“The five boys are waiting outside,” Kunti said. “They are the best fighters in the world. I hired them to be your proxies in the war.”
“What?” Yudhisthir stood up.
“This is unacceptable,” Arjun exclaimed.
Bheem, Nakul, and Sahadev thumped their fists in protest.
“Don’t be stupid,” Kunti rolled her eyes. “This way you get to lap up the glory without risking your necks. You ungrateful loonies should thank your mother instead of feeling so outraged!”
“Mom, don’t you want to show us off to the world?” Bheem asked.
“You all, yes. Your mutilated bodies, no.” Kunti crossed her arms and shook her head.
“Mommy, please,” Nakul pleaded. “Let’s try once.”
“If we fail,” Sahadev continued. “Then send the proxies.”
“I wait till you die and then I send out your proxies?” Kunti sniggered. “That’s your brilliant idea?”
“Wish our father was alive,” Yudhisthir grumbled. “He’d have never hired some thugs to fight our battle.”
“Thugs?” Kunti raised her brows. “They are the best warriors!”
“Father would’ve felt that we are the best,” Arjun argued. “He’d have blessed us to win the war.”
“He’d do no such thing,” Kunti smirked.
“Yes, he would,” Bheem insisted.
“Listen,” Kunti reasoned. “It is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet, that history remembers. Anybody, who can, is resorting to outsourcing these days. Look at the way the Americans set up the IT industry. See how much money they are making! The Indians they hired aren’t complaining either. It’s a win-win situation.”
“What about the warriors you hired?” Yudhisthir asked. “Are they aware?”
“Yep,” Kunti nodded, handing a file of papers to her eldest. “They have all read and agreed to the terms and conditions I laid down. I have gotten their signatures too.”
The papers passed through the hands of all five sons. None of them had the patience to read it fully though they felt a lot of respect for their mother’s perseverance. And a part of them was relieved. But they were men. They had to pretend to be brave.
“Still, mom, this isn’t fair,” said Yudhisthir with a long sigh. “Father wouldn’t want us to gloat in other people’s glory. And in your heart, beyond the possessive motherly love that you feel for us, there is a small place where you too would want us to win our fame.”
“How touching, how eloquent!” Kunti flicked away fake tears. “Since you oafs aren’t getting the point, I must strike below the belt, I’m afraid. It’s your father from whom I learnt about outsourcing. You all are collectively called the Pandavas, sons of Pandu even though Pandu had outsourced the impregnation part of the deal to different men.”
A stony silence filled the air.
“Have anything else to say?” Kunti probed.
“It is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet, that history remembers,” the five sons echoed. “We’ll go out and shake hands with our proxies.”