This poem is based on Sita, the heroine of The Ramayana (one of the two great Indian epics) who followed her husband Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, in his 14-year exile to the forest. There Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka. Sita was forced to undergo agnipariksha, or fire-test, to prove her chastity before Rama when he refused to accept her back after she returned.
Should I laugh or should I cry?
Shocked to find only disgust
When I looked into his blue lotus eyes
Where love had reigned once
How? Why? I knew not what to say
When he ordered, “Light the pyre”
And I looked at the averted eyes
My fury flamed with the fire
“Why the war? Why the pain?
Why save my life in vain?”
He replied without a falter,
“My honor had been stained.
I laughed then, low and harsh
Though dead, Ravana had been right;
Rama never cared for me, or anyone else
For his honor did he fight —
“So now you doubt my worth?” said I,
So low that only he could hear.
All the pain I suffered was for naught
And I asked, “Are you yourself pure?”
Oh, would that he had screamed!
Torn me apart in monstrous rage
Anything but those frozen eyes
Yet not a word was said
Shards of broken belief tore through me
And pain fueled the raging fire
I mocked a smile through my tears
And stepped onto the pyre.
But my tears scalded the flames
I was born once again
Yet not whole, untouched
My blind love for God was dead
I see you, King, now lifeless
And I say, “Please forgive me.
Your words ring now, so true!
He never did come to love me.”
Sunwrita Dastidar studies in Class XII at the Modern High School for Girls in Kolkata, India.
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