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by jaya
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2265914
He won every single match

Prompt- Nine from Round 4, January 2016

The villainous foursome was thick as thieves. They were, Duryodhana, the eldest of the hundred Kaurava princes, the sons of Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapur, second, Dushasana, his younger brother, third, Shakuni, the maternal uncle of the Kauravas and lastly, Karna, a close friend and well wisher of Duryodhana.

The pack had a common motive i.e destruction of the Pandavas and attaching their kingdom to theirs. Shakuni commiserated with them. He had a secret agenda, though.

Revenge burnt in the core of his being. Shakuni, the only son of Subalu, the king of Gandhara had a tragic background. His sister, Gandhari, a devotee of Shiva, was spoken for to marry Dhritarashtra. The match was arranged by the blind prince’s uncle, Bhishma.

" I won't allow this father," Shakuni asserted.
"There is no alternative son," replied, Subalu.

Shakuni was enraged that a blind man should dare asking for the hand of his beautiful sister. King Subalu was helpless because getting a good marriage proposal for his daughter was a challenge. She was born with an inauspicious horoscope where Mars dominated. Knowing this, no king or prince would marry her. So her father had to marry her off to some other living object like a tree or a goat before the real life marriage was performed. After this requirement being met, Gandhari was married to Dhritarashtra, who knew nothing about her previous secret marriage to a goat.

Once married, Gandhari confessed her past to Dhritarashtra, now the king of Hastinapur. Incensed beyond words he imprisoned her father, brother Shakuni and several other members of their extended family, about a hundred in total. He incarcerated them in a bunker, determined to punish by starving them to death. He gave a fistful of cooked rice to each to serve as their daily meal.

The old king Subalu decided to give everybody’s share of food to his son i.e. Shakuni, so he would survive to take revenge against Dhritarashtra. Shakuni was his weapon to annihilate the Kuru clan.

The prisoners were dying one by one when their captor visited them.

Subalu pleaded, " Oh Dhritarashtra! Let my only son survive. Let him stay in Hastinapur near to his sister. Take pity on an old man and grant him his last wish."

Dhritarashtra did so. Before he died, Subalu twisted the leg of Shakuni and made him deliberately lame. He wanted it to be constant reminder of his mission in life.

As Shakuni’s special skill was gambling, his father’s bones, transformed themselves into dice and obeyed his will. He won every single game he played, henceforth.

Shakuni worked tirelessly to inject poison in the minds of the Kauravas against their cousins, the Pandavas. He hated both the clans and therefore worked ceaselessly to pitch them against each other to finally destroy both.

Duryodhana took advantage of the eldest of the Pandava brothers, Yudhishtara’s weakness for gambling. He invited him and his four brothers for a tournament of gambling. The Pandavas, at that time were at the peak of their glory as rulers of Indraprastha, their legal part of the kingdom given by their uncle Dhritarashtra after they returned from exile.

The final gambling match between Shakuni, representing Duryodhana and Yudhishtara, the eldest Pandava, was a deciding factor of the fate of Pandavas. According to the conditions agreed, if yudhishtara lost it, he would forego his empire and retire to forests for another long period. With Shakuni’s surreptitious and unscrupulous gaming tactics, the Pandavas lost everything they owned.

After having suffered the trials and tribulations of forest life, the Pandavas returned and asked for their kingdom.

Their emissary, Krishna said, " Give us just a fraction of the land."

Duryodhana replied, " I won't let them have land that measures even a needle head."

The blind king Dhritarashtra sided his ambitious son. Despite wise counsel of ministers, priests and grandsire, wise old Bhishma, Duryodhana insisted on war.

Known as the Kurukshetra war, it lasted for eighteen days. Warriors on both sides fell. Duryodhana and his brothers were killed. Shakuni lived till the end. He saw that Bhishma, who caused his sister to marry the blind Dhritarashtra, was still alive. And then he observed that he too fell to the arrows of Arjuna , the middle brother of the Pandavas.

Shakuni was at peace. His life’s mission was completed. He should be happy. But then looking at the battle field full of dead warriors, he was full of remorse.

Now it was his time to die.

Sahadeva, the last of the Pandavas faced him. Shakuni held him back saying that he had a confession to make.
He recounted his past, the reasons for his vile behavior and all the things he did to wreak revenge on the Kuru clans.

Then he revealed his good side to Sahadeva.

“I want to die on this holy battleground, the Kurukshetra and be remembered as a martyr.”

" You are no martyr. You are a villain and a rascal," replied Sahadeva, full of contempt.

After a brief fight, Sahadeva beheaded him. Was Shakuni villain or a victim?

History is still undecided about that.

Word Count: 849
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