Further conversation was interrupted at a voice beyond the curtains that were drawn to give the necessary privacy to the bridal couple.
“I know what a hateful task it is to disturb a bridal couple in the middle of night. But I think I have an old friend of mine who has news of value to all of us.”
Krishna gently patted on Sathya’s cheek to release the embrace. The ecstatic smile on her face made him glad for more than one reason. She gently pulled away and was helped by Krishna to drape back the shawl which had fallen off her and she had not noticed when. She hurriedly checked on her hairs and smiled at him, feeling joyful at the new found intimacy.
Krishna eyed her with a grin and called out to the visitor.
“KAmadeva is always welcome to a couple.”
“Well, I hope no one is going to open their third eye for I really have some thing important.” Arjuna entered with a sheepish smile as he saw Sathya welcoming him with a customary salutation.
“Where was kAmadeva during the wedding rituals?” She asked showing him a seat and moving to seat herself by the side of Krishna.
“The detractors of your husband kept me busy, sister. I had to take different form. Could not afford to play kAma all the time. They were the ones who would be convinced only with Arjuna’s arrows.”
“Arjuna, who is this old friend of yours?” Krishna asked after they settled the light banter.
“Glory be to Lord Narayana!”
“His name is Narada. He is my friend and co traveller during my… last pilgrimage.” Arjuna could not control another sheepish look as Krishna gave him a meaningful wink.
“..And he is never tired of trying to imitate the Devarishi just because he shares the same name.” Arjuna hurriedly added.
“Krishna received Narada with a warm and informal saluation. “Tell us, dear Narada.”
“I repeat that Glory be to Narayana. I never ever dreamt that three people to whom I had to convey my message would all come together to receive me.” Narada responded, appearing quite interested in Krishna.
“Message from whom?”
“A captured princess. Her name is Abhaya.”
Krishna looked up as something stirred in him. He silently signaled Narada to continue.
“Her first message was to the Royal family of Koshala that princess Sunanda is one of the captives there at KamarUpa. Her second message was to King Yudhishtira, oh she said soon to be emperor Yudhishtira or any of his brothers to be informed about the organized abductions of women from AryAvarta by the perverted vAmAchAris.” Narada spelt out the message in few words.
Sathya looked at Krishna with new hope. “She is at kAmarUpa.” Krishna held her wrist in silent assurance.
“And the third message is for you Vaasudeva.” He uttered, discreetly looking at Sathya. The princess of Koshala understood and offered to leave into inner chambers when Krishna held on to her hand preventing her from getting up.
“I don’t keep secrets from my wives, Narada.”
“I leave it to your discretion, Vaasudeva. Hers was nothing but a prayer of love and surrender. It did betray an amount of helplessness. I regret that I met her in a delicate situation and could not offer her, further help. “ Narada appeared moved as he recounted Abhaya’s message. “It could be sent to the only one whom she considers the foremost in her life.” He added.
Arjuna exchanged a quick look with Krishna and left the room while Sathya sat mentally battling between propriety and curiosity. Krishna assured that she could stay.
“I would not reword what she said to you Vaasudeva. So I recall her words.” Narada started.
“Krishna, abducted and almost imprisoned, I am everyday, coaxed, coereced and threatened to abandon the Dharma as elucidated by the seers and the Dharma given to me by my father. The stooges of the perverted vAmAchAri king Bhauma ask me to submit to his wiles and consent to Maithuna. But I shall stand by the Arya dharma for all I am worth and till my last breathe. If you don’t come to my rescue, Vaasudeva, accept my final salutations for it is only you who I have in my heart and I live for you! The life which cannot be of use to you is of no use to me. The very moment which sees me weakening in front of these heretics shall be my last moment in this life. But I am hopeful, Krishna. My hope bases itself on your words that those who stand by Dharma do not need more assurance than Dharma itself.”
Sathya was moved to tears. This could be the condition of her cousin too. Being a woman, how could she differentiate between the two? In the prayer that flowed through the message she found her heart resonating. “Lord, save them.” She spoke in a faint whisper which only he could hear.
Krishna recalled Abhaya’s past encounters with himself. He felt even more stirred from inside. A part of him was moved, a part of him was enraged. A part of him was already drawing a mental picture of the conquest of kAmarUpa. Abhaya lost her father. She did not know about it. Or her instincts guessed it and that is why she sent Him the message and not to anyone else. Or she did not want to break the trust her father had on Vaasudeva and thus, endanger his credibility. Krishna knew he had to focus on the war strategy and make it as quick as possible to win over kAmarUpa. Dismissing the flood of emotions with a clearly audible sigh, he let his concern show.
“Narada, How was she? Healthy? Well? Injured?”
“Not injured, but I can say that if something kept her going, it is not food. It is a hope against hope, Vaasudeva. But seeing you, I am convinced that things are not that hopeless. You are capable of conquering kAmarUpa and stop the perversion in the name of the Mother there.” Narada spoke prophetically as he keenly observed the changes in Krishna’s expressions. An overwhelming concern, replaced by the urge to act transforming into a calm determination to achieve his will and then plunging into the mental calculations needed. Narada’s extensive travelling experience and the astute judgment he had acquired of men, told him that the love filled hope of the princess at Kamarupa was not in vain.
Narada continued to read Krishna’s expressions. The eyes flashing a resolve and a smile that spoke of confidence that arose from very well calculated strategies.
“I am grateful to you Narada. Best of sAdhus, I request you to stay with me. We would really do with an experienced guide who knows those treacherous paths. I am awaiting my forces to arrive here in less than a month. We shall plan our move as soon as my good friends, the Garudas from the Southwest arrive here. They are expert mountain climbers and would be great assets in our attack. Though I know that another risky journey in those mountains which might even take place during the rains is full of risk, I sincerely want you to consider my request.”
Narada nodded, more than happy to consent and also overwhelmed with the resolve. The resolve he saw only in the best of Rishis whom he had encountered in various phases of his life. The acute focus in Krishna’s eyes reminded Narada of a Rishi in the peak of his penance while he was very much a householder.
Narada left with a counter salutation and headed back to his guesthouse. He had found in Krishna for which he had searched all his life in various people. Krishna possessed detachment. The detachment which eluded the seers and sages even while renouncing all aspects of wordly life took its place in a householder. Strage are the ways of Narayana. Narada smiled to himself as he retired.