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She knew her deeds would come home to roost. But she was a mere mortal. And when tragedy struck a blow deadlier than a lightning, a numbness had engulfed her.
She stood by the palace window, tall and still, gazing absently at the blurred distance. She had two choices: both unattractive, out of which, she would have to take a decision.
The young princess looked at the child. HER child. Tears welled up. However respectable women in her kingdom didn’t do such things. Hence, she steeled herself and chose what she thought was the lesser of two evils.
She knew her deeds would come home to roost. But she was a mere mortal. And when tragedy struck a blow deadlier than a lightning, a numbness had engulfed her. She had nothing more to lose.
Life had not been kind to her. Was it karma? It had made her oblivious to any hardships, yet as she walked amidst the slain soldiers, keening softly and looking for that unfortunate soul, she wished she had not taken that decision.
Vengeance. Adharma. Family. Deception. These words danced before her as she longed to see the slain warrior. Why hadn’t she uttered a word that day when she saw the handsome young man in the golden armour? How badly she had wanted to take his face in her hands when he stood there with his head bowed, shamed for being a ‘sutaputra’! But she had done nothing of the sort.
She had been provided with alternatives that day too. She stifled a chuckle tinged with melancholy as she remembered the failed meeting with him, when she had gone begging for mercy. Wrong decisions were probably in those unfortunate genes. After all, he too had been offered tempting choices.
She found him finally. That forlorn face was stamped with a serenity which had always confounded her. How could he retain that composure in his final moments? Was he shocked at the deceit of his brother? Or did images of a helpless young man surrounded by blood-thirsty elders cloud his vision? Nobody knew. He had always been indecipherable. Even in death!!
She sat down, placed his head on her lap and gave vent to her pent-up sorrows.
She didn’t budge even after hearing the approaching steps. Her tears had dried up. However, somewhere in a remote corner of her heart, fear lurked. Once again, she had two ugly alternatives before her. To maintain an undignified silence and ignore the scornful glances of her sons. Or to speak out about the fratricide committed unwittingly by the virtuous five.
She closed her eyes and braced herself, yet again, for the choice she made that morning.
First published here.
Image source: a still from the series Mahabharata
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