Fire had burnt his entire house. Havoc spread all around. The most magnificent house of the city was burning down to ashes. With it burned the expensive interiors, the colourful drapes, the historic paintings, the glamorous chandelier but most importantly, the library. The most prized possession of a writer. Ved wasn’t even in his house when this happened. And by the time he reached, it was too late. His dreams had been cremated.
Who could have done that? Everyone loved him, everyone worshipped his work. He was the most prolific writer the world had ever witnessed. Such was his masterpiece that every other work of art was said to draw an inspiration from his work. Yet, someone had torched his house. Who could have hated him so much? The two biggest forces in the world, God and Satan were his progeny. They wouldn’t have dared to demolish their master. And yet, there was someone who dared.
Ved pondered in disbelief as he saw his house burn down faster than the house of lac. One of the most beautiful scenes from his book. He never really saw a house of wax burning. He used his imagination to create the surreal. But now, someone had turned his imagination into reality. Now he knew exactly how the house of lac would have burnt.
As he was about to leave the site he heard a laughter. Someone was mocking him. He turned around. Deceit pierced his heart. He was betrayed by his progeny. A man who was neither a God nor Satan. The most powerful character of his book – Karna. Only he could have burnt the house down. He had the power of fire. After all, the Lord of fire, the Sun God was his father.
Ved – Why?
Karna – Isn’t it a writer’s dream to see the events of his book turn into reality?
Ved – I created you. I made you more powerful than anyone else, I gave you recognition. People have written more about you than any of my other characters and this is how you thank me?
Karna – Power is a perception. Power is what other people felt I possessed when in reality you made be the weakest.
Ved – Rubbish!!! You were more powerful than all your half-brothers. In fact all their powers combined couldn’t have matched yours.
Karna – And yet what did I do with those powers? A woman was violated in front of my eyes. A monster stripped her of her dignity in an open court, in front of my eyes. And what did my powerful hands do? Did it stop the violator? Did it rip apart the eyes that dared to desecrate a woman? No. My powerful hands simply clapped. I was a mere audience. I ruled the side-lines.
Ved – In a story every character is given a fixed role. I had created Lord Krishna as theman who was supposed to stop the mishap.
Karna – So why didn’t he?
Ved – Of course he did! Who do you think protected her dignity? Why do you think her clothes never really came off?
Karna – Aaah that act. What I don’t get about that heroism is why couldn’t he simply chop off Dushshasan’s hands? He had a sudarshan chakra, didn’t he? And he was pretty skilled at using it. So why didn’t he use it? It would have taught every man in that room a lesson. Why just that room, every man in this world, even our own judicial system would know the punishment for trying to violate a woman.
Ved – Power is only bestowed to those who can handle it. It isn’t meant to flaunt. Dushshasan was punished by the husbands of the same woman. Don’t you remember how Bheem broke Dushshasan? How Draupadi washed her hair with the blood…..
Karna – ha ha ha ha. You know I really wonder what Draupadi would have wanted if asked to choose between chopping the hands of Dushshasan in the same court and washing her hair with his blood? I mean who does that? She had beautiful hair, why would she want to wash it with someone’s blood.
Ved – I showed the world the power of a woman’s rage. I empowered that woman.
Karna – So your idea of empowering a woman is by making men powerful enough to help her get revenge? I am sorry but your definition of empowerment is quite irrational.
Ved – Those weren’t ordinary men. They were the son of Gods. Son of your mother. They were her husbands.
Karna – They were the same men who were responsible for the trauma their wife went through. I really don’t understand why they were the heroes and I was the Villain. I have never humiliated a woman. And yet people today sing praises of those five powerful men, son of Gods who gambled their own wife. What message did you want to give to your readers?
Ved – That greed can overpower the most powerful men.
Karna – I know of greedy men. They can betray their friends, they can lie, cheat and steal to get what they want, but you know something. They are more powerful than your sons of Gods. Because under no circumstance will they gamble their wife. Marriage is the most powerful ritual. It celebrates the birth of a bond. Bond that is strengthened by love, trust and understanding. A husband takes an oath to protect his wife, to stand by her even when the world turns against her. Not to gamble her for money.
Ved was silenced. His ideologies, his philosophies were being brutally crushed. By a man who was created by him.
Karna – Talking about marriage, I have heard of emperors who had more than one wife. I know of some who had twenty wives. But I have never heard of emperors sharing a wife? That too brothers! I am glad I was raised by a poor charioteer. I am glad they were simply my half-brothers. Because I would have slayed anyone who would have even dreamt of sleeping with my wife. Even my brothers!
Ved – Arjun had made a promise to his mother that he would share the alms.
Karna – And since when did Arjun become such a momma’s boy?
Ved -I am your creator! You don’t have the right to mock me! You are what I made you. And in return what you did is blasphemy. Tell me, why did you burn down my house?
Karna – To stop you. To stop your ridiculous theories about power and purity. To stop you from writing another misplaced set of ideologies. Today, the world deserves powerful heroes. Women deserve righteous men. Faith deserves virtuous Gods. The only thing you gifted to mankind is politics. Oh yes, and also the world’s longest epic.
P.S. – Thank you Charulika Dhawan for inspiring me to write this story.