It was the thirteenth day of war.
The sky was a dark pink streak across a pale blue background, the setting sun in the distance; announcing the conclusion of the day. The air smelt of the metallic taste of blood and soil, filled with roars of laughter from the Kaurava army.
A gentle breeze pushed its way through the ruckus, and brushed over the lacerations on his back, trying its best to numb the affliction that the bearer had undergone.
His arms had deep cuts and gaping blows, whilst his bare chest proudly bore the blood of his opponents, now mixed with his own bleeding from the huge gash spreading all the way till his abdomen. His head however, was held high, staring at the sky. He had a victorious smile on his face, as the last tinge of excruciating pain took over the reins of his body, while his enemies stood around him, congratulating themselves after having defeated a mere sixteen year old warrior, by breaking every single rule that was laid down at the commencement of the battle in order to achieve this feet.
Guru Dronacharya had broken the young man’s armour and killed his horses, while Maharathi Karna had destroyed his bow.
Yet, he had taken out his sword and shield to continue fighting. He had gallantly attacked Duryodhan’s son Lakshmana and killed him. He had been the face of death itself; displaying warfare skills that men twice his age had yet to learn. His onslaught had paved way into the Chakravyuh, Drona’s indestructible arrangement of warriors in a discus shape, which became harder to conquer as a person reached the inner layers.
And the only way that the Kauravas could make this humungous formation of soldiers wreck havoc against the Pandavas was by getting rid of this young man.
And they did it by resorting to every act of adharm that was possible.
One sixteen year old against the entire might of the Kaurava army. And no, it wasn’t anything like those regular Bollywood movies that have heroes with no flaws, just sending the villians flying through the roof.
Because there was a catch.
He had no idea how to get out of this unbreakable formation.
And now he had been defeated. Drona had broken his sword and Karna, his shield. Having left with absolutely nothing to fight with, he had removed the wheel of his chariot and spun it over the vast lengths of the battlefield, that dismembered everyone in its path.
The chariot wheel was eventually broken by Drona, yet again. Seizing the opportunity, the Kauravas’ warriors charged against him, all at once. Dusshasana’s son hit him with his mace, while Duryodhan joined in with his. Ashwatthama had his sword ready whilst Jayadrath stood from a distance and laughed.
Now, he stood in the middle of the Chakravyuh, encircled by all the so called mighty Kauravas, none of whom had the courage to fight him individually. He closed his eyes, as a sword slit his shoulders, setting off the menacing laughter from all his enemies again. He tried to focus on the breeze, that had made its way all the way to him. A hint of tied jasmines, his wife Uttara’s favourite. His smile widened.
Another hit by a sword.
The blood from his arms gushed out and fell to the ground. Somebody pushed him from behind, and he held on to himself for support and limped ahead in reflux.
He could feel the breeze swirling around him, creating illusions in his head.
People had held him in high regards because he had learnt about Chakravyuh from his father while he was still in his mother Subhadra’s womb. He heard the conversation up until the art of breaking into the Chakravyuh was discussed, but unfortunately never learnt how to break out.
Images of his father, holding his prized bow- the Gandeev, filled the whites. His eyes teared up, from not being able to see him ever again. They were replaced by memories of his step- mother Draupadi, who had loved him like her very own. He would give anything to eat all those flavourful food that she’d prepare only for him and his brothers again.
His recollections were abruptly halted as a mace hit him again, this time on the head and he finally fell.
His fingers grasped the soil tightly as he tried to lift his head up. That’s when he felt the might of Jayadrath’s foot on the top of his head. It closed in, and he could feel his lungs tightening, not from being unable to breathe, but due to humiliation. He knew he did not deserve this, after having fought so bravely. Jayadrath looked down, and spat on his face. Then giving out a malicious laugh, the King of Sindhu walked away.
Dusshasana tried to attack again, when Karna, unable to see the torture, finally stepped in, his face now displaying an emotion of immense pain. Kneeling down next to the young warrior, Karna took his head in his lap. The laughter stopped.
Karna wiped a tear away, took out his sword and slowly inserted it into the young man’s abdomen, ending his suffering once and for all.
As Abhimanyu witnessed the light leave his body, somewhere in the darkness of his eye, a shape resembling that of a peacock feather lit up. And then he was gone.
-To be continued,