The happy and satisfied Kaikeyi said: “O lord, it is my primary duty to rescue you from any danger. Now that I have been able to repay at least a part of my debt to you, I am blessed. I thank you very much for the two boons. If need be, I shall take them from you at a later stage.”
Although several decades had passed, Kaikeyi remembered the whole episode event after event. She decided to take full advantage of the situation. She went into an isolated room of her chambers and did everything according to the ill advice of Mathara.
When the king reached Kaikeyi’s palace after his court proceedings, he could not see the queen around. He was a bit surprised. Usually whenever he used to go even during odd hours, she would be waiting for him at the façade, impatient and smiling.
Dasaratha enquired of the courtiers:
“Where is your queen, my love and dear?” “O lord,” replied one lady,
“The queen is angry beyond expression and we do not have any idea about its cause. She never spoke to us. It would be better if you will personally cajole her and appease her.”
“Then lead me in haste.”
The maids accordingly escorted the king to the interiors where Kaikeyi was lying as if anger and fury incarnate.
Dasaratha, the week and the agitated king, ran towards her with extended hands addressing:
“Kaikeyi, my love and soul, come, come, what made you go astray and worried like this? You are dearer to me than life itself and how can I tolerate your torments? I have not the slightest idea of the reason of your grief. Tell me. Just one world is enough. Whatever be the cause, I shall redress it instantly. Pray, please don’t lament and tell me what you want.”
“O king, they say that you are the maintainer of promise and truth. I have not seen it so far myself. Give me those two boons that you promised me during the war with the Asuras. With the first, send Ram to the forest for fourteen years and with the other coronate Bharata as Yuvaraja. Nothing less than this will satisfy me.” Saying these stubborn words, Kaikeyi turned her face to the opposite direction.
The totally unexpected fall of Kaikeyi’s harsh words like the meteor in Dasaratha’s ears, he fell into a swoon. The court servants brought water and sprinkled it on his face. After tedious efforts the king came into consciousness. Terrified as he was in the presence of Kaikeyi, he looked at her with tremor and abhorrence. His breath became irregular, at times very long and deep.His eye balls began to rotate as if in deep agony and fear.
He once again dared to look at Kaikeyi and craved to her: “O beloved, am I hearing these spike like words from you? What harm have Ram done to you? Am I seeing an evil dream or is what I undergo real? Please, my dear, come to sense and mend your ways.” And Dasaratha burst into sobbing.
Kaikeyi added: “The only way out is to say that you cannot fulfill your promise. Or else, do as I say.”
“O comet, how wretched have you become!” lamented Dasaratha. “Is there none here to take me away from this lady wolf?”
Hearing the predicaments of the king, Sumantra, the chief minister rushed to the spot. Looking at the minister, the king craved:
“Sumantra, take me to where queen Kausalya is without delay.”
Sumantra, with the assistance of the aides, shifted the king to Kausalya’s palace.
Both of them hugged together and wept.
As Dasaratha was struggling to breathe he said ,”O God…I have no will power to overcome this trauma.” He was struggling to breathe. How can I send the tender boy to the forest? My death has come near.
Everyone standing by were sobbing and wiping their tears at the plight of their king.
“Send for Rama at once. Send for my son. Let me behold his lotus face immediately.” entreated Dasaratha to Sumantra. K K Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )