Draupadi was an Indian princess born out of fire to King Drupada of Panchala. Arjuna, the third Pandava, won the challenge put forth by Drupada for the princess’ swayamwara, thus winning Draupadi’s hand in marriage. When the Panadavas reached home with Draupadi, their mother Kunti, as was her habit, asked the brothers to share whatever they had “won” and thus Draupadi became the wife to five brothers.
High stakes alludes to the game of dice played between the oldest Kaurava and Pandava princes: Duryodhana and Yudhishthira.The Pandava prince continued playing, in spite of losing his palace and wealth. His pride did not allow him to accept defeat. Finally, when there was nothing else to lose, he wagered his wife Draupadi and lost her too. Duryodhana attempted to disrobe Draupadi in front of the entire court while her husbands watched helplessly. Draupadi vowed to avenge this humiliation and not tie her hair until she bathed it in the Kaurava prince’s blood.
In 2014, around a 100 women celebrities ranging from A-listers to D-listers had their nude images exposed on the Internet by hackers who broke into iCloud’s then flawed system by “brute force” attack. The most shocking part of this scandal was the number of people who chose to blame the celebrities for taking naked pictures rather than the hackers who invaded their privacy. This modern day scenario that plagued the western world is in many ways similar to the disrobing of the mythical Indian princess Draupadi. The following fictional story is set in America in 2015/2016 and tells the story of Drew Rudi. Drew parallels Draupadi and AJ and Ray parallel Arjuna and Yudhishthira respectively.
“Draupadi’s eyes flashed fire. ‘I shall never forgive the Kauravas for doing what they have done to me. I shall not tie my hair until I wash it in Dusshasana’s blood’”
- Devdutt Pattanaik
28th December, 2015
“Drew Rudi’s name is added to the ever growing list of celebrities whose nudes have been leaked. With over 500 reposts, Rudi’s seems to be the most popular right now. Whether this is due to her position as the CEO of her new company or the appeal of her figure draped over lavish furniture, find out today at - “
AJ slammed the TV shut.
“I can’t believe this. The nonsense that the media is spewing these days. How about reporting the mass shootings in the country instead?”, shouted AJ. It had been only two days since the incident and the media was abuzz.
“It’ll die down in a week or two”, sighed Ray from the couch, “Anyways, it’s not like we can do anything.”
“But who could have done this”, responded Drew, “More importantly, how did they get hold of it in the first place? Only two people have ever seen my nudes and well, those two are right here. None of you would do it…”
“I’m ashamed you’d even think that, Drew.Let’s make up for it, date night tonight?.”
“We’ll go to the fancy place down the street,” Ray agreed, “I’ll pay.”
AJ and Drew nodded their heads in agreement.
“Well, I’m off to work now “ , she said kissing Ray and AJ goodbye, “You two should get going as well. We’ll meet at 9?”
“Yeah, perfect.”, they responded in unison.
Drew had started her own designer label - Illusions- a few months ago. Followed by the big launch the label had caught the eyes of several haute couture stores and individual buyers. Her designs were inspired by cultures from all over the world.
She had met AJ and Ray soon after college. The three were young and carefree - experimenting with life. A three-way relationship seemed good at the time. Down the years AJ and Ray discovered that they were not interested in each other and decided to “share” Drew.It was an open relationship with the men having other partners on the side. Drew had too much on her plate to think about the injustice of the deal. Moreover, she loved them and wanted them happy. They had fun when they were together and she did not allow her mind to think of the times when they were not. So far, it had worked perfectly.
AJ was a celebrated actor and Ray was an artist. They were both intelligent, handsome and supportive of her. When they shied away from meddling in the case of the leaked nudes, Drew was not just surprised - she was hurt. The three of them were like a family; they had always had each others backs. It wasn’t as if Drew was asking them to give up their lives for the search; she just needed their help in finding the culprit. Unless one of them had something to do with it.
“May I take your coat, Ma’am?”
Drew shrugged off her blazer and handed it to the man. Giving him a tight smile she walked to the table where Ray sat drinking.
“How was your day, love?”, Drew asked, wondering how to confront him.
“I have something to confess. I’ll just wait till AJ gets - ah, speak of the devil.”
Drew sighed and tried to curb her growing anticipation.
“Last week, I was down at the bar and it was late and I’d had one too many - it all sounds so stupid now. I was playing poker with the guys when this new dude walked in. Name was King or something. Said he’d bet his bank account that no one in the whole bar could beat him. Well, I couldn’t very well let that be, now could I - “
“Of course, you couldn’t”, sighed AJ, “And he wanted Drew’s pictures in case you lost?”
“He had the audacity to challenge me, the greatest player. The one who never loses. ”
“And you had the audacity to agree to his terms!”, cried Drew pushing her chair back, “Did you not think, for even a second, that if this King was willing to wager his bank account, he might have not been bluffing?”
“No, yes, I don’t know, Drew. I was drunk, I wasn’t thinking, I was confident that it wouldn’t happen. I could not say no to the challenge and - “
“Well of course you couldn’t say no to the challenge.But who gave you the permission to wager me, my self respect? You don't own me, I am not your bloody bankaccount.”
With that, Drew grabbed her blazer and walked out of the restaurant into the December chill. She could feel indignant tears pricking her eyes. It dawned on her that the fight for this injustice was hers alone. She had to find King and bring him down. While she felt bare without the support of her lovers, it strengthened her will to win this battle.
Two nights later, Drew was furiously typing away at her computer trying to find “King”. She had looked all over the Internet, asked all of her sources and had even contacted Ray to find out whether the man had provided a first name. It was only when she was flipping through the invitees list of Illusion’s New Year’s Eve party did she finally come across the name again : Dave King, founder of Raves, a rival designing label. Some litigation suit had thrown the company off market for some time which was why Drew hadn’t formed the connection. Her eyes gleamed as a plan formed in her head. She dialled up her press contacts inviting them to the New Year’s bash with the promise of a never-before exposé.
The party at the Ritz Carlton was on a full swing. Drew scanned the room for Dave King and found him at the bar talking to a man in a gold suit. She straightened her dress and walked over with victory on her mind.
“Mr King, a word.”
“Drew Rudi”, King smirked looking Drew up and down,“Last I saw you, you were wearing less.” The man beside Mr King laughed nervously and excused himself.
“What gave you the right?”, Drew exclaimed in feigned anger provoking him to say more. “What did you even get out of it? How could you, a person with a mother, a sister, a wife even think of committing such a horrendous act?”
“Hold up, hold up, what am I being accused of?”
“You know what I’m accusing you of! For spreading my private pictures online.
“Your private pictures? Well if they were “private”, your boyfriend shouldn’t have shared them with me! Once he gave them to me, I could do whatever I wanted with it. That is, after all, my right.” smiled King maliciously.
“You tricked him into sharing those pictures - “
“Tricked him? I won those pictures fairly. He shouldn’t have challenged me and taken the risk”, King responded smugly, “And well, if all I hear is correct, you already have two boyfriends seeing you naked, what’s a few more people, eh? The more the merrier, right?”
The press, meanwhile, was feasting on this exchange rather than the delicious spread.
“I’m going to destroy you, King,the same way you got me. I won’t rest till your company is ruined. Did you think leaking my nudes would give you leverage on 2016’s market? Think again”, Drew spun around and pointed to a petite woman who stood self-consciously at the podium.
“I’m Jennifer, Dave King’s former secretary at Raves. Last year I filed a sexual harassment case against my boss but his power and wealth were worth more than my pleas for justice. The company and this monster suffered minimal losses while I have lost all my credibility. So when Drew approached me and offered me the chance to tell my story in front of the press, I jumped at the opportunity. Nothing would make me happier than to see the monster pay for his crimes.”
Cameras flashed and journalists typed away on their pads ready with headlines for the new year. The blood drained from Dave King’s face as he found no suitable escape from the fate that awaited him. Drew thanked Jennifer for agreeing to be present on such short notice and encouraged her to press fresh charges against King, assuring her of all support.
1st March, 2016
“Raves shuts down as King found guilty of sexual harassment charges on more than one account. His downfall began with him being revealed as the man behind Rudi’s’ leaked nudes and- “
Drew switched off the television and sipped her coffee with a smile.