Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Amrita Valan

“Share equally amongst all five of you!”
A praying mother’s dictum
Before even a glimpse
Of the prize Arjun brought.

When the stately matron turns,
To her dismay she realises,
She has made Arjun’s bride
Fair award of five brothers.

But.
Wait.
She never said anything about an ultimatum.
Only expressed her wish that
Brothers conduct themselves
In exemplary fairness and equity.

How was this equitable or just?
Surely the prize Arjun brought
Belonged only to him?

How did Dharma Raj Yudhishthir fail to see?
His mother’s word, surely infallible command, as it left her lips
In that revered age,
But surely she never said “Thou Must.”

“Share equally, ” shouldn’t have been honoured as a commandment.

But replied to with love,
“Thank you mother dear, for your sense of fair play,
That we honour.

And to respect you more truly,
And honour all womanhood,
Whose prototype you are for us,
We respectfully decline.”

“Thank you mother,”
Would Arjun have replied?
“For loving us so equally and so well.”

But Dharma can never fail
By ignoring a mistake,
It can never be upheld,
By consigning a woman to hell.

I wonder
If the lady so shared
Was so coveted a prize
That Dharma had to hide
Her eyes.
Behind a mother’s love
And her utterance.

For which brother
Who bedded Panchali
Didn’t understand he had
Not really wedded her?

Who gave consent?
Or had the right to decide?

In the end
The daughter of Draupad
Loves them all
Brave and gallant warriors
Chivalrous gentlemen.

The roll of an earthly dice
Couldn’t condemn or control
The divine role of
An Amazon of endurance.

Who but Lord Krishna
As he draped her honour in
Ethereal surreal veils,
Smiling sphinx like, lotus eyed,

Compassionate and understanding
Knew that so well?

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