Kunti

This is the death of my dearest friend. Soon the woman that I laughed with and joked with will be no more. We had a curiously happy relationship for co-wives, but then with a husband like Pandu, there wasn't much to get jealous over. There had been hassles and arguments over the matter of my amazing boon-that I Kunti would have children whilst poor Madri would not, but I have always been patient. I not been patient then I wouldn't have gotten the boon in the first place-and so I shared the secret mantra with Madri, and her two beautiful boys joined my three.

Madri is brave on the funeral pyre, she does not scream as the flames envelope her, and perhaps it is the smoke inhalation. I wonder if I would have the courage to do what Madri is doing. I find myself praying that should I ever face fire, I would have an ounce of Madri's courage. The boys are inside with their nurse, this is no fit sight for boys, though the oldest Yudhisthira is thirteen, some might call him a man, but I do not want this image of his stepmother burnt into his brain. But I am here, I am watching the final moments of Madri.

She should not have slept with our husband, poor Madri, she was always beloved by our husband more than I, this never bothered me before his death, and now when I see what our husband's love it has brought her it does not bother me now.

I was more of a quiet intellectual, for though Yudhristhira is the son of Dharma, I think we share a few other traits and I am glad our husband Pandu chose him Dharma first. How strange that quiet intellectual me should be the one with three children, when usually beautiful women like Madri have all that sort of luck.

It is not strange that I will be the one to raise these three legal sons of Pandu, that's just the sort of thing that life does through at women like me. I am glad of it, I love living and being a mother and teacher to five boys like these would be the greatest life of all. For I know that my sons and Madri's are great in their own way, and that they will bring greatness to this land and I Kunti shall have played my part.

Madri has not much longer to go now, in a strange sort of way there would have been no life without Madri: her love of horses meant that we were always out going on expeditions, her love of cleanliness meant that disease was always far from our house, but it was above all her love of beauty that made life so enjoyable: Madri said that the sunrise and sunset were the most beautiful things in the world, only the stars, she said, came close. Her love of beauty expressed itself in her love of embroidering, and our house was filled with the beautiful things that she made.

As Madri dies, my heart breaks, the emptiness that Madri left, destroying the bricks and mortar of every other part of my heart.

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