The silence could be sliced through with a knife.
The rustle of silk
From the blind, old king,
The uproar, the ruckus; all were put to a stop.
Draupadi stood there, arrogant, haughty,
And in rage,
Her torso bared for all the world to see.
Her dark skin glistened,
With droplets of sweat
Trickling down her heaving breasts.
The end of her sari
Slipped from the grip
Of the nerveless Duhshasan,
To fall unheeded on the marbled floor.
Had silenced all.
“Are women comodities?”
The Kuru elders sat with eyes downcast,
As if in shame.
They knew not the answer.
A game of dice –
It all had begun just like a game.
The Kaurava prince Duryodhan
Had challenged his cousin,
King Yudhisthira of the Pandavas,
To a game of dice.
His own place on the carpet was taken by
Uncle Shakuni, a mean, crafty, scheming man –
A wizard at the game.
He played to win,
And win he did.
Yudhisthira lost everything he had
One after another.
He lost his riches, his possessions, his arms, his crown,
Then he put his four dear brothers up for wager
And lost them all –
The hundred Kaurava brothers,
Together with their cronies,
Were in raptures.
“Do you give up, dear nephew?”
Shakuni had asked.
“I have nothing left.”
“But you have a jewel, nephew,
A jewel unparalleled.
At one bet you could win back everything you have lost!”
The hall erupted with the gleeful shout
Draupadi has been lost, and won!
Draupadi, Queen Draupadi, was not in a fit state
For appearing in public.
There she had sat, draped in nothing but a sari,
Exchanging pleasantries with the women
Of the Kaurava household.
She was in her cyclic flow…
Duhshasan the lecher
Had stormed in
And had dragged her by her hair
To the hall,
Oblivious of her shame, her femininity, her state,
Deaf to her cries of pain and anguish.
“Strip her naked!”
Duryodhan’s command reverberated
Above the din.
Duhshasan approached her
With cacophonous laughter
Billowing out of his throat
Like malodorous vomit.
Her husbands, now slaves,
Sat silent, with clenched fists,
With a violent tug
Duhshasan bared her torso.
All hell broke lose.
Standing fearless and noble
Like a wounded tigress,
Eyes blazing like burning coal,
Tears of enraged frustration
Rolling down her cheeks
Like boiling lava,
-The elders had sat there, silent.
Statues carved out of granite
Would have been more lively –
Draupadi had questions for all of them.
The questions ricocheted off the marble walls,
The marble pillars adorned with
Gold leaves and serpents,
And the stony silence.
The elders knew not the answer.
The Kauravas knew not that they had signed
Their own death warrant.
Doom and destruction had been invited into their household.
None would escape.