What role does jealousy play in romantic love? Quite a big one, I would say. Think of Shakespeare’s Othello and our very own epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Think of the fabulous, strong-willed queen of Ayodhya – Maharani Kaikeyi.
Twenty-five years ago in 1992 I wrote Kaikeyi, about this fascinating lady of the Ramayana. Here was this wildly beautiful woman, spoilt and wilful…the beloved only Princess of Kekaya. Born after seven brothers to Maharaja Aswapati, she was married to Dasaratha, the middle-aged King of Ayodhya. Of course this marriage took place because of matters of state. But Kaikeyi was to remain passionately in love with Dasaratha for the rest of her life.
She was his second wife. Kausalya of Kosala was his first, the Chief Queen. But Kaikeyi had nothing to fear from the mild mannered Kausalya. Glittering in jewels, brilliant in conversation, warm and lovely, she was easily Dasaratha’s love, and the Chief Queen in everything but name. And then he married the beauteous Sumitra but remained besotted with Queen Kaikeyi.
Four sons were born to the Queens and Kaikeyi took over the boys, as was her wont. And remained the central sparkling figure in court.
What happened then?