Yagnaseni they called her. The one born out of fire. The virtuous one. The one whose fate was linked with the harbingers of change. The one who was both a blessing and a curse. Blessing to the people and curse to her father. Or so she had been told. She had heard that when she arose in front of him, he “blessed” her with unhappiness, sorrow, misunderstandings and strife for the better part of her life.
There wasn’t much that she remembered about her birth. All she had felt was a searing heat from the flames that were licking around her and then a sudden thrust out of it. She had almost fallen out of the fire, much rather being born out of it, much like an after-thought of the GODS.
[Pic Courtesy: nisachar.deviantart.com]
Daughter she was, to the famed king – Drupad. Princess of Panchal and twin sister to the Crown Prince, her brother, Dhristadyumna, who had stepped out of the fire, gracefully and leonine like as desired by her father. She who was endowed with a heart-shaped face; skin that shone like burnished copper, lustrous hair that fell down to wide hips that swayed when she walked and a pretty smile that framed her luscious lips. She who the world called the most beautiful. Her childhood, she remembered, was bound by rules and bogged down by actions that befit a princess. She chafed at the shackles that restrained her and craved for a freedom that was only heightened by the curiosity that played around in her mind. Questions that remained unanswered. Or ones that were answered with other questions.
And the one, who did that the most with her, was the one she considered as her soul mate.
Her Govind. The one who affixed her with the female form of his own name – Krishnaa – the dark skinned one. Friend, guide, philosopher and roguish imp all rolled into one. The one she always turned to when in strife, in sorrow, and the first one she shared with when in joy, in delight and in revelry. The one who gave her support and the one who quietened her ever-questioning mind. The one who knew her best. The one who wanted the best for her. The one who told her to reject Karna.
Karna. King of Anga. Loyal friend to the scion of the Kaurava clan. Cherished disciple of the Rama with the axe. Famed archer rumoured to even best Arjuna. Son of a Suta.
The first memory she had of him, was that of him seated in the competitor arena for her swayamvar. She remembered that moment like it had just happened then.
Skin that shone like he was drunk on the rays of the sun. Well chiselled and marked body. The warrior stance. Strong arms. And his eyes. The gaze that was steadfast yet with raged with an intensity that made them come alive. Eyes those were flecked by golden flames.
She recognized the fervour that burned in his eyes and his belly. The passion to prove to the world that he was here to accomplish great things. She knew that was what it was because the very same fire burned within her. He had looked at her just once. Glanced rather. She felt taken in by his intent look. Felt the quiver of butterflies in her tummy. The gaze that stripped her naked, yet cloaked her with a protectiveness that she hadn’t felt before, all in the span of a single moment. This was unlike anything that she had felt before. This was a thousand times stronger than any flickers of infatuation that she may have felt. Ten thousand times even. This was a raging blaze. In that one glance that they had shared, she had known that he was the one for her. And yet she had rejected him. Except without knowing why. On the basis of the fact that he was a charioteer’s son.
Because HE told her to. Because she trusted in HIM blindly. Because HE knew her best. Because HE wanted the best for her. Because HE told her to reject Karna. Her Govind.
But now, standing in front of the entire Kuru clan, shamed, dishevelled and disrobed, she couldn’t help wondering. Did she make the right choice back then? Is this what was BEST for her?
Here she was, married to the illustrious, almost godly Pandavas and not one of them could save her from this mortification. Would Karna have let this happen to her? Would he have just sat there, head bowed, with down-cast eyes, unable to bear the humiliation that was being meted out to her? Somehow she didn’t think so.
Sure. He was standing on the OTHER side now. He was the one who had provoked the vile Dusshasan to do what he just did. He was the one who called her unchaste. He was the one who stood there mocking at their plight. This was his vengeance and her come-uppance for the way she had treated him at her swayamvar. It didn’t justify in any way that what he was doing to her was much worse than what he could / would / may have felt. And yet she saw a hint of remorse in his eyes. For the words that he spoke. For the way he had behaved. And as much as she wanted to hate him with her entire being, she couldn’t bring herself to.
And she realized that in some way, he knew it too. That he was aware of the consequences of this. And that even though he may have had a choice, he couldn’t bring himself to make it. That in some way he anticipated the repercussions. Morbidly even looked forward to it.
And so she forgave him. Forgave just him. For the dastardly act that he was being a part of. For the terrible violation that had just been enacted out in the palace court for all and sundry to see.
For now SHE knew what was coming. The purpose of HER birth. The very reason for HER existence. She was slated to be the harbinger that would cleanse the world of the vileness that inhabited it.
Perhaps, this was the way it was meant to be.
Perhaps, this is what happens when a shard pierces the heart.
That one sliver coursing its way through the entire system.
Taking along with it all that brought down to this moment.
Disclaimer: This is solely my viewpoint and a fictionalized attempt on my idea of what Draupadi may / may not have felt. Written on the basis of inspiration by articles and stories and books that I have read on this subject and legends that suggested she may have loved Karna and events that transpired in the Mahabharata. I do not claim this to be true in any way. J