Hi, you guys!
The header image must have warned you, nevertheless, I must give out these two explicit warnings.
- This is a same-timeline-different-location story which runs parallel to scenes from the movie (you know which one). Accordingly, I declare here that this is intended as fan-fiction only.
- I hope you read this after watching both movies. It’ll be perfect that way. (you can call this a rule)
- You can read my other work on these two here, right now or after reading this one. However you prefer.
Not gonna spoil it with more explanations.
When the Skies Cried…
“Rajamata? Is all of this happening within your knowledge?” asked Kattappa. His face was sober and his hands could not stop their trembling. He felt his existence crumble around him into tiny, tiny shards.
He spoke. “Let me grasp your feet and beseech you, Amma. Please, ask the Emperor to retract his order,” he begged. Sivagami Devi’s face was stoic. She did not answer. Her eyes were focussed on some imaginary target.
“Even if the world is turned upside down, Bāhubali would not have erred. He is the son you raised, Amma,” he attempted to remind her. He searched his mistress’ expression for a sign, any sign. There was still nothing. “He was nourished by your milk. Your teachings – “
“Bāhubali must die,” came the ominous reply from the stony face. Kattappa gasped. His sword hand shook like leaves in a strong breeze. ‘I cannot comprehend any of it,’ he thought.
An internal struggle began. He clasped his hands together and questioned himself how he was to carry out the Emperor’s command.
‘I simply can’t. There is no question of it,’ replied his heart.
“I cannot, Amma. I simply cannot,” he said out loud, echoing his heart’s words. The oath of his ancestors swept through the room like a whisper in the wind. His sword hand clenched the scabbard of his sword. He drew it out and rose up to his full height. The years of servitude imparted by his family should not be thrown away like a wasted piece of paper.
Sivagami saw the gleam of Kattappa’s sword slide into place at her feet. She looked up.
“As punishment to my refusal, please, cut my head off,” said the Royal Slave. Her eyes moved back to her distant spot. She had expected that he would refuse. Something in her cracked and oozed. The blood rushed into her palms and her eyes still remained cold.
“Will you kill him, or shall I finish him off?” asked her numb lips. Kattappa reeled back half a step in shock. Then arrived the tears. They spilled onto his cheeks like twin rivers.
“No, Amma. That sin shall not be yours. I will do it. I will do it myself,” he swore. His head hung to his breast and his shoulders seemed to have dropped to his hips. The Queen Mother moved not a muscle, but, the remaining two swept away as Kattappa left taking his sword.
Bijjala tapped his moustache with his one remaining hand. Bhallaladeva assumed his mother’s still form.
“Is this Dog to be trusted, Bhalla?” asked his father.
The contraction rippled through Devasena’s pelvic bones in a burst of pain. She bit her lower lip to stop herself from crying out. This boy is going to take a lot of her to be born. The thought filled her with such joy that she couldn’t breathe for a second.
Her companion, Karthiga, looked worried. Devasena gave her a rueful smile.
“This pain is a requirement for babies, Karthi,” she told her. She returned a bashful smile. ‘Poor child, she didn’t have to stay by my side when we left the fortress,’ thought Devasena. The young girl’s devotion had touched her these last few months.
The old midwife asked Karthiga to get more hot towels. She left her mistress’ side. Contraction after contraction broke through Devasena’s lower body. In a few minutes, it was impossible not to utter a soft scream in reply to the child’s every movement.
“Try to bear it, Amma,” consoled the old lady. Sweat dripped onto her forehead, and Karthiga kept wiping it off with a cold compress. The sound of raised voices from outside the door of the hut reached her ears.
“What are you saying?” boomed Amarendra Bāhubali. He did not need this complication when he was awaiting his child.
“Yes, Lord. I saw it with my own two eyes! Kattappa Ayya is in danger,” panted the young man.
The two or three friends of Amarendra who had been sitting with him leapt to their feet.
“Is this true?”
“What should be done?”
By then, a small crowd had formed around the man they called God. Every eye was fixed on his in pure confidence. Amarendra’s heart lurched. His Mama needed him. On the other hand, his unborn son needed him too. He tried to conceal the uncertainty in his eyes. An unsuccessfully suppressed scream interrupted his musing from the hut behind them.
In a flash, he was filled with all the power in the world. His love was there. Devasena would be there for their child. He felt the baby’s hold on his service draw into Devasena’s hand.
‘I’m right here,’ she seemed to say, invisibly.
He swiftly turned around and stepped inside. When his emotions shivered at the sight of Devasena lying weak and hunched in pain, he chose to ignore it. Enormous trust in their love shook off all fears.
“Devasena,” he called. Her lovely eyes opened and looked to his. He knelt beside her and caressed her cheek.
“Mama is in danger. I need to go to him, Devasena,” he spoke rapidly, lacing his words with his begging for forgiveness. Devasena immediately started lifting herself off the bed. His hand supported her and she assumed a half-sitting position. Her hair was plastered to her scalp with sweat.
Her eyes searched for something next to the bed, behind them. Karthiga handed her what she was looking for. Amarendra’s breastplate and the sword of his ancestors. The horse-head hilt gleamed in the lamp light.
“Here,” she said as she filled his hands with the tools of a warrior. Her eyes never clouded with worry or disappointment as he was feeling of himself. A ferocious pride oozed out of them.
“He promised to hold our child as he is born. Bring him back with great caution,” the warrior’s wife told her Amarendra. He nodded.
As an afterthought, he paused and looked at her once again. In a second, he had held her cheek and placed a loving kiss on her forehead. In a second second, he had said, “Take care” and left the room. The steel in his eyes lingered in hers for long after he had gone.
Amarendra had been shot. Multiple arrowheads were stuck into his back. The Kalakeyas had not been foreseen. His old Mama was hurt as well. The short respite was in no way enough for either of them. Their enemies were moving somewhere close to them, and they had to get up on their feet with their backs to each other.
Amarendra twitched his hurt limbs.
“Listen to me, Bāhu. Just for me, you are risking your… Leave me and go. Leave me to die. Please, heed what I say,” begged Kattappa’s voice from his right. Amarendra chuckled through his bloodied mouth.
“I want to leave you, oldie. You promised to hold my child. I have promised her that I would bring you back safely,” he started. The pause scared Kattappa.
“Bāhu?” he called.
“So,” spoke Amarendra in a pain-drenched voice. “If you remain quiet for a little while, I can carry out my duty,” he finished with a tearing sound. He had pulled out one of the arrowheads embedded in his body.
Kattappa watched his beloved child struggle towards him. The tears had quietly cascaded down his cheeks again. ‘What am I to do?’ he thought, wildly. The plan to trick him into saving his Mama had worked admirably. And Kattappa was beating himself up about it.
There are some things which never reach you when you want them so badly. And some things which burrow themselves into the palm of your hand when you’re looking the other way. There are a third category of things which you need to do, but, you don’t want to. It was horrorifying when they work out so easily.
The reeds binding his hands were being razored by the arrowtip. Blood oozed over both their hands.
“How will I ever tell you? Bāhu, Bāhu, I will grasp your feet and beg you. Leave me. Leave me, Bāhu!” his yells filled the area.
One last push, and Devasena’s son came into the world. Her eyes flitted between unconsciousness and consciousness. Light and dark. Her baby wriggled somewhere close to her skin.
But, she couldn’t hear him. She felt herself get alert in a snap. The midwife towelled off some of the placenta on her baby. Karthiga supported her shoulders.
“Why isn’t he crying?” she demanded in a frenzy. “Show me, show me,” she repeated until he was put into her lap. His eyes were closed and his chest more still than she would have liked. Her precious boy who had kicked like a motor in her womb was as still as a statue.
The fear crept into her slowly, but, in seconds, she found herself bawling. She rubbed his tiny palm in her own vigorously. The midwife put her ear to his chest and listened.
“Make him move!” she screamed.
“Are you afraid for me, Mama?” Amarendra asked with his crooked half-smile. Kattappa was incoherent, choking up in his throat.
“As long as you are with me, there hasn’t been born a man who can kill me, Mama,” he declared with his laughing lips. The small metal sliced through the last of the reeds in a snap. The choking in Kattappa’s throat turned into a roaring inside him.
The wail arose after the most tense three minutes of Devasena’s life. The relief flooded into her in as quick a pace as the fear had done. She peered closely into her child’s face immediately. His eyes were screwed up tight and he cried.
A little uneasy, she spoke softly to him. All the pain of her body was ignored and the midwife moved off to deliver the placenta and clean her lower body.
“There you are, my darling Mahendra,” she cooed. Her voice became inaudible through his cries. They rose in volume steadily, but, surely. Her forehead beaded with fresh sweat.
The sheer volume of the incoming Kalakeya fighters did not deter Amarendra Bāhubali. Slashes of his sword and the sound of Kattappa Mama’s fighting beside him were the only things that registered in his mind.
One last nick of his sword snapped the rope that had been used as an exertion of force to the palm tree. The tree snapped up in backward force. The grotesque tower of Kalakeya bodies pinned to the old tree stalled the onslaught. The enemies gazed in horror and wonder. The clouds rumbled in reply. A golden shaft of lightning split the skies and struck the tip of the old wood.
Somewhere, a baby boy cried his loudest. The fire enveloped the branches quickly. Everything was lit up by an ominous kind of sunlight.
Mahendra’s voice cracked open Devasena’s world. She didn’t know if she should be awed or afraid. His eyes hadn’t opened as yet. She begged him to open them and look at her. She enveloped him in her warmth. The contact did nothing to reduce the screaming.
“Mama!” called Amarendra. The men he was fighting with struggled against his iron limbs. His sword had never moved faster before.
Kattappa Mama moved in a zombie-like manner. His arms wanted to drop the sword he was holding. But, he forced determination into his palms with the image of his honoured mistress. The one child who had admired and respected him was fighting with his back to him. He could never do this face-to-face.
‘Go, Kattappa,’ an alien voice urged him from his insides.
‘This act strips you of your honour as a warrior,’ spoke his conscience and he submitted to it. He took his steps towards the man he had embraced as nephew.
‘This act strips you of your honour as a protector,’ came the second verdict. The salt drops on his face seemed never-ending.
‘This act strips you of your oath as Royal Slave towards this man of the Royal blood,’ fell the last words.
The sword hand rose up and the tip of his sword pierced flesh. Bāhubali’s sword swept past him as he lost his grip.
Devasena started wailing herself. “I don’t know what to do! Tell me what – “ she paused.
Mahendra had fallen dead silent. Somewhere, a sword cut through a man’s body.
She looked into Mahendra’s eyes for the first time. A strong current waved through both of them. His dark eyes properly locked eyes with her. She gazed in wonder at the person they had produced. Somehow, she choked up.
The tears re-appeared on her cheeks instead.
“Oh, why? Why?” she kept repeating to herself as her boy calmly watched the proceedings.
The midwife was rattled at the scene. The newborn she had just delivered and who had driven the entire village to attention with his screams lay at his mother’s bosom. Much too adult-like in his expression.
“Maybe you should feed him, Amma,” she started to say.
Something about the two of them struck her dumb, then. She signed to Karthiga and they both left the room. The atmosphere of the village had changed abruptly. The woman and the girl were puzzled. People started milling around them.
A plaintive voice, trembling with emotion arose in the background of the grave crowd.
“Nera nera chupulake,” sang Devasena to her Mahendra.
(With your looks)
“Karigi kadili neekai, bira bira vachitine…”
(I melted and running for you, I quickly came)
“Tadi tadi kannulatho…”
(With tears and tears in my eyes)
“Neepai vaali soli, tamakamu telipitine…”
(I beheld yourself, and revealed my feelings)
“Na mathi maali doshamu jarige… o Vanamaali, yeddu ninnu podiche… paapam antha nadenuraa… ” The words hung like a blade.
(My stubborn mind is the reason for this mistake happening… oh darling, the bull has hit you… the sin is mine alone…)
The people hung their heads like sunflowers at the end of the day. No one dared to look into the other’s eyes. Their Goddess was putting their son to sleep.
“Kanna nidurinchara… na kanna nidurinchara… “ Devasena’s voice broke at the last note and she cried along with the baby. There was no meaning to these emotions, but still, they curled into each other and trembled. The air felt dry and heavy at the same time.
Her door opened. Karthiga stood there, silhouetted in the doorway. It was the darkest part of the night.
“Amma,” she called. Devasena sat up with Mahendra in her arms. Silence endured.
“They say that, that.. Ayya is killed,” she stammered and fell to her knees sobbing. Mahendra set off the crying for all the people in the village. Devasena sat absolutely still. She rose from her bed, held up her child.
The shadow of the Mother Goddess silently rose up close behind her. One step after the other was placed, and she did not know how. The people, her people trailed after her in droves as she walked out of the village.
Sometimes, her foot faltered and her body faced the danger of falling. But, she kept her steps steady. Mahendra screamed life into her limbs.
Sivagami Devi, the Queen Mother, felt her hands wetted. The deep red colour was still warm from the body it had come from. Her fingers tingled.
“Can we ever wash away these stains, Amma?” Kattappa asked hoarsely.
“Kattappa!” she shouted at the defeated figure in front of her.
“You have committed a mistake, Sivagami!” Kattappa yelled. His accusing finger was pointed directly at her, dripping with her child’s blood. His anguished eyes tore her heart apart. The Queen Mother’s throne vibrated of its own accord.
“What a terrible mistake have you committed?” It was a rhetorical question. “You hadn’t understood Bāhubali. You thought he was against you,” he cried. Her neck snapped upwards in shock.
“I was there. Right where he lay. The Emperor arrived,” he narrated.
“He spoke the following, ‘Rajamata! Mad-mata! I had her believe that you tried to kill me, and had her command your own death!’ He said that to the lifeless body of the one son who lived by your word, Amma.” The sobbing did not stop. There was no more reason for the sobbing to stop. Ever.
“At the grasp of death, he did not speak of the wife he had vowed to nor his unborn child. Do you know what he said?” Her slave asked.
Sivagami turned her glazed eyes to him.
“He told me, ‘Take care of Amma.’”
Devasena appeared at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Where she had renounced palace life. Where the people had welcomed her, along with their God and his unborn son, into their big hearts and homes. Mahendra snuffled like a puppy. She placed her right foot on the first step, like she was instructed to do when she had stepped into that palace as the wife of the Prince of Mahishmati.
The people did not follow her ahead. It was not their place. Cries and shouts rose up to the Throne Room doors. The heavens rebelled along with them. A bolt of lightning struck again as she appeared.
Kattappa and Sivagami looked to the dark eyes of the newcomer. The steel imparted onto Devasena’s vision by Amarendra spit fire into the air.
Kattappa raised his empty hands to his Goddess.
“With the hands into which you wanted to put your child and elevate this unworthy slave to the station of your father; with those very hands have I killed your husband, Amma!”
I know, I know. I’m sorry. Please purchase a new box of tissues.
I felt that I should have heard Devasena’s side of this incident. Seeing as she was going through the birth of their child at the time her love became forever lost to her, it was necessary to write this.
Lots of tissues thrown your way,
PS : Sorry I took this long to post a normal post.