Love is wonderful. No, I am not moonstruck, but pondering as usual. The thing is, I was cleaning up some stuff, and happened to see the Amar Chitra Katha comic version of the story of King Kusha. The story triggered some thoughts, and here I am.
For people not in the know, here is the story. It is taken from the Jataka tales. King Okkaka was heirless. Indra granted him two sons as a boon, one wise but ugly and the other handsome but foolish. Sheelavati, the queen asked for the wise one to be born first, and so King Kusha was born. Later, Jayampati, the beautiful child, was born.
Kusha finished his learning quite soon. When his parents asked him to get married, he thought that no princess would agree to get married to a ugly youth like him, and hit upon a ruse to ward off the impending proposals and refusals. He carved a beautiful image of a woman, and asked his parents to find somebody who looked exactly like her. He was confident that they would not be able to find a woman as beautiful as his carving. But he was mistaken. Padmavati, the daughter of Sagala was found and married to Kusha on one condition - the new couple were not to see each other for some time. Padmavati loved to hear him play the veena, and imagined that he had an artist's handsome face.
Kusha could not hide his face long from Padmavati. As soon as she found out that her husband was not the handsome prince she had hoped for, she left for her parents' house. Thither followed Kusha. He became a potter's apprentice, made a beautiful pot with Padmavati's picture on it, and sent it to her. She recognized his work and threw the pot away. He then became the royal wicker-worker's apprentice and sent his work to her, but she rejected that too. He then became a cook at the palace, with the hope that he could at least see her often. She was unrelenting, but Kusha toiled in the royal kitchen, waiting for her to accept him.
Finally, Indra decided to help him. He sent a message to seven different kings in Sagala's name, saying that since his daughter (hey, Indra was a great forger!) had left Kusha, he would marry her off to them. Seven kings with seven armies came to Madda (that was the kingdom of Padmavati). Padmavati's father was now alarmed. Giving Padmavati to any one king would mean war with the other six, and he was just not prepared for it. Padmavati now saw the situation she was in, and appealed to Kusha to help her. Kusha settled matters by offering his seven sisters-in-law to the seven kings. Kusha and Padmavati lived happily ever after.
Now, that was the story. I have a question. I am sure some women, in their vanity, do not consider not-so-good-looking men as worthy of companionship, in spite of their other virtues. But would any man do so much for a woman who has scorned him repeatedly? I have read of men and women who do anything and everything to get to their loved ones back. Rama fought the entire army of Ravana to win Seeta back. In Kalidasa's drama, vikramorvasheeyam, Pururava performed penance for winning Urvashi. One can find umpteen instances like that in other cultures also. In Greek mythology, we have the search for Cupid by Psyche and the pining of Penelope for Ulysses. But in all such stories there is this one common thing - of mutual love that is nourished by longing and even by separation.
Well, I do not want to dissect the story any further and play spoilsport. Do let me know if you liked it :)