The Villain .

A long time ago, there was a kingdom in the western province of ancient India, in current day Afghanistan. It was ruled by king Subal who had four sons and a daughter, all of whom were well versed in statecraft and were great warriors. The cleverest among them was the youngest Brother called Saubala. However, the most cherished one among the siblings was the princess, Saubali who was equally clever and beautiful. On the eastern front of their kingdom was the Kingdom of Bharat; far larger and much more powerful but the two kingdoms were able to maintain friendly relations for centuries.

The kingdom of India had two princes, brothers equally qualified to be the next king. Though as fate would have it, the elder brother was blind by birth; and thus it was a popular belief that his younger brother would be named king. The blind prince was called Dhrit. Their mother, the queen, was worried about her son Dhrit's marriage, for he was blind. One day one of her emissaries told her about this beautiful princess in a small western province. Saubali. The queen immediately called upon her father in law, Gauranga, their chief strategist who was widely believed to be the greatest warrior who ever lived. It won't be far-fetched to say that he solely lived for the wellbeing of his kingdom and had sworn to defend it's honour, no matter what (And boy did the 'no matter what' part haunted him).
"Father," she said, excited. "I have good news. I just learned about a princess who would be a good wife for my son Dhrit. I want you to immediately depart and propose a marriage to her father, King Subala."
"That's good news indeed," replied Gauranga. "Any girl married to our family should consider herself lucky. Dhrit is a fine prince no matter what others say," he added. And so he set out to meet king Subala.

When king Subala heard the news of Gauranga's arrival, he became worried. "What would have prompted Gauranga to travel all this way to my kingdom," he thought. Worried about this surprise visit, he still warmly welcomed Gauranga to his court.
"Hey Gauranga! It is our great pleasure to welcome you to our small kingdom," he said, hiding his anxiety. "Tell us, how can we be of service to you".
"King Subala!" replied Gauranga. "It would seem that fate has smiled upon you and your little kingdom. I come with a marriage proposal between my great grandson and your daughter Saubali," Gauranga said.
King Subala was delighted on hearing this. His daughter was to wed the younger prince, soon to be King of whole of Bharat. But of course, his happiness was short lived.
"It is definitely our good fortune that you have considered us for this marriage.", Subala replied, excited.
"But there is something I want to ask you," he said. "Isn't it customary to marry the elder brother first; Even though he is blind?" he asked, carefully choosing his last words so as to not offend his visitor.
"You misunderstand me King Subala," replied Gauranga, his expression now turned serious. "The proposal is for my elder grandson Dhrit".
Silence took over the entire courtroom. King Subala was speechless. Never for a moment did he thought that someone would propose a marriage of a blind man with his beautiful daughter. It was preposterous for someone to propose something like that. However, he could not refuse right away and risk his kingdom to the wrath of Gauranga and so he requested some time to think over it.

The news of the proposal struck like lightning. Years ago, when another kingdom had refused a marriage proposal from Bharat, Gauranga single handedly destroyed that kingdom in response and kidnapped their princesses. This wasn't a proposal, this was an ultimatum. So King Subala, with a heavy heart, decided to marry his daughter to the blind prince Dhrit. Princess Saubali accepted her father's wishes and accepted her fate for the sake of her kingdom. However, the youngest brother, Saubala, was furious. He loved his sister and couldn't come to accept the fact that she was sacrificing herself for their kingdom. He was furious on Gauranga who would deem a blind man worthy of her sister and was ruining her life.

Time passed and Saubali was married to Dhrit. One day Saubali mentioned to her husband about she being a manglik; which meant her first husband was destined to die an early death. To counter this, her family got her married to a tree and then had it cut down, killing it and thus ending the curse with the tree, technically her first husband; a common practice of the era. When Gauranga heard about this, he became furious that Dhrit was her second husband; underming the fact that her first husband was a namesake tree. He decided to punish Subal and his family for hiding this from him and jailed all the family members of Saubali, except her. Traditions dictated that you can't kill your in-laws and cannot keep them hungry, so Gauranga came up with a twisted way to kill them. He only allowed a tiny ration of food to each prisoner per day, an amount so small that it could not sustain a person for long; thus not denying them food or killing them right away. He was assured that they would eventually die a natural death with so little food.

King Subala and his family could see that their end was approaching. They wanted revenge for the atrocities done to them by the kingdom of Bharat. But there was nothing they could do, nothing against the most powerful kingdom, protected by the most powerful warrior, and from the confinements of a jail cell. In this desperate situation, they came up with an even more twisted plan. They decided that they would all go hungry and instead offer their share of the food to their youngest, Saubala, the cleverest among them, so he may survive and one day take revenge for the injustice done to their family. To make sure that Saubala remembers their sacrifice, they twisted his ankle, impairing him permanently. For now each step he would take, the pain would remind him of his goal. In the days that followed, King Subala taught his son Saubala the game of dice. He instructed his son to take his bones after his death and carve them into dices. "Those dices would never fail you son, for my spirit would live in it," he said.

Days later, when Gauranga found that only one sibling was alive he decided to set him free, his thirst for punishment now quenched. And thus a villain was born and Saubala would later be known throughout the whole world with another name; Shakuni. He became the main antagonist and mastermind for inciting the war of Mahabharat which caused the downfall of Gaurang's kingdom, Hastinapur. The dices were elemental in the infamous game which riled up Pandavas for revenge. Gauranga was more commonly known with another name as well; Bhishma. Dhrit was Dhritrashtra, and Saubali was Gandhari. I intentionally didn't used anyone's commonly known names earlier, since we always associate prejudices with names. Prejudices like if it's Bhishma, he would be the personification of good, and if it's Shakuni, well he's a villain. But, everyone is a villain in someone's story, isn't it; depends on whose are you listening to. This was Shakuni's. Let's see if you will still view Shakuni, slouching on one leg, as a villain next time you watch Mahabharat.

The End.