A Father After All

Continued from here

Madhava instantly noticed Bheema’s apprehension and approached him, seating himself near enough to be heard in a low voice, yet far enough to give the strongman his space for contemplation.

The strongest Pandava looked up, his worrisome visage a befuddling mixture of the love for his firstborn and the duty to this cause. He closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them, he looked at Krishna directly, and addressed him fearlessly.

“Krishna, it has not been even a full day since we lost our scion. You know I do not fear war. You know I do not fear sending Ghatotkacha into this war. I had proposed this idea on the first day. But at that time you had said there will be a time for that. I take it you were waiting for this day. As the omniscient one, you knew a day would come when our dear cousins on the other side would break wartime rules. That day, today, you needed someone on our side to fight an unconventional battle. I am fine with that. I respect your authority on everything. I also concur that there is not a single person between both sides that can match my son’s magical skills, and that he can devastate the Kaurava army tonight, under the cover of darkness. His skills, and those of his fearless comrades, thrive in the night, when they unleash their wizardry unfamiliar to most of us. Their success lies in the concealed, in the unexplained and unperceived. What better time than tonight?”

The Pandava brothers smiled for the first time in the day, hearing the capabilities of one of their progeny, of whose presence most knew, but not his competence. For a moment, Arjuna’s mind wandered to his own dead son, as he wondered what a wondrous empire Abhimanyu and Ghatotkacha would have ruled. The former, with his boundless wisdom of the schooled and literate world, would ensure civility and justice. The latter, with the wit and coarseness of a rustic, would secure everything off the beaten path. It would be an empire where the civilized and the uncivilized would live in a melodious tranquility, where humans and animals thrived in pure, unfettered harmony. A moment of melancholy flashed across his flustered mind, but he fought it and brought it back to the present, before it became agitated

Bheema looked up, took a few moments to contemplate what he was going to say. He looked deeply at his younger brother, seeming to ponder whether to continue his current vein. Krishna knew at once what the most powerful Pandava was deliberating, but let him make the choice whether to say it or not. Bheema decided to continue.

“However,”

Everyone looked at him curiously, wondering what Bhimasena’s hesitation was. When he spoke, the big man was very lucid in his thoughts.

“Tonight Ghatotkacha is up against a warrior who is second to none in the Kaurava camp. He is one of the best exponents of archery on this planet. His arsenal is composed of weapons he obtained from the mighty Parasurama himself. As you yourself said Madhava, he is trained in ways we are not, by the master himself. His craftiness and competence has been proven many times over. Hastinapura has gone from strength to strength since they made him the king of Anga. He is also a valiant man, severely aware of his abilities, and also his weaknesses. If he resolves to kill Ghatotkacha tonight, there is nobody on this side that can stop him”

Those last few words pricked the one man who despised Karna more than anyone else in the Pandava camp. Arjuna knew Karna’s abilities but his own vanity did not allow him to endorse that. Even hurting was that the thoughts were that of his own brother. But he completely understood the sentiment driving Bheema, given his own personal loss yesterday. A father is a father after all.

Unmindful of his brother’s consternation, Bheema continued, “Krishna, you are all knowing. You have been our guiding light from the beginning. In your infinite wisdom, you rescued us countless times when our lives were in peril. Who knows how many times you deflected dangers away from us. We have followed your advice at every turn, at every juncture. The one time you were unavailable to provide your counsel, we lost everything, every little thing we earned and built, including our reputation and self respect, not to mention that we even lost our collective pride, our beloved wife. You have been our friend, cousin, mentor, general, advisor, parent, and advocate during these fourteen days. You have our best interests at heart. You have always stood for dharma. If you told us today to drown in the Ganga to preserve dharma, we would all do that without a second thought”

Krishna felt just a tinge of guilt on hearing the trust his dear cousins placed in him. Only he knew the reasons for some of the dangers he had put them through. But he couldn’t dwell on them at this time. There would be a day, a different time, when he he would explain his reasons.

“So, Madhava, if you assure me that bringing Ghatotkacha in to the war tonight is the best path for dharma, then so be it. If you assure me that this is the best option to neutralize Karna tonight, then so be it. If this will bring about a quick end to this wretched conflict where kin kills kin, then so be it”

As he uttered those last words, his voice seemed to crack and he turned away from everyone. It was obvious to his brothers that the war was exerting a toll on the most powerful Pandava, that whatever his physical prowess, he was a human, and a father underneath.

They didn’t say a word, lest their own affections be betrayed.

Continued here


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