|(Photo credit: Raja Ravi Verma online art gallery)|
The Celestial Art Gallery—CAG to the celestials—sat on a flat crystalline platform in the busiest and most centralized sector of Devlok, Paradise City of the Higher Worlds. The multicolored building was circular in shape with a steeple top and had been fashioned entirely out of fist-sized meteorites, each and every one of them unique in material, color and texture. CAG attracted all manner of patrons that came from all over the divine realms to indulge in their sense of aesthetics, awaken their creativity or kill the infinite tedium brought on by eons of incessant bliss.
And sometimes just to kill, period.
Draupadi manifested inside the oval exhibition hall in a ferocious conflagration of perfume and smoke. Created from the embers of desire, birthed in the flames of revenge, Draupadi was a volatile, all-consuming and unforgiving soul.
“Child, what brings you here?” Saraswatidevi asked with a faint smile. The Goddess of Knowledge hadn’t guessed the precarious state of Draupadi’s emotions. Or maybe she had and was blithely ignoring the impending explosion.
“Why didn’t you forbid them, Ma Sara?” asked Draupadi, keeping a tight lid on her rage.
“Come. Come now. Don’t be angry.” Saraswatidevi carefully put down the eighteen by twenty-four foot oil painting that she had been in the process of hanging, singlehandedly. The gold-framed canvas showed a pretty beachside scene done in post-impressionist style.
Draupadi stared daggers at the busy-looking painting and eventually identified several of the swimsuit-clad figures. But she wasn’t here to admire the artwork, sublime as it was.
Saraswatidevi had summoned her sisters of the heart, noted Draupadi as Parvatidevi and Laxmidevi hurried into the hall via different archways. They discreetly ushered out the two hundred or so visitors that had stopped in their tracks at Draupadi’s dramatic entrance to first gape at her and then whisper about her. Lamentably, she and her offspring were supplying fresh fodder to the celestial gossip mills every day. Draupadi rubbed the spot on her forehead where a migraine would be brewing had she been on the Human Realm.
When the last gossipmonger floated out of the hall or vanished, the Mother Goddesses turned towards her. They were dressed traditionally, in sheer cholis worn under white silk saris and jewel-studded celestial ornaments made of undiluted gold. There was a party that evening at Lord Rudra’s palace that they were all expected to attend. Draupadi was similarly draped for the formal evening, though recently she’d started wearing 21st century clothes more and more. She loved the comfort and ease of movement pants afforded. She especially loved business suits. They made her feel both powerful and proper, somehow.
She looked beseechingly at the three Matriarchs and asked softly, “Can I never have something without paying a price for it?”
Parvatidevi’s smile gentled. “You know you can’t, my child. Every action you take reverberates through the Cosmos and shapes your fate, Panchali.”
(This is a deleted scene from Soul Warrior: The Age of Kali © Falguni Kothari)