A woman on the battlefield was unheard of. However, he did not care. He was about to fulfill one of his vows today. It had been a long wait.
He slowly took her arm and led her onto the battleground. Reverentially, he seated her on a broken chariot, pointed at the almost dead inert body lying close to it.
She looked at the broken man lying drenched in blood, the man who had tried to disrobe her that shameful day. She averted her gaze for fear that her wrath would burn him to ashes and looked up at the one who had brought her onto the battlefield. He folded his hands deferentially towards her, and looked back at the man who was aware of the fate that awaited him.
With a huge savage cry, he rushed towards him, and tore out his entrails in a beastly manner and proceeded to wash her hair with the blood on his hands. He did it with a veneration bordering on worship, almost trance-like, a devotee appeasing his Goddess.
She sat there, rigid as an idol, basking in the adulation showered upon her. Heaving a sigh of contentment, she looked at him, cupped his face in her hands and gazed at him.
He had never failed her. She reveled with pride in the fact that he never would.
----- X -----
Krishna observed the sight unfolding in front of his eyes. Everyone around were but, mute spectators to whatever was happening. He watched silently, as the embodiment of the Wind-God, knelt before the personification of the Goddess. He watched the devotion, the child-like adoration on Vrikodara’s face when he was propitiating Krishnaa.
The one with a wolf’s belly. The strongest of all Pandavas. The gentle giant.
He had neither Yudhisthira’s steady demeanor nor Arjuna’s single-mindedness. He was someone who swung between extremes, someone who was prone to wild flashes of mood swings, gusts of emotions. He had his own concepts of Dharma and Karma and usually insisted on immediate payback, unlike the other brothers who would wait for the most opportune moment to strike back or retaliate. He was someone who could not stand the very sight of injustice irrespective of whomsoever it was meted out to. In spite of all this, he was most often the gentlest of all. The epitome of humility. Narayana’s staunchest devotee. And the most fun to be with because of his unpredictable nature.
There was however, one thing that was predictable about him.
Like everyone else before him, and as everyone else after him, he had succumbed to her charms as well. Everybody knew that Bheema was silly putty in Draupadi’s hands. All she had to do was ask him something, and he would do it no questions asked. Whether it was the quest for the Saugandhika flowers or Keechaka’s death, it was Bheema Draupadi had turned to, for she knew that, he would never fail her, even while the others did; citing reasons that bordered on excuses. He was the only one to raise his voice against the happenings on that dreadful day in the court sabha; he was the one who had sworn that the death of all of Kali’s followers would be at his hands. And slowly yet steadily, he was getting there.
----- X -----
Bheema looked around. His shoulders sagged with the sights in front of him. The blood, the carnage, the destruction, the devastation and the deaths. He was single-handedly responsible for half of the destruction that lay before their eyes. The war had taken a great deal out of him. He had lost a lot to it as well. The deaths of his son and nephew weighed upon his being. The fratricide he had committed had taken its toll on him.
He looked up at Krishna.
He saw Krishna gazing back at him, a world of understanding in his benevolent gaze.
----- X -----
Out of all the Pandava brothers, Bheema was the only one who understood the true need for the war. He was the only one who had never questioned on why this war should happen. He was the one who looked beyond the materialistic gains that this war would bring forth and recognized the bigger picture and the ramifications of this battle. With unwavering faith and belief on Krishna, Bheema had stood steadfast in his opinion that the war should ensue.
To the rest of the world, Bheema was fulfilling his vows, his pledges to Draupadi. Presumably as an act of true love. However, Krishna knew that Bheema had long before moved beyond his assertions of love for Draupadi. Bheema had come to the realization that in Draupadi’s eyes; he would always be second best, maybe even third best. He had become aware that for her, he was only a means; that the temptation of her love was only a lure, a means to a greater end. He had also accepted this fact in all humility, as he understood the reasoning behind it. Enlightened that Draupadi was Goddess incarnate and his way forward was to serve her and help in the cleansing of evil from the world, he had taken it upon himself to ensure that he was pivotal in the destruction of all of evil’s personifications. In that sense alone, he was the true hero of the Mahabharata war.
----- X -----
Vrikodara knew that his job was far from done. There was a lot more to come. He was however a step closer to that final rung.
He looked up at Duryodhana standing afar, shock in his eyes at his beloved brother’s gruesome death at the hands of his worst enemy. One by one, he had picked off and killed all the Kaurava brethren until only the eldest of them all was standing. Signaling to the Duryodhana that he was next, he held up his conch, Paundra, and blew into it deeply.
He had made the first strike in this war.
The last strike would be his as well.
----- X -----