Page 17 - Litterateur August 2020
P. 17


          told us Bheeshma would be our Commander. Bheeshma, at ninety. Ninety! The Pandavas kept him
          alive for ten days before that psychopath Shikandi finally killed him off. My father was better than
          Bheeshma, but he was too old and too fond of Arjuna. By the time all the old men had died, fifteen
          days of war had gone by and it was fifteen days too late.
                  “Duryodhana should have kept the senile folks at home with his father. He was too respectful of
          age. A moral man, like I said.
                    “I fought much bigger wars after Kurukshetra, crueller and more  terrible ones. I fought with
          Hector  and  Alexander  and  Attila.  Caesar,  Napoleon,  Hitler,  Vietnam,  Pakistan.”  He  reeled  off  the
          names like reciting a history lesson.
                     “But for me Kurukshetra will always be the War. But there are no rules now, which I like. War is
          about killing and one should try and win as swiftly as possible.
                 “I don’t care whose side I’m on now. I just fight. But I can’t die. Not a wound, not a battle scar on
          me, after all these years.
                   “They are all gone now, the heroes and the villains, all except me.”
          “            "Yes,  I  know,”  I  was  into  my  fourth  drink  now  and  feeling  a  bit  high.  “They  cursed  you  with
                          “I  must  go,”  he  said  and  rose,  “to  Afghanistan.  Time  for  a  jihad  now.  Three  thousand  years.
          Perhaps my time has come.”
                   We shook hands and he left. That night I dreamed of Kurukshetra, of limbless soldiers screaming
          and  the  smell  of  rotting  flesh,  of  swift  Arjuna  and  dashing  Karna,  of  Bhima  drinking  Dushasana’s
                     It is now three years since that strange encounter. I haven’t seen Aswathama since. Perhaps he
          finally died a jihadi’s death in Afghanistan and is now in Paradise with his quota of virgins and wine.
          Or perhaps, and I like to think this will happen, he still wanders the world’s battlefields in search of
          death and will return to the Orbit one day. Perhaps we will share a drink once again, in another short
          break between the killings.

                                                                                                 Viswanth K
                                                                              Prolific writer on multifaceted
                                                                        themes, holds and blog by pen name

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