Wife

                           

She came into my life

Bearing all the auspicious marks

Like, aeons ago, the daughter of the mountains did.

 

When I beheld her first,

She opened herself to me

Like a lotus aroused by the sun.

 

Her giving was so complete

That my narrow heart

Was too frightened to understand and accept her.

 

I treated her cruelly

Trying to prove her false,

Hoping she'd set me free.

 

By degrees she lost her softness

And became hard and adamant.

I raised my hand on her, but couldn't bend her will.

 

The battle lines were drawn,

It would be a long fight.

Even the gods stood by to watch the outcome.

 

As the contest began,

All my austerities paled into insignificance:

One tear from her eye tipped the scales in her favour.

 

My guru said

"Don't think you can get there on your own:

Without her, you have no salvation."

 

Still I chafed, uncomfortable.

My love had become a yoke,

A goad with which she drove my elephantine ego.

 

Often, I tried to accept my lot:

My lips said all the right words,

But my cold heart did not thaw.

 

I looked for ways to make life easier.

Let's make a deal, I offered

Let's forget about love and settle for happiness.

 

Before she could spurn me,

I realized that again I had betrayed myself:

The original terms of the contract specified love.

 

As the years dragged on

She filled my days with unhappiness,

Stirring not an inch from her original position.

 

And in the beginning

It was I who had boasted

That to bear fruit, the penance must be severe.

 

Self-cursed, I marvelled at my loss:

How beautiful she was,

But though my own, how inaccessible.

 

To imagine that I had it all

And yet had nothing:

My own renunciations were eating into my heart.

 

What paradoxical emotions I experienced:

I hated her but when she turned her face away,

The world became a wilderness.

 

Hot, dry winds blew

And I roamed about like a madman,

Bereft, thirst, gasping for breath.

 

Truly, she was the world,

Society, life, all that made existence meaningful;

Without her I could only destroy the universe.

 

Elders and well-wishers watched this relationship

Baffled and frightened:

The terrific battles over trifles and unspoken assent over vitals.

 

With others we were the best behaved

But with each other,

Fierce critics, exacting and unforgiving.

 

They advised us:  it looks so bad

To see you fighting;

At least behave yourself in public.

 

But, secretly, I felt sure:

When it looks worse than it is, there's still hope;

But when it looks good but is rotten inside, that's the end.

 

Thus, we were always stronger than we looked;

We always loved each other more

Than we cared to admit.

 

Now I have learned

That she doesn't ask for much:

With whatever is offered, nothing less than my heart.

 

Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking

She's only too human:  she behaves as she pleases, does what she wants;

She never gives up anything for me.

 

But before her austerity, my renunciations

Wither like stale flowers:  the woman who can be celibate

In her matrimonial bed, is verily an image of the Divine Mother.

 

At last in a vision I saw who she was,

Enveloped in a flood of white light,

As a divine child sporting in the empyrean.

 

When I looked into her mind

It was like a spring of crystal water,

Sparkling and spotless--without a speck of dirt.

 

To have her for wife is indeed a blessing.

Her very thought drives away sin:

She is both Guru and _Gruhini_.

 

So, Love, I return myself to you

As in the end of all beginnings:

I pray to you:  open my heart, give me another chance.

 

May my words please you well,

May you open your eyes and smile,

And hold up your hand in benediction.

 

In you are contained all that is noble,

In you is all auspiciousness:

Health, bounty, happiness, the abundance of creation.

 

To make you happy is to please the gods,

To hurt you, to cause you the slightest pain,

Is to invite misfortune with one's own hands.

 

You are _vidya_, you are _shanti_, you are _dhriti_,

You are _keerti_, you are _rati_, you are _sati_,

So bless me--give me refuge at your feet.

 

And let our home resonate

With the harmonies of peace and joy

And let the earth itself flower with your benediction.

 

This gift of love, let us share

Like the spiritual fragrance of the yagnas of yore,

Until we disappear once more, returning to our permanent abodes.

 

So victory to righteousness; death to wickedness;

Peace to the denizens of the earth;

And salvation to all, from particle to God.


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape