It was well past noon. The Sun had started it’s descent and the relief in the heat was felt by one and all. It had been a tough day. The end of the war was close, everyone felt. But then it was going to be ugly which was always a given, there could be no other way.
He stood there, resplendent and fiery like his father, ebbing and flowing like him. Throughout the day as the Sun ascended he had taken the battle to the Pandavas, defeating every one of his brothers, except Arjuna, and refusing to kill them when he had them at his mercy. The descent had been marked by the one with Arjuna, where he now stood, exchanging arrows and words.
Blood stained Arjuna’s silver garments a deep red, while his own blended with a shade of gold. The make-shift armour, in place of his kavacha offered no meaningful protection except keeping dust and shards out of scars that would never heal. He battled on knowing what the end was going to be. It was always meant to be this. His life had just been one large rock hurtling down a hill headed precisely towards this moment. All the tiny rocks and trees that were on his path had bent his path towards this very moment.
The chariots were being guided expertly, moving in precise angles, keeping the ace archers facing each other, in each others’ direct line of fire, offering no soft corners to be exploited. He had chosen wisely. The arrows flowed, knowing where they were headed and seldom missing their mark. Soldiers on both sides, behind them felt the sting most as dodged arrows found random marks. And then, there was a moment of weakness from Arjuna. He pulled out a prized arrow, letting it fly at his head. And just as he thought it would find its mark, it missed his neck by a few inches, having to content itself with his helmet. He knew it was the moment. The moment his life had added up to, and he had missed it. Arjuna recovered, rallying back with a volley of his own, clouding the skies, even the Sun struggling to get through. Shalya moved them around, out of harm’s way. This was probably his most important day, he thought. He would reach his end too, like all those fighting the war. There was no escape.
The chariot lurched forward in a sudden movement as he maneuvered it away from another rally, and then he felt it rattle and jerk towards one side as it came to a sudden stop and he felt himself tossed out, headlong into the ground. He took refuge behind his horses while aiming a few towards Arjuna’s chariot. He looked around. Shalya was gone. His part in this play was now over. The chariot wheel had sunk into the ground. He called out to Arjuna “Hey Arjuna! My chariot is stuck. Hold on for a few minutes while I pull it up and we can resume after that. The code of conduct prohibits attacking an unarmed soldier.” and went down on his knees to pull up the wheels. Arjuna stood there, his bow resting by him, watching him work on the wheel.
The chariot refused to budge, it was firmly lodged into it. No matter what he tried, it refused, almost as if Mother earth had decided to hold on to it tight. And then he looked up to see Arjuna pull up his bow, his face radiating a rage he had never seen on him before. Memories from killing Abhimanyu a few days back came rushing by. He picked up his bow and shot out a few arrows, before sinking back to work on the wheel. And then, he saw him release the arrow. Krishna sat there, his eyes focused on him and pointing his right hand in the direction of the arrow, the calm in his face betraying the intensity of the moment.
And then, he felt it on his throat…