When I was five years old, I prayed to Lord Shiva to make me beautiful. Being looked down upon as Mumulaikanni, "the three-breasted maiden", had become a day to day thing. Sleeping myself to tears had become a day to day thing.
My strict tapsya pleased Lord Shiva and he offered me a boon, that when I meet a husband fit for me, my third breast would disappear and my ugliness would be replaced by great beauty. So it wasn't a surprise to me that I lost all my senses and fell deeply in love with Bheema, the moment I laid my eyes on him. It was love at first sight, that which transformed my heart from that of a rakshasi to a woman wanting nothing but a man's love.
One night, my demon brother, Hidimba, with his heightened senses was able to smell human flesh approach towards our forest dwellings. These were none other than the Pandavas. After the Kauravas attempted to kill them by setting alight their palace, Lakshagriha, on fire, the five brothers, along with their mother, Kunti, had escaped and made way to the forest, not knowing the dangers that awaited them.
My brother had ordered me to lure the humans towards him so that he could kill and feast on the prey. But when I approached the lake where the humans were resting, I was awe struck by the man guarding his beloved family from the unknowns of the dark night. His stance, his beauty, his elegance, his might, enamoured me. I approached him, disguised as a beautiful maiden, but soon confessed everything to him. I told him of my brother's intention and that I was there to kill him, but professed that having seen him now, my only desire was to marry him.
Our conversation was cut short, as a furious Hidimba stomped towards us defaming me for betraying him. He tried to attack me but Bheema got to him first.
After a fierce battle between Hidimba and Bheema, where my brother was killed, I once again pleaded to Bheema to take me as his wife. After all, he was the reason I was now left alone, without a family.
Maybe, I was naive, that I allowed myself to think that someone like me would be accepted in the family of someone like the Pandavas. Status, race, upbringing, appearance - everything was against me. But I was adamant. When Bheema stood unmoved, I turned towards Kunti. I still don't know the reasons behind Kunti's decision. Perhaps she thought that an alliance with a forest dweller would protect them from the uncertainties and perils during their exile. Perhaps as a farsighted states-person, she knew that a progeny out of this marriage would prove to be a powerful tool in the war against the Kauravas. Whatever the case maybe, I was ecstatic when she ordered Bheema to marry me.
Bheema's condition that he would leave me once I had a child with him, to go back to his duties as a Pandava prince, did not bother me. From the start, I knew what what I was getting into it.
After a blissful year, where I taught Bheema to master warrior, speed and accuracy skills, we were blessed with a son, Ghatotkacha. It was a bitter sweet emotion the day I became a mother. I knew I would be left alone in the forest to raise him all alone.
I never questioned when the one person I loved walked out on me. I never questioned when I wasn't given my rightful status as a wife. I never questioned when my son was called upon by the Pandavas only when they needed the power of his might on their side.
I only stood strong, accepted my fate, and forgave their foibles.
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These short stories were developed during the A-Z challenge in 2014. Each story is based on 26 colours which commence with every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. The themes developed in these stories range from marital despair to urban city-life blues, from love to loss, from child abuse to infidelity, divorce, and much more.
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