She lay by the pool, her fingers in the water. The water was icy cold, but she hardly felt it. Her mind was still in shock. Were someone to ask her, she would have no answers as to how she reached here. Her feet had carried her here, to this spot, of their own volition. Once upon a time, a lifetime ago, this had been her favourite spot in the garden. And in the aftermath of the devastation she’d experienced and witnessed, she’d made it here, purely on instinct.
Her eyes went to her reflection in the water. Distorted as it was by the ripples on the surface, it still was clear enough to cause a frown to appear between her brows. How could she look as if nothing had happened? She looked just as immaculate as when she had set out that morning. That morning already seemed so long ago. Was it really her in that reflection? Her eyes moved over the intricately knotted hair with jewelled clips holding them in place, to the face with its delicately arched eyebrows, wide eyes, straight nose, moulded lips and firm chin. The nose-ring and chain shimmered in the reflection as did her ear-rings and the jewelled necklaces which were around her neck. Her dress, of a delicate shade of pink that complemented her dusky colour draped her form in silken folds. The sunlight glinted off the wide gold bangles she wore and the water flowed over the rings on her fingers. A delicately wrought gold chain was around her waist, embracing her lovingly. The breeze lifted the hem of her robe to reveal the silver anklets that tinkled musically with every step she took. She looked at herself in distaste. Thus had she adorned herself this morning, thus had she gone to Him….
Him…. she closed her eyes, the pain that lanced through her heart at His thought was so intense it left her breathless. And well might she be, thought she. For He was the sole purpose for which she drew breath. Without Him, she might as well be dead.
And He was gone now. Gone forever from her life. And she did not know how to find Him again. It was an answer to all her prayers, His coming here. And now He was gone, and her dreams were but ashes.
Like the ashes He’d left behind. The ashes that Kama Deva had been reduced to. She still saw it in her mind’s eye. His furious gaze finding the God of Love, his arrow aiming straight at His heart. And then He’d opened His third eye and all that remained of the Deva and his arrows were a heap of ashes.
And yet…. and yet, there had been a moment before that… a moment where His eyes had locked on her as she was offering him the lotus flowers she had gathered. A moment when His eyes had softened, an expression of tenderness had come to them, and a moment when He seemed to notice her, and His eyes had darkened with-desire? She had trembled then, but not with fear. A thrill had gone through her….
And then, the moment had passed, and He’d regained mastery over His senses, but not before punishing the one responsible for that momentary flutter.
She looked at herself again. She looked what she was. A princess. Pampered, sheltered, soft, privileged. Her dress, her ornaments, her adornments, her appearance, all proclaimed her status.
Had she thought to win Him over thus? Had she sought to win him with her charms? With her graces? With her beauty? Him, who was the master of all three worlds, who was the master of his senses, who was above all desires? Him who disdained his own beauty by smearing himself with ashes and covering himself in skins? Him who sought to emphasize his detachment from the world by choosing to dwell in graveyards, by choosing to consort with ghosts and ghouls?
And she had gone to him thus, a painted doll, her heart on her sleeve. Did she really think He’d be moved? Did she really think He’d spare her a second glance?
She drew her hand from the water and rose, not languidly as was her wont, but energetically. There was a determined glint in her eyes and resolution on her face.
She’d chosen Him. She would win Him. But not with her beauty or with her femininity, but the way all His devotees had won Him. With devotion, unshaken by anything. With meditation, unbroken by needs of the body. She would cast aside her silks and her ornaments and would garb herself as He was garbed. She had set her heart on the greatest renunciate of all. And she would win Him through renunciation.
But win Him, she will. For her life had no meaning without Him.