The epic of Mahabharata leaves so many questions unanswered. Therefore any work that puts the story of Mahabharata in perspective draws special attention. This type of literature plays significant role in the way we understand, interpret and appreciate the epic in better manner. The epic in its original form is so huge, wide and deep that it is often difficult to construe it in a single go.
The present book, “And now let me sleep” takes out the two most crucial and most emotive characters of the epic and puts their stories into a unique perspective. The story of the novel revolves around the anguish, confusions, dilemmas and evolution of the characters in the post war phase. The fact that story is based in the post war backdrop, makes it even more interesting and important.
The main strand of the story emanates from the agony of Draupadi for Karna. Yudhishthir, having known that Karna was his own brother, is in irrecoverable pain and guilt. He loathes himself for having killed his own elder brother. In this sorrow he decides to leave everything and go for penances. His detachment, over the sorrow for the death of Karna, is unthinkable for Draupadi. She is still seething in the rage over her insult by Karna when she was unrobed in front of the entire assembly. Through the counsels of various characters that Yudhishthir seeks, author sends out a profound message of insignificance of human existence. The Dialogues between
Krishna and Draupadi are also very significant in shaping the understanding of the epic. Krishna tells her, “Draupadi, you have seen the face of karna in the assembly in the most cursed moment of deterioration. You have seen a wicked man laughing in intoxication at the sight of a renowned princess being unrobed in the assembly. What you saw that day was real, but you must understand that it was only a single drop in the entire ocean of a man’s existence.” This is the first time when conception of Karna starts changing in mind of Draupadi.
Slowly as the story moves Draupadi compares her grief to the grieves of other characters, Gandhari, Kunti, widowers of warriors and Karna. She realizes that her life closely resembles the life of Kunti. Another profound realization that occurs to Draupadi was that due to love for the Pandavas, various characters have often transgressed the moral limits in their conducts in Mahabharata. For example, Bhishma,
Krishna and Kunti all asked Karna to fight from Pandavas’ side. She further resonates her mind that all of them were observing the duty of their love towards Pandavas, in dissuading Karna, however Karna did not have anyone to advocate his interests, he was not loved, and he was unfortunate. When she saw this in the light of the fact that the lives of his husbands is in fact the alms from Karna her view for Karna changes.
The most touching moment comes in the novel when in the end, Draupadi too, like Kunti craves that both Arjuna, and Karna remain alive, in her dream Draupadi when seeing Arjuna, shooting an arrow at Karna, she shouts, “Arjuna don’t do that, don’t do that.”
----- Reviewed by Dhruv Joshi