It was a hard day for Brihannala at the traffic signal. The scorching sun added to the frustration that came from being scorned and ridiculed by passersby. Such was the life of a eunuch. However, she cared the least about the mockery as she had to concentrate on the play that night. Hurrying through the narrow lanes of Vikhroli where she lived, she rehearsed her lines: “A Kshatriya never runs from his enemies. Even death in battle is better than running from the battlefield.”
Theatre was her passion since childhood, and she could not possibly ruin the only opportunity to prove her mettle in the field. She’d never forget the expression of disbelief and disgust on the faces of her co-actors when the director of the Jatra group approached her with the role. Working as a part-time lightman for the group, she had seen the play take shape in front of her eyes.
Everything was on schedule until the artiste playing Arjun broke his ankle while rehearsing for the battle scene of Virata Parva. Finding a replacement just 15 days ahead of the show was impossible and cancelling the show was out of question. That’s when the director recalled having spotted Brihannala enacting the scenes of the play to her friends.
“Do not reveal my identity to the King, O prince Uttara. Let the credit of winning the battle rest upon you, for I am a warrior disguised as a eunuch. Let not anyone know that I am Arjun, the son of Kunti. Let my exile be peaceful.” The hall echoed with thunderous claps as the screens went down after the last scene.
Introduced as ‘Arjun,’ Brihannala could feel her eyes welling up with tears. She could feel the effects of the jeers and the mockery she faced everyday waning, giving way to a sense of pride in who she was, a hero.