That was not a strange thing for her. She was born with that and could feel it very closely. It could be intolerable for others but it was her luck. Even in dream she couldn’t get rid of it. That day, she was waiting for the passenger. Hissing breeze was touching her stinking but sensuous body. Suddenly a dark faced sage, wearing a single clad around his waist, approached towards her. He stood near the Satyavati. His shadow was covering her figure. She lifted her head and targeted her eyes on his face. “Oh! A sage,” she murmured. At once she got up, folded her hands and bowed her head in front of him. He raised his hand to bless her. His eyes scanned her beauty in a single look. He asked for the boat. She nodded her head and started to row him across the river. The boat was in the middle of the river. The sage was staring at Satyavati continuously.
“Do you know who I am?” he asked Satyvati. Satyavati denied. “Well, I am the great sage Parasara and I am capable in giving any boon.” She lifted her head with hopeful eyes. Parasara got her mind so he smiled cunningly.
“But in return you will have to give me something. That must be precious to you.”
“What is that?”
“You know… I am smitten by your beauty so I want to embrace you.”
“That is not possible,” Satyavati stopped to row the boat with shock. “I am a faithful daughter to my father. What face will I show to him after losing my virginity?”
“Don’t get afraid. I will give you it back.”
“No No No,” She murmured.
“What?” the sage questioned Satyavati. Satyavati was silent as if she was knitting some plan. There was complete silence on the boat. Satyavati’s hands were not rowing the boat now. They were busy in crushing each other in her lap. She spoke slowly.
“In this, what is my benefit? You are giving this boon to get me.”
“Then what do you want?”
“Something precious to me.” Satyavati smiled.
“For a woman, what can be more precious than virginity?” The sage got surprised.
Satyavati gave a secret smile and said, “Smell. Smell me, how can a male come close to a woman with fishy smell. This is dreadful for me. I want to get rid of this. Yes? Then you can come to me otherwise not.”
Sage wondered on the option of Satyavati but he accepted “ Hmm. Yes, you will be getting rid of this.”
Suddenly a mysterious mist surrounded the boat. The sage touched her body. She closed her eyes. A dark cloud made the surrounding shady. After some time, fog dispersed. Satyavati got her senses. She felt that there was something inside her womb. She caressed her belly. It was startling. She was pregnant. Seeing her anxiety, sage comforted her “you will give birth to a son now; on this boat but soon he will regain his youth and will leave you. I am also living forever but fulfilling both of my promises. You will gain both an amazing fragrant body and the lost virginity.”
Satyavati returned home with a fragrant body and regained virginity. It was like a dream for her. She never saw the sage Parasara again. She smelled her hand. It was like the scent of the flowers. “What a sensuous fragrance for male,” she whispered.
That day she was sitting on a stone near her boat. Cool breeze was becoming aromatic by touching her body. Her hairs were rolling like the ready crop in spring season. Her eyes were bright and face was shining. Suddenly a young man appeared there. He saw Satyavati lost in her dreams. That beautiful maiden hypnotized the young man. He fell at once in love with her. He went to her and asked, “I have never seen such a beautiful maiden. Who are you?” Satyavati raised her eyes up and smiled. She dropped her eyelashes again without answering.
“Don’t make me mad with your unrivaled beauty,” the king became passionate.
Satyavati face became rigid. She said, “Why do you want to know about me and why should I introduce myself to a stranger?” Seeing the confluence of beauty and fearlessness he became surprised.
“I am the king Shantanu of Hastinapur.” The king raised his head with vanity. She stood up with a sudden shock. She folded her hands and bowed her head. “I am sorry for not recognizing you. Please order me what can I do for you.”
“No need to feel sorry. I have no orders but a proposal for you.”
“O king, then say it.”
“Your captivated beauty made me senseless. I want to marry you,” Satyavati smiled on her luck but she didn’t disclose her happiness. She controlled her facial emotions and said “O king! you demanded that thing that is not in my hand. This decision is totally reserved to my father. A good maiden never disobeys her parent’s order or wish. I don’t have mother so my father followed my parenting and being an obedient daughter it’s my duty to follow her orders,” So saying, she left the king under the influence of her beauty. He followed her madly. She was aware that the king was following her. As she reached near her hut she saw her father cleaning the fish. She moved hurriedly towards him and whispered into his ears. He looked back. He left that untidy work and run towards the king. “Yes my lord? What can I do for you?”
“So temerity, Will not ask to have a seat?’’
“Why not my lord but… I am a lowly person to offer you a seat.”
“Don’t misjudge yourself, O fisherman. You have that precious thing which I don’t have. And if you wish to give that precious thing to me you can be in the position to offer a seat to a royal man.”
“How can that be my lord? In my knowledge I don’t have any precious thing.”
“Fine, I will talk straight. It’s your daughter that can change your fate. From lowly person to high status person.”
“O king I could not get you.”
The king took a long breath as if gathering all the courage to utter the words. He spoke, “I want to marry your daughter. In return you can take whatever you want.”
The fisherman became wordless. For a while, he became still. Then he controlled his senses and said, “O king being a father of a girl I don’t need anything in return of her marriage. It is my good luck that you demanded my girl. I couldn’t think even in dreams to marry her to a king. But…,” The fisherman stopped in the midst of his sentence.
“But what?” the king asked impatiently.
“My lord, if you want to marry my daughter then I want a promise from you.”
“Promise, what promise?’’
“I brought up my daughter in extreme poverty. We are not sure that we could get next time bread. You are the king, if today, you are marrying my daughter. It can be that tomorrow you will throw away her from your life. Then where will she go? So you will have to promise me that the son born of my daughter will inherit the throne of Hastinapur.” It shocked the king completely. The king had already declared his son Devavrata as the next heir of his throne. It was not possible to change this decision because Shantanu’s love was not less than his infatuation for Satyavati.
King’s days turned into nights. He restricted himself to his room. Devavrata was observing his father’s condition but he wasn’t aware of his conflict. He tried to know but king didn’t tell anything. After being asked from king, Devavrata tried to ask his chariot driver. He told about the king’s visit to a fisherman. However he couldn’t tell exactly what happened there. Devavrata took his horse and approached towards the fisherman’s hut.
He came down from his horse and looked around there. “Is anybody there?” The fisherman came out of the hut.
“Yes?” “Who are you sir? And what can I do for you?”
“I am Devavrata, son of king Shantanu and Goddess ganga. I want to know what happened between my father and you.” The fisherman smiled and started to say, “Your father fall in love with my daughter. But he was not strong enough to pay for it. So I denied.”
“How can you say that my father is a weak person? He is so strong that you can’t even imagine about it. He can pay you so much that for seven births you don’t need to earn.” Devavrata’s rage could not change the reaction of fisherman. Like stubborn horse he was firm on his words. Seeing this Devavrata said,’ ok fine, tell me what price you want.”
“Price? For love?” fisherman questioned the intelligence of Devavrata. “Do you not know love is priceless?”
“You don’t want any price then what do you want? Please don’t make me furious.”
“Hey powerful young man you are boastful of your strength. But I want only a promise from your father that he is unable to give.”
“Unable to give? Why and what promise.”
“Yes unable to give because of you.”
“Me? What riddle are you playing? Stop this nonsense.”
“Don’t be angry prince I know you very well but you don’t know that your father sacrificed his love only for you.”
“Would you tell me clearly?” Devavrata couldn’t control his curiosity.
“I asked for a promise from your father that if your father marries my daughter then throne of Hastinapur will be for her children, even your children will not claim for the throne.”
Devavrata understood everything. “Ok fine, firstly I want to meet the lady Satyavati, and want to know her wish in this matter.” Satyavati was listening from inside her hut. On her father’s order she came out. Devavrata folded her hands and said “if my father wants to marry you, then, you are like my mother. What is your decision?” Embarrassed Satyavati didn’t raise her eyes up. She said very calmly, “My father’s wish is my wish.”
Now Devavrata knew what to do. He was firm in his decision. His mind didn’t change even for a while. He raised his hands up and made a strong vow, “I will never be the king nor will I marry ever. I will practice celibacy forever. The son may be born of the lady Satyavati will be our king.” Hearing this strong oath, heavenly light striked in the sky. Flowers from heaven started to fall on Devavrata. This news reached to the ears of king Shantanu. He rushed there. He hugged his son Devavrata and cried bitterly. “Why? Why my son? Why did you make this strong oath?” “My son I can never forgive myself for this”. Like a helpless person he fell down on his knees
“Father, my mother always told me to take care of you and your happiness. I can do anything for you. It is not a big thing.”
Hearing this king got up, held the Devavrata from shoulder and said ,“my son from now you would be known as Bhishma and I bless you with a boon of death at will. Death can’t come to you as long as you desire to live.” Satyavati was seeing everything. She didn’t say even a single word. She knew it very well that she is going to change the course of events. In Hastinapur now wind will flow according to her wish. She smelled her shoulder and took a deep breath to feel her own fragrance. She was successful in changing her destiny. She got rid of her ill fragrance and ill luck both.
Nisha Singh writes on Indian Review.