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Unspoken words- Karna,the Warrior Prince

by Manoj Nair
(Bangalore, India)

I am Karna, the warrior child, born out of wedlock to my mother, Kunti. I am the inheritor to the throne, the prince who will never get his kingdom. Brave as I am, fathered by the Sun God; born with the boon to be never killed in battle; the imprint of my father on my forehead burnt deep by his gaze; a reminder of my shameful birth.

O mother Kunti, why are you tucking me inside this basket? It is very uncomfortable, I can barely move my hands. I can’t wriggle my toes inside this thick blanket. I am not averse to cold mother, so why have you clothed me so warm.

O mother, will you please unbundle me, let me free my arms, kick my legs and let out a loud cry. The river looks ominous, dangerous and there is no moon in the sky. The darkness unnerves me and I haven’t learnt to swim yet. The howling of the wolves scares me mother.
Why are you putting this lamp in my wicker basket? What if it spills over and catches fire?

O mother, talk to me, sing me a lullaby, rock me to sleep in your bosom. Tell me that this journey will be safe. Tell me that I will be accepted by the world. Do I see remorse or relief in your eyes? O mother, your unspoken words will change the course of history. Only if you knew.

Stay a while mother. Let me tell you what will happen to a child like me. I will be adopted by a childless couple. They will change my name and bring me up as their own. I will no longer be called “Karna, the warrior prince”. Society will never embrace me as their own. But they will never be able to wipe my father’s tattoo. I will not gain entry into the elite school of Guru Dronacharya, but I will learn the art of warfare nevertheless.

Your own children, my to-be-brothers, the Pandavas, will scoff at me, mock my unknown ancestors. Mother Earth will curse me and at a crucial moment in the battle, my chariot wheel would be trapped by her and I will be killed by cunning and sly. The Gods will conspire to rob me of my armour and my weapons and leave me naked and exposed to the arrows of Arjuna.
O mother, you yourself will beg me to spare the Pandavas and I will sacrifice my life for them and for you.

Speak up now my dear mother. Go forth in haste and tell you father, the great king Kunti-Bhoja, tell him of my birth. I am sure he will accept me as his grandson and the prince-to-be-king. Let the town criers announce my arrival in every corner of the kingdom. Let us change the course of history now mother, do not be weak; I beg of you. Else this great country of ours will forever languish in accepting bastard children.

Two thousand years from now, every time a mother abandons her new born child, your unspoken words will haunt the little one for life.


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