It was sunset in Patiala. Some male students were playing soccer on the small field next to the Facility Block. A few more played pick-up games on the courts. Young couples, murmuring before curfew, sat on benches up and down the main road that runs next to the hostels. As it grew darker I walked with several groups towards the hostels.
According to Hindu legend, the Lakshman Rekha was the line drawn by Lakshman to protect Sita, wife of the God Rama. Lakshman was Rama’s brother, charged with the protection of Sita while Rama was away chasing a golden deer. When Rama did not return, Sita begged Lakshman to venture out and search for him. To fulfill his charge and duty to Rama, Lakshman enclosed Sita in a magical ringed line (rekha). If anyone (other than Rama, Sita, or Lakshman) attempted to cross the line, he would be burned by flames springing from the line.
I asked “What would happen if a boy crossed the line?” “He would certainly be punished,” was the answer I received.
As 7 pm approached, the young men said goodnight to their ladies. Young women walked quickly to the hostel gate. Many greeted me as I said goodnight to them, from their side of the Lakshman Rekha.
The guard and matron stood sentry at the gate while the college coeds filed through.
By 7 pm, Sita was again protected.
I walked back to the Guest House on a deserted road.
The men continued to play soccer and pick-up games on the lit courts.