Become a Fan
By Sanjay Sonawani
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Helen looked intensely at the leaping tongues of fire. The euphoric and intoxicated soldiers were dancing around the fire while singing ancient ballads. Menelues was sitting on the high rock, lost in the marsh of his own tragedies, as if the biting cold didn't bother him. Helen had wrapped a sheepskin around her body. The sound of songs and clapping was resounding in the vales and ravines. The crescent moon was rising above the trees, pouring its mysterious silver upon the dazed world. Abundant treasure of stars was scattered across the sky. The Stiks river in the sky was flowing in its ancient pace. What kind of world was this… So known at yet unknown! Meneleus was wondering whether he ever belonged to this world…. or was it an illusion!
Helen, listening to the ballads of past glory, was lost in herself, as if she was attempting to fathom the depth of her inner self.
Every thing seemed filled up with a demonic darkness. There was a bottomless world all around ready to swallow her. As if lost she felt terrified. She asked herself, where am I? Life is so scattered as if struck by a mighty gale. The castle of life has been ruined already, leaving nothing intact. Where that mighty Paris has gone? Where are those intoxicated nights of abundant love gone? Where is that great warrior, Hectar? Where is Troy which used to be ceremonious with the fall of every night? Where…where is my father…my home? What kind of life is this that I am living?
I am homeless now. I am alive only physically … that’s it. In a way I lived a satisfied life…by avenging …by enjoying every moment of beauty and realisation in the company of Paris. I enjoyed a thrill by fleeing away with Paris, knowing what calamity my act may invite. I didn’t care. I did what my heart asked me to do. I never bothered what world thought of me. I just believed in myself.
I avenged in my own way…
But now why everything appears so hollow?
Did I really want to avenge at the cost of the lives of thousands? What did I earn after all? A curse now I've become for the Greeks and they spit upon my name and rejoice over my misfortune. Did I always carry a worm of destruction within me?
Her mind was getting muddled. She thought something was missing… something terribly wrong that has happened and she was missing.
Things were never the same the way I had thought. Why did then I glorify my avenging mission?
If at all I'd to avenge I could have killed Meneleus and Agamemnon…catching them unaware.
Revenge would have been exacted.
Was it all for revenge what I did?
No… not, now when I come to think of it. I never lived for revenge. The fact is I could not control the fatal temptations. This tragedy has befallen because of my subtle temptations. It never was a part of revenge that I would flee with someone to insult them. In fact I have deceived myself with false justifications. When Paris came to Sparta, as a guest, never did I have in mind that I was going to use him for my revenge. I was lured by his attractive personality. I felt, in his company my nights would bloom with intoxication. I was merely a prey of lust. I crossed precincts of a host and dutilessly responded to his seductive call. He too forgot what calamity he was inviting upon him and his people by seducing a beauty of fame.
And I left Sparta with him to drown in the ocean of evil lust… so enchanted I felt at that time and justified that I was avenging. What kind of revenge that was? So emboldened I felt over my spitting on the pride of the Greeks that in my stupid acts I sown the seeds of annihilation.
I caused this calamity… I invited it… the destruction of Troy and deaths of millions.
Why I can remain detached while justifying my acts under the garb of revenge?
Her mind was overwhelmed with repentance. She felt she never ever knew how to live. How then I could forget the world I am blaming for its cruelty that was an integral part of my being too? Who had allowed me to behave irresponsibly? What right did I have to act on my silly impulses and instincts?
Loneliness had begun haunting her. She felt as if she was floating alone over the vast ocean of hatred. Memories of past forming heinous shapes, kept on pouring upon her. She wanted to scream… to stop them from crashing against her. But so weak she felt.
The cracking fire was about to extinguish. The soldiers, now tired, were busy to feast upon roasted sheep. She sat still like a frozen shadow of misery with a heavy heart.
Meneleus didn't know what he was supposed to do. He was still in dilemma. Listening to the songs of past glory he too had become a pregnant cloud, wanting to pour his feelings somewhere. He looked at the moon and let out a sigh. Where could I empty the ocean of raging emotions? With whom could I share them? Why I feel so heavy and choked?
Helen… was so away from him. What sat on a rock was a corpse of Helen. She couldn’t be the real Helen he had loved and was so proud of. She always belonged to someone else. She always despised him. And yet, like an obstinate dog, his mind was racing towards her. He could not resist an urge to speak to her, though he knew she would inevitably neglect him.
He got up and with heavy steps, and a heart confused he approached her.
What should I say? Should I tell her what this mysterious night has aroused in him?
"Helen-" after a while he whispered, "it's too late now. Let's go and have a sleep."
Cursing his deceitful mind he waited.
Helen looked at him. Her face seemed as if a bloomed lotus in moonlight. A form of human miseries was unfolding through her. A temptation to bend and touch her hair to console her suddenly gripped him, but he stood still on the edge of indecisiveness. He wanted to say her - forgive me. I've killed Paris whom you loved so deeply. We never had the right to decide as to whom you should love. We all had gone crazy. We spat on humanity… we are a shame for this world. But all is done and no one can go back to repair the mistakes. And didn't Zeus have punished us too?
Haven't we too witnessed our friends and kin dying on the battleground for the last ten years? I too might have died on the battlefield. We never knew whether we would ever win the war and reach our homes. See, the tempest has propelled us on this unknown island. Aren't we caught on this island, knowing not when we shall reach our home? Aren't we too are desperate and exasperated and still fighting for life? We have been punished – a suitable punishment it is. But can’t we ever learn and make a new life from our ruins?
But his melting courage didn't allow him to speak, instead he stood still in those moments of uncertainty and despair.
Why I am so scared of her?
I love her. To get her back I had to wage a destructive war that finally led to my own destruction. And even then why so weak I am before her?
He turned back in frustration.
He felt as if gods too have no power to make her submissive. She is a sacred flower bloomed on this mortal earth. Her dreams and aspirations cannot be scaled with our earthly measures, so out of world she is. Let us console ourselves with the fact that it is our luck to have her among us.
"Meneleus-" her heavy voice startled him. Not trusting his own ear, he turned back as if mesmerised.
"Helen?" unknowingly he called her.
"Desert me on this island, Meneleus," said she getting up, unwrapping the sheepskin and letting it slip down. The cold winds scratched her bare shoulders. Menleus bent down, gathered the sheepskin and again wrapped it around her despite her vehement protests.
"Why?" he asked in inaudible voice, so choked he was.
"I don't know. I just don't want to go back. Leave me her alone… let me die, Meneleus-"
The helplessness in her voice had startled him. He felt an impassive, stony statue was melting in front of him. No… he never had expected her to be so helpless… weak…!
"Are you crazy, Helen?" He asked in a tremulous voice. "It's you who make our life complete. It's you who enhance the value of our mortal breath."
Helen stood still, her self in tremors and on the verge of weeping.
"Don't you hate me, Meneleus?" asked she in a painful voice.
Meneleus nodded vehemently.
"I loved Paris. I dedicated my soul and body to him, even then? For a sinner like me a war was fought and a culture was destroyed, even then you don’t hate me?"
"No-" said Meneleus slowly, "Not for a moment did I hate you. The destruction is the result of our blood-thirst and false pride. We made a grave mistake by making an issue of your abduction. I never had physical yearning for you… I wanted you to be mine with your soul. I know I have won the war, but I could never win you. I pined for you every moment in last ten years, dear…"So intense was his voice.
It was those precious moment that he didn't want to lose. His heart was pouring out through his words. The emotions he was never able to describe were now exploding within him with new references. So uncertain was life and the uncertainty that had built parapets of detachment around him were collapsing. Only sobs escaped from his mouth.
"This shouldn't have happened," she said. "I am responsible for this destruction. I am responsible for the end of a culture. I know everybody hates me now and in future too they are going to despise me. I spat on the sacred thread of relations. All the time it was lust that maneuvered me! Meneleus, death is the only suiting punishment for me. I am born with the curse of living by drinking the blood of my own people. Futile was my lust, my revenge and belief of being supreme. So lowly was I in fact. If I die… the vicious cycle of heinous deeds shall come to an end. Let me die, Meneleus!"
Her voice was broken. Strings of tears were streaming down. Meneleus instinctively stepped ahead and wiped her eyes with affection. He held her close. His dilemma was solved. Helen was never a stranger. How could she be? He took her in all forgiving arms and whispered,
"Everything has gone wrong, Helen. Not only you, we all have wronged too. We were always blood thirsty, and when this evil thirst gets hold of a race, they get busy in finding excuses to spill blood. It was no fault of yours. You acted upon your own instincts - right or wrong - who is to judge? It was our fault. We found excuse in you. Yes Helen, if at all someone is guilty it's we. But what use repenting, cursing and hating?
"Why not begin life again with new zeal as if nothing had happened in the past? Can't we forgive each other? Can’t we rebuild what has been destroyed at our own hands?"
The passions with which Meneleus spoke was so intense that it was tearing him apart… to vent all that he had stored in the dark vaults of his heart.
Helen looked at him through her bottomless eyes and then rested her head over his chest. A sob escaped her and then like a child she wept incessantly, drenching him.
Under moonlit night Meneleus held her tightly, with deep compassion. With selflessness, with love, with gratitude!
Helen was never away from him, there never was any strife, and there never ever was estrangement. The blood that had been spilled was just a nightmare.
The only truth was… Helen belonged to him.
Then he too broke in tears.
The night was frozen, witnessing a sacred moment that graces the earth so rarely.
Site: Sanjay Sonawani
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|Reviewed by Mark Evans
|marvelous story, who'd anyway thought what Helen felt when she was being herded back? Great skills of author are to peep in to the human heart and psyche. Wonderful peice of writing.|