“What good is my life?” Pankajakshi, a teenager, with lotus-like eyes thought. She was a gopika, a cowherd. Her red eyes and dried tears revealed her heartache.
She sat on a boulder near Yamuna River, surrounded by fragrant Mandara and Parijata flowering plants, which didn’t help to alleviate her sadness. The tiny waterfalls in the river gently tinkled, resembling the jingles of a xylophone. Usually, this would perk up Pankajakshi but today it didn’t have any effect. The spotted doe that approached her seeking a little grooming, and receiving none, lay down on the grass. A cool Yamuna breeze tried its best to caress Pankajakshi. Failing, it passed on to try its luck on Petunias.
Two green parrots sat on a branch of a guava tree and wondered why the teenager was sad.
“She must have had an argument with her fiancé.” The female one softly spoke.
“You always think like that. Many lovers come here at dusk. Occasionally, I see the teenager here but not with any male member so far.”
“I know now. Lord Krishna comes here often with Radha. They chase each other, hide behind the bushes, relax under the star jasmine bowers, giggling and exchanging sweet nothings. I have seen this teen looking longingly at Krishna. He never noticed her pining.”
“Perhaps you’re right. That would make her sad. Why worry about her? My dear, when will you say ‘yes, I will,’ to me?”
“I’m embarrassed. May be, in the next Magha Masa, when auspicious events can be performed.” She gave a lightning kiss on his cheek and flew away.
Pankajakshi continued brooding about her life. She felt that no one cared for her. She had watched other gopikas mingle with Krishna. “Look at the jewels and saris they wear.” She sulked. “Radha wears a tiara with uncut diamonds and emerald drops. Her duppata has borders of golden threads. Vanaja proudly displays her ‘Vanki,’ armlets studded with diamonds and rubies. And Haripriya flaunts her pearl necklace that dazzles in the moon light. Her jhumka, the ear jewel, is just flashing diamonds that are so heavy they need support from a string of pearls wound around her ears. What can I say about their clothes? They are laced with silver and golden threads and dotted by tiny circular mirrors. The mirrors reflect moonlight and appear like hundreds of stars. No wonder, Lord Krishna prefers to dance with them.”
Unable to bear the weight of her sad thoughts, she cried.
She heard a rustle in the bamboo grove. Curious, she approached the grove and peeked wiping the tears with the pallu of her sari.
Lord Krishna had come earlier and searched among the bamboos on the banks of the Yamuna River for an ideal reed to fashion a flute. The bamboos bent their branches towards Krishna as if to say, “Take us to make your flute. Our lives will be worthy.” He cut hundreds of bamboo reeds and carved flutes out of them, but none suited him. He threw them in a heap.
“One more reed I will try,” said Krishna softly. He selected a thin walled bamboo reed, a straight one without bumps and cracks, and with a node at one end. He carefully removed the twigs and settled for a long flute to produce low pitched tones which attracted cows and calves. He carved a short one that would create high notes suitable for gopikas’ dancing. He carefully punched seven holes in each, polished the flutes using the soft sands of the Yamuna.
Krishna sat on a fallen tree trunk ready to try the flutes. A couple of lizards crawled out of their underground abode and occupied front row seats to listen to Krishna’s play. Silently, Pankajakshi watched.
Krishna placed the flute to his ruby lips and blew in to it. No sound emanated from the flute. Absolute silence prevailed.
“Pankajakshi,” Krishna called. “I know you are watching me. I need your help in fixing the flute.”
Pankajakshi stood in front of Krishna. “What do I know about flutes, my Lord?”
“Women have a magic touch and I believe in their intuition.”
Pankajakshi felt better, picked up the flute and inspected it. Closing one eye, she looked inside the flute with the other eye to check for obstructions. She tapped the flute on the tree trunk several times to dislodge dirt, a pebble, or an insect. She gave the flute back to Krishna.
“I didn’t do all those tests, my dear. Let me try now. Thank you.”
A full moon appeared in the East splashing her silvery richness over the Yamuna waters, anxious to listen to Lord Krishna’s celestial melodies. A gentle breeze carried the yellow pollen from the lotuses of the river and sprinkled over Krishna, changing his color to a golden hue. With utmost gentleness, Krishna placed the flute against his soft lips. Exquisite melodious music gushed out. Cows with full udders and their calves rushed in. Cobras swayed spreading their hoods. Peacocks danced. Hundreds of gopikas came, and magically, for every gopika there was a Krishna ready to dance and they danced ecstatically.
“What are you waiting for? Let us dance too.” Krishna held Pankajakshi’s hand and led her to the center of the dancing groups. They danced forgetting the past, present, and the future. The world didn’t exist for them.
“Pankajakshi, whatever you wish, I’ll fulfil it for you. Ask,” Krishna whispered in her year.
“Nothing, my Lord, nothing else.”