At the end of her long life, Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, muses about the 'whys' of her life. The third winning entry for the Muse of the Month.
At the end of her long life, Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, muses about the ‘whys’ of her life. The third winning entry for the Muse of the Month.
This year, we bring you again the Muse of the Month January contest. The cue for January 2016 was:
“Aren’t we all pawns in the hands of time, the greatest player of them all?”
―from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions
The third winning entry is by Deepa Arun.
Kunti looked into the mirror like sheet of water in the dense forest. Time had worn her body, but not her soul. Kunti noticed that the clouds, trees, flowers, creepers strained themselves towards the pond to see their reflection. The pond, Chaaya Saras (Chaaya means shadow, Saras means pond) was a mirror to flora, fauna and Kunti.
As Kunti admired the serenity and scenery around, her gaze turned back to her reflection in the pond. She slipped into deep introspection.
“Here I am, a queen mother, at last. My sons and their families are settled back in the palace. There is peace and calm after the tempest. The price I paid for the calmness was too high. I lost my brothers, relatives, kith and kin. Most of all, I lost my precious star….Karna, my eldest son.
I was very young when my biological father gave me away to his friend. Though, I was brought up by my step-father, I was blessed with abundant love and affection. Earlier named as Pritha, the world came to know me as Kunti, after my step father’s name.
Chaaya! Why was I adopted by my step-father, Kuntibhoj?
I was a pretty damsel well versed in music and science. Many strong kings and princes coveted me. As I gaily passed my teenage years, there came a sage called Durvasa. He was welcomed into our kingdom with respect and adulations. My step-father asked me to serve him during his stay; fully aware of his intolerance towards mistakes- trivial or grave.
Chaaya! Pray, why did my step-father ask me, then a teenager, to serve the sage? I could have been susceptible for a curse or disliking. The king could have sent any learned scholar from his court. Why was I chosen?
My life got enmeshed into metamorphic events when I was gifted a boon to bear children from any god, whomever I wished. Being a curious teenager, I tested the relevance of the boon. I saw the Sun shining high in the sky and used the boon. Behold! The Sun was near me in a mortal form. I had mixed feelings of euphoria and fear. Everything was predestined and thus was our union. My eldest son, Karna was born. With promises of protection by the Sun, guilt stricken of being an unwed mother, I laid Karna in a basket and set him afloat on Ganges.
Chaaya! Though I had mixed feelings, I enjoyed the presence of a man and being a mother. It was timed for a very short period. Why did my feelings overcome my sensibility? Why did the sage gift me such a boon? He could have blessed me in other ways.
I was married off to King Pandu. I was happy being his wife. I did not complain when he brought another princess, as his second wife. I joyfully welcomed her into the palace as my friend, partner and sister with whom I could share everything including my husband’s love and affection. Due to disturbances of duties, my husband, his second wife and I had to renounce the palace and live in a jungle. Since my husband wanted children, albeit the fact that he could not help in the act, made me to use the boon I was gifted. I bore three healthy children. I shared the boon with my husband’s second wife who was blessed with twins.
Chaaya! Initially, I repented the boon. Later, the same boon was the reason for my family to grow.
I took care of five children, accepted widowhood, ignored gossips and repulsion and stood strong like a fort guarding all the attacks thrown towards my sons. Of course, I had support from few righteous men. Yet, war was inevitable. My sons had to wage war against their own cousins. We won, but we were imploded with its after effects. I lost my Karna in the war. I had requested him to switch his loyalty from Duryodhana to Yudhishtira. Karna chose to be with the former, as it was him who gave my son, Karna, an identity and respect.
Oh Chaaya! I did not want war. My children and I tried the peaceful way of attaining our rightful share, but war was unavoidable. I have renounced all the luxuries of palace. I am going to merge my inner light with the supreme light. Strange are the perplexities of mind. When I saw your beauty and tranquility, I wanted to bare my tumultuous thoughts. May these thoughts travel time and space. Let these thoughts be recorded by writers in this world, let the protagonist Kunti be understood in the right way. After all, aren’t we all pawns in the hands of time, the greatest player of all? Kaalaaya tasmai namaha!
Deepa Arun wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!
Image source: old woman at the ghat by Shutterstock.
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, indivisual posts do not necessarily represent the platofrom's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
Each month this year, we host a writing theme – the Muse Of The Month, with a ‘writing cue’ from a contemporary female author of Indian origin. The 5 best e
Each month this year, we host a writing theme – the Muse Of The Month, with a ‘writing cue’ from a contemporary female author of Indian origin. The 5 best entries get published here!
Step 1. Read the writing cue (which is either a direct quote from the featured author, or a quote from one of their works, mentioned down below) and get inspired.
Step 2. Write your own story/poem/narrative/essay/piece based on the cue. You could use it as the opening line, the closing sentence, or somewhere in between! You could even choose not to use it anywhere in your story – just write a story using the cue as a prompt. (And the ‘story’ can be fictional – or not – as you wish).
Step 3. Send your work to us. Please email it to [email protected]with ‘Muse of the month – May 2016’ in the subject line, and your story as a word/txt attachment. Do include the name we should use if we publish it, and a brief introduction to yourself (2-3 lines) in the mail.
From life in a small town to a celebrity stand up comedienne - Mridul had certainly come a long way! May 2016 Muse of the Month winner.
From life in a small town to a celebrity stand up comedienne – Mridul had certainly come a long way! May 2016 Muse of the Month winner.
This year, we bring you the Muse of the Month contest every month. Congratulations to all the winners of the May 2016 contest.
The cue for May 2016 was:
“Doubling that peaceful sense of contentment was the beaming pride she saw shining in her parents’ eyes.” — Kavita Kane, Sita’s Sister