It seems I am unable to leave the story of Kunti! The powerful bond between a mother and child is self-evident and speaking about it is treated as a cliche, but it is never so for the person who is experiencing it. As I thought about the obvious lack of bonding between Karna and Kunti when they met, I saw this posted on FB by friend Raji K: 'my longing for a mother within me made me see the goddess.....' . Obviously the need for a mother is very strong!
In fact, Karna had wonderful foster parents and his problems began only because he was very different from them, his appearance, needs and ambitions! His desire to know his real parents must have been strong. But by the time he got to know it was too late! Actually being told of his origin by Krishna was not for his benefit!
I go back to the story to give you a glimpse of how author Kamala, a woman, viewed it. As soon as Kunti concludes that the greatest threat for pandavas is from Karna, she walks to meet Karna. She hopes to win him over to the side of Yudhisthira. 'I will tell him he is the brother of pandavas. I will ask for a boon. I am his mother! He is a noble man and will not refuse his mother.'
She sees Karna arms uplifted, eyes closed, his face towards the sun. She stands behind him and as the rays were too sharp, she takes shelter under his upper cloth and waits. In time, Karna turns round and is surprised to see a woman taking shelter behind him. She appears wilted like a wreath of lotus blossoms. He makes her sit down, introduces himself as Radheya and asks her with a lot of concern, 'You seem to be unused to hardships. I usually grant boons at this time of the day. Let me know what I should do?'
Kunti looks at him again and again. Her eyes are full of tears and the tears soak her clothes. Karna waits for her patiently to speak. Finally she speaks, 'You may or may not know me. I have come to ask for a boon!' Karna looks at her for a long moment, 'I do not know you, but I feel as though I have known you all my life.' Then suddenly he shouts, 'I know you. You are the woman in my dreams!'
Karna then tells her the story of his life, that his real mother abandoned him at birth and all about his dream. "It was always the same dream. She would bend over me, hot tears from her eyes would burn me. I would ask, who are you and why are you crying? She would reply, 'I cry because of the injustice I have done to you. I long for you but you can never be mine!'......... As I reached for her and tried to raise her veil, she would vanish like a startled ghost. As years passed, the dream would haunt me only once in a while and gradually the dream stopped. I think she had other children and did not think of me! You look very much like the dream mother of mine. Who are you and what do you want?"
Kunti after a long pause, 'Yes you are right, I am your dream woman, your mother'. They look at each other and in a moment they are in each others arms. Kunti's tears drench Radheya. Radheya then looks at her and tells her, 'If you only knew how much I longed for this moment! Mother why did you stay away from me so long! Yes mother, I know who I am. I know I was born to you and the sun. I know you were afraid to keep me and threw me into the river.'
Kunti is amazed, 'I did not dream that you knew. When did you know and knowing this why did you not come to me? Why did you wait for me to come to you?' Radheya looks at her intently and tells her that he leant of this only the day before from Krishna. Karna does not want to talk anymore. 'I just wants to keep my head on your lap and be silent.' He places his head on her lap and closes his eyes. She had found her long-lost son and he had found his mother. It was a sacred moment. For those moments they were happy!