J Is For Jarasandha

By Divya Victor

There once lived a great king whose twin wives could bear him no children. A wandering sage saw the king’s grief and offered him a magical mango. She who ate the mango would be with child. As he had two wives, the king cut the mango into two perfect halves and offered one half to each wife. After nine months, each wife gave birth to one lifeless half. Horrified, the king ordered these clots of flesh to be left in the forest. A wandering demon found the two lifeless halves and cupped one in each palm. When she brought them together, the two halves fused and a whole child was made in front of her eyes—the demon named the child Jarasandha.

Years passed by and this child grew to be an intimidating and invincible warrior. In a fight with Bhim, an equally invincible warrior, Jarasandha was ripped in half by his enemy. But, each time he was ripped apart, his halves found a way to meet up and become whole. Krishna, who witnessed how Jarasandha’s flesh found its own way back to flesh, motioned to his own cousin with his fingers: toss the halves of his body in opposite directions, he

So, when Bhim ripped Jarasandha apart once again, he swung his left half to the right side of the arena and his right half to the left. And his body found no way to return to itself.

In the Toronto airport, where I’ve arrived for a conference, I watch an older Punjabi lady—made to sit in a wheelchair behind two lines of customs officials, a security guard, a translator, and a service-staff member—scream that her son is outside the airport may she please just go tell him she is here she is here she is here please. I stand there holding her hand, my own luggage reluctantly traveling in loops on the belt. Beta—child— she says to me: please tell them my son is here and I am here what is the problem let me go let me go to him.

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