Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A cursed life 8

Only a few Kroshas away, even less than a Yojan of distance from the forest lay the Pandava camp. The atmosphere there was still jubilant and raucous but slowly the revelry was ebbing due to tiredness and the female Dasis serving the soldiers with their warm bodies. The commander, the mighty Dhrishtadumnya himself had gone around and visited their tents and in some places shared wine with the seniors. He was himself very happy and allowed the Dasis inside the tent today. The war was over for them and they were the lucky ones to survive it. Soon, they would return to their homes.

After the felling of Duryodhana, Yudishthira decided to stay the night at his capital Indraprastha with his brothers. He had a lot of planning to do. Along with his brothers, he needed to assure the entire Aryavarta about the continuity. Most of the kings and warriors who took part in the great war, either for the Pandavas or the Kauravas have met their fate on the battlefield. It was necessary to appoint kings and governors in various places in consultation with Krishna and Vidura. And he was to perform the awkward ritual of visiting his uncle emperor Dhritarashtra and the empress Gandhari. This was the most difficult of formalities which he dreaded.
So Yudhisthira along with his brothers and Krishna had left the camp. When Satyaki learnt this, he too accompanied them. Everyone understood why. There was no love lost between Satyaki and Dhristadumnya and it would really be a miracle if they would not come to blows if left together. Satyaki the unconquered was the only Maharathi other than Dhristadumnya from the Pandava side to have survived the war. But he was a loner. Unlike other great warriors, he did not join the war with his own band of supporters. Because his clan the Vrishnis were all fighting the war under the command of Kritavarma.

The Pandava army were majorly composed of the Panchalas and the Matsyas, the two kingdoms who were solidly behind them by relations of marriage. The Panchalas under king Drupad were the major source of support as Draupadi was their daughter. The king Virat of Matsya who died in the war along with his son was father of Uttara, the princess who was the wife of Abhimanyu. Pandavas by themselves had a much smaller army and it was rendered much smaller by the war.
With the five Pandava brothers away along with Krishna and Satyaki the mood in the camp was less formal and the binge drinking started quite early. The five sons of Draupadi, each from her five husbands were great followers of their uncle Dhristadumnya and instead of visiting their mother at Indraprastha, chose to stay back and join the revelry inside the camp. The soldiers had seen the most terrible carnage for the last eighteen days and now as the war ended they wanted to drown themselves and forget the dreadful memories of the war. By the nightfall most of them were too asleep, too drunk to move or enjoying coitus with the maidservants.

Dhristadumnya himself was fully inebriated and lying on the couch as the Dasis gave him foot massage. He had visited the quarters of Shikhandi, his hermaphrodite sibling and discussed about the future plans. He had instructed Shikhandi to start for Panchal the next day itself and take care of the kingdom till he returned. As the commander of the Pandava army it was his duty to set things right and assist Bheema and Arjuna to take over the kingdoms of the fallen kings. But as it happened, half of his own country Panchala was still under the rule of Ashwathama, his sworn enemy.

Deep inside him Dhristadumnya had a cruel personality hid behind a suave exterior refined by the upbringing of a prince. It was not entirely his fault. For he was born of this dark desire for vengeance. King Drupad begot him from the fires of the altar to fulfill his revenge on Drona. And he was drilled with this thought. In spite of being taught by Drona, he hated him from within because what he did to his father. Together the three siblings, himself, Draupadi and Shikhandi were vessels of destruction. Destruction of Hastinapur, death of Drona, death of Bheeshma. Their own father died in the war but they survived. Completing what fate had destined for them. And now each of them were poised to play their part in the post war situation. His father must be smiling in heaven.

The soft fingers of the Dasis were working on his battle ravaged body and the effect of wine had dulled him. But he could not sleep by himself. A lot of thoughts crisscrossed his mind. He was thinking about Satyaki and Ashwathama alternately. He considered both of them as his enemy. Ashwathama was an old enemy by virtue of their individual parentage. But with Satyaki, the matter was slightly different. He never liked the loner Satyaki. The only Yadav from the Vrishni clan to take up arms in support of the Pandavas.

Satyaki had joined the Pandavas out of his respect and affiliation to Arjuna and Abhimanyu. In the intricate political mosaic of the Indraprastha court, Abhimanyu was always considered as the chosen one. And Satyaki was a Maharathi too. just like Kritavarma on the Kaurava army. He never gave Dhrishtadumnya the respect as the commander of the army and took his orders from Arjuna. The Panchala prince bore it without showing his displeasure. On the surface both maintained a formal and civil relation for the sake of unity.

But the thin veneer of formality broke the day he killed Drona, his father's slayer. As Drona sat on the battlefield mourning the news of his son's death, falsely informed by Dharmaraj Yudhishthir, Dhrishtadumnya saw his chance to avenge his father's death. With a swift flow of his sword. he finished off the enemy. The same person who taught him how not to show mercy on the enemy in the battlefield. What followed was unbelievable. Instead of applauding him, the Pandavas roundly castigated him for this and accused him of the crime of Mahapatak - the killing of their teacher. But what else could he do. Drona was reducing the number of Pandava army with his waves of attacks and their was a direct danger of the tide turning in favour of the Kauravas. As the commander of the army, he did what he thought best.

But Satyaki was enraged . He abused him with the vilest words and had challenged him to a duel. Even Arjuna supported him, for he was the favourite student of Drona. The same Drona who was one of the seven warriors who entrapped his son Abhimanyu and killed him in an unequal fight, against all norms of warfare. But Krishna intervened and stopped the imminent duel between the two. They embraced each other and truce was called but the animosity between them was now firmly established. Since then, they did not cross each other's path. And it was good that Satyaki chose not to stay in the camp. He will deal with Satyaki later. He needed to savour this hard fought win. Leading an army of seven aukshahini he defeated the the Kauravas with eleven aukshahini strength.

He reached for the young Dasi . Tonight he would enjoy this nubile young girl. And then if he felt the need, he could have another. Tomorrow would be another day.

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