Lakshman had a bad feeling about this. He looked grimly at Vibhishan. If he were ever to be vocal about the way things were being done, he told himself, now was the time.
“So we throw rocks into the sea?” he asked in as measured a tone as he could manage.
“Yes my dear brother,” said Rama, Sita already in his line of vision. “The mighty sea god Varun has assured me they will float.”
Float indeed, thought Lakshman. He could imagine his brother, himself, and bits and pieces of the vaanar sena crying out for help to each other as they floated away in different directions in the sea, all sitting on separate rocks.
“If I remember correctly, throwing rocks into the sea is exactly what we were doing a week ago,” Lakshman couldn’t help being louder than usual. Vibhishan shifted on his feet. There was no way of getting out of the tent without brushing against either of the brothers.
“I sense a lack of faith in you Lakshman,” said Rama. “Trust the devas and all will be well.”
“The devas couldn’t protect themselves when Ravana attacked them. We are to trust them to help us against Ravana? You sit hungry by the sea for seven days and seven nights and a deva tells you to throw rocks into water!”
Rama was silent. There was little one could do against the onslaught of reason. Faith fought in silence.
“Hanuman tells me they have siege weapons. Some of Lanka’s senapatis ride on giant lizard-like monsters that breathe fire. I have heard of those. Ravana must have brought them in from faraway China. The king of Lanka himself rides a flying chariot he took from his brother Kuber,” said Lakshman. “All we have is trained monkeys and rocks!”
Young Angad, nephew to the vaanar king Sugreev stopped short in his tracks just outside the tent. Lakshman saw him and froze. Angad looked into his eyes and smiled. Lakshman smiled back. Rama caught his stare and turned to look at Angad. Angad bowed to both of them, turned back and left.
Lakshman hung his head. Rama sighed. This was not the first time Lakshman had thrown political correctness to the wind. But he was just a boy. Rama smiled, ‘always a boy’.
He put a hand on Lakshman’s shoulder. “I am starving. Seven days and seven nights. Get me something to eat, will you?”
Lakshman walked out of the tent, his eyes still boring the ground.
Some distance away, he found Angad sitting on a rock with his face in his hands and couldn’t help grinning.
“What?” said the young vaanar, who had turned to notice Lakshman.
“You won’t believe what he is planning,” Lakshman said.
“Ya? What? Tell me.”
“We are SO dead,” said Lakshman and started walking towards the trees.
“Tell me what he is planning. Please tell me,” said Angad urgently and bounded after Lakshman.