By Chirantana Mathkari

 

Gandhawati stood stunned looking at the dead salmon in her kitchen sink. With its neck twisted at the edge of the sink and its eye staring at her, it had quite an appalling effect on the vegetarian!

She looked away and took a deep breath — but she just got a strong fishy odour in her nostrils. She rubbed her nose, and convinced herself by saying: “It’s someone’s food, it’s someone’s food and you need to respect that.” She brisked to the kitchen door and opened it. She inhaled the air in the garden. It was snowing.

Wondering where her husband was, she went upstairs to his study. The room smelt of masala chai (Indian tea with spices). She stood at the door, her arms crossed. Shantanu was too lost in his thoughts to notice her.

“Morning,” she said.

As if woken from a dream, Shantanu was startled. He looked at her and blinked his eyes rapidly.

“Are you okay?” she asked a bit awkwardly.

“Yes, of course,” he replied, taking his tea cup near his face, hoping the vapours would hide his tears. He took a deep breath slowly. The spicy fragrance of the tea still reminded him of Ganga. He looked away from his wife.

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Prologue: Kubja

He spotted her immediately. He could not tear his eyes away from her distant figure. Leaning against a roadside tree, she stood out in the thronging crowd on the streets of Mathura. Krishna stared at her for a long, thoughtful minute before he started to move  towards her.

‘Where are you going?’ asked Balram, perplexed. He looked at his younger brother, a darker version of himself. ‘We will be late. King Kamsa is waiting to meet us at his palace.’

‘Just a moment…’ replied Krishna, his eyes still seeking the woman. She was still standing near the tree, watching the bustling crowd around her, as if enjoying the street scene. She ignored  the young street urchins giggling at her. One attempted to throw a stone at  her.

She looked distinctly surprised as she saw a young, dark, handsome boy approach her. He could not be more than seventeen, his face boyish, with a wide, warm smile but there was a quaint air of maturity about him. It was his eyes—smiling yet mocking in their solemnity. He looked eerily familiar but she could not place him. Not that she could have forgotten such a good-looking face, she reflected, feeling a strange emotion rise within her.

‘Do you  live  here?’ asked Krishna politely,  smiling.

Another extraordinary battle recounted by India’s mythology man, writes Pradyot Lal in Tehelka

Ashok_K_BankerHe is a veritable one-man industry. Ashok K Banker, generously considered one of the most seasoned and experienced hands at peddling mythology to readers, has published at a furious pace for the past two decades and more — often making you wonder whether he is for real. Just short of 50, a prolific writer on almost everything, he has already traversed the epic Ramayana route to now turn his attention to the heroism of a determined tribal chief pitted against a huge invading force comprising 10 kings from neighbouring countries. The battle lasts but one day and results in a brutal massacre of the invaders. Banker unlocks the secret behind the success of King Sudas in this impossible battle in the style of a historical novel, which should interest and absorb readers of all age groups.

Mahabharata – the epic that played out in Kurukshetra is getting a million reinventions: The Outlook

Can you hear the dull throbbing of vimanas in the sky? Can you smell the burning embers of the morning fires? Can you feel the thud-thud of millions of boots on the ground? Assassins, demons, monsters come together on the battlefield  with super-warriors to play out the final battle. There are atomic weapons, lasers, gene­tically engineered super-elephants. The archetypal und­er­­pinning is the story of heroes overcoming hardships and growing in the process.