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24 Sep 2009


Posted by Oblivion in Fiction | 7:09pm

An eerie calm prevailed at dusk as the last rays of Sun reflected on the edge of the sword. Abhimanyu, the supreme warrior, had been holding and examining it with care, for he sensed a difference. The sword that severed many a head with infallible rigor refused to obey the hand that never faltered. The hand that moved with inimitable grace forgot the craft. The grip was destitute of the erstwhile resolve and the arm was wanting in strength. The invincible warrior in him was suddenly vulnerable.

As he looked at the sword with care and pondered, he remembered his master's words. "For a warrior who has mastered his craft, the sword is an extension of his hand. The day he feels the weapon is distinct from his hand, he is dead". He realised what has befallen, and smiled. It had an element of sadness, but the element of surrender overpowered. He heard someone walking toward his chamber.

Abhimanyu turned around and noticed Siddha who walked with measured steps as he approached the door. "Come in, Siddha", Abhimanyu greeted him. Siddha bowed down in respect. "The master wants to see you, sir", he said. As he sought the persmission to leave, Abhimanyu said, "stay for a while, Siddha. I would like to give you something".

Siddha obeyed and was pleased. He always admired Abhimanyu and cherished the dream of becoming as great a warrior one day. Abhimanyu, with the sword in his hand, walked toward Siddha. "When I see you, I am reminded of myself when young. I believe you will be a great warrior soon. That warrior for whom battle is a game, fighting is an art and victory is irrelevant. This sword is everything I have, and I find it befitting to give it to you this day".

Siddha was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that Abhimanyu considered him worthy of this benediction. A master warrior never bequeaths his sword; it is buried along with him. It didn't occur to him to ask Abhimanyu the reason behind this surprising decision.

As Abhimanyu handed Siddha the sword, he was content, for he was sure it went into the right hands. He did not let Siddha touch his feet. He never let anyone do that. Instead, he embraced Siddha. And before going to meet the master Vikrama, he told Siddha, "and never forget this: the battle is always with yourself; never with the enemy". Siddha will understand the meaning only after many years. At this moment, he just remembered the words.

As Abhimanyu walked through the corridors, he remembered his master's words again.

Master Vikrama's chamber was quiet. Abhimanyu touched his feet and Vikrama blessed his fond disciple.

"Master, I was told you wanted to see me".

"Indeed. You have fought many a battle and made me proud. Prepare for one at the stroke of dawn. This is yet another test of our might. The enemy has challenged us for a duel with their best swordsman. If we win, their army will be ours. I'm not even thinking of a loss. To win, however, we must send our best, for this isn't going to be any easy duel. And that's you".

Abhimanyu spoke after a pause. "Master, I thank you for having shown unflinching faith in me thus far. And it's by your grace and blessings that I have won all our battles. But, master, I cannot fight any more. I apologise but I cannot challenge the duel".

Vikrama was surprised. "Insanity! What devil has possessed you, Abhimanyu!?"

"Master, it's a realisation. My craft has betrayed me, and the sword obeys no more".

"Is it you? Is it the same man who the world knows as invincible, who plays with the sword with the grace of an expert dancer, who slays enemies at will, who is feared by foes, respected by friends and worshipped by disciples for his matchless skill? The supreme warrior who commands entire armies! And you say you cannot command your sword today! What a shame!"

"I fail to feel the sword as my hand any more. Sadly, master, I confess I cannot fight hence".

"What has conquered the unconquerable, I wonder!"

"I know not, master!"

"You are dead not when you cannot control the sword. You are dead when you think you cannot. Get over the delusion, Abhimanyu. You are invincible. Your craft will never betray you till your death. Prepare for the duel".

"I cannot, master!"

Vikrama became furious. "I ordain you, Abhimanyu!"

"Your word means an order to me, master. But I cannot let you down, of all people. I cannot fight any more. I apologise".

"Abhimanyu! If you cannot fight, you don't deserve to be alive. Either head for the duel or be beheaded".

"I owe everything to you, master. If death be, so be it!"

"Such disdain!".

"I'm just being truthful, master".

"Then let your craft too be truthful to you! Watch your own head being slayed". Vikrama summoned Siddha without a moment of delay. "Siddha, this man has chosen martyrdom for self. I confer on you the honour of beheading this great warrior who has gone insane too soon".

Siddha was struck with utter disbelief. What a merciless turn of fate! He was in tears as he looked at Abhimanyu. "Being a disciple is not easy. You must walk the rough terrain. Take the sword, Siddha. This is your first test", Abhimanyu said.

Vikrama advised Siddha, "unshakeable grip, unwavering gaze, and one swift cut. On the neck. Should sever the head before he can blink".

Abhimanyu bowed down and touched the feet of Vikrama who refused to look. Four despondent guards led Abhimanyu and Siddha to the execution chamber. As they walked out of his chamber, Vikrama turned around and looked out through the window. Hesitantly, tears filled his eyes.

Moments later, a loud clang of the sword was heard.

3 Comments | "Invincible" »

  1. By oblivion:

    26 Sep 2009, 12:26am [ Reply ]

    @pearl: thank you. no, this isn't about the great character in the mahabharata. just a fictitious one.

  2. By pearl:

    25 Sep 2009, 4:59pm [ Reply ]

    superb. crisply elegant writing. style and wording perfectly suits the regal theme. just wondering about the character - is he the same abhimanyu as the one in mahabharat? is this some kind of different version about how he really died?

  3. By A fan too:

    24 Sep 2009, 10:28pm [ Reply ]

    Truly brilliant.

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