HC13. SERVANT IN THE GRAVEYARD

a poem by Rajaram Ramachandran, India - poetry writer, author, poet

HARICHANDRAN

Chandramathi and Devadasan
The two got up early morn,
And did odd jobs as menials
In the Brahmin’s house.

To remove the husk from paddy
She had to pound them daily.
The hands became red
With patches of blood.

Women in the neighborhood,
On seeing her plight pitied.
She was never used to
Such hard jobs hitherto.

He picked up from woods
Dried twigs for fire ovens.
Also he brought sacred grass
For Brahmin’s fire sacrifice.

He was often beaten
For no proper reason.
In that tender age, the boy
Knew not what was joy?

One tragic day, he went
Some dried grass to cut,
Alas, a deadly cobra bit
And he died on the spot.

It was the Sage Viswamithra,
Who sent for this Cobra.
What for the heartless Sage
Took his life in a tender age?

His mother was worried.
The other children carried
This sad news to her,
That was a shock to her.

She asked the Brahmin
To give her permission
For seeing her dead son
But he had no compassion.

He said, “One servant
For whom I paid, is lost.
To lose another servant
How can I now permit?”

She begged, “As a mother
Not as a servant here,
Please send me there,
Otherwise, it’s not fair.”

His heart unusually melted.
To go to his son, he allowed.
There, the poor mother ran
Fast with the other children.

She searched and found
His body on the ground.
She took him on her lap.
Aloud, she began to weep.

“Oh my dear son,
Hear me, you’re born,
Like a king, to rule,
But now lying cool.”

“You trekked in the desert.
You walked in the forest.
With hunger, you fell down.
Now dead, you’re ever down.”

“What great sin I did
To see my dead kid?
Why I’m deprived
Of my only child?”

“To peck your body,
Vultures are ready
To grab your body,
Jackals are ready.”

“When your dear father.
One day, comes here,
To see his only son,
How can I explain?”

“Oh God, is this
Your fair justice?
You took away my kid
When he’s still a bud?”

“My heart bleeds.
My stomach burns.
I’ve lost my eye.
I’m still alive, why?”

“If the Sage is punishing us,
Why you too, God, do this?
Oh God, You kill me too.
To make it number two.”

To the burning ghat,
With the body, she went.
And took dry woods.
To burn the dead.

Harichandran saw this
And told her the rules,
“Before burning the dead,
My fees should be paid.”

“One mouthful rice,
A white cloth piece,
Gold coin, a quarter
These three, my fees are.”

She fell down flat,
And caught his feet.
She said, “I’m very poor.
And an unfortunate mother.”

He said, “I’m a slave
To owner of this grave,
And cannot disobey
His orders any day.”

She pleaded once again,
For his compassion
But he was so stubborn
To stick to his condition.

He said, “I see one
Valuable sacred chain
Around your neck tied.
As poor, why you lied?”

Her thoughts thus ran,
How a low caste man
Could have easily seen
Her sacred gold chain?

She said, “This chain
Is the God-given-one
And it can be seen
Only by Harichandran.”

When he understood
That his son was dead
And she was his wife,
He fell into utter grief.

For a moment, he felt
A big stone fell and hit
His head to break it
Into pieces, bit by bit.

He cried, “Oh my son.
To you, what I’ve done?
As I failed in my duty,
On me, you had no pity.”

“Because I had sold you
And back not brought you,
Perhaps, you disliked me
And gone away from me.”

“I gave you no chance
To enjoy as a prince
In our famous palace,
But sold you for a price.”

She came to know then
He was none other than
Her king, her dear husband
In that graveyard land.

She said, “Can we avoid
Whatever is destined?
No, we cannot avoid.
This is the will of God.”

‘My lord, don’t regret.
I know, you did a lot,
Whatever on this earth
To establish the truth.”

“Your glory will reach
And, no doubt, touch
The hearts of everyone
On the earth and heaven.”

He said, “I’m helpless
In collecting the fees,
So, get it somehow
And bring it now.”

She knew, he was one,
A true principled man,
So, she told, “I’ll get it
From my master and pay it.”




HC12. IN THE CITY OF KASI
KING HARICHANDRA
HC14, SERVANT IN THE GRAVEYARD (II)

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