I am asking this but I have heard that many people say that you treated Sita in a bad manner and didn’t even provide her with basic necessities.” “People think that whatever Rama is I am just the opposite if it”, he continued with a smile “But that is not true, I realized my folly just as I abducted her. She was kept in a place which was even more beautiful and comforting than my own personal chambers. She was provided with the most delicious delicacies one can imagine” said Raavan looking at me knowing that I would again ask a silly question, and there was I asking him, “where was mother Sita kept?” “She was kept in a place which cannot be even compared to heaven, a mesmerizing and breathtaking place where even the angriest of persons become calm the most beautiful garden ‘Ashok Vatika’.”He said with pride. I thought that what was so special about this Ashok Vatika that the Great Raavan was praising it with such pride. “I knew you wouldn’t believe me”, he said with a smile, “come, I’ll take you there”. I was really excited.
We walked through the grand palace which was made with pure gold. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. But when I reached the ashok vatika I forgot all about the gold and gems and buildings. It was the most refreshing and calming place I had ever been in my life. No wonder Raavan was praising it so much. The people who say that he didn’t keep Mother Sita well should come and see this place. I would give away my heart to stay in a place like this. I was in awe for a few minutes and words were too short to express the feelings I was experiencing.
We talked on as we roamed around the beautiful garden .I even sang a song knowing that he loved music but he instead took out hundreds of mistakes in it and then he sang the original song . Such perfection, such knowledge and such great pronunciation I had never heard by a person. I was realizing that Raavan wasn’t anything like I had heard since childhood. Finally I took leave; he asked me if I wanted a shower of gifts or anything I wished. But I refused and said that the meeting with great Raavan and to learn so many things from him was the greatest gift I could ever have.
I asked my watch to take me back and in a moment the Great raavan and the beautiful Ashok Vatika vanished and I lay there in my shorts and tee in a dark room with my Ajji beside me snoring at the top of her lungs. I smiled and thought that how stupid we people are, we make conceptions about the people who we have never met, we think about that person on the basis of whatever we have heard, and then declare it as good or evil.
I was a little sad because I also believed these useless misconceptions but now I came to know the truth. But I knew I could never convince people upon believing that there is always a other side of the story which we have never heard so I satisfied myself with the truth that the chalk does not work properly if the blackboard is not black enough and I think that if Raavan wouldn’t have been there then Rama would never be worshipped and praised today. So I closed my eyes to sleep and believe me it was the best sleep I had ever had.