“Virata, the king of Matsya has accepted my marriage with Uttara.” A gushing Abhimanyu told his cousin, in the forests. “They want to formalize the wedding and they want us all to come to the Matsya kingdom for the proper wedding ceremonies.”
Abhimanyu looked happily at his brother and hugged him tightly. “It is all because of you, my brother.” Abhimanyu told the rakshasa.
Gatothgaja smiled proudly. “You are my brother. Of course, I will help you.”
“I want you to come with me to the Matsya kingdom. The Matsya king would have invited all of my relatives. Which means that he would invite our fathers and he would have invited Krishna mama, too.”
Gatothgaja stared. “Krishna? Who is that?”
Abhimanyu laughed. “Krishna is the king of Dwaraka and he is mother’s brother.” Abhimanyu looked proud. “I grew up in Dwaraka. Krishna has taught me all that I know. You should meet this man. I think he will love you as much as he loves me. Do you remember Daruka? Our charioteer? He was Krishna’s charioteer.”
Gatothgaja suddenly laughed. “Then I must definitely meet this man. He has brought my brother to my forests, knowingly or unknowingly.”
“You are Bheema and Hidimbi’s son.”
Gatothgaja was in awe as he was looking at the dark man standing in front of him. The shade of the man was so black that Gatothgaja was sure that the man’s complexion was darker than the night. Added on top of it, the man was the most handsome human that Gatothgaja had ever seen. No, it could be the deep, intelligent eyes of the man which seemed to notice everything.
“Yes, my Lord.” Gatothgaja told the man.
For a few minutes, the two men studied Abhimanyu’s wedding ceremony as all of Abhimanyu’s uncles including Gatothgaja’s father were in the front and happily looking at the blushing Uttara.
“Do you see that there are many kings here in the Matsya kingdom – more than what King Virata has invited for the wedding?” The Dark One asked Gatothgaja.
Gatothgaja frowned for a few seconds. “Is there a reason why you brought that to my attention?”
Krishna laughed. “Yes.”
Krishna frowned for a few seconds and then finally seemed to convince himself of something. “The five Pandavas ruled the lands of Indraprastha, thirteen years back. The eldest Pandava Yudhishtara, was addicted to gambling. He gambled and lost the entire kingdom to their cousins – the Kauravas – Duryodhana, the prince of Hastinapur is the eldest of the Kauravas.”
Gatothgaja was silent for a few seconds. “I know all this, my lord.”
Krishna smiled to himself sadly and it seemed like he was not paying any attention to Gatothgaja’s interruption. “Do you know that Yudhishtara played the dice game twice? Not once. The first dice game… it is best if it is not referred to. Because that single game sealed the fate of the Kauravas. Had they not been so cruel in that game, things would have turned out, a little differently. But they did not act like the kings and princes that they were supposed to be. The Kauravas humiliated their daughter-in-law and for that alone, they deserve to be annihilated.”
Gatothgaja stared at the Dark One, feeling uneasy. “I did not know of this, my Lord.” Besides Gatothgaja was slightly confused. “Why would Yudhishtara play the dice game twice, when the first game ended in so much misery.”
Krishna gave a mirthless laugh. “That question has no answer. Blame it on fate if you believe in it. Yudhishtara said that it was the duty of a king to play the game when he was invited to it. The king of Hastinapur – King Dhirdharashtra – was ashamed of the things which had happened at the end of the first dice game and he wanted to hand over all that Yudhishtara had lost in the game, back to Yudhishtara. Dhirdharashtra’s son, Duryodhana did not want that and so he offered the second game for Yudhishtara to win back everything. Yudhishtara played it because he thought he was supposed to play the game, when invited to play the game. Naturally, Yudhishtara lost the second game and he spent the past thirteen years in exile as one of the conditions for losing the dice game. The condition of the second dice game was that if Yudhishtara and his brothers successfully spent the exile in the forests, Duryodhana would give back the kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas.”
Gatothgaja frowned as he looked at Krishna. “Why are you telling me this, my Lord?”
Krishna was silent for some time.
“Karna.” Krishna told Gatothgaja finally.
“Who is he, my Lord?” The rakshasa was confused.
Krishna laughed at the question. “The answer is irrelevant. But what matters is that he is Duryodhana’s best friend. He was the main man responsible for the events of the court of Hastinapur after the first dice game. Karna goaded his friend to commit the crime out of spite for the queen of the Pandavas.”
Gatothgaja shook his head. “I still do not understand.”
Krishna obviously changed the topic and studied the young rakshasa. “King Virata has already sent a learned man to the court of Hastinapur asking the Kauravas to return the kingdom of Indraprastha to Yudhishtara for having successfully completed the conditions of the second dice game.” Before Gatothgaja could ask the question, Krishna raised his hands. “The learned man was insulted and sent back. Duryodhana has absolutely refused to hand over the kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas under any conditions.”
Then Gatothgaja understood it. “The kings who have come here – it is not just for the wedding – they have come here to help King Yudhishtara fight back for his kingdom, isn’t it?”
Krishna nodded at Gatothgaja. “Yes.”
Gatothgaja looked at Abhimanyu again. “So there is going to be a war?”
Krishna was silent again. “I am going to Hastinapur tomorrow in an attempt to make Duryodhana see his foolishness. I am going to try my best and make sure that the war is averted.” Krishna shook his head. “I do not think I will be successful. Duryodhana is too arrogant for that. But I will still give it my best.”
“What do you want from me in the war, my Lord?” Gatothgaja asked the Dark One. “I will fight on my father’s side.”
The Dark One studied the young rakshasa. “Alambusha.”
Gatothgaja frowned. “Who is he?”
Krishna shook his head. “Alambusha is a rakshasa too and he is Bakasura’s brother. Bakasura was a rakshasa who was killed by your father long before all this. Alambusha had always maintained an enmity towards your father. I am sure that he would fight on behalf of Duryodhana. You are the only answer that we have for Alambusha and…”
Gatothgaja swelled with pride as he heard the words of Krishna; but he faltered as he heard the last word of the Dark One. “And?”
“Karna is the one that I am worried about, son of Bheema.” Krishna told the young rakshasa. “There are very few people in the Pandava side who can successfully fight Karna.” Krishna waved at the young rakshasa. “You are one of them.”
Gatothgaja nodded proudly at the dark man. “I shall do what I can, my Lord.”
Krishna looked at the wedding again. “Abhimanyu will fight this war too.”
Gatothgaja looked shocked and he shook his head. “Abhimanyu is sixteen, my Lord. He is just married. He cannot…”
“Just like you, he is the son of a powerful Pandava, Gatothgaja. Abhimanyu has been trained by me too. He cannot stay away from the battlefield.” Krishna smiled sadly to himself. “He will not.”
For a second there was consternation in Gatothgaja’s face. Then he looked at Abhimanyu’s smiling face. “No one can defeat him, my Lord.” Gatothgaja said with a smile. “Abhimanyu’s technique is flawless and as long as he has a bow in his hands, he cannot be defeated.”
Krishna was sad again. “As long as he has a bow.” The Dark One repeated studying the young rakshasa.