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 5, 2012

That lady in white saree!

“Munni badnaam hui..”

Sooraj was hot. Dazzling, in fact. Ask anyone. Even from a distance who could feel his warmth. No doubt he was the most coveted guy around in college. So when he came asking me for a one-night-stand, I thought, well why not. Contraception and 72 hours’ pills weren't so abundant those days, and so I got screwed up. Totally. Gosh!

“Shayad mere shaadi ka khayal..”

Mom was nice, but Pop got all worked up and all after I had my baby. He made me send him off to an adoption center. And he demanded that I get married off. Soon, too soon. So soon that they actually cut down on the courtship phase, and even did not let me check out the guy myself. But I heard he is from a rich and powerful regime, and that he could become the future king. So I married. And ask me about my wedding night… ouch!

“It’s my life!”

So, let me explain this. I was young, I was pretty. And I was married yet single. And I need to live it. To the fullest. My hubby was not really against the idea, he knew the only feeling I could feel for him was pity, and he didn't want me to take that away. So he let me be. And I got what I wanted, and more. Yudhishthira, Bheema and Arjuna!

“Zindegi na milegi dobara”

Pandu, as I told you, was not really my type. Anyone’s type, rather. So I didn't quite feel a thing when it happened. But then they say it’s our culture that the wife needs to accompany hubbies, so that they don’t get deprived even as ghosts. So I said, Madree, Go girl! Poor thing, she was blossoming into love with Ashwini Kumar 1. But as luck would have it. Who am I to decide destinies, other than taking care of mine own?

“Roti, Kapda aur Makaan.. bas itna sa khwab hai!”

And they say, “Ah, poor widow!” Well, look at me. And Sonia. And mind your tongue, I say.

Soon after Pandu and Madree left, I ran cash short. They said I had to come to terms with reality, but I said, “Perception is reality”. And I perceive myself to be the king of the world. I was never power thirsty, so to say. I don’t mind as long as get to rule, albeit from far. Reminded of another lady from your recent times? Yes, quite like her. I always believe you should rule by brain, not by vein, that is, inheritance. And if you still need an inheritance story, I have it too. When elder sis Gandhari got busy worrying about her Pop and brothers in prison, and worked up and blind folded in search of justice, I was already cradling a baby Yudhisthira to own up the future throne. So after Pandu dies, it didn't take me long to figure out the “vein story” to claim the fame. But in vain, at least for quite a while. They put up a good fight, didn't they?

“Kyunki, saans bhi kabhi bahu thi!”

They say Draupadi is pretty. Huh! Let me show you how she looks without a Photoshop touch-up. In my days we didn't have digicams and SLR’s, even colour prints were rare. But if you were to trust the villagers, they’d swear they didn't see a beauty like me in their lives again. But there I digress again. Well, the point is that I knew Arjuna would make it. He has never lost a game in archery. So when they said the Panchal king has called for a contest where the prize would be that proud young princess for a wife, I knew that’s it. Well, Panchals were a useful lot to build a connection with, a connection strong enough for them to lend us unconditional support. At war, and in peace. And I would need that, badly, to shape up my future plans on territory expansions. But I also knew what it will mean at the home front. Apparently, pretty and intelligent girls do not really make what you call an ideal daughter-in-law, do they? But I have a plan. Wait and watch.

(And so Panchali gets married to not one but all five brothers. And never gets to spare a remark on marital impurities of her mother-in-law. She cooks all day, for everyone in the house. Plays wife to all brothers. All at once, to begin with. But as quantity is known to be reversely related to quality, the brothers strike a deal. With help of who else but Krishna. That they will take turns, annually. Each year, Panchali treats one brother as hubby and the others, as brother-in-laws. And Kunti smiles.)

“Love you Love you, O my Paglu!”

Karna, my child, what a handsome young man you've become! If I didn’t know for a fact you’re my son, I could even… Ok, let me not digress. So, how have you been, son? How is the new kingdom treating you? You like ruling? You like power? Yes, say that again, you do, right? Well, here you go! Lissen, I got something for you. Hush…. Don’t trust me? Here, see. What? Come again? No, you say no? Well, you'll get Draupadi too. A lion share of her nights. I can talk to the other kids to make that happen. No, still not? Are you sure? Think again. You must be kidding. Oh boy! Well, ahh.. as you wish.

..Life’s tough sometimes! And inevitable.

“Dil ki baazi jeeta dil haar kar!”

So, the war is over. I lost a son, Karna. I knew it could be coming, but it hurt. I lost many a dear ones, but my other sons lived. And after how bad the things went all around, I should be thankful that they did. Amen!

“To dust thou shalt return!”

Well, the battle’s done and “dust”-ed.. but you need to have a retirement plan, don’t you? In this age of nuclear units, it doesn't really become of me to share kitchen and gardens with these young girls my sons picked up.. and it’s quite a deal to manage so many of them, now as even Hidimba, the noisiest, will join in.. and anyways, the ones I loved most were those chirpy grandkids who are no more.. Thinking of other options, well Vidur is getting old and boring, and he wasn't ever quite that type I could really fancy.. he indeed was a shelter when I needed one but now it’s time to bid goodbye.. So I’m wondering if its time to call it a day and move on! And you've seen how late retirement works, haven’t you? It’s only that day that some particular Dada got dropped from IPL and I hear he sells vests these days, so beware Kunti! You should know when to hang your boots. And so, me think, I’ll club up with Dhrita and elder sis Gandhari to this nice quite virgin beach they are planning now..
Let’s check out how life gets there and yes, I’ll keep you guys posted.

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