Pandavas were on a 13 year exile owing to their humiliating defeat in the dice game. How I wish Indian cricket team was sent to exile for playing badly and losing a match. Duroyodhan (the Kaurava leader) further complicated their punishment by throwing in another challenge – stay hidden during the 13th year or repeat the 13 years of exile. Imagine the intensity of Mahabharata’s indigenous game of hide and seek. Now that’s what I call a challenge.
This play takes place during the 13th year of Pandava’s exile. The five brothers Yudhisthira, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeva along with their wife Draupadi had taken refuge under disguise in the kingdom of Virata. Draupadi, the Queen of India and wife of five ‘shoorveers’ was working as a Sairandhri (an expert maid) of Queen Sudeshna.
The five Pandava brothers
Draupadi – The Heroine
Sudeshna – The Queen of Virata kingdom
Setting – It is pitch dark, a small lamp is burning and the five Pandava brothers are sitting around it.
Yudhisthira – What’s wrong Nakul? Why did you call an urgent meeting? Is there some kind of an emergency?
Arjun (looking towards Nakul) – Don’t you know how unsafe it is? All five of us can’t be seen together. We are in disguise and God forbid if someone finds us we will be in deep shit.
Bheem (Seemingly irritated) – There better be a good reason Nakul. I can’t afford to stay like this without good food for another 13 years. We must be very- very cautious.
Nakul – Dada, I have a good reason for calling all of you here. Even I realize the risk but it seems in our preparation of the imminent war we have completely forgotten that there is an important occasion after two days.
Arjun (sounds puzzled and tries to recollect) – Important occasion?
Nakul – yes, see the stress in our lives that we have completely forgotten that after two days it is our anniversary. The day you won the fish eye piercing contest and brought Draupadi home.
(Almost unanimously) Oh shit!
Bheem – We are so erroneously caught in this vicious cycle of war and revenge that we forget love and life.
Yudhisthira – But what can we do except remembering the day in the depth of our hearts and feeling bad about the fact that we can’t give Draupadi any happiness on this day. We are in disguise, don’t have any money and can’t afford to meet at one place to celebrate our anniversary (rubs his forehead, picks a twig and starts making doodles on the ground).
Bheem – (interrupts with a sigh) Ah! It can’t get worse than this to see the Queen of India slogging as a maid. (Pounds his fist in seething anger) I will kill that bastard Duryodhan for bringing this adversity upon us.
Arjun – Shanti, gadadhari Bheem, shanti! The day when we rightfully establish Drapadi as the Queen and she will get what is rightfully hers; is approaching soon.
Everyone falls silent.
Sahadeva – (Jolting everyone out of their thoughts by loudly calling) Dada we must close this meeting asap.
Nakul – True. So, I was saying that anniversary celebration may not be grand but even a small gesture of love and concern is good enough to cheer up Draupadi.
Yudhisthira – And, I guess you already have a plan. But do remember we have just two days, we can’t afford to be seen and we have very less money.
Nakul – Yes dada. We will buy gifts for Draupadi and then go to her room quietly and have a small celebration.
Arjun- Hmm! Sounds good.
Yudhisthira – But how do we buy gifts?
Nakul – Simple! We will shop online on Baggout.com
Bheem – What online shopping? And may I ask how? We don’t even have access to a computer. Have you forgotten Nakul that currently we are mere plebeian servants.
Nakul – It is here that Arjun dada can help.
Arjun (taken by surprise) – Me. How? What?
Nakul- Arre dada you teach dance to King’s daughter Uttara and it is no secret that she is quite fond of you. You just need to lay hands on her laptop for a few hours. We can then place our order online.
Arjun (thinking) – That’s a tough one….
Bheem – Arrey Arjun, you can do it. (Animatedly taking his hands to his heart)For the love of Draupadi you must give your best shot.
Arjun – Ok Ok.
Yudhisthira –Even if we manage to get the laptop and order the gifts how will it reach us in this remote kingdom? And again, we are on a tight budget here.
Nakul – Exactly! That’s why I choose Baggout amidst hordes of online shopping sites. They offer the best discounted deals and express delivery.
Everyone cheers Nakul – Bravo, Bravo
Yudhisthira (smiles) – I am impressed. Let’s get going. All the best Arjun! We shall all meet by that riverside cave tomorrow afternoon. Come very stealthily. No one should see us.
(The lamp goes out and there is sound of footsteps).
Setting – Yudhisthira is sitting on an elevated stone while Bheem, Nakul and Sahadeva are sitting in a semi-circle below. They are impatiently waiting for Arjun.
Bheem – Why hasn’t Arjun reached yet? I hope he managed to get the laptop. That King’s daughter, Uttara is a handful (pounds his fist against the cave wall).
Yudhisthira – Calm down Bheem. Arjun is quite prudent , he must have….
Interrupted by Sahadeva – See Arjun dada is coming.
(Arjun enters the cave and unfolds the huge shawl covering his half of his face. Takes out the laptop and hands it over to Sahadeva) – Here you go.
Yudhisthira – Are you sure nobody was following you?
Arjun –Nothing to worry, dada.
Bheem – C’mon then let’s start. I have to leave pronto for the King has invited some guests for dinner and there is so much work to do in the kitchen.
Nakul – Ok, has everybody thought of what to gift Draupadi? Yudhisthira dada, what is in your wishlist.
Yudhisthira – Draupadi is a wise lady and I wish to give her a book on Philosophy and dharma. I know she is a voracious reader and loves to accumulate knowledge. But will you get such a book on Baggout?
Sahadeva –Definitely! We have Flipkart on Baggout and nobody sells books like they do. (Looking towards Bheem) What are you smiling at, dada?
Bheema – I was thinking of baking a cake for her but I don’t have a baking tray. Will your baggout have something in kitchen supplies?
(Everyone laughs out loud)
Arjun (poking Bheem’s big belly) – Can you ever think anything beyond food?
Bheem (rolling his hand on the stomach) – Hahaha! The route to a woman’s heart goes through the stomach.
Nakul (types and clicks on laptop quickly) – Done. indiatimes shopping on Baggout has a huge sale on Kitchen supplies and your order of baking tray is placed.
Bheem (peering on the laptop) – And you got a heart-shaped mould for me! Wow! Love you bro!
Arjun – I want to give her a pepper spray.
Nakul (looking quizzed) – What?? A pepper spray on your anniversary. Are you mad?
Arjun- I have seen Kichaka, Sudeshna’s brother, troubling Draupadi a lot these days and she can’t raise a loud alarm for the fear of attracting unnecessary attentionShe can use the pepper spray for self-defence.
Bheem – Fantastic idea (claps his hand).
Yudhisthira – What about you Nakul and Sahadeva? What do you want to gift?
Nakul- We have decided to gift her a saree. It’s been quite some time she hasn’t pampered herself by dressing up properly. Jabong and Myntra have such beautiful range of sarees. Which one do you think will suit her best?
(Everyone peer over the laptop and get into a discussion).
Yes. She will surely love this saree in pink and purple.
Sahadeva- Great! Mission accomplished. We brought five gifts and that too within our budget. The gifts will reach us by tomorrow and then we can surprise Draupadi.
Setting -A beautiful, well decorated room with an antique mirror. Draupadi is doing Queen Sudeshna’s hair.
Queen – Why do you look so sad, Draupadi?
Draupadi – Nothing, rani sahiba. Just like that.
Queen – Oh! Don’t hide from me. Tell me the truth.
Draupadi – Rani sahiba, today is my anniversary and my husband is not around. This makes me a little sad and nostalgic.
Queen – I can understand your pain and a feeling of loneliness. Why don’t you take a day off? (She takes out a gold ring and hands it to Draupadi). Here, take this and go buy yourself something nice from the market.
Draupadi (a little reluctant)- No No rani sahiba….
Queen – Take it. It is a gift. Now smile and go. Enjoy your day.
Setting – Draupadi’s room. It is a small room with a neatly done bed, a small painting and a flower vase.
Draupadi (talking to the photo of her five husbands) – Time is testing us dear husbands. All of you are so near yet you seem to be so far.
Enter Yudhisthira, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeva holding gifts wrapped in shinning papers.
They call out her name softly – Draupadi
Draupadi (turns) I don’t believe my eyes (surprised).
(Draupadi runs towards them with tears in her eyes) I was missing you so much. I can’t bear the pain of separation anymore.
Yudhisthira (holds her and helps her sit) Today is a very happy day Draupadi. Let’s forget all our pains and sorrows for a while and immerse ourselves in love and happiness. (wipes tears off her cheeks)
Sahadeva – And to cheer you up see what Bheem dada has brought ( removes a piece of cloth over a tray), a Cake!
Everyone cheers and they cut the cake together.
Then they give their gifts to Draupadi.
Draupadi – How did you guys managed to get such lovely gifts? And here I was thinking you have forgotten our anniversary. So stupid of me!
Brothers look at each other and smile.
Arjuna begins to sing:
Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!
Curtain falls slowly.
*This plays talks about an imaginative episode in Mahabharata. This post is written for a blogging contest organized by online shopping website Baggout.
A big thanks to Baggout for giving bloggers an opportunity and a platform to let our creative juices flow. A special mention for one of their employee, Monika Jain who relentlessly kept sending reminder mails to motivate a lazy writer like me.
The poem is English translation of Kalidasa’s collection of Sanskrit poems.