The dark, godly prince whose divine smile so entranced Radha, the little girl sitting in the temple, her hands clasped in prayers, she uttered his name in reverence. She had been named after Radha, the companion who stands at Lord Krishna’s side and when she was just a baby, the first day her mother took her to the temple, she had crept to the altar, as worshippers chant his name, and sat at his feet looking up at him mesmerised. It was the god she would worship, the god she so admire, that in her dreams she called his name and as she grew, the beauty and simplicity of Radha was bestowed upon her, so her young life was filled with all that was wonderful, beautiful and true.
“Oh, Krishna, oh Krishna,” she sang to him in her innocent, childish voice, as celebration of the Spring festival began in the village and beyond, the colours, the music, the dancing and gaiety as joy and happiness filled the air. “Radha,” her mother called from the temple steps, “Come outside and play with the other children.”
“I’m listening to Krishna,” she answered, softly, for so pure was the devotion in her heart, she could hear the soft, sweet melodious music from his flute, waltzing in the air. Her mother sat down near to her and said quietly, “We celebrate Holi in his name, so he’s everywhere playing his beautiful music.” Radha looked at her mother and smiled sweetly, “I sometimes feel like I’m there sitting by the stream, as he plays his flute. Will I ever see him?” “For as long as the devotion in your heart is pure and true, you will feel his presence.” Radha kissed her on the cheek and taking her hand, she said, “Come, Ma, let’s go celebrate Holi.”
The air was filled with a rainbow of colours, water guns spraying coloured water and sweet delicacies shared to everyone as the celebration continued with joyful screams, laughter and fun. Radha, her bare, nimble feet danced as the drums played, the dance of the gods, this wonderful, beautiful child, her heart so devoted, that often her mother would pray to the Lord to bless her daughter’s life, so when she becomes a woman she would be betrothed to one who would love her and hold her special in his heart.
Dusk approached and sitting under the old, oak tree near to the temple, to rest her feet tired from the dancing, Radha closed her eyes for a little moment and in that little moment, she heard the sweet sounds of the flute, drifting in the air. Her eyes flew open and she looked around, but no-one was playing a flute, yet she could still hear it as though it was calling her. She followed the sound, the tiredness of her feet gone, to the outskirts of the village and into the forested area, not afraid, her mind filled with wonder. Her feet seemed not to touch the ground as she ran and she saw him, like an illusion, standing by the stream, dark and handsome, in princely attire, a flute in his hand. He smiled at her. A twinkle in his eyes and from his enchanted lips he played for her a sweet tune. Her young heart exulted and tears of infinite happiness filled her eyes, for her Krishna had come.
Years went by and she grew into a very beautiful young woman, Krishna always in her dreams, in her heart. She danced, every year, on the spring festival of Holi and she would still hear the melodious sounds of the flute, though she never saw him again, embracing it in her heart, knowing he was there, an unseen presence. The time of her betrothal drew close and she had met no-one like her Krishna and she wondered, “Will he ever come?” The spring festival was drawing close and her mother, the one who understand her heart, her desire, fell very ill. Radha was sad, she did not want to lose her mother though the Swami had told her, ‘it’s all in god’s hands.’
She continued to pray, her devotion and love as deep and sincere as it always was, but her mother’s illness did not go away. That spring festival she did not dance, for there was no joy in her heart to celebrate Holi as she gave care to her mother. Dusk approached, once again and standing at the doorway she heard the sound of the flute calling her, but she could not leave. “Radha,” her mother called weakly. “Yes, Ma,” she answered. “Can you hear the flute?” “Yes, Ma, I always do.” “It’s calling you.” “I know, but I can’t leave you.” “You won’t be leaving me, my child, a mother and child never parts. I want you to go, because I had asked of the lord something for you and now is the time.” Radha obeyed her mother’s wishes, not quite understanding what she meant and as she neared the stream, the flute stopped playing. As a child, twelve years ago, she had seen her Krishna, an immortal being and today she was seeing, a dark and handsome young man, but a mortal being like herself. They stared at each other, both somewhat surprised, then he said, “I thought I heard the sound of a flute and I followed it, did you?”
She did not answer for a moment, then she smiled, understanding, now why her mother sent her.
The handsome stranger smiled and Radha knew in her heart, he was the one for. “You’re very beautiful,” he said, “Almost divine, what’s your name?” “Radha,” she said softly.
“My Radha,” he said, a twinkle in his eyes.
Radha returned home with the stranger and her mother greeted her at the door, as though she was never ill.
“Ma,” she was totally surprised, hugging her as joy returned to her heart. “It’s all god’s will, child,” her mother said, “Lord Krishna has answered my prayers and sent for you a groom.”
Radha smiled, tears in her eyes and the sound of the drums she heard, as the holi celebration continued into the night and this time, she danced, not alone, but with the Krishna of her dreams.
By Maureen Rampertab