I sat by Yashodara's feet.
The moon lit the chamber in its silvery glow. A thin red woven sheet covered Yashodara's sleeping form. She lay facing my son Rahula. Her arms engulfing his tiny body. She stirred in her sleep, let out a sigh and moved closer to her son.
I sat by her feet. Looking, memorizing, helpless.
I reached out and touched Rahula's cheeks. His tiny lips puckered to meet my fingertip, mistaking perhaps in his sleep for his mother's breast. I smiled.
The city of Kapilavattu slept.
I got up and sat for a while on the carved wooden chair by the latticed window. In the dark. I looked out at the palace courtyard. Everything seemed unusually quiet.The celebrations that had been held for my son's birth had run for two days. Now the whole palace lay asleep in a drunken haze.
I felt a weight on my chest. A heaviness. I breathed deep the night air. Trying to calm the restlessness within me.
I turned my gaze again towards my wife and my son.
I got up , wrapped the shawl around me and moved towards the door.
I did not look back.
I pulled out the wooden lock from its clasp and pushed the door open as gently as possible, lest I wake anybody.
I stepped over the sleeping guards and made my way down the stairs.
The courtyard was in darkness. The dim light of the dying lanterns that hung around the palace walls, showed me the way to the stable. I caught sight of the sleeping Chandra. My friend. He lay on the parapet , covered in a thick blanket, near the stable. I shook him awake.
He sat up with alarm. I hushed his questions with my hands. I entered the stable and untethered Kantaka, my black steed. Chandra, helped me saddle him. No questions. I was grateful. I would not have known the answers if he had asked.
We led Kantaka out of the palace compound. Chandra closed the wooden palace gates. I mounted Kantaka and hoisted Chandra behind me.
We rode out into the night.
I, Siddhartha, son of King Shuddodana Gautama , chief of the Shakyas; sneaked out of his home , like a thief, leaving behind his birth rights , his old father , his young wife and his new born son.
I left with no other intention than to get away from everything that would snuff the flickering flame of something I had no name for , than a feeling of intense restlessness, a call that could not be refused , an emotional agony that threatened to consume me.
Kantaka rode like the wind. My mind recalled a childhood memory of a moth that flirted with the temple lamps, attracted my its yellow light, finally burning itself to death.