Abhaya and Radha returned to Vrindavan to find an excited household. Jayanthi had given birth to a boy. Yashoda got busy in arranging for the Jaata karma. Abhaya excitedly rushed to the room where Jayanthi lay. She had a glimpse of her son and had slipped into sleep. The delivery was a great strain on her. She did not notice Abhaya enter the room and take the baby into her arms.
“Welcome, little one. I am sorry that your father and grandfather could not have the pleasure of seeing you today. But I shall send them news. They have a newer reason to fight for.”
As she was not experienced in holding new borns, the boy felt the discomfort and screamed. The cry brought Yashoda and Subhadra run into the room.
“Princess, you need to support the whole of his body. And why did you remove his shawl? It is meant to keep him warm.” Yashoda took the infant and cradled him in her arms. The boy drifted into a happy sleep in the comfort of her experienced handling. She gently placed him on Abhaya’s lap.
“You’ll need to be more careful.” She gently told.
“Have you thought of a name?” Subhadra asked cheerily.
Jayanthi awoke at the commotion and smiled weakly at Abhaya who threw her arms around her.
“Sthamba. How do you like the name Sister-in-law? Isn’t he really our pillar of hope?”
Jayanthi saw her son for the second time. He had raised her status from the chief maid to the future Queen. But Queen of where? Would that kingdom withstand the onslaught? Would her husband ever get to see his son? Jayanthi’s eyes filled up with tears.
“Mahadeva bless Prince Sthamba.” Subhadra gifted one of her gold chains. “As you arrive at Indraprastha I would give you a more befitting gift.”
“Is your affection any less, Subhadra? How can I ever repay the noble Lady Yashoda?” Abhaya folded her hands in gratitude. Yashoda caressed her hairs with a smile and stopped Jayanthi from getting up.
“They should stay here for longer. I cannot allow her or the infant to travel soon. He is born prematurely.”
Abhaya looked up concerned. Subhadra looked apologetic. “We would have to leave tomorrow Abhaya. Mother would take good care of Jayanthi and Sthamba. We shall arrange for them to come to Indraprastha at the earliest. For now you come with me.”
Abhaya protested at the idea. Nothing in the world could make her leave Jayanthi now.
“But we are expected there soon.” Subhadra explained. We got news that Brother Bhima, Brother Krishna and my husband would return from Magadha soon. They have successfully eliminated Jarasandha.”
“That is a great news!” Abhaya commented. Her heart felt a flutter on knowing that Krishna has returned to Indraprastha. She looked at Subhadra resolutely. “I too shall stay back here Subhadra.”
“But.. why? You need not worry about them?”
“Please, we shall soon come there as soon as Jayanthi is fit enough.” Abhaya persisted. “And you shall need time to spend with the best of Bhaaratas. We shall come after you’ve had your fill so that you can devote more time to us.” Abhaya remarked with a mischievous glint. Subhadra could not say much after that.
“If that settles things, you girls should sleep now. I shall sleep here with Jayanthi. She will need me.” Yashoda announced. “Princess shall sleep in Radha’s room with her. I hope the humble guest room is comfortable for our Queens?”
Subhadra’s eyes welled up at the affection. “Do you have to say this? How can’t I be comfortable here, Mother?”
“And how can I ever express what you mean to me? Can I also call you Mother?” Abhaya added.
Yashoda waved, wiping a tear from the corner of her eyes. She proceeded to take Sthambha from Abhaya’s lap.
Abhaya was reluctant to let him go. ”Could I also stay here, Mother? I simply can’t let him go.” Abhaya longingly looked at Sthamba.
“Princess. Do not long for him thus. Love him for all you are worth, but he is your sister in law’s son. You can’t hold him forever.” Yashoda counseled. Her eyes showed deep pain which she quickly hid with a smile. “You should get married soon and beget a son of your own too. Give little Sthamba the company of his age.”
Abhaya shot a smile at her and handed over Sthamba. The flood of nostalgia in Yashoda’s eyes engulfed her as she made her way to Radha’s room.
The apple of your eye is the throb of my heart.
He is not yours, nor is he mine
But pine for him, we do though in vain