Three more nights!
Both camps have been set up. The 18 units of armed forces are ready. Final preparations for the generals and commanders are underway. Food, water and medical supplies are being transported. Thousands of funeral pyres are being arranged in anticipation of unprecedented casualties. There’s an unspoken gloom in the air.
Krishna is pacing uneasily around in his tent. He just returned from Karna’s house. Although he knew Karna would never agree to switching sides, there was something about him that worried Krishna – something resolute, something sinister. He knew Karna’s anger issues resulting from abandonment and a life-long contempt for the royalty that was never bestowed upon him. But today was different. While speaking of the Pandavas, he seemed to have this unshakable belief that he was going to kill them all. Krishna knew if there was one warrior that could kill all the Pandavas, it was Karna. And he seemed destined to do it.
He needed to act fast. He needed to play his cards right. He needed to make the right move.
Nobody could touch Arjuna. After all, he was being charioteered by Krishna himself. But he feared for the others. If any of the other brothers died, the war was lost. They needed to be protected. They needed to be shielded. They needed to be pardoned.
He called his charioteer. As they drove out of the war camp, he motioned towards Hastinapura. On entering the city, they quietly turned towards Kunti’s home.
“What brings you here at this late hour Krishna?”, a surprised Kunti asked.
“How well do you remember your past?”
“Well enough to block it out of my mind”, said Kunti, disquieted by Krishna’s sudden recall of her teenage mistake.
“It’s now time to make a decision aunty. The abandoned one is angry. He has vowed to kill each and every one of your children”
“You spoke to him?”
“I have done everything in my power to stop this war. Contrary to what everyone believes, I don’t want this war. I can find a thousand ways for the Pandavas to get their kingdom back, and war is the last. But it is upon us. Speaking to the abandoned one was my last option. I was hoping to make him switch sides. I even offered to make him the king of Hastinapura instead of Yudhishtira.”
“He is the son of Kunti, Krishna. I would be dishonored if he accepted your offer”
“Be that as it may, there is a real danger to your children’s lives. I have it in my power to protect Arjuna. I am with him every second of the war. But the other four, I’m afraid I cannot physically protect them. If Yudhishtira dies, this war is over.”
“Are you suggesting my sons are incapable of protecting themselves?”
“I am saying nobody can stop Karna. Nobody! Not even Arjuna”
Kunti thought for a few moments. Now she understood why Krishna was here at this hour. She looked at Krishna and said “Ask your charioteer to wait at the back entrance”
Krishna watched as the chariot raced into the darkness. He sat down and ordered a pitcher of Soma.
An hour later, he heard the familiar sounds of his horses’ hoofs. The old lady alighted from the chariot, walked up the stairs, looked up and smiled at Krishna.
A few minutes later as the chariot sped towards the Pandava camp, Krishna sat back and smiled, triumphant at yet another masterstroke. The war was won even before an arrow was released.