On the outskirts of Mithila,
a fabled city where they would soon rest
having completed their sacrificial mission,
the Sage took the boys past a neglected ashram.
Rama, by the entrance, walked over a raised slab-stone.
No sooner had he touched the stone
        than dust was enlivened by his foot
and before him the dust outlined itself into the image
   of an immaculate curvaceous woman.

The curvaceous woman appeared a mirage at first
then strengthened in appearance.
She stooped before Rama, greeting him thus,
‘May the Lord bless your feet, you are Rama.
I have endured years this lonely way.’

The Sage twigged on to the miracle unveiling,
He took the boys aside and told them Ahalya’s story.
‘Rama, this ideal beauty is Ahalya.
Formed by the gods
then raised here on earth by her mentor, Sage Gautama.

It was natural that Gautama and Ahalya wed
   when they fell head-over-heels.
Once married they were the perfect brain to brawn couple

But one of the supreme gods, Indra it was,
was always horny for Ahalya. He lost self-control.

One day, soon as Gautama
went for his river wash and prayers at the bank
    Indra was like a cloud ready to burst!
And burst he did by spilling down to earth
as Ahalya’s husband. Exact-same copy.

But hornier!
Horny as Ahalya and Gautama on their marital night.

Ahalya was naturally-enough most pleased
and surrendered screaming her great jollification.
As the first round of the intercourse peaked
through the woods Gautama cottoned on to
        Ahalya’s fabric-tearing lust-cries.

He was hot on the cry trail and arrived home
watching a bed couple bonking
for round two! An eyeful for an eye fool!

Gautama saw the buttocks of some poltroony fellow
leap off his missus and turn into a cat
sneaking off for a cat-flap. Gautama said,
‘O cat, I say it – cursed be your body,
covered all over with rude-appearing slits!’

The cat meowed away freckled with rude-appearing slits.
Then Gautama to his wife,
‘Lateral lecher, I say it! I have not satisfied you too much?
May your frisky features turn into a

Ahalya’s pleadings were off-the-pace when she said,
‘Who’s the real Gautama?’
or ‘How is it, my husband is a cat?’

        Too damn late it all was!

Ahalya felt a silicon feeling sludging slowly
through her feet and upwards
slowly making her senseless becoming.

The sage realised some cunnery had him duped.
He pitied his pleading wife and installed a last-minute
get-out clause, ‘Ahalya, I say it – your salvation
only one day can come by King Dasaratha’s son, Rama,
if he ever choose to come this way.’

Rama was curious what had happened to Indra.
Said the Sage, ‘When Indra returned to heaven as himself
    but with rude-appearing slits all over
    he was the butt of jokes!
He brooded in a lock-up with darkness for a friend.
All the while his duties neglected so his worlds were wrecked.
The gods appealed to Brahma
who forgave Indra by blinking each slit into a gem.
Most gods are never forgiven
    hence lucky Indra is known as the Gemmy God.’

All stories told, the Sage watched
how Rama’s wisdom would reveal itself.
Was he really the great one sent to save all
or would he lust Ahalya like that lecher Indra … ?

Instinctively and instantly Rama prayed for Ahalya
and spoke thus,
‘The curse on you was rash. You have been tortured,
foot-trodden these years as a stone slab.
You should have been judged by what you intended.’

Gautama, who had been a stone to his wife,
had lived a stony life, albeit broken each day for his wife.
But now he rose
from his hunched state amidst thorns by the ashram
and straight lit up like a starry night
when he watched his wife, with a lavanyakam flower in her hair,

They simply hugged to the pealing bells in the distance.
Rama blessed them both
so their minds be purified for fresh beginnings.

If only all our world’s misunderstandings
were blessed by Rama
and our failed loves could begin, with stars in their eyes, again.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN


Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences