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THE QUEEN'S DILEMMA



“This won’t do bahu…” Kunti sighed “… The world is not ready to believe that you defeated all the warriors and took the throne!”


Draupadi turned to look at her dear mother-in-law, forgetting about the bow she was fixing.


“What do you want me to do, Mother? Let your sons take the credit? Which one - the gambler, the foodie, the womanizer, the narcissist, or the dreamer?”


“Don’t be like that, dear. Do you know how hard it is to raise sons without a father?” Kunti cried.


“Hmmm… Perhaps, things would have been different if the fathers had been allowed to stay in touch.”


“Enough! We need a solution, not sarcasm. Draupadi, we can’t have queens claiming victory and letting the men look helpless and weak.”


Draupadi finally put the bow down and approached Kunti. She slowly and apprehensively asked, “What do you have in mind, Mother?”


“My nephew Krishna is here. Let’s talk to him.”


Kunti had barely uttered the words when Krishna walked in. “Did you summon me, Aunt Kunti?”


“Yes, my dear Krishna! We can’t let the world know that Draupadi and her transgender sibling decimated the Kaurava army. We need a cover story!”


“You don’t need a cover story! You need character makeovers!” Draupadi’s words made Kunti stop.


“Good idea! They can all be demigods. Let’s start with my firstborn, who loves gambling. I want to make him the most honest and righteous man on earth.” Kunti’s voice had turned dreamy.


“How about adding some wisdom too? I want the world to think that I married a wise man.”


“Great - we can call him Dharmaraja Yudhishthira, one who does not waver from the path of Dharma.”


“Nice!” Krishna chirped, “What about the foodie?”


“We will call him Bhima. The strongest man on earth.” Kunti asserted.


“The poor dear does whatever I ask him to do. In that way, he is the sweetest man. Can we add that too, Mother?” Draupadi pleaded.


“Sure, why not? Now, coming to my dear Partha-”


Krishna interrupted, “Aunt Kunti, you know I’m so fond of Partha, and he is married to my sister (don’t roll your eyes, Draupadi! I saw that). I want to make him the most courageous and victorious archer, a great hero in the history of mankind.”


“Good, Krishna! Also, can you add a nice romantic story about how he won my hand? Perhaps an archery contest. It’s better than the world knowing about how I actually captured my husbands.”


“Good call, Draupadi! Now moving to Nakula and Sahadeva! Let’s change the mirror into a sword; our hero can be a great sword-fighter. The dreamer can become a psychic who can see the future.”


“This is great, Aunt Kunti. I will direct this story and make it an unforgettable epic. My friend Vyasa will help!” Krishna smiled in anticipation.


“What about me? Are you changing my story too?” Draupadi asked nervously.


Krishna affirmed, “Yes. First, we will add some elements of jealousy. You can be jealous of Arjuna’s romantic conquests!”


“Romantic conquests! Where is the romance? He keeps whining about my time with his brothers. He is the jealous one.”


“Shh… Draupadi. You know we need to change the story.” Kunti warned her daughter-in-law.


“I suppose you want me to be helpless and weak…”


“That’s a good start, Draupadi!”


-- Geethanjali Tanikella

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