The city of Junner at the base of
Shiveneri fort was glowing in late afternoon sun. A few yards away,
Shahajiraje was waiting on his horse. Young Sambhaji too was waiting
along with his father. Although Shahaji was not a king his strength
had earned him respect and was called “Raje” Every now and then father
and son were looking at the dirt road. Nobody was in sight. With every
passing second Shahajiraje was getting more and more restless.
“Father look, Mother is coming!” Young
“Where?” Shahajiraje asked looking
anxiously at the road.
Shahajiraje was now looking in the
direction Sambhaji was pointing to. He could see a cloud of dust
lifting into the air. Soon they heard footsteps of approaching horses.
As the group came closer only three riders continued towards
Shahajiraje. One of them was Jijabai who looked extremely fatigued. As
she dismounted with the help of a foot soldier she looked at her son,
young Sambhaji, with a faint smile on her face. Jijabai, who was three
months pregnant, was sweating, her face was pale and her eyes were
looking bloodshot. She wrapped her sari neatly around her shoulders as
she came closer to Shahajiraje.
“If we keep taking frequent breaks like
this, it won’t be long before your father catches up with us”
“That is exactly what I was going to
“What do you mean?” Shahajiraje asked.
“You should go ahead.”
“What about you?”
“I don’t think I am up to the travel
“But leaving you alone here like this
“Fortunately our relative Vishwasrao and
his family live close by. I can stay with them. I am safe only if you
are safe. Right now every second is valuable ….”
“All this is because of your father!
If he thinks he is the only one who can continue with this feud, he is
wrong!” Furious Shahajiraje retorted.
“What could I say?” was all Jijabai
“We will do as you say. If your father
has any shame he wont harm you. Beyond that it is you and your fate! I
don’t have time to waste. Is this final then?”
Jijabai turned to her horse, trying her
best to control her tears.
Word was sent to Junner. Vishwasrao
himself came to receive Jijabai. He lead Shahajiraje and Jijabai to
his home with due honor. As soon as they reached Vishwasrao’s estate,
Shahajiraje said, “ Vishwasrao, I am really embarrassed that I have to
come here under these circumstances.”
“Raje, please don’t say that. I am
honored to be of any help. We will do our best to take care of Queen
Jijabai.” Vishwasrao said.
“I wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t sure
of that. I can’t stay any longer. Prince Shambhu, are you ready to go
on? Or you too want to stay back?”
“I am going with you.” Sambhaji said
shyly as he tried to avoid looking at his mother.
“Good boy!” Said Shahaji.
“Can’t he stay for a while? I will send
him once things settle down a bit.” Jijabai tried.
“Listen to this Vishwasrao! Prince is in
danger, not I!”
“That is not what I meant” Jijabai said
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