Arjuna saw Vasusena turn his head and before he dropped his eyes, he had seen the anguish in his eyes. He had not believed it possible for his worst enemy to have such an expression in his eyes. He wondered what Krishna had said to cause that pain.
Vasusena rose and walked to the front door and opened it. The rain was falling heavily now interspersed with flashes of thunder and lightning. There was also a strong wind blowing. Ignoring the foul weather, he stepped out, closing the door carefully behind him.
There was silence in the room except for the drumming of rain on the roof. Arjuna stared at the door. “What did you say to him?” He asked Krishna.
“Something for which he was not ready,” Krishna’s voice was calm and steady.
“He is in so much pain; whatever you said caused that.” Yudhistira sounded weary. “Its not easy to keep hating someone after seeing that kind of pain on their face. Especially since we are not at war.”
“Not being at war is not going to change anything,” said Bheema. “It is not going to end hatred or envy or greed.”
“Let us not worry about that now,” said Nakula. “And why are we actually discussing the King of Anga? He is our enemy.”
“In times of peace, there should be no enmity,” his twin’s voice was soft.
“Tell it to them!” Snorted Bheema. “The King of Anga has exhibited neither enmity nor hostility,” reminded Sahadeva.
“He isn’t the sole representative of their side,” Bheema argued.
“But he is the one who he is here,” said Arjuna. “And I agree with Sahadeva. As long as he does not treat us like enemies, there is no need for us to treat him like one.”
A light step on the stair stopped their argument. Kunti was coming down the stairs accompanied by Draupadi and Subhadra.
Vasusena stood near to the railing. Seats were carved in wood close to it. The area was protected from the elements but the occasional gust of wind sprayed water on him. He wiped his face, feeling grateful that the rain drops masked his tears.
Yudhistira’s frown had changed to surprise and his expression had softened as their eyes had met. Somehow it was that change in his brother’s expression that had caused Vasusena’s eyes to prickle and for him to seek shelter here.
His brothers! His hands gripped the railing. His brothers were they, but in spite of what Krishna said, he did not think he had anything to give them. Love? Care? That came with a lifetime of togetherness, of caring for one another, of shared childhood, of shared joys and sorrows, of shared laughter and meals and fighting shoulder to shoulder. He had none of that with them. The only memories were the memories of sarcastic remarks from him and insults from them. All they had shared through the years was hatred and enmity. All he could remember was standing against Arjuna, grim hatred in both pairs of eyes.
Krishna might be right about them. His brothers might not find it difficult to love him, to forget their hatred once they learned the truth. They might be better men than he was. But he could not change himself so easily.
Love was not easy, thought he. His hatred might be a shadow now, but love was yet to take its place. And love did not come easily to the man who had been abandoned at birth by the woman who bore him.
The wind drove a sheet of rain on to him, which nearly pushed him to the wall. He sighed. “What more do you want?”
Perhaps he should not have asked that, thought he resignedly as a familiar figure materialized in front of him.