Part Twenty and Twenty One

Dinner was equally uncomfortable as lunch. Everyone seemed constrained and the only sound was the sound of cutlery being moved. Vasusena had wine for the first time since his oath, though he took it sparingly.
Vasusena was quite glad when it was over. The storm had not yet abated and he hoped it would blow out in the night.
But now he was worried about the sleeping arrangements. There were not enough rooms to accommodate nine persons in the guest house. He wondered if he could sleep in the couch in the hall. That would be better than sharing a room with his brothers or Krishna who had studiously avoided him since lunch.
There was a heated discussion going on in low voices among the Pandavas. They must be wondering which of them has to share a room with the Suta, he thought drily.
He sat down on the couch. He would sleep here. There was no need for so much of heated discussions.
Krishna glanced at him sharply. He tried to convey with his eyes that he was content there. Krishna gave a resigned sigh and said something to the others.
Yudhistira looked shamefaced and even Arjuna looked ashamed. Bheema and the twins looked relieved. Then Kunti said something and her sons stared at her in surprise.
Krishna started laughing.
He came to Vasusena. “You won’t have to sleep on the couch, Vasusena. My aunt has said she will give up her bed and sleep down here if you are not provided with a bed.”
Vasusena was stunned too. He had not expected Kunti to put her foot down so firmly.
“And whose misfortune is it to share a room with the Suta?” He asked, not bothering to keep the sarcasm from his voice.
Krishna grinned. “You get a room to yourself. I won’t put it past any of my cousins not to murder you in the night if they are forced to share a room with you.”
“Don’t worry,” said Vasusena smiling. “I’m a light sleeper.”
“But,” began Arjuna as a frown appeared on his face. “How can the King of Anga have a room to himself? He will have to share with you!”
“The couch looks good enough,” said Krishna blandly.
Vasusena lifted an eyebrow at Krishna. “Afraid to share a room with me, cousin?” His voice was low.
A mischievous twinkle came to Krishna’s eyes. “Don’t try me,” he whispered.
“I dare you,” Vasusena whispered back.
“The King of Anga has been kind enough to offer to share his room.” Krishna spoke aloud, his eyes still locked with Vasusena’s. The mischief was quite pronounced now and Vasusena suffered a moment’s apprehension.
But he had no chance to recant now. He wondered if he was drunk, though that seemed impossible.

21.

Vasusena lifted his eyebrows at Krishna as the latter sat on the edge of the bed.
“Well cousin?” Said he.
Krishna shook his head. “I really would have preferred to have an uninterrupted sleep this night.”
Vasusena chuckled. “You sound as if I am going to prevent you.”
“Not you,” said Krishna drily. “But I am expecting my aunt to come check on you any time.”
Vasusena laughed, “I think you overestimate her concern,”
“I think you underestimate it.”
“Why should she be worried anyway? It’s not as if you are going to slit my throat in the night.”
“You seem certain about that.”
Vasusena lifted an amused eyebrow. “I do happen to trust you tonight.”
Krishna nodded. “You may trust me tonight. But you would be wise not to trust me if we are on opposite camps.”
“I am not that foolish or idealistic Vaasudeva.”
There was a knock on the door.
Vasusena looked at Krishna. “Looks like your prediction about your aunt is correct.”
“That is my sister, I think,” said Krishna as he went to the door.
It was Subhadra.
Krishna went out of the room, closing the door behind him, allowing Vasusena to indulge in a bout of laughter.
He was still chortling when Krishna came back.
“What’s so funny?” Asked Krishna, trying to frown disapprovingly but failing. He closed the door and bolted it.
“Did your sister come to check if I have slit your throat in the night?” Vasusena chuckled
Krishna gave him a resigned look and muttered, “She’s married to your brother, that makes her your sister too!”
Which effectively stopped Vasusena’s laughter. He muttered something darkly and had settled down when there was another knock at the door.
Krishna’s face brightened. “It’s your mother,” mouthed he as he went to open the door.
Kunti stood in the doorway.
“Come inside aunt,” said Krishna, smiling.
Vasusena got up from where he was sitting on the bed.
“I think I will go downstairs,” said Krishna winking at Vasusena. “Shout if you need me.”
He went out of the room chuckling.
Kunti pushed the door closed.

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