Uptil now….

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.

Cutting through the stony wall

Of silence,

A baritone rang out.

“Why do you ask these questions

That the elders can’t answer?

Or rather, they dare not answer.

For you are a woman fallen.

A woman with two husbands

Is devoid of character.

And a woman with more men around

To enjoy her body and youth

Is nothing but a harlot.

That’s what you are,

A harlot!” uttered Karna!

……………..

The vicious word rang across the hall

And echoed around.

Draupadi, the queen

Of the House of Kurus

Stood petrified

Looking at her husbands.

It was not her doing!

It was not her choice!

Yet, she had to bear it.

The Pandavas sat, silent,

as if carved out of Granite.

…………..

It was Karna’s retaliation.

………….

Karna

Draupadi remembered it all…

Another sabha

In another kingdom,

In another time.

Her Swaymvar.

There arose the auspicious sound

Of festal music from hundreds of instruments.

Dhrishtadyumna on horseback rode in front

His sister Draupadi seated on an elephant.

Unsullied from her auspicious bridal bath,

Clad in flowing silk.

The Princess dismounted

Entered the swayamvara hall,

Filling it with the charm

Of her appeal and beauty.

……………..

Garland in hand,

Coyly glancing at the valiant princes

Who stood there dumfounded,

She ascended the dais.

The brahmanas chanted mantras ,

Offered oblations in the fire.

After the flourish of music had stopped,

Dhrishtadyumna led her to the center of the hall.

Amidst applause and roars

Dhrishtadyumna proclaimed in loud, clear tones:

“Hear ye, O princes seated in state

In this assembly, here is the bow.

There is the target and here are the arrows.

He who sends five arrows in succession through

The hole of the wheel and unerringly hits the target,

If he also be of good family and presence,

He it is shall win my sister.”

………………

When all failed

Even to lift the great bow,

Karna marched up,

Grabbed the bow effortlessly

In his left hand

And lofted it high,

Youth, valour and glamour personified

As he put the arrow to the bow

And set his sight

To aim for the eye of the fish

Hanging high up from the ceiling

Behind the rotating wheel

Merely by looking at its reflection

In the water.

“Stop!” said Draupadi, conceited as she was.

“I refuse to marry a person

Of low birth,

No matter how valiant he may be.”

…………..

Karna stopped.

Bowing his head

He set the bow down,

Looked up

Where the sunlight was streaming in

Through the open window

And left the stage

With a smile

Of utter disdain and sarcasm.

Draupadi looked here, and looked there,

In desperation.

Where was Arjun?

King Drupad grew tense

With the passage of time.

What if any other Kshatriya

Succeed where all else had failed?

Where was Arjun.

Dhrishtadyumna was apprehensive.

What if he didn’t turn up?

What if all contraptions to make the target

Beyond reach of the common man

Proved to be futile?

Where was Arjun?


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10 responses »

  1. Beyniaz says:

    Was looking forward to reading Part 2….and it has lived up to my expectations, Bina.

  2. Rhea says:

    i have no words to describe such beauty of your writing ,of so a shameful moment of the epic…very captivating style of story telling…u will go a long way Bina…Eagerly waiting for more…

  3. gc1963 says:

    You have the capacity to re-write the epic in verses all over again…! Just superb!

  4. d.om prakash says:

    Bina Madam,
    Of all the events in Mahabarata, if there is one incident that can make any of us, thousands of years later, shudder at the incident, it is this – and your verse has amply amplified the event well for the shameful truth to be brought home. well written – truly a historian’s masterpiece?

  5. Beautifully written.Enjoyed reading it very much! Admire the clarity and the easy story telling style….bringing out the all the shades and nuances of the characters, Draupadi’s helpless vulnerability and Karna’s revenge.

    • Archna Pant says:

      @ Bina ….. You’ve thoroughly spoiled me !…… Every time you raise your bars …still higher !…..
      So much so that now, I find myself incapable of accepting and appreciating anything lesser from anyone else !…..
      Your ‘Game Of Dice I ‘ was great……but this one is a class apart …. It exposes the raw wounds of the woman behind our iconic Draupadi !

      Draupadi must have known all along that the society then would view as a ‘harlot’ (sic !) ….for no fault of her own !…… I also wonder how humiliated she must’ve felt to have been shared by five brothers to say the least !

      Oh ! The impotency of the man who married her legally …..who was supposed to protect her…cherish her…..care for her feelings …..and whose duty it was to uphold her virtue and good name !…..
      As a woman ….I’ve often wondered …how any woman could have endured such shame and embarrassment ??

      Draupadi’s character and strength is par excellence !
      She was the epitome of feminity and feminism !

      A ‘Masterpiece’ once again from you !
      Love the way your words flow……. so gracefully and lyrically !
      Awesome indeed !!!

  6. Dear Bina,

    What can I say? Nobody could have said it better. You hit where it hurts, where it should…

    Keep writing….

  7. vimalaramu says:

    The poignancy of the situation brought out beautifully in dignified verse.

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