We are Rajput of Mewar.
That is my go-to mantra to get Kunwar Sa and Chandan to do anything. But right now, I need it more. Banvir is on his way to the palace. As my heart races, I don the mantra as my armor. I will wield it as a shield and a sword. As I pace up and down the bedchamber, I pray to Eklingji to turn my heart to stone. How can a mother do this? How can I do this? But I must, mustn’t I? Today, I am going to do something unthinkable. Today, I will prove true to my dharma, and to my motherland.
My steps falter and I think, ‘But what about my dharma as a mother?’
I walk up to where my son sleeps peacefully and whisper in his ears, ‘I love you. You are the light of my life, the reason for me to live.’
I choke, my lips tremble and tears threaten to flow but I continue for he needs to know, ‘Today we need to protect the future of Mewar. But you will always live in every fibre of my being, every breath I take, as will Mewar, both of us will be indebted to you.’ I bend and kiss his forehead gently.
Suddenly the quiet of the night is shattered by shouts and clang of swords. He is here. He is here for Kunwar Uday Singh, the fourth son of Rana Sanga, the only heir left to the throne of Mewar.
I hastily cover up my son and move away from the bed. Just as I reach the door it is thrown open and Banvir strides in.
‘Where is he?’ he roars.
Mutely, I point to my son, who sleeps in Kunwar’s bed tonight.
In that moment I am a statue made of the same stone on which rest the foundations of the great fort of Chittor, but inside I am a billion grains of sand blown away to oblivion by this roaring wind called Banvir.
And he raises his sword.
Ma, I know you love me, but not enough to let me sleep in his bed. So, I know something is bothering you, I am not so young that I don’t understand. You think I am asleep, but I can hear you pacing up and down.
What was it that you had said as you had gently run your fingers through my hair, ‘Today, let me feed you with my own hands and to my heart’s content.’ I was so happy that you chose to feed me and not Kunwar Sa. And even as I ate you kissed my forehead and sang to me not the songs of valor you always do, but songs of love. And I told myself that when the sunsets tomorrow, I will ask you to do this again. Sometimes songs of love are better than songs of bravery, na Ma?
Now as I lie here, I know it is for a reason. How when I raised my hand for you to kiss while I ate, you held it in yours for so long and your eyes shimmered just like Berach in summers. I don’t think I have ever seen you cry. I wanted to ask you, but I also didn’t want you to stop singing.
Now I know or I think…I know.
I hear the door crash open and Banvir roar.
Don’t worry Ma, I won’t cry, and I won’t fail you.
We are Rajput of Mewar.