英文译者：Ketaki K. Dyson
《Dialogue between Karna and Kunti》
On sacred Jahnavi’s shore I say my prayers
to the evening sun. Karna is my name,
son of Adhirath the charioteer, and Radha is my mother.
That’s who I am. Lady, who are you?
Child, in the first dawn of your life
it was I who introduced you to this wide world.
That’s me, and today I’ve cast aside
all embarrassment, to tell you who I am.
Respected lady, the light of your lowered eyes
melts my heart, as the sun’s rays melt
mountain snows. Your voice
pierces my ears as a voice from a previous birth
and stirs strange pain. Tell me then,
by what mystery’s chain is my birth linked
to you, unknown woman?
Oh, be patient,
child, for a moment! Let the sun-god first
slide to his rest, and let evening’s darkness
thicken round us. – Now let me tell you, warrior,
I am Kunti.
You are Kunti! The mother of Arjun!
Arjun’s mother indeed! But son,
don’t hate me for that. How I still recall
the day of the tournament when you, a young bachelor,
slowly entered the arena in Hastina-city
as the newly rising sun enters the margin
of the eastern sky, still pricked out with stars!
Of all the women watching from behind a screen
who was she, bereft of speech, of luck,
who felt within her tortured breast the pangs
of hungering love, a thousand she-snake fangs?
Whose eyes covered your limbs with blessing’s kisses?
It was Arjun’s mother! When Kripa advanced
and smiling, asked you to announce your father’s name,
saying, ‘He who is not of a royal family born
has no right to challenge Arjun at all,’ –
then you, speechless, red with shame, face lowered,
just stood there, and she whose bosom your gleam
of embarrassment burnt like fire: who was that
unlucky woman? Arjun’s mother it was!
Blessed is that lad Durjodhan, who thereupon
at once crowned you prince of Anga. Yes, I praise him!
And as you were crowned, the tears streamed from my eyes
to rush towards you, to overflow your head,
when, making his way into the arena,
in entered Adhirath the charioteer, beside himself
with joy, and you, too, in your royal gear
in the midst of the curious crowds milling around
bowed your only-just-anointed head, and saluted
the feet of the old charioteer, calling him Father.
Cruelly, contemptuously they smiled –
the friends of the Pandavs; and right at that instant
she who blessed you as a hero, O you jewel amongst heroes,
I am that woman, the mother of Arjun.
I salute you, noble lady. A royal mother you are:
so why are you here alone? This is a field of battle,
and I am the commander of the Kaurav army.
Son, I’ve come to beg a favour of you –
Don’t turn me away empty-handed.
A favour? From me!
Barring my manhood, and what dharma requires,
the rest will be at your feet if you so desire.
I have come to take you away.
And where will you take me?
To my thirsty bosom – to my maternal lap.
A lucky woman you are, blessed with five sons,
and I am just a petty princeling, without pedigree –
where would you find room for me?
Right at the top!
I would place you above all my other sons,
for you are the eldest.
By what right
would I enter that sanctum? Tell me how
from those already cheated of empire
I could possibly take a portion of that wealth,
a mother’s love, which is fully theirs.
A mother’s heart cannot be gambled away
nor be defeated by force. It’s a divine gift.
O my son,
with a divine right indeed you had one day
come to this lap – and by that same right
return again, with glory; don’t worry at all –
take your own place amongst all your brothers,
on my maternal lap.
As if in a dream
I hear your voice, honoured lady. Look, darkness has
engulfed the entire horizon, swallowed the four quarters,
and the river has fallen silent. You have whisked me off
to some enchanted world, some forgotten home,
to the very dawn of awareness. Your words
like age-old truths touch my fascinated heart.
It’s as if my own inchoate infancy,
the very obscurity of my mother’s womb
was encircling me today. O royal mother,
loving woman, – be this real, or a dream, –
come place your right hand on my brow, my chin
for just a moment. Indeed I had heard
that I had been abandoned by my natural mother.
How often in the depth of night I’ve had this dream:
that slowly, softly my mother had come to see me,
and I’ve felt so bleak, and beseeched her in tears,
‘Mother, remove your veil, let me see your face,’ –
and at once the figure has vanished, tearing apart
my greedy thirsty dream. That very dream –
has it come today in the guise of the Pandav mother
this evening, on the battlefield, by the Bhagirathi?
Behold, lady, on the other bank, in the Pandav camp
the lights come on, and on this bank, not far,
in the Kaurav stables a hundred thousand horses
stamp their hooves. Tomorrow morning
the great battle begins. Why tonight
did I have to hear from Arjun’s mother’s throat
my own mother’s voice? Why did my name
ring in her mouth with such exquisite music –
so much so that suddenly my heart
rushes towards the five Pandavs, calling them ‘brothers’?
Then come on, son, come along with me.
Yes, Mother, I’ll go with you. I won’t ask questions –
without a doubt, without a worry, I’ll go.
Lady, you are my mother! And your call
has awakened my soul – no longer can I hear
the drums of battle, victory’s conch-shells.
The violence of war, a hero’s fame, triumph and defeat –
all seem false. Take me. Where should I go?
There, on the other bank,
where the lamps burn in the still tents
on the pale sands.
And there a motherless son
shall find his mother for ever! There the pole star
shall wake all night in your lovely generous
eyes. Lady, one more time
say I am your son.
did you discard me so ingloriously –
no family honour, no mother’s eyes to watch me –
to the mercy of this blind, unknown world? Why did you
let me float away on the current of contempt
so irreversibly, banishing me from my brothers?
You put a distance between Arjun and me,
whence from childhood a subtle invisible bond
of bitter enmity pulls us to each other
in an irresistible attraction. –
Mother, you have no answer?
I sense your embarrassment piercing these dark layers
and touching all my limbs without any words,
closing my eyes. Let it be then –
you don’t have to explain why you cast me aside.
A mother’s love is God’s first gift on this earth;
why that sacred jewel you had to snatch
from your own child is a question you may choose
not to answer! But tell me then:
why have you come to take me back again?
Child, let your reprimands
like a hundred thunderclaps rend this heart of mine
into a hundred pieces. That I’d cast you aside
is a curse that hounds me, which is why
my heart is childless even with five dear sons,
why it is you that my arms go seeking in this world,
flapping and flailing. It is for that deprived child
that my heart lights a lamp, and by burning itself
pays its homage to the Maker of this universe.
Today I count myself fortunate
that I have managed to see you. When your mouth
hadn’t yet uttered a word, I did commit
a horrendous crime. Son, with that same mouth
forgive your bad mother. Let that forgiveness burn
fiercer than any rebukes within my breast,
reduce my sins to ashes and make me pure!
O Mother, give – give me the dust of your feet,
and take my tears!
Son, I did not come
simply in the happy hope of clutching you to my breast,
but to take you back where you by right belong.
You are not a charioteer’s son, but of royal birth –
so cast aside the insults that have been your lot
and come where they all are – your five brothers.
But Mother, I am a charioteer’s son,
and Radha’s my mother – glory greater than that
I have none. Let the Pandavs be Pandavs, the Kauravs
Kauravs – I envy nobody.
With the puissance of your arms
recover the kingdom that’s your own, my son.
Judhisthir will cool you, moving a white fan;
Bhim will hold up your umbrella; Arjun the hero
will drive your chariot; Dhaumya the priest
will chant Vedic mantras; and you, vanquisher of foes,
will live with your kinsmen, sole ruler in your kingdom,
sitting on your jewelled throne, sharing power with none.
Throne, indeed! To one who’s just refused the maternal bond
are you offering, Mother, assurances of a kingdom?
The riches from which you once disinherited me
cannot be returned – it’s beyond your powers.
When I was born, Mother, from me you tore
mother, brothers, royal family – all at one go.
If today I cheat my foster-mother, her of charioteer caste,
and boldly address as my own mother a royal materfamilias,
if I snap the ties that bind me to the lord
of the Kuru clan, and lust after a royal throne,
then fie on me!
Blessed are you, my son, for you are
truly heroic. Alas, Dharma, how stern your justice is!
Who knew, alas, that day
when I forsook a tiny, helpless child,
that from somewhere he would gain a hero’s powers,
return one day along a darkened path,
and with his own cruel hands hurl weapons at those
who are his brothers, born of the same mother!
What a curse this is!
Mother, don’t be afraid.
Let me predict: it’s the Pandavs who will win.
On the panel of this night’s gloom I can clearly read
before my eyes the dire results of war:
legible in starlight. This quiet, unruffled hour
from the infinite sky a music drifts to my ears:
of effort without victory, sweat of work without hope –
I can see the end, full of peace and emptiness.
The side that is going to lose –
please don’t ask me to desert that side.
Let Pandu’s children win, and become kings,
let me stay with the losers, those whose hopes will be dashed.
The night of my birth you left me upon the earth:
nameless, homeless. In the same way today
be ruthless, Mother, and just abandon me:
leave me to my defeat, infamous, lustreless.
Only this blessing grant me before you leave:
may greed for victory, for fame, or for a kingdom
never deflect me from a hero’s path and salvation.