The Epics

"To be Indian, or to simply live in India at any period in her recorded history, is to open oneself to the benign moral influence of two epics - the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Caste, creed, colour do not matter here; what matters is the degree, range and subtlety of exposure, which in turn determines the quality of the affected person's 'Indianness', whatever that very large word means" - Professor Purushottam Lal

Oct 8, 2012

Of love, hate, pity, envy and worship


That letter that I will never send to you. But would love to believe that you know about it, all of it, nevertheless. That you know how much I feel for you, and what. 

That day when a social networking site asked me to choose my "relationship status", it took me aback. Really, can this ever be that simple, just a drop-down? Is it really so easy to answer - soul-search, find and confide? Which relationship is that, one that defines me, that spells out my identity, my self? Is it that wife, who is dutiful enough to play a wife and sensitive enough to not demand a husband of me, or that mother who loves me so or the one who leaves me so, or, you? Really, is it you who define me most? I'm afraid it's you. And I swear, "it's complicated!"

Coming back to ourselves, we have some uncanny similarities, don't we, you and me? For one, our families are the same. The Pandavas. And that neither of us ever belonged to it, in a real sense. But again, how different we are in that. I have always yearned to live a life at that place, where my heart always belonged since the day I came to know of that, with the worthiest of the brothers that a man can ever have. And for you, how much you had to give up, in your heart and your soul, to live there, to kill your sensibilities, to play wife to five brothers, to surrender and to not say a word.

They call me a true Kshatriya. Just because I bore a pain of an insect drilling in to me, and did not move. They do not know what a true Kshatriya means. They do now what what courage it takes to not tell that father that you are not a trophy to be won in an archery contest. To not tell a mother-in-law that you're no property to be distributed to avoid sibling rivalry. That to get you is not to own you. That you cannot be given away, only your company can be earned. And that they have no idea what that means. So you oblige. So you cook, and dress-up and entertain. And so you mate. With whoever they ask you to mate with. To tell them you do not care enough to disobey. To not tell them that they are wrong, and to not tell them that you gave up fury for forgiveness.

I heard somewhere that as God could not be everywhere and so He made mothers. Is that why He got Radha for me, and saved me from the wrath of Kunti? I'll spare you an account of what Kunti could be and what she could do, to me, and to you, and I know you know better. Only if that woman knew that the biggest mistake she ever made was not to give birth to me, but to have chosen to come herself to me to make a deal than to send you to win me back to her. She told me she can get you to belong to me, that I can lay my claim on you being the eldest of her sons. She would never know how I have always belonged to you, all my life.  And that she would never know that it is the only way to ever be with you, for anyone, and that you never really belonged to any of hers sons in a way she presumed.

I want you to know this. That I love you. For being yourself. For forgiving them, for they do not know what they have done to you. For letting the world chant hymns in praise the stalwarts of Hastinapur, as you'd never tell them they're actually not worth a dime. For loving Arjuna, the worthiest enemy I could ever have. And so I love you all the more.

But I hate you too, Yajnaseni. For all the same reasons. For wasting your life. For compromising. For giving up, all so easily. For giving your virginity, first, to the very cowardest of the lot. For dedicating all your youth and your beauty to the grim of the Indraprastha kitchen. For not giving a damn in being used, in being raped. For not caring to seek what you were worthy of. And finally, for sacrificing your sons to the unworthiest of the causes, and without a sigh. How could you be so indifferent, Yajnaseni? How could you not feel a thing?

And I pity you. For a life like yours that goes so ill spent. While it's your grace that you forgave, it's a disgrace that you did not find your equal. That you married five but did not find one single man for a husband who you could belong to, who you could both trust and love at the same time. I pity you that you could never stop loving Arjuna. Knowing well that neither did he love you back, nor did he deserve your love. And I pity you that you could never get yourself to love Bhima, the only brother I stand proud of, till today. It's a shame that there was not one single man who stood up and killed Duhshashon for touching you, or the unpardonable Yudhisthira, even before that. Bhima, who was close to it, could not as well. I pity you that you could not, at that point, throw everything aside and come to me. Alone and fearless. Because I knew, all along, that you've known me deep inside. Known that you could come to me. Anytime.

And at this moment of confession, let me also tell you how I always envied you. Because you lived your life where I could not. Because you could touch Bhishma's feet and seek his blessings, whenever you needed to. Because you always had a shoulder to weep on, that most dependable friend one can ever seek, Krishna. You got everything that I could also have had, if luck was on my side. And what I can never haveAnd just how much I could give up to have them, I know I cannot imagine what it takes you to live with that.

Well, I told you, it's complicated!

I'm glad I have not met you enough. In fact, it's funny that we saw each other just twice in our lives. Once when you humiliated me at the Swayamvar, enough for me to wish to die. And once when I gave that right back to you. Not moving an inch but watch you be raped. Watch you look at me for help. That glance that only I understood, and knew that you know that too. I'm glad you didn't consider me to marry. I could not bear living a life with you, to discover the reflection of each and every of my vices and virtues in another body, another soul. "You are more myself than I am!" Because I do not love myself, let me love you. And let the distance be. Stay away, my goddess.

I can never be yours, truly!


1 comment:

  1. had to write about one of the two biggest separated-by-fate spurring couples (if I may be so bold to think about them in that way)? Although I find the other couple no less devastating at times.

    I really, really 'loved' the constant emotional conflict that is raging Karna's mind throughout the confession, obviously not in a sadistic way. But it sure provides more food for thought. The actions of Droupadi or Yajnaseni, as she is addressed by him, can be viewed as that of an extremely righteous female or it can be considered actions of a weak woman who didn't protest against the choices she was given.

    I think there are more than one instance where women has the strength to refuse something which she was asked to do, or not doing something as instructed simply because she didn't want to do it. However Droupadi followed the footsteps of Amba (pre-marriage, refused Karna) but not of Ambika and Ambalika (post-marriage, accepted or had to accept*question mark* the status of a wife shared by five brothers).

    I often used to wonder if she refused to be shared, what could really happen to HER?

    I also have a request ('baayna' is the best word here); please please pretty please provide Droupadi's words as a reaction to this what if it was written 3 years before? I'm convinced the following 3 years of your experiences of every kind will add extra layers. Let there be the gap, but it deserves an answer (not necessarily delivered).