Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gatothgaja - Chapter 4

In the underground tunnel, the Pandavas walked.
They crossed the town of Varanavatha and reached the banks of the river Ganga. There, they met a boat man who happily took them across to the other side.
Anxious to put maximum distance between themselves and the city of Varanavatha, the Pandavas did not stop at the other side of the river. They kept walking even after reaching the other side.
But by then it was dark.
Still, using the lights of the stars, the six people walked and they walked until they were exhausted. And now they had reached a dense forest.
Unfortunately, the forest was so dark, that after walking for some time, the Pandavas were completely lost.
And in the dark forest, they could not even make out which way they had to go to get out of the forest. Stumbling, they kept walking and slipped and fell often, because they could not see where they were going.
Tired and hungry after hours of walking, the Pandavas were exhausted and just did not know what to do. Feeling almost hopeless, Yudhishtara turned to Bheema, “I cannot do this anymore. I do not know...” Yudhishtara swallowed painfully as he continued. “I do not even know what has happened to Purochana - whether that wretch survived the fire or not. And all I have done is keep walking. Please,” Yudhishtara said shaking his head tiredly. “Please, help us.”
Bheema was obviously not one to even find the request of his brother odd. He was after all the son of Vayu – the powerful Wind God – the God who could create tornadoes and shake up entire cities. Bheema did not even hesitate as he carried all his brothers and his mother. He put his mother on his shoulder, Nakula and Sahadeva on his arms and he carried Yudhishtara and Arjuna in his hands. And with all this, Bheema did not falter or run out of breath. He walked as if he was walking normally.
And Bheema nearly smashed through the forest as he walked. The force with which Bheema walked through the forest and even grown up trees did not have a chance. Bheema kicked the trees and kept walking unmindful of what was in his path.
They were almost in the middle of the forest, when the brothers were now feeling thirsty.
Yudhishtara hearing the sounds of water birds, realized that there was a pond nearby.
So under the instructions of his brother, Bheema left his mother and brothers and walked towards the pond to get water. After drinking water, he carried it back.
Bringing the water back in his soaking upper garmet, Bheema saw a disheartening sight – his brothers and mother – the people who were meant to be kings and queen, were lying fast asleep on the rough forest ground. The people who until a day back were sleeping on the softest bed in the entire kingdom, were now asleep in the rough and rocky regions of the forests. That was the time Bheema cursed angrily. All this was happening because of the wretched son of Dhirdarashtra. Bheema looked at Yudhishtara almost with despair. I would kill all the sons of Dhirdarashtra. All at one go! The only reason, I have not yet done it, is because Yudhishtara is not yet angry with Duryodhana. Bheema wondered what would make Yudhishtara really angry at the sons of Dhirdarashtra....
And as his brothers were asleep, Bheema looked around the forest and decided that he would not sleep. The forest looked dangerous and Bheema wanted to keep his brothers and mother safe. He kept watch over his brothers, while they slept.
And the Pandavas rested there not knowing the dangers that they were in...
Because not far away from the place where the Pandavas were asleep, there lived a Rakshasa by name Hidimba. Hidimba was a vicious cannibal. In the forests which was his home, Hidimba with his heightened sensed was able to smell the brothers as soon as they had stepped inside the forest.
And Hidimba was ready for a tasty meal. He turned to his sister Hidimbi. “I can smell humans in my territory, sister. Go and see who these humans are. And after you find them, kill them.” Hidimba said with mad, gleeful eyes.
Hidimbi who had been living with his brother for as long as she could remember, had done many such work for her brother. She did not find it any odd to do her brother’s bidding this time too, as she walked towards the sleeping humans.
Little did she know that her life was about to change.
As Hidimbi saw the Pandavas fast asleep in the grounds of the forest, she saw Bheema who was awake and keeping a watchful eye around.
And in the dark forest, as Hidimbi saw Bheema’s features, she immediately fell in love with the human. It was love at first sight for Hidimbi and she could not even remember that she was here because she wanted to kill the humans. Right now, she could do nothing else – she just wanted to keep staring at the handsome man in front of her.
After some time, Hidimbi just could not control herself, as she changed her appearance and decided to talk with the human.
Looking beautiful and decked up like a human, Hidimbi approached Bheema.
Bheema stirred and saw a beautiful woman come near him and was wary. “Who are you?” Bheema asked the woman keeping an eye, looking around.
This territory belongs to the cruel Rakshasa – Hidimba, human. Hidimba is an evil man and feasts of human flesh. I am his sister and I was sent by him. But on seeing you, I just cannot do anything that my brother wants me to do. After seeing you, I realize that I want only you as my husband, and no one else.”
Bheema stared blankly at the woman as she continued. “What are you doing here at this time? Do not stay here all alone. Come away with me. Come away with me so that I can keep you safe from my brother.”

Bheema laughed mirthlessly. “My mother and my brothers are sleeping. I cannot leave them here all alone.” Bheema studied the woman again. “And I do not fear Rakshasas.” There was a mad gleam in Bheema’s eyes as he looked at Hidimbi. “In fact, rakshasas need to fear me. I am so powerful that I can defeat anyone who fights me.”