Her mind stopped a moment.. .what does it mean to have loved? Ulupi, Chitrangada, Subhadra — Arjuna had loved so many women!.. Or had he? Had Arjuna given his heart to any woman? Women had loved him but he had given his heart to Krishna. She knew how from the beginning, from the settling of Indraprastha, Arjuna and Krishna would sit talking by the hour. In their talk there was always some new idea — perhaps about building a city; but they talked as friends, each one speaking from his heart and listening to the other. No woman could win Arjuna’s heart. .. Is love always like that? Is it always one-sided? I pine for someone who doesn’t return my love; someone else yearns for me... Suddenly, as if shocked, she stopped. The realization pierced like lightning; there was one who had given his whole life for her. She sighed with her new understanding. Again pictures came before her eyes; Bhima along with Arjuna, fighting the enemies outside the svayamvara pavilion; Bhima ready to burn his brother’s dice-playing hands when she was dragged into the assembly; Bhima, so angry he had to be held down by Arjuna; Bhima, comforting her when she was tired; Bhima, bringing her fragrant lotuses; Bhima, drinking the blood of Duhsha-sana; Bhima, plaiting her hair with gory hands. Arjuna could have killed the Kichaka, but it was Bhima who did. How many things she remembered — greedy Bhima, rough, tempestuous Bhima, always railing at Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. In the same sense that Draupadi was earthy, so was he. She was a daughter of the earth, he was a son. Draupadi heard a dragging sound, then a great sigh. Her whole body quivered with fear. She had been waiting quietly for the moment of her death. Was a wild animal coming? A hyena? In all the days of walking on the plateau they had seen no animals. Better that it fastened on her throat at once, without mauling her. She closed her eyes hard. As she lay waiting for the unnamed danger to strike, suddenly a shadow fell over her eyes. A curtain had dropped between her and the sun. A low deep voice called, “Draupadi.” It was Bhima’s voice. It was he who had dragged himself, gasping with effort, over the ten, fifteen feet that separated them. On the way he had seen Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva lying dead, and had thought Draupadi must be dead too. When Draupadi, frightened at his approach, had quiversed, he had caught with joy this sign of life. “What can I do for you?” The words came out with difficulty. It was the same question he had asked all his life, but in this situation it was utterly meaningless and incongruous. Draupadi smiled. Bringing Bhima’s face close to hers, she said with her last breath, “In our next birth be the eldest, Bhima; under your shelter we can all live in safety and joy.”
Excerpt from Iravati Karve's Yuganta
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I got home from a weekend trip with my family a few days back. I've seen, those who drive the trailers and tempos on highways are madmen! It seems like they like living life on the edge. They change lanes without warning and swish past driving the living soul out of me. My father swooshes his own humble vehicle here and there as my brother cheers him on, my grandmother screams curses between her prayers while my mother nibbles on a piece of orange. I look around incredulously for a second, wondering if the madmen are outside the car or inside. Then put on my music and try to concentrate on the pretty fields of rye we cross. A young man inside the truck overtaking us grins, exposing his pan-stained teeth, like there is no greater pleasure. Chris Martin then whispers in my ear, trying to explain: Honey... It's been a long time coming, and I can't stop now. Such a long time running, and I can't stop now. I don't think I can understand, still.