Abhaya's right hand raised slowly to apply the mark of vermillion on the forehead of the victorious Vaasudeva. She took care to cover her face with the veil all the while. But she could see through it. She saw his face and tears dropped from her eyes. "Lord". Her heart shouted. She barely managed to rest her finger dipped in the vermillion on his forehead. At the contact, she felt elated. Elation that surrounds a person who has fulfilled his mission in life.
Before she could take her hand back, Vaasudeva held it. Abhaya froze at the spot. The veil dropped from her head as she stood to face Krishna Vaasudeva, the man to whom she had lost her heart. She was left looking at him directly into the eye. His face blossomed into that smile she could never forget. A smile at finding something dear which was lost.
This moment was worth a life's penance for her. Rooted to the spot, she was in no position to react. Her Lord did not show any traces of ridicule. She could only see the joy and love in his face. Something in her strongly resented her happiness. " You do not deserve him. Not after this life of captivity which resulted at your own mistake."
In a flash of a moment she withdrew her hand which he held and ran from there. She did not know why she was running and where she would go. She just ran.
Krishna's smile showed he clearly understood what was going in her mind. He came forward and paid his respects to the Queen Mother. " My deep Condolences for your loss, Mother. I promise that the honour of Pragjyotisha would be upheld."
Vasumathi raised her hands, first in a salutation and then as a blessing. "Protector of Dharma, May your mission be fulfilled. I know you Vaasudeva. It is an honour to meet you in person. I can only wish that it happened in happier times. But my son's days were numbered, considering the sins he committed." Vasumathi turned in the direction where Abhaya ran. "Believe me Vaasudeva. Her world revolved around you. Go to her, she might not be able to bear the burden of self ridicule. She has been subjecting herself to it since some days. Go to her."
Abhaya ran towards the shrine room of Narayana. The excitement gave way to weakness and her steps faltered and lost speed. Before she entered the room, she felt the familiar footsteps pursue her and catch her by the arm, turning her around. She closed her eyes again and bent her head, unable to face him again.
"Is this some favourite game of yours princess? First your brother makes me come from Dwaraka to Anagha and you run away to Avanthi. I follow you closely and thought I almost caught you, then you run this far? I have traveled the entire breadth of Aryavarta this time and now if I let you go, you might even run to rasAtala (nether worlds) next. I am game for it if you wish, but don't you have anything called pity on this pursuer?"
The words struck her like the fifth arrow of Cupid. He asking her to take pity on him? She knew he had overpowered her here. She opened her eyes and threw herself at his feet.
"Lord.."she managed to speak through her tears which flowed like a river in flood which breaks through a weakened dam. "Lord.. My Lord. Forgive me. Forgive me Lord. I won't run away now. You have bound me with that. Here is your slave Lord, for many lives to come." She rained tears at his feet with that and could speak no more.
She felt him hold her by shoulders to raise her up. His hands came up to her chin and then covered her cheeks wet with tears. He made her look up to him while attempting to wipe those tears. She saw the most assuring smile for which she would have give up her life multiple times.
"Lord, .. I swear in the name of my revered Father.." She sobbed. "My chastity..". His hand sealed her lips, preventing her from speaking more.
"I do not need you to say that, dear princess. I do know of your love and devotion to me." His words sounded and resonated in her ears like pure notes of Veena (lute).
All the emotions she had suppressed these months broke their way out. "Lord.. will you... really.. will you.. accept... you.. accept me.. as your humble slave? I ... shall .. I shall never...go .. against..."
As she was struggling with words, she found herself pressed to his bosom. She sobbed out openly now as she felt his arms go around her and tighten. She knew he stood for her and needed no more answers.