I am honored and happy to present an excerpt from the upcoming mythological fiction based on the Yudhisthira, the idol of truth, Yudhisthira The Unfallen Pandava By Mallar Chatterjee . The other day, in an online discussion session hosted by Readomania, I saw Mallar talk about why mythological fiction is a hit among Indian readers, and I perfectly agree with him. From what I gathered listening to his views and his ideas, the book would be different than other similar books. I am much intrigued about the story after going over the blurb(presented below).
I have enjoyed many books published by Readomania, a house continuously working to bring out new, quality fiction to the Indian market. In fact, three of my short stories have been published by Readomania, for which maybe I am a bit inclined to Readomania and the people working behind it. Although my overall views are not biased by that.
So, without delaying anymore, here is the blurb,
Though the Kuru family survived on Vyasadeva’s seeds, he never belonged to the house. Moreover, being an ascetic, he was even exempted from obligations of the complicated dynamics of human relationships. This armed him with a ruthless dispassion and he could go on telling his stories with stoical detachment, free from any bias and uncontaminated by quintessential human dilemmas.
But had any of his characters given his own account of the story, would not that have lent a different dimension to the events seducing ordinary mortals like us to identify, if not compare, our private crises with those of our much celebrated heroes?
The Unfallen Pandava is an imaginary autobiography of Yudhisthira, attempting to follow the well-known story of the Mahabharata through his eyes. In the process of narrating the story, he examines his extremely complicated marriage and relationship with brothers turned co-husbands, tries to understand the mysterious personality of his mother in a slightly mother-fixated way, conducts manic and depressive evaluation of his own self and reveals his secret darkness and philosophical confusions with an innate urge to submit to a supreme soul. His own story lacks the material of an epic, rather it becomes like confession of a partisan who, prevailing over other more swashbuckling characters, finally discovers his latent greatness and establishes himself as the symbolic protagonist.
Quite exciting, I’d say. The sheer volume of Mahabharata intimidates me to take it up, but I enjoy whenever I get to read books adopted and interpreted from the main text. I am sure many new aspects will come out about the eldest pandava after reading this. Here is an excerpt which the author and the publisher have allowed to showcase in my blog for which I am heartily thankful.
‘Stop, son. Another one is left!’
Kunti was weeping fitfully when she said that to me.
Kurukshetra had become quiet. The fury, the hatred, the greed, the bitterness—all were things of the past. The earth was still wet with blood. The air was too laden with grief to breathe in. It was the time for tears—only tears. The endless expanse that ran into the horizon was filled with pyres—some still burning, some emitting blackish smokes. The war-torn world assumed the look of a busy crematorium.
I had just completed the last rites of all our relatives killed in the war. Completing the rituals, I was about to return when I heard Kunti say so. I was surprised, not because another one was still left, but because of my mother’s sudden breakdown. It appeared little weird to me, for she had all along been an epitome of composure even when she was being made to witness her grandchildren burn to ashes. What caused her this sudden seizure?
‘Who is it, Mother? I am sorry if I have missed anyone. Tell me.’
‘It is. . . he is. . . .’
‘Tell me, Mother, I am waiting.’
‘Karna it is!’
‘Sorry?’ I could not help asking though Kunti had uttered the name quite clearly and audibly, in spite of her snuffles.
‘You heard me, son,’ Mother sounded steely, for once.
‘But why on earth should I do his rites?’ I felt my lips twitch. Astonishment was just beginning to grip me.
‘He was. . .he was my firstborn. He—was—your—elder—brother!’ Mother’s words seemed to have flown in from another universe and hung in the air all around me.
‘Mother, do you realise what you are saying?’ I still don’t know how I managed to frame the question properly. Perhaps it had not yet sunk in fully.
‘He was Lord Surya’s gift to me. . .I was not married then. . .I had to leave him because. . .you can understand. . . .’
‘And you decided to keep it a secret!’ My voice now started faltering.
‘I have sinned son. . . I. . . just could not. . . .’ Kunti once again burst into tears. She was saying something more but that did not enter my ears. I still remember that a completely unfamiliar, beastly sound squeezed out of my throat. The strange sound was getting louder and ghastlier. My knees went numb and started to bend as if unable
to carry my weight any further. I knelt down, then fell prostrate on the ground and tried to clutch the much afflicted surface of the earth. I also remember that I was writhing hysterically before a palpable darkness descended all around me though it was only noontime.
‘You women will never ever be able to keep any secret. . . I curse you all. . . I curse. . .’ that was what I could shoot out before losing consciousness.
That was the second wound Kunti inflicted on me. First, she had pushed me into a wrong marriage. Then, she made us kill our own brother. What more damage could even Duryodhana and Shakuni have done to me?
Mother, why on earth did you have to conceal the real identity of Karna? Why could you not have done anything to prevent this bloodshed? Was it not an intolerable irony that while you could become a genuine mother to your stepsons, you failed to become one to your own firstborn?
But she was to pack another blow. She was readying herself for something beyond our wildest imagination. In the fifteenth year after the war, when Dhritarashtra and Gandhari decided to spend the rest of their lives in the quietness of a forest, Kunti chose to be with them—leaving us behind. Imagine! When her sons were trying overtime to recreate a nest of peace and happiness for her; the old lady, with a bent back and staggering knees, limped out of the world of materiality to accompany the parents of Duryodhana and Duhshasana!
I understood it was your atonement. But how could you have deprived us of your priceless company just when we started to see that much -awaited face of happiness after years of despair?
As destiny would have it, Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunti got killed in a devastating wildfire during their stay in a jungle far from Hastinapura.
My mother was burning to death helplessly while we were spending the day in royal comfort far away, completely unaware of the disaster. We would later identify some charred bones as hers by a silver armlet with Pandu’s name inscribed on it found
under the remains. That happened to be the only ornament she had taken with her to the forest.
She did not even allow me to drape her dead body in royal robes, light her funeral pyre as the surviving eldest son and perform her last rites. For what fault of mine did you punish me so mercilessly, Mother?
I know I shall meet you again on the other side of the great divide, Mother. Please be ready to face my questions.
Mother, you don’t know how deeply I love you. Perhaps that’s why it is so difficult for me to forgive you, Mother. I am still on a mission to reach that day of my life when I will successfully bring myself to pardon you.
I can’t wait to read the full book. You can order it now @ Amazon.
About the Author:
Born in a suburban town in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, in a family of academicians, Mallar Chatterjee’s childhood flame was mythology, especially the Mahabharat. The Unfallen Pandava is his debut novel. Mallar is a central government employee, presently posted in Delhi.
Yudhisthira – The Unfallen Pandava is available online at Amazon.
I congratulate Mallar for writing this book and I hope this book will gain many successes which it fully deserves.