Sita the Silent

She stood on the furrow
Freshly ploughed
The gentle corners of her unsmiling lips
Tipped, quivering as if nodding
To what only she knew
She was here at the end, where she began
Sita

Born of a chasm rent into the earth
Abandoned, Becalmed, even in birth
Could her life have been any other
When torn asunder from no mother 
 A life borne with grace and silence 
A woman destined to be an island

Does no one see her silent pain
Through stories that are retold again and again
Her name repeated as if talisman
Against what she herself never had sought
Held up as an ideal, her legacy true
Wonder – what was the message she sent through?

Did we forget her first, embedded in her name,
Sita, of the furrow in the earth, belonging to all
For ever and the future, to be nurtured by kings
Daughter of Bhumi, bearing the burden of wrongs
Met time and again, till she could do no more
The day the earth cracked

Janaki, too, daughter of a king, beloved
Brought up to ease and grace
Tinkling laughter in grand halls of stone
Sparkling fountains of youth, sparking
Was she a summer storm, driving all along her path
Or a gentle spring breeze, comforting where she saw a crease

Her sisters and maidens surrounded her
Did they speak of quests, age, ambition and disease
Did they wonder if their future held them
Or were they taught to hold
Their destiny as they chose
Maithili, she clearly led them, beloved of her town
Her care, and comforting presence, renowned.

But did she know that she was Vaidehi
With shoulders bearing her state
A script, her destiny, she must have known
A princess’s life really is never her own
Neighbouring princes vying for hers
Extending their borders in simulated surrender

Swayamvar, a groom of her choice she sought
Not just pleasing to her sight
But one who could lend his might
And that of his armed state
When the Videha’s borders crept at night
Shiva’s bow was the test
Come mighty warriors, Do your best.

Did Sita ever have a choice
Did it matter that no one ever heard her voice
She may have ruled with silken threads
Reeling Wheeling Dealing out of sight
She may have held the power strings
Maybe she knew some more.

Who knows what started Rama’s quest
Hunting demons at his Guru’s request
In the jungles close to Janaki’s halls
Just in time for the Swayamvar’s call
The Lordly bow, it was his to win
Who set this up – at whose behest
Was Sita’s Swayamvar really a test?

The wedding was grand, her sisters too
Were married to the brothers of royalty true
The Vansh of Surya, the top of the pops
The one’s whose promises were never forgot
Ramaa she became, Rama’s wife
The husband now her inevitable tide

I wonder what she thought that day
Destined to be queen her life was set
Few adventures she knew she could get
The tracks were laid for her to follow
Performing her role every successive morrow
Did she like what she saw laid forthwith
Or did she want to mix it up a bit?

Destiny, the witch and her sister Lady Luck
Must have heard Sita that day
Or maybe on another day when
Each day looked like another
The graceful princess preparing to be queen
All she was tasked with was a gentle preen
Anyone would be bored with local politics
Even one trained in all the games and tricks

Who ever will know what Sita thought
As she sat by Rama’s side
Gentle, was she in mind and deed
Or could she have occasional tantrums wrought?
What did she think her life was about
Did she have more to do than doll and trot it out
Did she have fun and music and learning
Or was her world filled with unfulfilled quiet yearning

Was Kaikeyi’s greed a boon disguised
A release from stifling palace protocol ever reprised
Or did she actually prefer the hallowed halls
The structured routine, the luxe decals
The maidens, bejeweled, the scented baths
The known, set, steady traversed paths

We hear Sita chose the jungle path
The company surely made it so
Was it push or was it pull, can we ever tell
Did she have a choice?
What we know is what we hear
The elders tell us this, and what they don’t tell
Is where we begin to wonder

Sita of the many names in youth
Has few in her married home
Titles she may have earned for deeds
If appreciated for what she had done
Her purpose was Rama wedded as she was
To him and his destiny she was tied
Following him therefore where he lead
Her glory the story of the shadow

But shadows are never parted
As her fate was to be
Was she then ever a shadow
If this was its decree?
What was she thinking
All those years alone
What filled her brain and mind
What did she then call home?

Parted from Rama by Lakshmana’s deed
Torn against her will
From her forest home and taken
Despite Jatayu’s skill
Taken so far her voice could not be heard
Was she heard before?
The desire for the golden deer
Was it ever hers? Who can tell.

A tale of conquest for the glory of man
The friendships they sought
The loyalties they wrought
The long trek, the bridges built
Where was Sita, what did she do
Do we know what she thought

As the battle raged, did she wait patiently
In a lush garden tucked away
From the drumrolls of battle
Where surely chirruping birds still held sway
How could she be silently stoic
When the battle was in her name

Bearing the assault on her intent
She walked the flames for honour
Did she have any emotions left?
Was it shock, relief, or horror
At what had been wrecked and destroyed
To restore what some called a new order.

Home she flew to glory and warmth
The queen she was to be finally crowned
Did she bear that with ease after years away
Or naturalised, did things seem askew
Did she feel what they would hear soon
That fingers pointed to her – she wasn’t home

Soon enough the rumours held sway
Decision by decibel was always the way
Offered the fire she firmly declined
The test of purity they were never going to find
Vandevi she became, finding a name at last
In the jungle, her last role giving her ballast

Twin sons she had, Ram’s progeny
Born to be kings, brought up in penury
The sage’s ashram their shelter and school
Trained in the kingly arts, they learnt soon
The tales of their father’s sacrifices
The horse, as it trotted the kingdom, was theirs

In victory they found friends too, as we do
The princes restored, the golden statue redundant
Once past the road aflame with doubt and desire
But even Bhumija must draw the line
And maybe that is where she had her say
She’d had enough and wasn’t planning to stay

To live in roles that were not her own
Was more than her future self could have borne
She had enough, her duties were done
Finally, redundant, she could be restored to one
Not torn with decisions that stifled her core
A life without legacy, a perfect shadow no more.

Sita she was and Sita she died
Nothing much of her survived
A companion she was to glory and gain
But we never hear her song’s gentle strain
Finally, the chasm put an end to her pain
Even in a story, still wondering why she came…

Why do we remember her today
Her silence – what is it really trying to say.

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3 thoughts on “Sita the Silent”

  1. beautiful! Sita as a soul in conflict … and the final act of definace after a lifetime of silent endurance … nad yet we say ‘Ram Sita ki jodi lagti hai’ … ironical, isn’t it?

  2. Very well written. The pathos comes thru.In Tulsi,s Ramcharitmanas we r told that she fell in love with Ram when she saw him prior to Swayamvar, Tulsis’ imagination?No one has tried to look at Sita’s innermost feelings. maybe she was just being a GOOD bahu, a good wife self effacing self sacrificing. Is it not the story of most women even today. To traverse the socially dictated path silently.Also Sita has been made a good example of a perfect wife. How much damage has it done to Indian women over centuries in tying to come near to the MODEL wife _ follow silently behind yr husband.
    Your poem makes one think.

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