I woke up drenched in my own sweat. The summer had been quite unscrupulous. That bothered me less. My king had been preparing for war and he believed in muscle power. Though I was not a soldier, people like me were being taken through a crash course to equip ourselves for the least that we could do in the war.
I did not feel anything special about this war. War was a pretty common thing. Then why was my king making such a big fuss about this? All of his allies, all those who were indebted to him and all those who were vulnerable had all been brought to his side. He still did not seem confident enough.
It was a “Dharma Yudha” it seems. Dharma, if at all that meant anything at this age, was definitely on our side of the disagreement. Why should my king give any land for those Pandavas? They had already tarnished the image of my king by spreading rumors. An accidental fire was labeled as a planned attempt to murder. Lack of competence in a game and subsequent failure was labeled as cheating. How shameless were they to now call this battle a battle for dharma?
Well, my opinions or take on this didn’t really matter. I dont think I will see another sun rise. And even if I survived the battle I am no historian or litterateur to write a Suyodahana Puranam. All these thoughts were like leaves of neem tree. How many of them were born and dead? Did anyone notice at all? Did it make any flutter at all? And yet, how many more to be born and dead.
I wore that leather jackets that were distributed in my village last week before I traveled to the camp. I had to bid goodbye to no one. Numbness that my father had talked about, which he had experienced before his first day on his first battle, was all over me. Nothing mattered. I was not hungry. I drank some water. Question did arise in my mind — is this the last time I am going to drink water? But soon it was superseded by the numbness.
Everyone was getting ready. Few of the young bloods were in rage and full of high emotions. Few were terrified too. But most of them were like me. Mine was tenth battalion from the front and so we had time. The ones in the fore front were already in the field since last three days. The eleventh battalion had a lot of trained archers and swords men. I felt something nice about that idea. Sandwiching the trained ones in between one or more batches of the lesser trained. It might take the opponent with some surprise. But I overheard people saying that it was pretty old tactic and everyone knew about it.
By the time I reached the field the sun had covered the first quarter. I saw my king proudly showcasing the army to some old man. Soon he disappeared into distance.
There was someone sitting on top of a mango tree on top of the hill to my left. Either he was a reporter or a strategist. That was the only place from where you could see the majority of the battle field, though you cant really bound a battle field. He should have had great eyes. And pretty lucky that he didn’t have to take part in the war.
Chariots seemed to be moving here and there. All of them were either way too important people or squadron leaders. One of them had been in the middle, more closer to our enemy, for quite sometime. Why would anyone do chit chat in middle of a battle ground for so long? If they were planning some strategies are they so naive that it was taking so long for them to decide on the next moves? Or if they were not happy about what was going on, which they definitely should be, why not show some spine and call the battle off? The architecture of chariot indicated that who ever was on that chariot definitely had the power to stop it.
Sun was irritating me. There was no impatience though. A bow somewhere from the sky, getting crushed under elephant’s feet, a slosh from a sword across chest or neck, a spear diagonally through the body — one of these were waiting for me.
That chariot finally moved from the center of battle field to somewhere. I could not see much of what was in front of us. Probably some five thousand men were in front of me. Conch shells were being blown from the other end at some distance. This was it. I was in a live battle. Our army also acknowledged the start by sounding the shells.
People from the behind started pushing. We were supposed to wait for the orders from the battalion leader. I think he was also not sure, but the whole of our side started running forward. Arrows from the opposite started to hit the ground and we all dodged them. But soon the arrows would be stronger and faster that we would not be able to dodge as we moved closer to the enemy.
Metal sounds from swords and shields, roars of angry and scared men, gallops of horses, the surroundings were filled with those noises. I fell when an arrow hit me on my shoulders. I was new to this kind of pain. A bit of fear crept in. I thought this was the end. It was greater pain to remove it. The end of the head of arrows were specifically architected to be stuck in the body for ever, or else you endure the pain and remove it.
I had not even injured anyone so far, killing was out of question. Injuring someone seemed like the ultimate aim of my life. I moved forward. But this time it was a spear. The one with a brownish handle. I could not see the head of it. It went right through the left lung, puncturing it. I did not feel any pain, but it was fear that struck first. I could not move, the spear had gone right through me and got thrusted on the ground. Breathing was becoming more and more difficult as the pain grew exponentially. Then I was no more conscious.