The Irony: Part Five

I tore my eyes away from the mirror with great difficulty. I had been staring at my reflection: those dark, brooding eyes, with bags under them. The long, black, hair, caked with blood. The thin, gaunt, face, drained of colour, with hollow cheekbones,  staring with empty eyes.

Had I really become like this? Was I, Draupadi, the daughter of Drupada, reduced to such a condition? Was I the once lovable princess, who was now mocked as the ‘Dusky Firebrand’?

And it doesn’t seem so long back too…


It was with great difficulty that I could tear my eyes away from the mirror. My lustrous face had a sort of grim beauty in it.  My dark, beautiful eyes radiated power. My long, black hair was braided with thin skeins of gold. Glistening diamonds dripped from my neck. Colourful butterflies flew in my stomach.

“Draupadi,” my best friend said, “It’s time now.”

I ran up to Krishna and hugged him. “I’ll miss you,” I gasped, my breaths is short bursts.

“Come now, Draupadi. It’s not like you’re abandoning me. I’m married, I have a family of my own. It’s high time you got married too. And off you go!”

Easy for him to say. He simply eloped with the girl he wanted and had a happily-ever-after. The man I wanted to marry…he was dead. His remains were charred beyond recognition. I was distraught.

“Here enters Her Royal Highness, Prince Draupadi!” the guard announced, while trumpets rented the air. I absolutely hated that sound.

I could feel hundred-and-twenty pairs of eyes on me. All the good-for-nothing princes who wanted my hand in marriage. And to marry me, they had to fulfil the impossible task…

“Gentlemen, I’m deeply honoured by your presence here. I understand that all of you are gathered here to marry my daughter,” Drupada said.

The crowd stirred uneasily. They all had heard that some impossible task had been designed for my swayamvar. The one who succeeded first could marry me. That meant it could be anyone. Ugh.

“Look yonder. The princes vying for Draupadi’s hand has to string this bow made of metal,” many disappointed sighs could be heard, “and shoot only one arrow at the eye of a revolving fish, while looking only at its reflection in a bowl of water.”

As soon as these words were said, half of the princes present got up, and with arrogant sneers on their face, left the palace. I sighed in relief. Atleast most of the ugly ones had gone.

I glanced at Krishna. He was sitting motionless. I blinked out some tears. This whole, elaborate, set-up was designed in such a way that only Arjuna, the greatest archer in the world, could shoot the fish. And he was dead.

It was with great difficulty that I had managed to get over Arjuna’s death. Krishna was Arjuna’s best friend. He had never shown any sign of grief, so I guessed that he was still in shock.

The next few hours went in a blur for me. None of the princes couldn’t even lift the bow. They had no chance of marrying me. What losers.

Suddenly, I sat up.

He was tall and handsome, dressed in a golden armour, and wearing earrings as bright as the sun. His jet black fell elegantly on his face as he fixed his determined opal black eyes on me.

In short, he was GORGEOUS.

He picked up the bow with surprising ease. I stared at him, mesmerized. He lifted the bow, ready to shoot, when…

“Draupadi, Draupadi!” Krishna hissed from his throne.

“Isn’t he gorgeous?” I sighed.

“Silly girl, do you know who he is?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care.”

“He is Karna.”

(to be continued)

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The Irony: Part 4

“I give you ten minutes more. Make your choice soon. Fight, or flight?” I said.

As soon as I said that, I felt guilty. He had always run from the society every time due to his lineage, and I used to mock that. But there was a time in my life where I had to flee, flee for my life…


 

“What?” yelled my mother Kunti, her fair face pallid with shock, as Bhima looked down sheepishly.

“Really, Bhima, I didn’t think you would stoop so low. You, the son of Kunti and the Wind God Vayu, marrying a Rakshasi, a demoness?” Mother raged on and on.

“You are a shame to your lineage. Don’t you know that the royal code of conduct prescribes that it is the eldest brother who gets married first?”

“Isn’t Yudhishtira still alive? Okay, I wouldn’t have minded so much if you had married some princess, or atleast a human. But a Rakshasi ?” Mother spat the word with such contempt that Nakula, my younger brother, shuddered.

“Enough, Mother. Calm down. According to me, what Bhima did was right. He married the sister of the Rakshasa Hidimba whom he killed with bare hands. If it was not for him, the revenge-driven Hidimbi would have been feasting on our blood right now. Besides, when were we ever treated like royals ?” Nakula’s younger twin, the usually soft-spoken Sahadeva, sneered.

“First, the Kauravas try to poison and drown Bhima in the sea. Then, they try to burn all of us in a lac palace. If it was not for Uncle Vidura, we’d have been burn to cinders,” choked out a visibly upset Nakula, in support of his brother.

“Nakula, Sahadeva, how dare you talk to your mother like this? Even if she may not be your birth mother,  I’m sure your mother Madri and Father will not want you to behave in this way towards her! Just because they are dead does not mean you will behave in this way!” I said.

I knew I had touched a sensitive point as soon as everybody kept quite. I cursed myself. Mother Madri, the twins’ mother, had died just last year. It was with great difficulty that they had gotten over it, and they were very, very good to Kunti.

As for Father Pandu…Well, Father wasn’t our father. Technically. He had been rendered incapable to father children by a curse from Rishi Kindama (who was mating in the form of a deer with his wife), whom Father had killed accidentally.

But Mother, ah, she was a genius. When she was young, she had served Rishi Durvasa so faithfully that he had given her a boon to send for any God of her choice and have children. Father liked this boon immensely.

And so, we were born from Mother and the Gods: Yudhishtira from Dharma, the Lord of Justice; Bhima from Vayu, the Wind God; and I from Indra, King of Heaven and God of Thunderstorms. Yeah, I know, mighty fearsome.

But Father was unhappy with the fact that Madri, his second wife, was childless. So here came the Ashvini Kumaras, twin Gods of medicine and healing, to father Nakula and Sahadeva by the chant given to Madri by Kunti.

Back to reality.

“Arjuna! Is this any way to talk to your younger brothers? Apologize,” said Brother Yudhishtira, “immediately”. He glared at me.

I sighed. He knew that I had too much of an ego to apologize to those younger than me. Mother now glared at me too.

“I’m sorry,” I said briefly.

“Oh come on, bro, no sorry, no thank you between brothers!” said Sahadeva cheerily, as he hugged me.

“Have I been the cause of a fight?” spoke a voice.

We all turned back.

Only the sound of tinkling anklets could be heard distantly, and nothing could be seen. Chink, chink sounded the anklets, as they came closer. And in a flash, she appeared.

The second I saw her, I couldn’t believe that she was the sister of the yellow-toothed, long-nailed, rakish Hidimba, with his spiky green hair covered with grime and bones.

Clothed in red bridal wear, her face covered by a transparent veil, my brother’s stunning wife appeared, her glossy black hair sashaying behind her.

But being the son of Indra had its advantages. When I blinked and opened my eyes again, I could see that she resembled Hidimba a lot. Illusory tricks have little effect in Indra and his children.

I shot a look at Bhima. Clearly, he knew how her original appearance was, but love is blind. For now, he looked mesmerized.

“Mother,” Hidimbi said, as she bent to touch Mother’s feet. By the look on her face, Mother was charmed by such a lovely daughter-in-law.

“Bless you, my child. You must realize that we are not in a position to welcome you as it befits your honour. Due to certain…circumstances, we are leaving to Ekachakra, the village near the forest. Once we regain the place we deserve, I promise you that I’ll immediately call you,”

Mother’s words shocked me. Since when were we planning to leave to Ekachakra? I glanced at her. Her determined black eyes showed that she was not going to budge from her position.

I could see Bhima give her a pained look. I was sure he was thinking what I was thinking. Is Mother trying to avoid Hidimbi? 

It is futile to try to fool Rakshasas. Most of the time, they just glanced to your mind, and gleaned everything about you.

But Hidimbi took it gracefully. “As you wish, Mother,” she said. She glanced through all our faces, and gave one long, lingering look at Bhima before vanishing in thin air.

“Well,” Yudhishtira sighed. “Off to Ekachakra.”


 

In Ekachakra, Bhima brought another giant carcass home.

We were living with this Brahmin family in Ekachakra, who were pious, virtuous, etc, etc. Mother found them arguing with each other one day. According to her, it went something like this:

Husband: Dearest, I think that I better go as I am the oldest. You two children are yet to live your life, and your mother can take care of you.

Wife: Are you crazy? You are the bread-winner of the house! If I go, not many will be affected as you can take care of the kids and not let them starve too.

Son: Father, Mother, I will go. I’m sixteen. My sister needs you both. I am practically useless in the house. If I can save all your lives, then I’ll surely do so.

Very Young Daughter: Papa, me want to go. Pleesh Mama, tell Papa.

Mother Kunti: What happened? Where do you all want to go?

Husband: Good lady, in this city lives a demon named Bakasura. He drove away the king and used to feast on us. One day, we all went to him and pleaded him to spare us. He agreed on one condition: Everyday, one cartload of food, two buffaloes, and one human must be sent from each house to him. Today, it is our turn.

Mother Kunti: Respected sir, you have been so good to us that I can’t bear the thought of one of you dying. I will send my son Bhima. He is capable of killing even the king of Rakshasas.

Wife: No, kind woman! We’ll suffer eternal hell for knowingly letting our guests into the jaws of death. I will die if something happens to your son!

Kinda melodramatic.

One of Mother’s annoying habits is to think that whatever went wrong in the world was because of her. And so, ridden with guilt, she would try to make amends, and put OUR lives in danger, not hers. A bit selfish.

 

Mother waved aside all of the Brahmin family’s request and sent Bhima to Bakasura. As expected, he ate the cartload of food in front of the livid Bakasura, killed him, and brought him home.

Easy-peasy.

But now, this will make Cousin Duryodhana finding our existence easy. And we didn’t want to happen it soon.

So it came as a blessing when Mother’s nephew, Krishna, came and informed us of the swayamvara of the Panchala princess, Draupadi.

“Well,” said Yudhishtira, “Off to Panchala.”

“As usual,” Nakula muttered.

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

The Irony: Part 3

“I give you ten minutes more. Make your choice soon. Fight, or flight?” my to-be-killer smirked.

I sighed, trying to heave the wheel up, while my charioteer, Salya, looked upon me with contempt. I bit back a curse, squeezing the wheel to get it up. As I squeezed and squeezed to no avail, I thought of another day, where too, I was squeezing and squeezing…


 

Being the best friend of the crown-prince of Hastinapur meant that I had to know something of the royal matters. Mincing no words, my new-found friend, Prince Duryodhana, explained the political situation and his royal line very clearly.

King Dhritarashtra, Duryodhana’s father, was the son of the Kashi princess, Ambika and the sage Vyasa.

Ambika and Ambalika were the two wives of King Vichitravirya, who died childless. In order to continue the royal line, his mother, Queen Satyavati, summoned her illegitimate son Vyasa to father children on Ambika and Ambalika. The sage agreed, and requested the princesses to meet him in his chamber.

When Ambika went to meet him, she shut her eyes tight to avoid seeing his gristly form. So, she gave birth to a blind son, Dhritarashtra.

When Ambalika went to him, she turned pale with fright, so a pale and sickly son named Pandu was born to her. Pandu was the father of the Pandavas.

Satyavati was unhappy with her elder grandson being blind, so she sent Ambika again to him. Not wishing to undergo the trauma once more, she sent her maid servant instead. This woman served Vyasa faithfully, who blessed with her a wise son, named Vidura.

Vidura, everybody’s loving uncle and the royal minister, was always mistreated  by the Kauravas due to his low origins. In a way, I struck a chord with him, as even I had to face the same pain and humiliation I had to face due to a low birth. However, he had no sympathy for me.

As Dhritarashtra was blind, his brother, Pandu took over the reins of the kingdom. However, he declared himself to be incapable of ruling after being cursed by a sage, and retired to the forest with his two wives. Dhritarashtra was crowned the king.

Dhritarashtra married Gandhari, the beautiful princess of Gandhar. She was unwittingly connived by Grandfather Bhishma to marry the blind prince.

Once she realized her husband was blind, she tied her eyes with a silken cloth, so that she couldn’t enjoy the pleasures that her husband was deprived of.

However, her husband didn’t share her noble ideals. Gandhari suffered from an unusual pregnancy of two years. Meanwhile, he fathered an illegitimate child, Yuyutsu, on a maid servant. Gandhari was heart-broken.

Soon, she became the mother of the hundred-and-one Kauravas, the eldest being Duryodhana. Her last child was a daughter, named Dusshala, married to the Sindhu king, Jayadratha.

However, her greatest grief was not that her husband was blind. Nor was she angry at the fact that he didn’t respect her sacrifice for him.

It was rage at the fact that Pandu’s wife, Kunti, had given birth before her. Kunti’s son, Yudhishtira, ever gentle, was the eldest Pandava. And because of him Duryodhana could never become the king.


 

What madness was this? Pandu had died long back due to a curse along with his second wife, Madri. It was a widowed Kunti who brought up her three sons, Yudhishtira, Bhima, and Arjuna, along with Madri’s twins, Nakula and Sahadeva.

Now that Pandu was dead, it was Dhritarashtra’s sons who were rightly entitled for the throne. However, the Queen Mother, Kunti, deferred. She argued that as her son was the eldest son of the first king, it was he who was to become the king. This was the cause of all the clashes and riots of the kingdom.

The public favoured  Yudhishtira, as he was a kind and considerate king, ever gentle, and always noble. On the other hand, my friend Duryodhana earned few supporters, as reports of his shady dealings to finish the Pandavas spread like wildfire across the kingdom.

It was his maternal uncle, Shakuni, the Gandhar king, who poisoned his mind against the Pandavas.

As far as I could see, he was crazed at his sister’s plight and wanted to bring about the downfall of the Kurus to avenge her, but was hiding his real motive under the pretext of ‘helping’ my friend.

But Duryodhana believed otherwise, and despite all my pleadings, he remained a staunch supporter of the evil Shakuni.

Their latest plan was to burn the Pandavas and Kunti in a house  made of lac, which they pulled off successfully.

While the city of Hastinapur was plunged in grief at the news of the accidental demise of the Pandavas, there was revelry in the royal court at their deaths.

“To the Pandavas!” screamed Duryodhana, sarcasm in every line of his face as he raised a toast. I grimaced. I didn’t approve of tricking people to their deaths, and he knew that.

However, I was secretly pleased at the fact that my arch-rival Arjuna was dead in that fire, and that nobody would question my supremacy as an archer.

“All hail Duryodhana!” I said, as I drank my toast that night.


 

Being the Anga king only changed my name, not my fame. I was no longer Vasusena, the son of Radha. Now, I was Angaraj Karna, the greatest giver.

Affluence had not changed me in any way. Being endowed with sudden wealth and prosperity, I took a great oath in front of the Sun God that as long as the sun was in the sky, I’d give whatever was in my possession to deserving people seeking alms.

This made the people of Anga name me ‘Mahadaani,’ the greatest giver.

My generous nature did not change their mind, though. They were unhappy with the fact that a charioteer’s son should lord over them. Even when I was on the rounds of my kingdom, I’d hear repressed remarks and sniggers on my lineage. I received no respect from my own citizens.

Once, when I was out in my kingdom, a small girl stopped me. She must have been about five or six years old. Shards of broken pottery lay around her,  and tears were flowing down her cheeks like rivers. She asked me, “Aren’t you the king?”

“Yes, I am,” I said, lifting her up smilingly.

She broke down once more. “Take me to your palace, please. I can’t go home. My stepmother won’t let me in.”

I was surprised at this. What sort of woman will refuse entry to such a sweet little thing? I asked her the reason.

“You see, she had sent me out to get a pot of ghee. When I was coming back, I tripped on that stone, and…and…”

She started crying, wildly gesticulating at the broken shards of her pot.

“Why one pot, dear? I’ll give you ten such pots full of ghee. Go and give them to your mother,” I said, laughing.

“No, no, I want only this ghee. Otherwise, she won’t let me in!” she wailed.

Little ones. Nobody could convince them. I shrugged, and bent down. The ghee was splattered and mixed with the earth. I wasn’t new to the mud.

I bent down, picked up some soil, and squeezed it. The clarified butter fell inside a shard of the  broken pot. I squeezed and squeezed, until all the ghee was taken out.

“Oh, thank you!” the girl squealed. She ran up to me and hugged me.

“You know, I thought you’d never help. My mother said,” she leaned forward conspiratorially, “Don’t tell this to anyone, please. Promise? Okay, so listen. My mother said you were very, very bad, and would kidnap small children! I didn’t believe her, of course! Now that I’ve seen you, I’ll tell everyone how good you are! Bye bye!”

With that she left me, and ran away.

“Brainwashed the young one, didn’t you, son of Radha?” spoke a low voice menacingly.

I turned back. Right behind me stood a young woman, charming to look at, but her face contorted with pain and rage. She was dressed in brown, earthy shades, and her clothes swirled around her, making her look very hazy. She was bejeweled and resplendent, and even the unmistakable agony on her face could not mar her beauty

“Know that, oh Radheya, that I’m Bhoomi Devi, the Earth Goddess, whom you have squeezed so hard that had she not been immortal, she would’ve been dead!”

“I curse you Karna, that as you have held me in this way for the sake of a small girl, so will I hold the wheel of your chariot, without releasing it, when you need it the most!”

Before I could reply, she disintegrated into the Earth.

Great job. Curse number two. How may more curses I was to receive, I didn’t know.

What an accursed life I led! I was a king against my wish; my saviour, my only friend, would not listen to me; my own citizens did not respect me; and at the age of eighteen, I had already received two curses, omens signifying my death.

With a sigh, I rode back to my kingdom.

(to be continued…)

 

The Irony: Part 2

As I looked at him, hatred filled my heart.

I stood on my chariot, poised with my Anjalika weapon, ready to strike. All he was doing was try to free his chariot wheel from the ground.

Though I was about to kill this villain, I didn’t feel proud or exhilarated. I only felt a searing rage against him.

This man was the interloper in my life. Poking his nose where he was not required. What was he? Only the son of a mere charioteer. Then how dare did he compete with the royal prince of Hastinapur?

As I looked at his pathetic state now, I remembered that fateful day when I saw his hateful face for the first time…


I looked up and smiled. Why shouldn’t I? I, Arjuna, the son of Kunti and Pandu, am the greatest living archer on Earth. And now that I was being applauded by the whole city of Hastinapur, there is no reason for me to refrain from smiling.

Today was the day for competition between the Pandava and Kaurava princes. And as usual, we Pandavas stole the show, our hundred mighty cousins unable to match our prowess.

These cousins of mine were always very jealous of us. They had made several failed attempts at our lives, and we were saved at the nick of the time with God’s grace. We detested them and they detested us. However, family is family, and we have certain duties towards them. This competiton was one of them.

Now that my display of archery was over, the audience cheered me for an encore. I grinned.

“Is there anybody, anybody to match young Arjuna’s skill in archery?” the loud voice of Grandfather Bhishma rang out.

I twitched. This was a customary challenge given out to anybody who felt that the prince’s training was incomplete.

“Can anybody challenge this matchless warrior for a duel? Is there anybody who can prove himself to be a better archer than this ambidextrous hero?” Grandfather boomed.

I sighed with impatience. There was nobody in the three worlds who could match my prowess, and everybody knew that. Then why waste time in unnecessary formalities?

“I do,” a voice called out.

Everybody looked at the young man in amazement. He was tall and handsome, dressed in a golden armour, and wearing earrings as bright as the sun. He held a strong and sturdy bow with wondrous engravings on it. His jet black hair swayed with the breeze, as he fixed his determined opal black eyes on me.

“Young man, name yourself. Know that the person whom you’re challenging is none other than than wealth winner Arjuna, the son of Kunti,” my Guru Drona said.

“I know that very well, royal preceptor.” The man’s arrogant smile was getting on my nerves now. “I can reproduce every thing that the prince has done right now,” he declared, with a glint in his eye.

And right in front of the speechless crowd, he effortlessly performed each and everything that I had done, with much more grace and careless ease. Now, I was really starting to hate this young upstart. How dare he challenge me, the prince of princes?

“This young man here,” proclaimed Bhishma, in his deep baritone, “has surpassed the youngest son of Kunti in his feats of archery!”

The crowd cheered. I flushed. How dare this interloper come and grab MY fame from ME on MY day in MY kingdom?

“I now challenge Arjuna to duel with me and prove his worth in front of Hastinapur,” the young man said.

This was adding salt to my injuries. Nobody, not even my own teacher, has the guts to challenge me openly for a duel. Then how dare this young fellow do so? Rage was building up inside me, and I wanted to vent it all out by killing him.

“Whomever you may be, glorious hero, you will be in the realms of uninvited guests and prattlers once I’m done with you,” I swore.

“He smiled mirthlessly. “I never expected the royal princes to be afraid of combat with a mere commoner,” he sneered. “Prove your fame through deeds of valour, Arjuna, and not through empty words,” he said mockingly.

“Wait a minute, young man. A prince may fight with only another prince. Know that the prince who stands before you is none other than Arjuna, the Kuru prince. Name yourself and your lineage,” said my other guru Kripa.

I bit my lip in annoyance. I was not interested in who he was and where he came from. I just wanted to kill him, and prove that I was the best archer in the world.

But at this question, the young man did not answer, but bowed his head. Was it shame, or modesty, that made him to do so? The crowd remained silent, waiting for him to reveal himself.

“If it is lineage that is stopping this valorous hero from naming himself, why I shall set that right! I’m crowning you, unnamed hero, as the king of Anga, which is a part of my father’s territory!”

Everybody looked at my cousin, Duryodhana. He was the eldest Kaurava, known for his might and charisma, not for his generosity. Certainly, there was a reason behind this gift.

The young man lifted his head up, his face shining like the Sun with gratitude. As he lifted his bow, rain clouds gathered around me. I was born with the blessing of Indra, lord of the rain and king of the Gods. I guessed this was his show of support to me.

However, on the other hand, my rival was surrounded in a halo of sunshine. This was an interesting development. I lifted my bow too.

“My son, my son! Oh Karna, what are you doing” cried an emancipated old man, running towards my opponent.

I raised my eyebrows in wonder. This old fellow was clothed in ordinary attire stained with grease. Clearly, he was a charioteer.

“Father!”

With my eyebrows still raised, I watched the young man touching the older man’s feet. Before I could react, my brother Bhima laughed.

“So this young man is nothing else than a son of a charioteer! This cocksure young Karna, who boasted that he could defeat my brother, does not deserve such a royal and a regal bow! All he needs in a whip to drive our horses!” Bhima mocked.

The crowd booed. “Get lost, suta-putra, how dare you think of competing with the prince himself! You low-born mongrel, flee before we stone you!”

I watched his cold lips quivering with hearty satisfaction. What a jerk he was to challenge me.

“All of you shut up! I, the crown-prince of Hastinapur, command you to remain silent!” cousin Duryodhana blared.

“A prince does not define valour, valour defines a prince! This man is a prince in his own right! How can a doe give birth to a lion? Similarly, how can this weak charioteer give birth to such a brave-heart? He has all the auspicious marks on him, and seems of celestial lineage, and he commands respect!”

With this pompous speech, Duryodhana placed his hand on Karna and said, “Dearest Karna, I’ve never met such an archer like you all my life. Surely, you’re the one who can bring this arrogant Arjuna to his end. Come with me.”

As Karna muttered his thanks and joined Duryodhana on his chariot along with his father, I realized why he had gifted his kingdom to this suta-putra. All he wanted to do was to kill me, and Karna was the perfect means to attain that.

Well, there was no use worrying about the future now. I bowed to the still tumultuous audience, and left for my palace with my brothers.

(to be continued…)

The Irony: Part 1

 

Ironic. That’s how my life is now. Ironic. Amid the clash of maces, clang of swords, whiz of bowstrings, all I am trying to do is remove the wheel of my chariot from the ground. It’s sad that I, the greatest archer in the world, am going to be killed by my own brother in this fashion.

In these last few minutes of my life, I guess you people deserve to know the truth. Before it is too late.

As they say, let me begin from the beginning.

I am Karna, the one born with the armour and ear-rings. My parents are Radha and Adhiratha, a charioteer couple. I was raised near the banks of the river Ganga.


 

I was always fascinated with archery. The sturdy bows, sharp bowstrings, and the keen arrows always had me stare in wonder. While my brothers employed their rough, coarse hands in lubricating chariots, I was busy utilizing my long, thin and nimble fingers for crafting rough bows made from the bark of trees. Whatever happened, I wanted to become an archer. The best archer in the world.

I didn’t need anything else except a good teacher. I am already born with this amazing golden armour that appears and disappears with my will, and nothing could penetrate it. Not to mention my earrings, which makes me glow like the Sun itself. Yeah, I know. I’m incredibly lucky.

Anyways, seeing my deepening interest in archery, my parents took the utmost pains to take me to a good teacher, who would teach me the complex skill of archery. Alas, it was a hopeless dream.

Every single guru we met, every single one, from Guru Drona to Guru Kripa, all of them rejected me. They stung my heart with their words, “You have great potential, my boy, but we cannot teach you, ah, for you are the son of a wretched charioteer. We do not accept suta-putras as our disciples.”

When honesty and sincerity fail, there is only one way left: trickery and deceit. I went to Guru Parashurama, the guru of Drona himself, and posed as a Brahmin to him. He had taken an oath to teach only Brahmins, and this was the only way I could learn from him.


 

One day, towards the end of my training, Guru Parashurama was sleeping, resting his head on my lap. Suddenly, a scorpion appeared from nowhere, and stung my thigh. Not wanting to disturb my guru’s hard-earned rest, I bore the pain. But I guess the warm blood trickling down my thigh could not be controlled, for my guru woke up, and started scolding me.

“Oh Vasusena, what have you done? You told me that you were the son of a Brahmin, but no one, not even I, can bear the pain of a scorpion sting without even a whimper. Surely then, you must be a Kshatriya, for only a person with royal blood in his veins can bear it.”

I was startled. I had expected him to respect my effort of not to wake him up, and here he was, calling a suta-putra a Kshatriya. Slip of the tongue, I guessed.

“You fool, knowing my hatred of Kshatriyas, how dare you come here in the guise of a Brahmin? I curse you, oh Karna, that in the hour of need, may you forget the use of the divine weapons!”

Great. I spend all my life learning the use of divine weapons, and here my great guru is, cursing me to forget all of them.

I couldn’t bear my guru being so disappointed in me. He had once told me that I was equal to him in all skills of warfare. My guru love me deeply. I couldn’t let this happen. I couldn’t disappoint him in this way.

I’ll ask for his forgiveness. There must be something, something I could do to be pardoned. But deep inside, I knew it was impossible. Nothing could change my guru’s mind. There was practically no hope that he would show me even an iota of pity for the crime I have knowingly committed.

“However, being the excellent and diligent student that you were, I give you a boon too. Here, take my bow, Vijaya.The string of this bow cannot be broken by any kind of divine weapon. Every time an arrow is released from this bow, it will create a terrible twang as loud as thunder, causing terrible fear in the hearts of your enemies, and will produce flashes of light, as brilliant as lightning, which will blind your enemy.

This bow cannot be broken by any weapon or anyone, and it is so heavy that a normal person cannot even lift it. Every time an arrow is aimed, the energy of the arrow is amplified by multiple times, as this bow is charged with sacred mantras.

Bowing down, I received the celestial Vijaya, the last show of affection to me by my guru. I will preserve this bow for future use, I thought.

“Take this bow, and show me not your face again,” my guru said with rage.

I reeled. I had thought of telling him the truth and begging his pardon before I left the gurukula, but I never expected it to come off this way.

(to be continued…)

 


For Writing 201, Intros and Hooks.