My first attempt at historical fiction-
The sun was setting upon the rustic landscape; it’s stretched rays, attempting to tickle the river that gurgled on. He sat cross legged with his spine erect in this glorious sunset. The silken folds of his turmeric yellow dhoti fell carelessly on the well-toned limbs. His upper body was bare except for the sacred thread supported on his left shoulder drawing a line diagonally across his broad chest. A gentle smile played on his lips. The man bun on the crown of his head was adorned with a line of fragrant night flowering jasmine. A little behind his seat, rested his khadau’s. On his left lay his bow, decorated with a hundred gold bosses and radiant ends. On his right was a quiver full of arrows, bearing a mark of the clan he belonged. Aditya, named after the Sun, protector of all life on this planet- lived up to that name. He led a warrior’s life, safeguarding those who came seeking help. He was an archer who never missed his aim, a fearless warrior, a student who never lost focus and a dutiful son.
As night fell, the thicket of the forest threatened to take everything in its fold. The incessant chirping of birds had died down and buzzing of fireflies took over. A small clearing with a handful of circular cottages; straw thatched roofs and mud walls adorned with vegetable dye motifs. Remarkably clean but extremely simple. That was the Gurukul. The yagashala, was their pride and the epicenter of all activity. Diagonally opposite was an open furnace and large earthen utensils- their kitchen.
Behind him, seated neatly in rows, were 20 young boys. All bald with a long lock of hair tied up at the back of the head. They wore orange cotton robes and gazed on as the cackling fire hungrily devoured large chunks of firewood. He had eyes for none of these. He didn’t hear the babble of river as it rolled on, or the various night creatures. His very being was alive with anticipation. His focus was the cushion made of dharbha grass placed beyond the fire. The kitschy footfall told him that his moment of joy was arriving.
Immaculately dressed in a crisp white dhoti and a light shawl draped across his chest, he sat on the cushion laid out for him. The untrimmed ends of his grey beard flew in the direction of the breeze. His forehead donned the scared mark of sandalwood paste starting from the hairline to in between the eyebrows. He wore rosaries made of rudraksha beads. Rishi ji exuded peace and strength. His eyes twinkled with joy on seeing the sight before him. The smile that played on his lips was unmistakable when he set eyes on Aditya. The boy had shown promise that none other had. In his 50 years of running the gurukul, none had the spark as bright as he did. Yet, as every good teacher must, he too had to let this student move on, to fulfill his destiny, to bring peace to a land torn with strife. There would be time for all of that and more. Now, more pressing matters had to be attended to. It was time to help him move out of student hood to another phase of life. It was time for his heart to open up, to choose a companion in the journey of life. Rishi ji closed his eyes. Tonight he would talk about Love.
Aditya was shaken out of his vivid recollections of the night at the gurukul. Rishi ji had spoken about affection, love, marriage! Ever since, his mind had wandered into unknown alleys. He quickly placed his bow on his left shoulder. As a warrior lack of awareness was almost criminal. He was the best student, he knew it. He imbibed fast. Yet, what Rishi ji had shared that night, his last night as a student at the gurukul, was unfathomable for him. None of it made sense and his heart was surely restless. Unknown to himself, he walked into a garden of fragrant flowers. The various shades of green were contrasted by bright yellow, pink and white flowers. The orange marigold played hide and seek behind thick tree trunks. He adjusted his golden armlets. They bore the mark of the sun with delicate rays flowing of it. In the distance he could see the glittering towers of the palace.
At a far end of the garden, delicate anklets tinkled. The dozen bangles clinked noisily, the golden nose pin twinkled naughtily and she laughed in pure joy. Her heart radiated love. Her eyes shone in ecstasy. The pomegranate pink dupatta flew in gay abandon as she meandered through the flower bed. The red bindi on her forehead contrasted with her fair, smooth skin. Speaking in chaste Sanskrit, she and her friends went about collecting flowers. Sweet-smelling jasmine was braided in her waist long hair. She wore a silk ghaghra with intricate kashida embroidery and gold jewels almost half her weight. She carried it with effortless ease. She was a warrior princess of unmatched beauty. The world was hers to be and she lived up to it. At this moment, however, she was looking for her favorite ornament.
Aditya stepped on a red and green peacock shaped brooch. Even as he picked it up, he heard trinkets and bracelets. He stood himself erect and saw the most luminous doe shaped eyes lined with kajal; luscious pink lips and a shapely figure that stood radiant in the morning sun. Standing before him, she looked an epitome of grace. While Rishi jis words from the night before were gaining new meaning and his heart was engaged in a somersault, he was surrounded by men in armor, spears pointing to his heart. Love had found its way, now he had to find his.