ABOUT THE POEMS In addressing the material of our myths and epics, Indian poetry in English has generated especially striking and imaginative recastings of these legends, often reading them against the grain, colloquialising them, or subverting their grave formality. One of the more ambiguous and poignant legends attached to Draupadi, joint wife of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata, is her relationship with her favourite sakha, or male friend, Krishna. In this poem, Nishtha Gautam supplies Draupadi with an anguished dramatic monologue that makes her marriage to her five husbands seem not so much a matter of honour and pride as of sacrifice and deception. When Draupadi asks why there should be different rules for male and female sexuality, we hear a keynote of the present dropped into the past like a stone into a pond, making the story ripple with a new rage and poignancy.
Sakha, why did you come to my swayamvar,
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