Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cape Town
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Duryodhan and Bhanumati
Please find my entry titled "Duryodhan and Bhanumati" below.
This is the painting I produced to illustrate my story (also pasted below). I hope you find my entry suitable.
<img src="http://www.dhakshina.org/v04-i09-p02.jpg" width=800px></img>
[earlier parts cut due to size restrictions]
‘Don’t you want to know what I want to talk about?’ he asked when they were at last alone.
She stared at him, undecided. Recently, she had found him increasingly difficult to predict.
‘Yes, my Lord.’
‘In fact, it’s not I who wants to say something. It is you. For the past few days, you’ve wanted to say something to
me, but couldn’t bring yourself to it. Now, what is it?’
She had heard this tone before, and knew that only the truth, or an extremely clever lie, would satisfy him.
Unprepared, her desire to speak her mind warred with the fear welling in her throat, and she was quiet for a long
time. And when she spoke, her voice was very low, and he strained to hear her.
‘It’s your uncle, Shakuni. Never speak with him again. For both our sakes.’
To her surprise, his expression did not change; he simply stepped away to carefully inspect a tapestry.
‘The time for that has long passed, Bhanumati.’
‘He is… he’s not a good man, Duryodhan.’
‘You think that he means me harm? Has he harmed you?’
‘No, and no.’ Suddenly, she clenched her fists and spoke angrily.
‘Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean! He’s an evil, evil man! The taint of him chokes my throat, and when I
have to greet him, I want to spit to clean my mouth! I hate it when you go off with him, I hate seeing him
whispering to you in the gardens! He is always somewhere, right where he shouldn’t be, always lurking when Radheya
isn’t around! He is pestilence, and I hate him!’
Too late, she saw from his twisted smile that he had been deliberate, goading her to this outburst. We always tried
to out-read each other, she thought bitterly. We called it a love game once. But it’s twisted into a competition
now. It’s his influence, I know it.
She breathed deeply, knowing she had to keep her wits about her. This might be her only chance. But he made me say
it because he’s already planned something, she realized. He’s planned for me to say this, and he’s planned what
he’ll do now.
‘Alright, Sakuni is a bad, a terrible, evil person. Very well. Who will be my advisor? Who will bring me to the
throne? Radheya? He’s loyal, yes, and on the battlefield…’
‘Not the battlefield! A political advisor! Someone of the family, with your future interests at heart, someone good
and pure and noble, like, like…’
‘Like dear uncle Vidura? Yes, in all my clan, he is the purest and the wisest and the best. And do you know what he
told my father when I was born? “Kill him.” he said. “This child will bring the destruction of two kingdoms.” Yes.
That is what the wise and good Vidura had to say about the joyous moment of my birth.’
He turned to look at her.
‘What if he was right?’
She ignored this. ‘You can still change everything. You can change the way it goes. There is an instant. When you
can change things. There is always, always an instant where you can still decide.’
His eyes became almost gentle. ‘The time for that is long past, Bhanumati.’
She sensed an opening, and spoke on urgently.
‘I know the rumours. About the house, that burned. I know who made you do that. You can still change everything.’
He shook his head sadly, and took both her hands. ‘Do you really think that was the first time, Bhanumati?’
She swallowed, and refused to register his words, but he spoke on softly.
[IMG]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/ADMINI%7E1/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.jpg[/IMG]‘The first time, I was
just a little boy, Bhanumati. A little child, how innocent I must have seemed. But there was murder in my heart. I
remember how scared I was, I remember how my eyes burned from the vapours of the poison. How my tears burned on my
cheeks, how they fell to mix with the poison I prepared, how…’
She tore her hands lose, and held them to her ears, and shook her head violently.
‘Stop it, stop it, stop it!’
He grabbed her hands again. ‘Look at me, Bhanumati, look at me, your husband, your prince, your king! Look at me!’
He shook her till she quieted. He turned, still holding one of her hands firmly, and stepped over to the dias.
Slowly he began to ascend the steps to the thrones.
‘Duryodhan, no! Let me go, just let me go!’
‘Ah, but you are to be at my side, always! Join me here on this throne, my lovely queen!’
The playful tone dropped and he shouted.
‘Sit down Bhanumati!’
He threw her to the queen’s throne, and dropped himself into the king’s.
‘When my father’s dead, you and I can sit here. That’s what you want, isn’t it? I know that about you. The day we
met, you saw the wrongness in me, didn’t you. I saw how you looked at me. You saw the wrongness, and you knew there
was just enough of it to get you a throne. You’ll never admit it, but that’s what drew you.’
‘No, Duryodhan. I do love you.’
He laughed shortly. ‘Yes. Through all of it, in our own strange ways, we love each other. But we love other things
too. And strangest of all: I no longer even want a throne anymore. But Shakuni does. My father, for me. And
especially you. None of you will let me step away from it. I’m trapped here.’
He leaned so close she could feel the heat radiating from his face. He spoke very softly.
‘You can end it all. Without you at my side, I could still step away. Go, leave me. Go away. Leave behind these
thrones of lies and misery.’
‘I can’t! I tell you, I can’t! My father… our families…! Duryodhan, I love you!’
‘You make me so tired, Bhanumati.’
He sat back, and spoke mechanically.
‘Feel it Bhanumati. Look about this place. This is the Royal court. We are the king and queen. This is our near
future. Among all these men, we sit here, first.’
He looked across at her.
‘Before all things, before happiness, before peace. Before our love. You want this first, don’t you? You want to be
first. Isn’t that right, my lovely queen?’
Her hands tightened on the arm rest of the throne, and she felt the thrill of it swell in her belly, and she
She put her face in her hands, and sobbed briefly, and found no comfort in it.
‘What’s going to happen?’