Subhadra moved pensively near the window of her palace. The view from the window oversaw the artistically designed lake, flower creepers planted with care and vision, a couple of water birds and a big mango tree which seasonally housed a variety of birds and their nests. Subhadra today in particular was not in a mood to enjoy the picturesque view.
On the floor, paces away from her, Abhimanyu was trying to turn over on his belly. Subhadra often thought he was over active as an infant. But which mother does not pleasure her child growing fast! This time he was successful. Subhadra went and picked him up to lay him on the cradle. One question continued to bother her. “What to tell, brother Krishna?”
Krishna had returned from Mathura along with Bhima and Arjuna after Bhima had successfully overpowered and killed Jarasandha of Magadha. The return was a matter of great celebration. The biggest obstacle to her brother in law’s conquest was felled. The characteristic enthusiasm of a conquest was high in the air. In the ceremony hosted to welcome the victors, Subhadra met Krishna formally. His eyes asked of her welfare affectionately. He also looked around trying to find someone. Was he looking for the princess of Anagha who was supposed to come with her to Indraprastha?
Subhadra had received the news that Abhaya was suspectedly abducted by unknown people. The abductors had knocked the priest of the Ambika temple unconscious and made away with her and two younger gopikas. Yashoda’s worried message had reached her a couple of days before. She could not do much other than send some soldiers and spies to investigate the place and try to track the way Abhaya might have been taken. There was no news from them yet.
Krishna, having completed his formal visits at Indraprastha would arrive anytime now. Subhadra was sure that he would ask her about Abhaya. But what was her mistake? Jayanthi went into a labour in the most unexpected time. She had insisted on Abhaya’s accompanying her leaving Jayanthi in the care of Yashoda at Vrindavan. But the princess of Anagha had refused to leave her sister in law alone. What could Subhadra do? Things were beyond her hands. Nobody dreamt of the abduction in their wildest dreams. Still the sister of Krishna wondered how to meet her brother in the eye.
As expected, he arrived at her door. She found her usual enthusiasm of running to him strangely missing. He smiled his characteristic smile, overflowing with affection. His face did show signs of fatigue from the long travel, but his eyes had the same brightness which he had as a seventeen year old.
Subhadra took Abhimanyu into her arms and hurried towards him as he out stretched his right arm calling her.
“How was your journey back to Indraprastha, little sister? Did Abhi trouble you?” He fondly took Abhimanyu into his hands, the infant throwing the toothless smile at the sudden attention and added warmth.
“Brother!” Subhadra managed to nod. But could not speak further. She wondered how to begin.
“Yes, Subhadra..” Krishna prompted her, part of his attention still on his nephew now gurgling with excitement in stronger arms.
“The.. princess of Anagha…” At the pause, Subhadra felt tired of the pang of guilt. Her mind was strong that she was not at fault but her assurance to Abhaya came back to her mind “You would be treated as the daughter of our family.” All words seemd to have gone wasted.
“Where is she?” Krishna asked bending to gently place Abhimanyu down on the rich and soft carpet. The boy turned over his back effortlessly and squealed with joy over his successful attempt. The brother and sister viewed him, pride mounting in both the hearts.
“Yes, is she well?” Krishna asked after a moment.
“She… she was abducted.”
Krishna moved forward in concern. “by whom?” His mind set off on speculations of who might have benefitted. Anuvinda would not pursue her so far. Who else? Would it have been a miscreant rival of the Pandavas?
“The spies are sent to trace any information.”
“How did it happen, Subhadra?” A ridicule was obvious in his tone. But as she apologetically looked up, he seemed to soften. “What happened, littlse sister? And when?”
Subhadra narrated what all she could make out from Yashoda’s message. Krishna sank onto the seat as she mentioned of Vrindavan and their meeting the Gopa tribe. It needed some substantial effort to rein the wave of memories. He did not interrupt her narration and did not speak back for a while. The temple of Ambika was a place of soulful memories. How could such an incident take place there?
“Send for her friend. Let Jayanthi and her son come here as soon as possible. Send a guard well… rather, I shall send the Yadava warriors to escort them.” Krishna got up saying this.
“Brother Krishna!” Subhadra exclaimed. “Don’t leave me thus, I never ever dreamt of this tragedy!”
Krishna looked at her. His gaze was stern but not reproachful. “Do anyone know of this?”
“I have spoken to elder sister. We sent the spies immediately. She might have told the Eldest. But brother, please forgive me!”
Krishna knew that it was an unlucky incident. Subhadra was genuinely helpless. He softened further, forcing a small smile and took her close in his arm. Subhadra swallowed a lump. This brother of hers rarely spoke out an open reproach. But if the smile left his face, it meant something terribly wrong. She was used to the older brother Rama’s outbursts and loud chidings at times. But that was far less painful than Krishna’s silence.
“I have failed you, brother!” Subhadra spoke out, her voice starting to break.
Krishna patted her head, recovering fully and the usual composure dwelt on him. “We won’t fail, little sister. Send for Jayanthi and her son. Also send a messenger to Anagha. We have to inform the King of this”
“Brother, won’t he accuse us of breaking his trust? The King had so much faith in you that he did not even breathe a word of insecurity. When Abhaya insisted that she leave all her guards behind for her father, I seconded that as I was sure we din’t need more protection. And now…”
“We shall keep up his trust!” Krishna uttered again with increased conviction.