The Anger Within

Karna turned to Krishna and said, “Tell me, O Madhava. What was my fault?”

“I have struggled with that question all my life – what was my fault? Why was I abandoned?”

“I was born a Kshatriya. A Kshatriya, the noblest and the most valiant class of this nation. I was born to rule, to defend, to protect and serve, to combat and kill, if required. I was a misfit in a charioteer’s house from the moment I was taken in.”

Every person in our town knew I wasn’t Radha’s biological child. I looked different. I had darker skin. I had a muscular build. My skillset was different. I was great at weaponry and martial arts. I knew nothing about chariots. I was born to ride, not build them. Everything about me was out of place. I couldn’t blend in. I was ridiculed. After it became public that I was fostered, I saw only pity in people’s eyes. My closest friends, even my brother pitied me. How many times have I heard the phrase ‘poor abandoned child’ in hushed tones. I have nightmares, that of a newborn falling through a bottomless pit, surrounded by beautiful angels who aren’t even attempting to stop it. When the baby disappears into the pit, they look down and laugh wickedly. I wake up angry, ready to decapitate every single one of those angels”

“What was my fault? A woman was unable to control her base desires and I paid for it. She did not. She lived her life happily, moving on, becoming the queen. She lived in the luxury of royalty while I was tending to horses and cattle. Did she not think once before placing me in that basket? Why did she not own up to her mistake? Having committed the cardinal sin, why did she not abort me? Why carry me for nine months and cast me away?”

“In this great land with fabled stories of motherhood abound, mine is the only aberration. Mine is the only story where a mother abandoned her newborn. I was unwanted and rejected. Look at my misfortune. Every unwanted child from now on will be cited alongside me. Forever, I am the first ditched child in this great nation’s history. It’s an unwanted legacy, an undesired privilege.”

“I spent all my youth trying to become who I was born to be – a Kshatriya. I went from pillar to post to acquire knowledge of military, weaponry, strategy and the art of war. I was turned down at every single avenue. Every teacher put me through physical and mental ability tests. I aced every physical test. But the mental qualification tests were designed to fail everyone except those from the noblest of families and dynasties. Even Dronacharya, the most fabled instructor of the land, turned me down. He gave a list of reasons for my incompetence. At the top of that was negative energy. He said I had so much anger in me that I would at best make a good general, never a king”

“Dismissed at every establishment, I sought refuge in Parasurama’s guidance. I had to resort to lying to him that I was a brahmin. What was I to do? I knew I was born for greatness and I vowed that I would achieve it at all costs. Parasurama warned me several times that my anger would get the better of me. Even though he suspected that I was not a brahmin right from the beginning, he continued training me due to my sheer skill with weapons. I only needed one session with him to secure my ability. At the end, even he did me injustice, by cursing me. Why shouldn’t I be angry?”

“I am easily the best archer in the world. I can beat your dear cousin handily, without breaking into a sweat. Yet, when I showed up to claim the hand of the most beautiful maiden in this land, I was insulted, rejected, and not even allowed to shoot because I was called a suta putra. And yet Arjuna disguised as a brahmin was allowed to wield his weapon and hit the target. Why the double standards? Why call for an open Swayamvara in the first place when Drupada only wanted Arjuna to show up and win his daughter? Why this deceit?”

“I wanted to burn the world down that day. The fire still rages, after all these years. That was my biggest chance, the biggest stage I could have proved my worth. I had it all planned, to the last detail. Drupada’s daughter was the most alluring princess in the world. She is still the most captivating woman I have ever seen. I knew he would set up the toughest, the most intricate and the most deceptive test to win her. I knew Arjuna would show up there. I had to defeat him on the grandest of platforms. I had prepared extensively for it. I had specially designed arrows made, just for this purpose. I was not even allowed to string my bow.”

“I have suffered indignity at every stage in my life. Every single friend of yours insulted me. The only person that saw me for my true worth is Suyodhana. He gave me the respect, the position, and the title I deserved; that I was entitled to, from the moment I was born. He empowered me. He fought for me. He backed me up, every single time. The fires within were doused by the kinship he extended me. I am aware that he stokes them whenever it suits him. But he endured the same discrimination that I have faced. We both are the oppressed examples of a system that refuses to change. I know we both will die in this war. But I will make sure we get our due in the annals of history.”

 

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