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By Anand Neelakantan

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Example text

He was bleeding from many wounds, yet he held his tall and powerful frame erect. A cold wind from the distant snow-covered peaks ruffled his long, dark beard and pierced his body as if with icy shards. He was chilled to the bone, unused to these rugged mountainous terrains and snow-laden passes. He was from the East, a son of the vast Gangetic plains. The naked sword he gripped in his right hand had slain scores of warriors in the past hour. A few paces apart, his men stood reverently. The rain had lost its fury and become a drizzle.

Bhishma felt like a brute. He wished his anger would return so that he could take her by her narrow waist and ride off to Hastinapura with her, like a warrior of fable. But he could not; he was a warrior of the old school and a man of chivalry. “I do not have a choice do I, Sir? When the Regent of Hastinapura decides which maiden is to be stolen as a bride for his nephew, what choice do we, who live on the borders of the great Indian empire, have? Do not perturb yourself… our resistance is at an end.

The hot sun was now scorching every blade of grass and the soldiers silently cursed the stranger for making them leave the shade. The urchin stood trembling with fear as the Princes and the Brahmin glowered at him. Bhima had a murderous look in his eyes and was still smarting from the humiliating fall he had taken. As the wind had turned, Suyodhana and his siblings could clearly hear the conversation. Bhima moved towards the urchin, but the Brahmin immediately said, “Do not touch him and pollute yourself”.

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