By Anand Neelakantan
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Suyodhana pulled his little sister towards him and took the mangoes she was carrying in her skirt. Ignoring the girl’s protests, the Prince dropped all the fruits in front of the Nishada and stood back. Hunger had forced the boy to enter the royal grounds to find food for his starving family. His aunt had been afraid the guards would catch him. Stealing was something he had never contemplated in their better days but when poverty caught up with morality, the lines between the acceptable and unacceptable somehow vanished.
Another shadow fell against the wall. Was it Bhima’s younger brother Arjuna, coming to take part in the fun? Suyodhana crouched deeper into the darkness under the bed. ” It was an adult’s voice. Suyodhana peeped out carefully. Who was it? The setting sun emblazoned everything behind the doorframe in red and gold and this person stood like an unmoving black shadow. Bhima’s head turned in surprise at this interference. Suyodhana saw anger flash across his cousin’s face. “Why are you always after me?
Yudhishtra led the Brahmin towards the well, with Arjuna following with his bow held firmly in his hand. The frail woman trailed behind. Two soldiers stood on guard at the gate of the fort; their faces mirror images of boredom. The Brahmin peered into the well and then slung down the bow he was carrying over his shoulder. He took an arrow from his quiver and tied the end of his angavasthra to its blunt end. Then he uncoiled the rope, which bound his belongings and tied it to the end of the angavasthra.