It had rained incessantly all night. The leaves outside her window were exhausted from all the pelting, the sounds and were sleep-deprived. Toward dawn they gently nodded off. The rain had left its perfume in every bough, an earthy lingering as it were and the trees swayed drowsily, in all their verdant glory.
Satya flung open her windows and breathed deeply. A profound sense of elation overwhelmed her as the sun’s noose caught her throat, and she laughed out loud unable to contain her joy. It was the day when she would venture out to find her mate, her soul mate she hoped. She aspired for that one perfect mien, that one unflawed man who would pillage and plunder her being with his love. The prize would be her being in its entirety. She couldn’t wait for the bells to chime. She could barely hear her own breath when the Queen mother sashayed into her room in a beautiful rose-coloured gown.
“My lovely child, o my beautiful baby…”, murmuring as she embraced the tall and svelte Satya.
“Oh mother, I can barely wait to get onto the waiting chariot. I have waited long enough have I not, “ barely bashful was Satya.
“Yes you have been very patient my child. Surely another hour will only serve to whet your appetite, will it not!”
“Indeed” and Satya walked to her wardrobe and took out her drabbest outfit, glimmering even so.
“Surely not this one Satya?” a quizzical look appeared on mother’s face.
“You do know that I wish to know the one true love of my life, and I do not wish to blind the man’s face or confuse him with shining armour mother”
“Hmmm, while I understand what you wish to convey, or conceal perhaps, let us not exaggerate.”
“Mother, this beige robe is almost truly me. I am no real princess am I, you know my heart is a simple, a lucid instrument of love. The clothes that adorn me cannot truly express who I am.”
“But child, this is the dress you wear to very solemn occasions. You are out to celebrate your womanhood, something with more allure perhaps?”
“Let me choose this time mother, let me choose.” And the matter was sealed.
Satya mounted the chariot with practiced ease. She had said her goodbyes and was off with but a charioteer who was to do her bidding. The charioteer, an old friend of Satya’s, a boy by the name Tilon, was to be her guard, her overseer, her friend and anything else she may wish him to be. He was adept at hunting and had been the best choice, even in Satya’s father’s eyes. He was a trusted lieutenant, agile and honest to a fault. A single glance upon his face and one knew that this was a man to be trusted. By ordinary standards, Tilon was not good-looking, lacked fine features, and that made him an even better servant to Princess Satya. Satya in turn loved and trusted him with her life. He was her best friend.
The Emerald forest had rested well, and awoke luxuriant and melodious. Its lingering and unhurried fragrances were mild, yet lusty. The scent of Mogras and Jasmines filled the moist air, adding to the full-bodied cries of the peacocks. The dampness of the night was sliding off the grass and branches, languorously.
Abhiram, himself had washed, eaten wild berries and drunk a pot of warm brew. He had begun his march into the higher reaches of this forest to chop wood for his afternoon and evening meal fire. Over the last six months of his foray into an ascetic’s life, his body had undergone the agonizing ritual of remoulding his mind to accept a life of hardship and penance, as was his punishment. Today, he stood stronger and taller, one among the bushes and thick foliage of this miraculous being, the emerald forest of Rajasipura. Every bird, every animal knew him, the trees recognized his arched footfall, and the vitality of his being. He had graduated to the level of nature and had embraced every rise, as he had every fall.
Satya’s chariot had parked itself for the night not far from Abhiram’s little hut. The little thatch was hidden away among the lushness of the woods, but the warm breath of fire, was unlit yet alive. Just outside the Man’s hut, the lithesome smoke that continued to curl heavenward caught Tilon’s eye.
“Satya, there seems to be some creature, a man perhaps, alive in this forest.”
Satya’s eyes caught the flicker of worry in Tilon’s eye.
“So?” she responded casually, “am I not here to meet a man,” she teased.
“Yes Satya, you are,” keeping his eyes downcast Tilon quietly put forth.
“So should I venture to unravel who this creature might be. “ Satya was unabashed in her restlessness to untangle any mysteries awaiting her in the depths of this green being.
Having slept very comfortably in the knowledge that she was safe and cared for, she, feeling frisky having reached this haven after ten days. She had already visited two kingdoms and come away severely disappointed. Finding her mate was top of the day’s list.
The morning hours were Satya’s favorite. She was happy and hopeful this new day.
“I am going to go and look for water, and if I chance upon this creature you mention, I will cry out like a pea….no, not peacock, there are too many and you will mistake me for yet another,” she reflected out loud.
“Why don’t I come with you Satya?” Tilon gently queried, more as a declaration than a mere suggestion.
“No, I want to go out there by myself. I am a big girl, and what if I find The One?”
now muttering more to herself.
“Satya, I am coming with you. I am here to perform my duty. Please permit me to do my best and not fail your father, “ Tilon now pleading.
“Tilonnn, I forbid you to come. Trust me, I will send for you as I deem fit, and you will know when I call. “
Satya had been walking for over an hour. She treaded with care, then with carelessness. She felt wanton, free of shame and liberated without any companion. All her life she had always had someone by her side, outside her curtained abode, or innumerable maids to do her bidding. She had never been permitted aloneness as she was now beginning to sense. This Unknown was gradually taking shape, and self-love was forming without haste.
Every tree, every leaf, every bird reached out to her. She felt the trunks of an old Oak as she leaned over the boughs to breathe in of life. She sensed her limbs extending and growing, embracing the Lord’s breath. She seated herself on an old weary trunk, and sang out loud. She was beautiful Satya, with a head heavy with dark tresses that cascaded down her nimble back, amber eyes that would melt a heart of stone, and a lithe gait, that of a merry deer. She was lissome and her loveliness she wore lightly. Her limbs were proportionate to the rest of her, and the art of living a Princess’ life, became her. Her bearing was royal and the feminine voice, just above a whisper, with modulations so perfect. Her utterances were never jarring, even if it were to admonish a server. Satya was a real Princess, fit to be Queen some day.
And then all of a sudden she felt her skin tingle, and her face grow warm. Was there someone there concealed from her vision? What or who was she sensing? She brought her palms to her face which was feverish. Gradually the warmth spread to her beauteous limbs, and her chest. Her heart beat fast and then she swung around. Standing there, a few feet away, she spied the most beautiful man-creature she had ever laid her eyes upon. There he was, and yet all she had seen was his back. A loincloth covered him waist downward, wrapping his sinewy lower limbs and his shame. His half-hidden thighs were like two supple pillars, and much as she wanted to, she was unable to pull away her sight. She just watched him standing there, spellbound. He was bent over something- and all she could sense was his mighty physical presence. The muscles on his back shone like silver, every ripple like the wave upon a mighty ocean. His neck bristled with a vitality that reached out to her. His arms, long and tenuous, with black thread talismans tied, were strong yet tender and then she observed that he carried a machete in one hand. And his other hand carried a massive branch. And then he turned around, and Satya gasped. His golden hair fell gently over his forehead, which, even at the distance between them, bore a princely texture. She could already feel his breath upon her face, his lips sealing hers and his arms crushing her chest against his power and his manhood. She felt a strange desire overcome her.
Between breaths she was giving herself to this unknown and beautiful man.
He had not seen her.
She closed her eyes lest this vision of exquisite handsomeness vanish.
Abhiram strode in her direction and only saw her when he was too close to steer away. He gasped when his eyes met hers. She heard him, and dared not open her eyes. She had felt his breath. The scent of his body engulfed her. His body responded furtively, as he stared at her, transfixed by the vision of this lovely creature, mythical and unreal. The sensation that he might have seen a heavenly Nymph was beginning to drive his need to feel her as real. Neither spoke.
Milady, what are you doing here?
I have come in search of you.
How do you know it is me you are seeking?
Then I must know too.
You do, but because I sought you out first, I recognized you before you knew me. Do you not see that the allure and delicacy of our physical encounter befits our meeting? Do you not observe now that we were to meet in a place such as this, an emerald forest of unsurpassed beauty. The perfume that you wear, your natural musk, I now wear as my own.
My Lady, stop. This is not real, don’t you see. I am an exiled Prince, and I sense that you are royal. Your bearing is truly exquisite. You are the most winsome lass I have ever seen.
There you see, we are meant to be thus attracted to one another and bear a hundred sons.
No. Don’t toy with me. Although I do not know your earthly name, surely you are an Apsara (angel) that has descended to destroy the oath I had to undertake to serve this emerald forest for two years. I have another year and half to go, so please don’t …or break this spell with your Divine powers such as you surely possess.
Satya just then opened her eyes, and was about to swoon. Abhiram swooped her into his arms. The gust of passion that overwhelmed them was palpable to the observing and keen eye of Nature. The flora and fauna around blushed eloquently; a heavenly couple was about to wed.
Satya gazed deep into the exiled Prince’s dark eyes and opened her mouth. The moment suspended, ensnared the lovers, and Abhiram sealed her wanton lips with a longing quite unknown and new to him. A deep kiss was exchanged that lasted till the end of time. They were on the forest floor, one with the kelp, growing such as a soft wedding bed. The canopy of trees hovered gently over them, while the marriage of these two wondrous creatures played out.
Abhiram continued to kiss Satya, as she yielded with all her being, matching his passionate frenzy with zeal. She took his hand to her breathing skin, along her waist and slid it to her breasts. He felt her pulsating response and the intensity of her response ignited his manly fire. They, man and woman, were in ecstasy. Man let himself free upon her as she wished to be devoured by him. He permitted himself, aided by her lust, to, at first, peck at her slender neck, then glide his mouth lusciously upon her smooth surface and her every pore, even as he undid the knots of her upper garment. She pleaded with him to feel her every nook, guiding his hand along her delicate and gossamer skin. He closed his eyes to envision her being, light and nigh diaphanous with clarity lest this were but a mere passing heavenly dream. He embedded himself upon her in mystical codes that neither wished to grasp. Neither man nor woman has known such longing, such agility nor such hunger.
She drank of him, thirstily and slid her hand ever so gently along his rugged legs. She aroused him repeatedly and wouldn’t let him breathe till she had crushed his every breath claiming each as her own.
Their union was a burst of unabated lust. Both never more alive, never more in love.
Satya and Abhiram lay there, spent, under the verdant canopy which had gradually turned a shade darker, as the ride of earthly passion neared its end. The cries of the passing birds spoke of the setting sun. The foliage around was moving into a somnambulistic state.
Tilon had started marching toward the sounds he thought he heard, fearing the worst. He hastily hid behind a bush when he discovered that Satya had indeed discovered her mate. He sat quiet and unmoving. He had not known such love existed. Did Satya truly know what she was doing? Was this moment the one he had been sent out to protect her from? Questions ravaged his conscience, but he dared not raise the eyes. She had forewarned him that she would call out to him, and she had not. Surely as her servant and protector, he was following orders to the letter. Is Satya safe in her own hands? He just sat there, a statuette, one with the pebbles that lay beneath is feet, an animal in waiting.
Abhiram’s arms lay across Satya’s waist, and she herself had passed into a state of inertia. The Prince held Satya’s face against his and kissing it all over again, said,
“Milady, what is thy command. I am your slave, as you are mine perhaps.”
Satya smiled quietly. Her lips, now fuller,
“Did I not tell you we had found each other? Now you know. Have you recognized your wife?”
“Yes, you are my lady, but surely you must then already be in the know that I am the exiled Prince of Rajasipura?”
“Then my kind father will free your land, and we shall be wedded in all the glory deserving of a handsome Prince such as yourself.”
The pot of water lying by the side, they used to wash each other.
He gently retied the blouse on Satya’s soft body, feeling her as his own, and dressed himself shyly. Their love had been sealed, and commissioned by celestial forms. The Divine had watched and blessed this couple. Satya was married to Abhiram that blessed day, consummating their marriage in the halls of the Emerald forest, and the birds and bees had feasted their senses.
Satya held onto her Prince for a very long while before calling out to her servitor. She had known of Tilon’s arrival as she was mistress of her senses.
“Tilon, come and meet your future Master, and King.” she cried out.
Tilon emerged from the bush with his head bowed and touched the Prince’s feet. Abhiram held him by his shoulders and announced, “It is with pleasure that I lay my eyes upon my future wife’s servitor. You have done a fine job of protecting her from all harm, but Love, that which needs no protection. ”
“On the contrary MiLord, on the contrary.” Satya uttered, shedding her most benign smile upon Tilon who had seen Heaven and Earth move in unison but minutes ago.