|Q for Queen Damayanti's swayamvar|
Alas, he had left her alone in the forest. Of course, Damayanti knew that Nala loved her more than his own life. He hadn’t left her for a better life. She knew that he had left her so that she did not have to undergo the suffering along with him. A deep sigh came up from the depths of her being. Where was he?
A bizarre idea took shape in her head as Damayanti’s eyes began to sparkle. She snapped her fingers before turning around to call out to her maids. Her step was lighter as she got ready to go meet the king, her father. It was time to hold another swayamvar. Yes, a swayamvar for Queen Damayanti this time as against Princess Damayanti. Despite the passage of almost two decades, despite being the mother of two growing children, Damayanti looked young and beautiful. And there were even the Gods lusting after her.
The king sent out the invitation, knowing of his daughter’s intention. He prayed from the depth of his heart that Damayanti was reunited with her husband King Nala.
The day of the swayamvar dawned. Indra, Varuna, Yama and Agni had come down to earth to try their luck at securing Damayanti’s hand, at least this time round. They were all happy that Nala was not in the running this time round. Dwarf Bahuka rode Ayodhya King Rituparna’s chariot as the king of Ayodhya was also keen to participate in the swayamvar. Bahuka wondered what his wife was getting at. Yes, it was Nala who had attained the form of a dwarf due to a snake bite. Had Damayanti given up on husband? Didn’t she have faith that he would return to claim her?
Damayanti watched from her window as the kings and Gods arrived for the swayamvar. But the face that she sought was missing. Her disappointment was acute.
Just then, her maid brought her a bowl of cooked meat. The aroma was titillating to say the least. Moreover, it was familiar. Hope flowered in Damayanti’s heart as her appetite returned with a vengeance. As she took a bite of the dish, a wide smile broke out on her face. Her husband was back. Her maid took her to the kitchen to point out the dwarf Bahuka and informed the queen that it was he who had cooked the meat.
Damayanti walked into the kitchen to face Bahuka, much to the surprise of the palace cooks. She lifted the swayamvar garland and placed it on his neck. Lo and behold! Bahuka was transformed into the tall, fair and handsome Nala. Queen Damayanti’s joy knew no bounds as she was reunited with the love of her life.
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I Luv Fiction by Ruchi Singh