Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Short Fiction : The death of Krsna

Dear reader, 

I had posted a blog yesterday discussing the death of Krsna. One possibility was that he could have been perhaps executed for his controversial role in various parts of the epic. The more I thought about that possibility the more I wanted to pen those moments where, perhaps, a group of assailants accosted Krsna one evening and killed him in a planned ambush. Given the room for some creative freedom there I present to you the short fiction version of mine below. It details the final moments of the attack. It has been eons since I blogged short fiction so this was one way of breaking those shackles of uncertainty.

Feedback, of course, is most welcome.


~ The death of Krsna ~ 
a short fiction by ShaKri

The meandering clouds bore a reddened glow even before the blood spill that fateful dusk. Stunned into a sense of helplessness by their impending tryst with destiny the tall trees that overlooked the palace city for centuries swayed about uneasily. From the cacophony of a bustling day in paradisiacal nests the king emerged. Exiting from the rear side of the colossal palace, he took the snaking path to the river’s edge for his evening bath. Silent shadows had followed him with the precision of a hawk and the grace of a swan ever since he had slipped out for his evening dip in the river from the palatial halls. On recognizing the followers, he had then acknowledged their need for anonymity whilst continuing his journey towards the water front. The breeze that gently danced on the impatient surface of the river somehow seemed to carry a bitter pinch of melancholy with it as he, the dark skinned monarch of the Yadavas, walked without the slightest hint of royalty on him despite his standing. No jewels, no footwear, no head dress. He walked like a man in a state of eternal trance yet his gait was unwavering. His face bore the pain of the crumbling walls of a once mighty empire yet his lips managed to curl into a subtle smile. To the untrained eye he might have seemed like the commonplace wanderer with no home or country to call his own yet his confident stride bore the mark of a man who could own every inch of land he stepped upon. His flowing auburn tresses swayed about with the same playful nature that had for many decades sent a flurry of inexplicable affections into the hearts of absolute strangers. His saffron colored silk dhauti fluttered in the stiff breeze as he took one meticulously placed step after another.

Barefooted, he stood a few meters away from the river's edge and silently gazed at the horizon. After those humble beginnings behind caged rooms here he was this day; prepared, perhaps, to finally find liberation. His eyes, now lit by the dying light of the day, seemed to be in a wordless conversation with an invisible entity. Or perhaps it was just the image of the remaining sparks of hope that still sat smoldering in them despite the obvious absence of that roaring fire which had made him the creator, architect, father and emperor of that city... his city...his Dvarka.

The setting sun in the distance somehow seemed to be in the most irregular haste to bring that day to an end. The solitary king, even with his eyes into the nothingness beyond, could pick up restless feet moving about in the shade of those tall trees. He showed no reaction. Instead, he walked on, stepping into the welcoming arms of the nervous river that seemed equally impatient to embrace him. With the abundance of time at his disposal, the great king began disappearing into the shimmering layers of liquid gold and silver.

'Now?' whispered an inquisitorial voice from within the shadows.

'No!' asserted another. 'No one is to waste a single breathe! We wait for him to emerge. The venom we bring today shall enter him from the front. Not the back! We perform this so that he may be aware of every moment of it!'

'What difference, O learned one, does it make in what direction death arrives from?' reasoned another voice.

'Direction?' hissed the commander. 'You speak of direction O venerable warrior? Do you not see the rotting corpses of those he has slain O brethren? Have your senses gone blind to the fiend in that glorified Yadava? Without laying a finger on a fly in the battle field he has claimed victory by slaughtering thousands, tens of thousands of kinsmen merely by pointing the arrow in the right direction. Yes...direction. The charioteer of mayhem masters that quite well. The imposter! The thief! Listen closely. Tonight we point our craft to his heart as his eyes watch. That, my brethren, would be the right direction. The just direction!' he added with an emphatic appeal in the word 'just'.

Meanwhile in the distance, away from the ghostly patch of hissing whisperers, the king had slowly emerged out of the waters. His blue dhauti clung to him so purposefully that it seemed as though he had changed his skin to a bluish tint. He brought his jewel-less hands in rapt salutation to the swiftly setting sun and prayed under his breathe. Eager faces, boiling with fury, watched his ritual as their breathing got heavier and stance became more alert. The aged king then repeated this sequence standing in the cold and soothing bosom of the river twice more before turning around and plastering the dripping tresses onto his nape. He then stepped out of the river onto the sandy shore like a fresh memory of a long forgotten dream.

He walked a few paces towards the majestic trees and stood there admiring their poise for a few fleeting moments. Tiny granules of muck stuck to his feet as if pleading him in desperation not to tread any further. He found the thought amusing. The birds he could speak to were nowhere in sight. The animals he had cared for were absent that day. And yet, he reflected, the earth he stood upon was smearing itself against him in a hapless attempt to shield him. But before the king could ponder further at his futile attempt at life’s poetry, it began.

He heard the impatient release first followed by a short grunt.

Before the next few sand grains in time’s capsule could drop, a sleek arrow swiftly appeared from oblivion and punctured the pages of history. It pierced through the generous space just under his heart, like a knife cutting through fresh fruit, and forcefully lodged half of itself into his rib cage.

The king gasped and made a choking sound, stepping back a little. His eyes instantly welled up from a familiar feeling of loneliness at such a vacant junction in his long life. Perhaps, he thought in that passing slice of time, too long a life. Blinking rapidly through moist eyes he looked around and tried to regain his posture. A recognizable figure emerged from the shadows of the trees followed by three more faces the king had come to know quite well. Each of them held a sturdy bow and a full quiver of poison tipped arrows. The end had commenced.

'Hearty salutations O Dvarkadeesh!' screamed one of the men stepping from behind the leader and taking aim from a closer range to let go of another arrow. This one sped past the previous resident in the king's person and made a clean penetration into his stomach. He noticed the bottom half of the arrow protruding from his torso before the pain hit his senses. On realizing the agony, he swayed erratically to his left, lost his balance and collapsed on his knees. He could hear the distant sound of a conch being blown somewhere. He wondered if it was that from the palace that had realized his unannounced absence. Or was it just another figment of his many illusions? The river's soothing waters still dripping from his sides, he parted his lips, struggling for air. His eyes remained open and his face still seemed to carry a subtle smile. Was that a smile of prior knowledge? Or was it that of unexpected relief?

'Halt!' the leader screamed before a third arrow could be planted. His eyes searched the area around the fallen emperor and spotted something which made him grin. He walked up to the king and having grabbed him by his wet tresses, dragged him away from the river's edge onto the foot of a giant Pippala tree nearby.

'For centuries have you played all the wrong games O son of Vasudeva!' he said pulling the king up on his unstable feet and propping him against the tree. 'Many a silent night has been curdled with the venom of your deception that now freely flows out of you. Today, O kin of the Pandavas, you are no longer playing any game. You, sire, are the game.' Having mouthed these words he, unhesitatingly, stepped back a couple of steps, pulled the string on his sturdy bow to its maximum length, said something incoherent under his breathe and released a third arrow that penetrated the king's right thigh. This time the wound was the deepest. It cut right through him and lodged itself into the tree on which he had been placed. The king shut his eyes tighter and winced in visibly excruciating agony yet not a hint of noise escaped his mouth.

'The grit deserves applause your majesty!' another voice opined. 'Three arrows and not a single scream leaves your lips! But your city will scream, sire! O yes it will! When the news of your pitiful end spreads like wildfire, every stone, every grain, every inch of the grand city of yours will howl so loud that its echoes will be heard for hundreds of yugas to come!'

The fourth assailant now stepped forward and took aim.

'And for the four maha yugas...' he said inhaling deep '...here are four little tokens for your royal pleasure!'

The last arrow found its mark on the king's left foot fracturing it and, thus, paralyzing it as it pierced a gaping hole into the tree as well, pinning him in the process.

The leader walked up to the semi-conscious emperor who lay nailed to the Peepul tree and spoke in a low tone in his ear.

'You can tell your own story now Madhava for now you have received an end akin to the grandsire Bhsma whom you fell on a bed of arrows that day. This is no bed, indeed. But the bowl of nectar that pours into us from crushing your world of deceit to smithereens shall last us till the end of time itself.'

Throwing these venomous words around the injured king like cobwebs of a nightmare he could not wake up from the assailants cautiously withdrew and vanished forever into the annals of the past.

Resting his head against the comforting bark of the tree the king slowly opened his eyes and looked at the clouds. Darkness was almost complete yet he could make out the final few layers of sunshine still reluctant to leave. Nightfall would surface soon. He also knew that even though the sun would reappear to the world in a few hours the black mask of fate that had been tied around Dvarka's lovely face to asphyxiate it away from existence could never be undone. Much like its creator, his beloved city was also breathing its last. His era had now arrived at the threshold of an uncertainty he knew no way out of. Or was it perhaps because he knew all the ways that he had been stitched in such an unceremonious fashion to nature herself?

It was in the medley of such random thoughts that his fading eyes rested on yet another familiar face. He emerged from the shadows with tears streaming down the cheeks and eyes red rimmed with grief. He approached the king gingerly and clutched his lifeless and limp hand.

'Welcome...dear....Uddhava...' said the dying king to his friend.


Recommended reading of a similar nature:

The Eldest Kaunteya

7 reflections:

kusublakki said...

Loved this one.

ShaK said...

@kusublakki - Thank you. :)



Sonik Velingkar said...

Nice piece. Would have liked to know more about the assailants and how the popular fable of him being mistakenly hit by a hunter's arrow came into being. Loved it though. Cheers!

Sonik Velingkar said...

Good piece. Would have liked to know more about the assailants and how the fable of him being killed by an inadvertent arrow from a hunter came into being. Cheers!

Abhik Chattopadhyay said...

good, sharp writing..

Abhik Chattopadhyay said...

good, sharp writing..

Anonymous said...

I am visualizing the scene by reading this article. GOOD WORK. - prakashnagarajan@yahoo.com