“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
“That is not true Aaba. There is
something you can do.”
“You can take me up on the fort before
“I know exactly what you mean, -
“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
“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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