It’s The Princess’s Wish

Part 2

The saki’s (friends) engaged the Princess in hours of ‘Aadum Puliyum’ (Sheep and Tiger’, a game of checkers), hop-scotch, Dhayam (a game of dice) and Pallaankuzhi (played with small cowries). While at play, they freely discussed matters at home adding spice to the proceedings. The young Princess was an eager participant forgetting all about her own predicament. Presently she was curious on a point.

‘Kammu, you’re chirpy these days?’

‘Yes, Manda (they addressed the Princess by her name when they were alone), things are quiet at home finally.’

‘What happened? I remember you telling me some distant uncle of yours creating unending trouble demanding a share in your dad’s inheritance. And you did not want me to do anything about it.’

‘You know what? Events took a different turn altogether. The uncle’s wife negotiated her daughter’s marriage with my brother. The relationship fixed all our problems.’

The Princess’s face fell.

‘Oh, Manda, I’m sorry. It was stupid of me to have brought it up.’

‘No, Kammu, you didn’t. I asked.’

Little did the Princess know in a couple of days she would be profusely thankful to the tactless Kammu for bringing it up! But presently the conversation quickly dried up with the Princess lapsing into silence of rumination. By that time, darkness too had set in. One by one, all the girls took leave to go home.’

The Princess, left alone, stepped out into the upavan (garden) near her chamber for a stroll, looking absolutely forlorn. The days ahead appeared as bleak as the moonless sky above. There seemed no other way but to acquiesce. The Princess, rooted in rajas but leaning to a satvic disposition, as only to be expected, did not take to Ugrasena, again rooted in rajas strongly leaning to tamasic.

Before long she found herself jolted out of her despondency by the sudden arrival on the scene of Thaathi Ma, a kind old lady bent with age and her maid for the night; more than a maid, she was like a mother to the Princess – the latter had lost her natural mother when she was very young and the King had not remarried.

‘What, Thaathi Ma? You’re panting. Something wrong?’

‘No, child, I’m alright. There’s something else. ‘

‘What is it?’

‘Listen to this: Years ago, once a horde of barbarians armed to their teeth threatened to overrun this land, sweeping in from the north. Your great-grand-father performed the ‘Shatrunjaya Homam’ and averted an-almost-certain disaster through some kind of divine intervention. I had heard about all this from my grand-mother – remembered it only now.’

‘So, what are you suggesting? Should my father be performing that Homam?

‘No, Princess (the old lady would not call her by name). Those learned siddha-purusha Brihaspathi’s may not even be around anymore – I’ve no idea.’

‘So what’s the point?’

‘The point I’m making is we also need to pull off something similar.’

‘If there was anything to do, our venerable Raj Purohit would have already taken care of it.’

‘I mean no disrespect to him. But I learnt something today that you should hear about.’

‘I’m all ears, Thaathi Ma,’ her face, however, not showing excitement matching her words.

‘There is` an Amman Koil (temple to a goddess) on the near side of Shailaja (a river) close to Ven Parai (a large whitish rocky outcrop). The Priest is an old man deeply devoted to the Amman – I’m told Amman even speaks to him. People go to him with their problems. And he takes no favors in return. Let us go there and seek his help. Nothing to lose even if it doesn’t work out. What do you say?’

‘Yes, there’s nothing to lose,’ she muttered mechanically.

‘Well, then it is settled. Let me arrange for the royal carriage for tomorrow afternoon. You kindly inform your father.’

On the day before…

(To be contd.)


One Response to It’s The Princess’s Wish

  1. trisha says:

    splendidly written this far.


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