“The queen is pregnant!”
The Raaj Vaidya’s announcement triggered a wave of euphoria in king’s heart which was quickly subdued by a feeling of apprehension.
“Will this baby survive?” The thought assailed his mind – a natural consequence of losing seven children in a row.
The queen was, however, as nonchalant as she was during her first pregnancy. Was she accustomed to birthing and losing offspring? The king tried to decipher her thoughts but gave up after some time and moved on to fervently praying to God inwardly to save his child.
“It’s a boy!” The news of his son’s arrival made the king adjourn the court and rush towards the queen’s chamber.
He entered the room with trepidation, only to find his worst fears come true. His consort was gone with their newborn! He knew where he would find her. Aghast, he ran towards the river.
He will not lose his heir this time.
He found her by the riverside, cradling their infant in her arms.
She smiled at him. The same all-knowing smile that made him fall in love with her when he first saw her strolling along the banks of the very river that they were standing now.
“You will never interfere with my actions, whatever they may be. Nor will you ask for explanations. I will live with you till such time as you keep your promise.” When he agreed to her terms for marriage, little did he have any inkling that it would entail turning a blind eye to the cold-blooded murder of his own newborn sons by their own mother.
“I will not allow you to kill this child.” he told her categorically. He would risk losing her rather than his scion.
“Then it’s time for me to leave.” She smiled again; the same omniscient, placid smile.
“I, Shantanu, the ruler of Hastinapur married you without knowing your lineage or your name. I never questioned your conduct even when it was the barbaric act of killing our newborns, because I was bound by my promise to you. But not anymore. Tell me, how could you be so heartless as to drown your own flesh and blood in river?”
“For their own good.” Ganga finally revealed the secret that she was holding in her bosom all those years. She disclosed her identity and the reason behind her gruesome actions. After all, her human paramour deserved to know the truth so that he could find some peace in his life.
After liberating the seven Vasus from sage Vashishtha’s curse, her mission on earth was complete anyway and it was time for her to return to her celestial abode.
A pang of sadness stabbed through her heart as she looked at her eighth progeny, who was not so lucky as his deceased siblings and destined to live a long life. But then this Vasu’s crime was graver than the other seven. He had stolen Vashishtha’s cow whereas others had merely assisted him.
Raaj Vaidya – royal physician
Vasu – elemental gods in Hinduism believed to be attendant deities of Indra, and Vishnu. They are eight in number and hence also known as Ashtavasu.
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