The Life that Never Was: Chapter One

He swam ashore almost lazily. He would have liked to stay in the river a while longer, but he had a few things to do. Padmavathy never made very many demands but whenever she made one, Vasusena had invariably complied. So when she wanted to worship at the temple of Siva in her ancestral village before the start of the war, he had agreed.

 

A few more moments, his heart begged him. The water was so cool and refreshing. And they were leaving only in the morning. But his brain regretfully declined. He had to make arrangements. As per his wife’s wish, only the two of them were going. Not even an attendant or an outrider was accompanying them. He was going to be driving the chariot himself.

 

He towelled himself dry and walked back to the camp. Once inside, he could change out of his wet clothes. It was not an easy task to arrange for a trip like this on the brink of war. He also had to oversee the preparations for war like mustering his armies, setting up camp, provisioning, arranging for training areas, liaising with the General for integrating his army to the whole. The last was still a must, even though he and his armies were not going to be part of the war from day one. He was grateful that Bheeshma too had taken the practical approach. Vasusena’s men would be training along with the rest so that when the time came, they would be part of the whole and would be useful to the war effort.

 

Suyodhana had grumbled a bit about his going away, but he had assured Suyodhana that he would be back before the battle began. They had a week which was more than enough time. Truth to tell, Vasusena was only too glad to have this time with his wife. It might well be the last opportunity for them to be together. The outcome of the war was not uncertain for him. He knew this was the last battle he would ever fight. And he felt that Padmavathy knew it too. Which was why she wanted this trip. Or may be she hoped that by offering worship there, she could beg the Lord for her husband’s life.

 

He deliberately turned his thoughts away from the coming war. It had been quite a long time since he had a swim in the river. And the experience had been not only pleasant but quite pleasurable as well. He thought with a smile that his clothes would probably dry on him by the time he reached camp. It was a long way and the climate was warm.

 

Lost in his thoughts he hardly noticed the men who loomed across his path till he almost bumped into them.

 

“Steady,” said Krishna, his hands holding Vasusena by the shoulders.

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