Page 16 - Litterateur August 2020
P. 16


          after that, do you know? “
                 “Yes, I heard.” I replied.
                  He was silent for a long time.
                 “They killed your father. I know they cheated.” I said. I  sounded a bit crazy to myself.
                  “Yes, they were all killed by deceit- Karna, Duryodhana, my father…. but those were the rules. Not
          like this,” he said gesturing at the screen.
                      “We  had  rules  then.  We  would  fight  only  by  day,  the  injured  and  dead  would  be  carried  off;
          civilians would not be hurt, and many more. But when people started dying in thousands, we forgot
          the rules…. None of us had seen a war like that before.
                   “It was bad. By the second day the ground was red, slimy with blood. We piled up the dead and
          the  wounded  together  because  we  couldn’t  carry  them  all  away.  There  were  too  many.  And  they
          screamed.  They  screamed  till  they  died,  so  we  went  around  at  night  and  killed  them  to  stop  the
          screaming. We didn’t look to see who it was or whose side he was. After the first week it began to
          stink. We wanted to finish it somehow then, to get away from the stench and the screams.
                   “I still see them in dreams some nights. Karna in full armor, dashing, the best archer I have seen.
          Better than Arjuna. But I will never  forget the first time I saw Arjuna in battle at Kurukshetra. He was
          on  his  chariot,  a  ring  of  arrows  from  his  bow  dancing  thickly  in  front  of  him,  so  thick  they  cast
          shadows on the ground. I couldn’t see his hand move, he was so fast, arrows snaking from quiver to
          bow to target, like from a machine gun. You wouldn’t believe how fast he was.
                  “I see Bhima in nightmares. The greatest of them all, and I have seen many warriors. I saw him kill
          a mad elephant once with a mace. We used to watch him train when we were kids. He would fight
          and  eat  and  fight  again,  all  day  long.  In  Kurukshetra  he  was  everywhere.  He  was  good  with  any
          weapon; on his day he was as good as Karna with a bow.
                “Dhritharashtra used to say Bhima would kill all his sons. And he did. He was like the wind, a
          terrible storm come to life.
                “And Duryodhana, so handsome and strong, the best friend anyone could have, but a terrible
          enemy. He was so, so… moral.”
                  “Moral?” I must have sounded skeptical and he sensed it.
                  “Don’t believe everything you hear, my friend. History is written by those who win the wars.”
                  We were silent for a while.
                 “And Krishna?” I asked.
                “Krishna?” He looked amused. “Ah, Krishna. He is a god now, isn’t he? He wasn’t much of a god
          then.  He  was  the  ruler  of  a  small  kingdom  who  needed  friends.  He  could  be  charming  when  he
          wanted. And he had a way with the women. Especially the Pandava queen. I sometimes think he was
          why the whole war happened.
                 “I knew from the start we would lose. I knew it when Duryodhana
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