Kavita Kane calls herself a true-blue Puneite, despite having been born in Mumbai and grown up in Patna and Delhi. Having studied and lived in Pune for many years, she considers herself as good as married to the city, where she now lives with her mariner husband, Prakash, two teenage daughters, Kimaya and Amiya, a friendly Rottweiler named Dude and a cat called Babe. Karna’s Wife
A senior journalist, with degrees in English literature and mass communication, Kavita is also a cinema and theatre aficionado. But writing, she confesses, is her only skill. Karna’s Wife is her first novel.
I decided to write this book on an impulse, one which, unlike many others, I have not regretted. At the back of my mind were my mother’s encouraging words, echoing over several decades, ever since I graduated from penning unpublished short stories and illegible essays. Evidently unimpressed with my journalistic writing, she wished that I would write a book of poems or a novel someday. Belying my name, I chose the latter. Thank you, Aai.
And there are so many others who have been an undeniable part of this process. C. Rajagopalachari’s unforgettable Mahabharata that I first read thirty years ago and re-read subsequently for reference.
My editor and the Rupa team for being patient with me and bringing out this book, thank you. I was touched and pleasantly surprised by the number of well-wishers who generously helped me in some way or the other, even though I barely knew them Always graciously yours, thank you. Prakash my friend, confidante and husband whose loyal support and unwavering conviction in my capability egged me on to undertake many things that my lazy bones and indolent mind would have avoided. However, he has still not been successful in making me join the gym.
Kimaya and Amiya-my teenage daughters who deigned to agree to read the book- if it ever gets published. I thank them for their support-not once did they rush into the room and chatter while I pored over my work Biswadeep Ghosh my friend and ex-colleague who read the first draft of the manuscript. After (im) patiently perusing through the tome, he decided to edit it, and in the process, got to know much about the Mahabharata. It was the second draft that went to the publishers.
My dear, irrepressible friends-Niloufer, Priya, Amina, Ash, Jyoti, Anahita, Samata and Roshan without whose timely inputs and opinions, the novel would not have progressed from the title to the epilogue! My cousin Shaila who helped me with my homework and vernacular literature.
My sisters-Asha and Radha, who promised that they would buy the book and not borrow it from me or the library.
And Dharmanand Bharne-my father, my guru, my mentor, my guide, my philosopher and my best friend without whom I would not have taken up writing. Or anything else. Lastly, I thank God whom I hope I never fail.
Even though Uruvi kept her promise to Karma to look after Vrushali and found the inner strength to give her solace, Vrushali, in a final fit of despair, killed herself, unable to bear the grief of the death of Karma and her brave sons. After the death of Radha and Adhiratha, Uruvi decided to go back to her childhood home. In Pukeya, she looked after her old parents and continued tending to the sick and the wounded.
Under the patronage of the Pandavas, her son Vrishakethu became a great warrior like his father Karna, filling Uruvi with pride. Bowing down to his mother’s wishes, Vrishakethu refused to accept the crown of Hastinapur, content with being the King of Pukeya after his grandfather’s death. King Yudhishthira ruled Hastinapur for thirty years and then handed the throne to Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna. Vrishakethu often accompanied his uncle Arjuna in battles, including the military campaign that preceded the Ashvamedha yagna, the sacrifice Arjuna held to mark his victories as a king. In this sacrifice, a horse was let loose and the territories it wandered into then came under the rule of the king, to mark him as a conqueror. Vrishakethu fought bravely in the battle against Babruvahana, the Naga son of Arjuna. During that campaign, Vrishakethu, with his uncle Bhima, fought King Yavantha, who ruled a kingdom to the west, and the young King of Pukeya won King Yavantha’s daughter as his bride.
It is believed that Arjuna developed a strong, unflagging affection for Vrishakethu and taught him skills with the bow and arrow that made his nephew the most formidable archer in the country. Vrishakethu’s other teacher was Krishna, just as Karna would have wished.
Vrishakethu was the last warrior on earth who knew how to use the deadly weapons, the Brahmastra, Varun astra, Agni astra and Vayu astra. With the age of Kalyuga, the era of corruption and the downfall of morality, approaching close and fast, Krishna warned his devoted disciple not to pass on this knowledge to anyone else as it had the power to cause mass destruction.
Vrishkethu kept his promise to Krishna and did not reveal it to any other person. It remained his secret, showing he was a worthy son of his father Karna, who always kept his word, and his mother Uruvi, a healer until the last days of her life, who had hated war but who lived through the bloodiest of them all.
2. Her Father’s Daughter
3. The Swayamwara
4. New Horizons: Karna and Uruvi
5. The Pariah’s Wife
6. Friends: Ashwathama and Duryodhana
7….and Foes: Shakuni
10. Draupadi’s Revenge
11. The Separation
12. Kunti and Uruvi
13. The Birth of Vrishakethu
14. Uruvi and Bhanumati
15. Karna’s Vow
16. Kunti and Vrishakethu
17. Karna’s Kavach and Kundals
18. The Return of the Pandavas
19. Krishna and Karna
20. Bhishma and Karna
21. Karna and Kunti
22. The Eighteen-day War
23. The Death of Karna
THE OUTCAST’S QUEEN