Today's Beautiful Gem: A passage from Saratchandra Chatterjee's `Srikanta'.

"I have never had a goal before me for as long as I can remember. Nor
have I desired anything with passion or conviction. Consequently, I have
lived my life in another's shadow. Conditioned by her needs and desires I
have gradually lost the little capacity I was born with for independent
thought and action. My acquaintances believe me to be weak and worthless but
the truth is that a part of me does not belong to the ordinary world.

"And the Vaishnavi, Kamal Lata! Her life was a re-enactment of an
ancient myth cast into verse and song by poets of old. One could fault the
metre or look askance at the imagery but the tune went straight to the heart.
She was like the sky at twilight, changing colour every moment. She defied
description. `Come, Natun gosain,' she had said. `Let's roam the world
together, singing for a living as we go along.' She wouldn't utter my name
for she believed me to be the companion she had lost, over and over again,
through many incarnations.

"Suddenly, I remembered Rajlakshmi and the letter she had written.
As I stared out of the window at the darkening expanse, I was overwhelmed by
memories... that first meeting in Kumar Saheb's tent... those bright dark eyes
fixed on my face in fascinated wonder. I had not recognised her-- believing
her to be dead. Then, her impassioned appeal when I declared my resolve to
go to the burning-ghat at dead of night, and her anger, desperation and hurt
bewilderment at my rejection. She had stood at the door of the tent blocking
my path. `Do what you will, I shan't let you go,' she had said. `Who will
look after you if anything happens? Your friends or I?' It was then that I
had recognised her.

"My mind wandered over Rajlaksmi's many attributes-- her beauty, her
intelligence, her rigorous self-control and her ability to command. How
little was the tender, humble flower, Kamal Lata, hidden away in a remote
ashram, in comparison! Yet, it was in Kamal Lata's gentle obscurity that
my soul had found true affinity. I had had a taste of freedom. I had found
space to breathe. I had value in her eyes. She would never take me in hand,
as Rajlakshmi had done, and overwhelm me with her presence. By the time the
train entered Howrah station, I had arrived at a decision. I didn't need a
job and I didn't want to go to Burma."

Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao