Monday, September 14, 2009

Draupadi again

I've been mulling over the story of Draupadi since the performances I saw a couple of weeks back. Here is my poetic response to the final performance. The dancer is Sheejith Krishna in the role of Krishna.

Draupadi’s Krishna dp268

even before Krishna is on stage
I am worrying about Draupadi again
she’s the lynch pin of the story

let me set it out
a woman has married an eligible young man
a famous archer
as she’s arriving at his house after the betrothal
his mother Kunti in ignorance of the ‘prize’
tells her five boys to share it
only when Draupadi enters does Kunti realise
that she has condemned her to five husbands
when gods decree such things
there is no escape
Draupadi bonds with all five
takes on their interests and passions
becomes the most important person in the household
after her mother-in-law

then the gambling begins
it’s the eldest brother who gets them into this scrape
and he has a problem a gambling problem
he bets everything
his land his people his cattle his houses
his brothers himself and finally

she is in her room taking time out
because she’s bleeding
she is fetched
dragged by her hair into the assembly
her sari is being torn
her body exposed
to a roomful of men
none of them moves
none of them protests
none of the five brothers
not a one

Draupadi in desperation calls on Krishna
gods have a bigger view
and he creates a deception
so that Draupadi’s sari never unwinds
like the magic casket that never empties

my worry about Draupadi
is that she is never redeemed

think of this
a child is neglected abused abandoned
even if we can do nothing
we feel we should
we feel guilt sorrow
and inside we pledge something
we try to make it impossible for this to recur

a man called the son of god
is betrayed abandoned by his disciples
then worshipped

a woman
is betrayed in a game of chance
publicly humiliated
her mother-in-law has the greatest feeling for her
and Draupadi is then abandoned by the storyteller
only appearing in her role as wife to the five brothers
now forced into exile

Draupadi is a kind of Christ
but on some level she is blamed for her
betrayal humiliation and abandonment

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