The story of my life begins on the day I was found by my parents in a well, screaming for help. Having tried hard several times, I am still unable to recall anything from my life before that. How I ended up in that well has been a mystery to me all my life.
Mayasura- the king of Asuras was my father and my mother; she was an Apsara- a celestial being and the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I was their only daughter. Mother always told me how she had longed for a daughter until I showed up on that fine day. My two older brothers Mayavi and Dundubhi, both equally notorious and troublesome, were a handful for my mother to handle. Needless to say, I was the most pampered of the three. While I was the only princess of my father’s province, I was also considered the prettiest of all the Asura-girls in the kingdom. My father was not only the king but also an exceptional architect. Some of the magnificent and mesmerizing palaces and temples in the country were his creations. He always wanted me to walk in his shoes and learn architecture, but my interests were different. I wanted to learn about the history of the country. Subjects like economics and statecraft kept me intrigued.
When I grew up, my parents decided to find me a suitable groom. Both my parents wished for me to get married to someone of our kind- an Asura, whose ways of life I had already got accustomed to. But I had my own doubts. We all lived happily in our own world, when one day Lankapati Ravan, the King of the most prosperous country in the world, decided to visit us. He claimed to be an Asura like the rest of us, but he was more different than alike. It was later that I learnt about his origin, he was half-Brahmin and half-Asura. His father Vishravas was a Rishi- sage while his mother Kekasi was an Asura.
Ravana was a well-built man, with strong muscular arms and wide shoulders. His face was handsome with charcoal-black, deep-set eyes and a prominent nose. Mother, who believed I looked more Apsara than an Asura, thought of him as an ideal match for her ideal daughter. Father too agreed with her. And that is how I ended up being the Queen of Lanka.
It was Vibhishana, Ravana’s younger brother who first told me about the history of this affluent town. It was from him that I learnt, what a great warrior Ravana was. Ravana and his siblings- Kumba, Vibhishana and Meenakshi (infamously known as Shurpanakha) were brought up single-handedly by their mother, who fought against all odds to raise them. They lived in poverty and found it difficult to manage food for even two times a day. Their father, the travelling Sage, was never around for the most part of their childhood and hence Ravana did not really share any close bond with his father. He was closely attached to his mother and wished to shower her with all happiness and luxury in the world.
With a vision to rule the most prosperous country in the world, Ravana had decided to attack Lanka. He had spent several years in penance to train his mind and body. He had formed an army of his own, training them for several years and forming the Asura army which later became the Lanka-Sena. It was not long before he and his brothers along with the Asura army had defeated the then king of Lanka, the wealthy and arrogant Kubera- who was also Ravana’s half-brother. Shurpanakha was the one who told me about their bitter relationship with him. Kubera who had been the King of Lanka for several decades had lived believing that he was invincible. He did not leave any chance of humiliating Kekasi and her children whenever they visited him, hoping for his help. Kubera’s haughtiness had served as ammunition to Ravana’s determination to conquer Lanka.
It was after learning about Lanka’s history and Ravana’s role in it that I had started seeing him in a new light. He was different, strong and powerful outside, tender and caring from within. He was a man of principles and treated everyone right. He never took me for granted and treated me with respect. He was a short-tempered man, whose ways were more violent than wise. But he was just and true to his words. His people adored him for his justice and ability to run this magnificent empire single-handedly. It was these qualities of his that drew me towards him. He was nothing like the Deva princes whom I used to dream of marrying; Ravana was more human, beautiful in his own way with his flaws and scars.
Eventually, our relation began to take shape and our worlds began to intersect. It was not long before he became the centre of my existence. Very soon, we were blessed with three sons- Meghanada, Atikaya, and Akshaya. Having never really experienced father’s love, he made sure our children did not share the same fate. His love for his family and his people made him all the more respectable.
Everything in our life was going well. I was a proud queen and a prouder wife. Ravana ruled the country well. Everyone in Lanka adored him for his generosity and his ability to make just and unbiased decisions in state affairs. He was a fair ruler and everyone believed that it was under his rule that Lanka had truly witnessed its golden years.
But like always, destiny changes its course at the most unexpected times. I remember the day very vividly when Ravana returned to Lanka with a woman. She was not our kind- not an Asura nor was she an Apsara. She appeared to be from the Deva clan. She was plain and simple, like a Rishika who had spent several years in penance. Her face was calm and peaceful, but her eyes were glazed with fury and grief. At first, I did not pay much heed to her presence, waiting for Ravana to tell me. But when he did, I knew that very soon everything in our lives was going to change forever.
To be continued…