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Shriman Yogi by Mr. Ranjeet Desai - Issue 2 Page 2

“I am taking Shambhu with me. I have plans for him. I am leaving Balkrishna Hanumante, Sankoji Neelkath, SonojiPant, Korde and some supplies with you.  Once things settle down I will send for you. Take care of yourself.”

 

          Jijabai pulled and held Shambhu close as he bent down to touch his mother’s feet. Shambhu struggled out of his mother’s arms. Jijabai was at loss of words. Her eyes couldn’t get enough of her son, but sight was getting  blurred as her eyes were tearing up. As she was drying her eyes, Shambhu and Shahajiraje were leaving, without a single backward glance!

 

Laxmibai, Vishwasrao’s wife, came forward to help Jijabai. As they turned to inside it was impossible to ignore the footsteps that were taking Shahajiraje and Shambhu away!

 

 

It was cool and quiet night and small town of Junner was getting ready to sleep. Few oil lamps and few torches were still burning, but otherwise it was dark and quiet.

 

Vishwasrao was resting in his house as he heard the big commotion. Suddenly the main gate opened and the doorman rushed in, “ Lakhuji Jadhav’s army has surrounded the town, and he is on his way over here.” Vishwasrao was well aware of the ongoing feud between Lakhuji – Jijabai’s father - and Shahaji - her husband. He got up calmly and said “let him come in.” He didn’t even have to take two steps before Lakhuji rushed in with a nude sword in his hand. “Where is that Shahaji?” He shouted.

 

“Please put your sword away and come in sir.” Vishwasrao was still calm.

 

“Just answer the question!”

“one should not enter a respectable household with a open weapon in hand sir” Vishwasrao said.

 

 “Tell me where Shahaji is” Lakhuji was still angry.

“He is not here”

“Must be hiding somewhere!”

“Shahaji has more courage than that sir”

“Enough to run away you mean?”

“That is enough! Shahaji is my very close friend and relative. I will not stand here and let you go on insulting him.” With that both of them raised their swords. They were just about to take steps towards each other when they heard, “ Aaba…”  

 

With that they both turned around, Jijabai was standing in the doorway. Lakhuji’s arm came down. Vishwasrao moved out of the way.

 

Lakhuji was overcome with emotions, he could not move. His darling daughter was standing in front of him. He had raised her like a princess, and was an apple of his eye. She got married to Shahaji and had taken all the happiness with her. Lakhuji’s life and home was empty without her.

 

Now, seeing her standing there, crying, he dropped his sword, “my dear …” he said, trying to collect his strength. Tears in eyes and big smile on face, Vishwasrao was taking in this reunion.

“Forgive me for the earlier indiscretion.” He said to Lakhuji after a while.          

 

“Please don’t apologize, I am glad to see that at least somebody is guarding my daughter.” Lakhuji said, turning to his daughter, “how are you my dear?”

 

“How can you ask me that Aaba?”

“Why my dear? Why did you stop?

 

Jijabai was looking at her father, her eyes were filled with pain and tears. She spoke without realizing, “ what can I say? Us women, father gives us away in marriage, then it is in husband’s hand whether to stay with us or not ..”

 

“Stop!” Lakhuji said with rage. “You might be a burden to that Shahaji, but as long as your father is alive, you will never be homeless!”

 

“If you love me so much Aaba, then why this feud with my husband? Ever thought how you will feel if I became a widow? Please Aaba, promise me …..”

 

Lakhuji pulled his daughter in his arms again. Covering her mouth with his trembling hand he said, “ No dear, please don’t make me make any promises I might not be able to keep. Just like my blood is linked to you, this body is linked to the family name. Feud? That is out of my control now. I do prey to god that your husband lives long life. Stop crying now and listen to me. There is draught everywhere, all surrounding kingdoms are unsettled. How will you live alone? Come home with me, that too is your house. Once everything is calm, I will take you anywhere you want.”

 

Jijabai shook her head, “No Aaba, I can not do that. I am married now, If I go with you like this, it will be an insult for my husband’s family.”

Lakhuji exhaled sadly. “When you try solve one puzzle, other springs up! You are my beloved daughter, your husband has left you and you are pregnant. But I can not do anything to help!”

“That is not true Aaba. There is something you can do.”

“Tell me!”

“You can take me up on the fort before you leave.”

“I know exactly what you mean, - Vishwasrao!”

“Yes?”

“Get few men ready tomorrow. It might be a better idea to take her up on the mountain, instead of keeping her here at ground level.”

“As you wish! Now, that it is settled, I have one request.”

“Why request? You can issue an order. My life – my daughter – is in your care!”

 

“Please forgive and forget my earlier indiscretion. But this feud between your families has brought you here today to my house, and it will be my honor if you and your army will dine with us tonight”

 

“We didn’t know how things are going to shape up tonight, so the army has already been fed. And me? At this age, I only eat one time every day. If you could look after the animals ….?

 

“That has already been taken care of. But please, who knows when you might come here again ….. Lady Jijabai, if you would …?”

“You both are elder to me, what can I say?” Jijabai said shyly.

“Alright, you win! But it is late, so we will eat something very simple.”

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