Revisiting Padmavati, One Last Time

PSri's Book Blog

(Readers of my blog who aren’t interested in Indian cinema, history and folklore may safely ignore this post and avoid bemusement)

In the legend of Padmavati (to resurrect a dying controversy but move beyond the controversial dream sequence), her husband Ratansen is captured by Allauddin Khilji, who demands Padmavati as ransom for releasing the king. Instead of Padmavati, some brave Rajput soldiers led by the heroes Gora and Badal dress up as Padmavati and her maidens, and are carried into the Khilji camp in veiled palanquins. Once inside, they take the guards by surprise, rescue Ratansen and flee the camp, though a few of them die in the attempt. It’s a very unique story, you’d think, until you hear another story that is startlingly similar, one that supposedly took place 920 years earlier, a story we know purely as legend. It makes you wonder about repeating themes in legend and…

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No One Is Alone With A Friend Like…Another Akbar-Birbal Episode


Emperor Akbar was known to come up with whimsical questions that he would expect to be satisfactorily answered. This time he put this question to his court and asked Birbal to conduct the proceedings and find an answer:

‘Who is a man’s best friend?’

After a long silence and much encouragement from Birbal to speak up, a voice from the assembly set the ball rolling:

‘Well, I would say ‘Money’. If you’ve money, you’ll live comfortably.’

‘Is that money never leaves you or you never?’ Birbal posed.

‘Surely you have it to spend and if you spend, it goes.’


A young man ventured next: ‘It’s my horse. It’s always with me. I take care of her and she takes me everywhere.’

‘If you come across a river too deep for the horse and you need to get to the other side?’

‘Simple. I’ll get off my horse, secure it to a tree, dive into the waters and swim across.’

‘There you’re.’

This time it was a man of action: ‘To me, my sword is my best friend.’

‘Well, what do you do with the sword in times of peace as it mostly prevails in our Emperor’s reign? Of course, you could cut fruits. And still no help in getting to eat them – a spoon does better.’

A round of muted laughter.

Then a man of god got up, puffed out his chest as he claimed: ‘My faith is my ever-abiding friend.’

Everyone was keenly looking at Birbal to see his response.

Birbal grabbed a walking stick from an old man as he slowly walked up to the man of god.

In a not-so-sudden flourish he swung the stick bringing it down on the man’s head.

There was enough time for the man to break the blow to his head with two hands. No harm done.


Birbal returned to his seat and with an exaggerated bow towards the man said: ’Thanks you, Sir. You alone got it right. Your friend truly stood by you in the face of danger. I apologize for the little bit of drama.’

The man of faith regained his composure once again puffing out his chest feeling vindicated.

Birbal summed up for the expectant court and a more-than-keen Emperor:

‘What stays with a man through all times, protects him from many a danger, helps him earn a living and eat his roti (bread), would you all agree that would be man’s best friend?’

The court saw no reason to disagree and chorused a loud ‘Yes’. Many already had their answer.

‘Of course it would be his hands!’

There was a flutter in the court ending in most nods than nays.

Needless to add the Emperor was mighty pleased with Birbal’s verdict.


Pls see here for an earlier Akbar-Birbal episode:
Credit: for the image

An Akbar-Birbal Episode Never Told Before!


Emperor Akbar was known to come up with whimsical posers for his court to find answers.

So it was this time too and his question was: ‘What is the most ‘beautiful’ sound?’ ‘Beautiful ‘ meant a sound that one has heard and would like to hear over and over again.

On the appointed day, the court assembled to discuss the Emperor’s question and seek the best answers. Besides the members of the court, the common folks too turned up in good number to watch the proceedings.

Once the question was announced, the responses came in fast and thick:

‘A mountain brook in frolicking flow.’

‘The call of a koel in thick of a mango orchard.’

‘The happy gurgle of a baby on sighting the mother after her absence.’

‘The jingle of gold pieces (currency).’

‘The early morning call of the temple bells.’

‘The tinkle of the anklets of a bashful bride withdrawing behind silk curtains.’

’The prattle of the Emperor’s grandson.’

The suggestions were wild, poetic, philosophical, romantic, humorous, fawning and some bordering on the ridiculous.

However the Emperor did not appear to be happy with what was coming to him.

One of the courtiers observed impatience writ the Emperor’s face and made an appeal: ‘My lord, we see you’re not pleased. May I make a submission?’

‘Go ahead.’

‘Your Highness, we observe Birbal hasn’t spoken a word. Perhaps he could address the question?’

The courtiers were jealous of Birbal’s standing in the court. They did not miss an opportunity to show him in poor light and cause him discomfort.

Akbar turned to Birbal: ‘Yes, I do see you unusually silent today. Would you know what is the most beautiful sound?’

Birbal was cautious: ‘Jahampana, clearly you’ve something more in mind than what you’ve heard here today. I request for some time to find and present it before you.’

‘Birbal, you’ve seven days and we meet again.’


In the following days, Birbal was seen to be busy more than ever. He scoured the city, met people at their houses, visited temples, gardens, palaces and markets and went to all places where people gathered.

When the court assembled again, it was a much harried looking Birbal taking his seat.

Akbar: ‘Birbal, we’re ready for you. And, hope you’ve not returned empty-handed.’

Birbal: ‘I seek your permission to present it before you, my lord.’

Akbar nodded his assent.

Birbal took a bow and turned to the footmen standing at a distance.

On cue, they marched a diffident looking young man right up to the front. Birbal held him by his shoulders seemingly to assure him everything was okay and the man had nothing to fear.

On seeing this piece of drama, a frown appeared on Akbar’s face: ‘My dear Birbal, we are here to hear your response to the question we had posed and you bring a man here

The courtiers perked up to see Akbar pulling up Birbal.

Jahampana, this man here lives in our city at the outskirts and is a carpenter by profession.’

The entire assembly went silent for a few moments feeling quite unsure of what would happen next.

The deep voice of Akbar broke the silence: ’We hope you’re not going to trivialize the subject or be flippant about it.’

‘No, I would never be emboldened to do so, my lord. I assure you this man knows what is the most beautiful sound. And if you kindly permit him to tell us

Barely concealing his impatience and fixing both of them in his stern glare, Akbar allowed him to proceed.

Thereupon Birbal in a slow soothing voice posed the question to the young man.

The young man bowed before the court, paused nervously for a moment and said:‘Sirs, the most beautiful sound I regard is my mother’s snore.’

The entire court was aghast at what they had heard. Birbal must have surely gone out of his mind to produce this man before the Emperor. The courtiers were secretly overjoyed to be a witness to Birbal’s certain fall from favor.

Akbar was visibly annoyed at Birbal: ’If this is some kind of a joke, Birbal, you know we’re not amused.’

Birbal in an assuaging tone: ‘My lord, please bear with me for a minute.’

Turning to the young man Birbal asked him to explain his strange response.

The young man said: ‘Sirs, my father passed away a few years ago. There are only two of us now – my mother and I. Unfortunately for several months now my mother contracted some unknown ailment that no vaidya is able to cure. I’ve called any number of them home to treat her, but to no avail. She has this intense pain in her stomach that does not let her do any work in her waking hours nor does it let her catch a wink of sleep. I’m unable to provide any palliative care besides helplessly watching her suffer. Occasionally out of sheer exhaustion she falls into sleep. And those are the moments I thank the almighty for and her snore at this time is the most beautiful sound to my ears.’

For a perceptibly long time the Emperor could not find his voice, nor the court.


About Akbar and Birbal

Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar also known as Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam or Akbar the Great (1542 – 1605), was the third Mughal Emperor. He was of Timurid descent; the son of Emperor Humayun, and the grandson of the Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Muhammad Babur, the ruler who founded the Mughal dynasty in India. At the end of his reign in 1605 the Mughal Empire covered most of northern and central India. He is most appreciated for having a liberal outlook on all faiths and beliefs and during his era, culture and art reached a zenith as compared to his predecessors (Wikipedia).

Picture: Akbar receives an official sent by Queen Elizabeth

Raja Birbal (1526 – 1586) was the Wazīr-e Azam or Grand Vizier or the adviser of the Mughal court in the administration of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was one of his most trusted members along with being a part of Akbar’s inner council and most valued of nine advisors, known as the navaratna (Sanskrit: meaning nine jewels). Birbal’s duties in Akbar’s court were mostly military and administrative, but he was also a very close friend of the Emperor, who appreciated Birbal for his wit and wisdom, often involving humorous exchanges. These stories have become part of a rich tradition of folklore and legend. ,It also lead to the jealousy of other courtiers., they often trying to put him down in Emperor’s eyes (Wikipedia).

Credit: for the image

Man’s Scheme Of Things

Here’s another one on ‘Garden’ – four over hundred words.

‘Look at the chinar-lined vistas, blooming flower-beds, shallow terraces, smooth sheets of falling water, and wide canals studded with the stepping stones. Beautiful! Breath-taking! If only man had created this world…’

‘Well, our four-legged friends, also the finned and the winged ones, would be very nervous about it. They would want to be more than ending up as garden curios, gawked at in zoos, farmed for meat, or reared as house-pets, assuming they don’t figure in circuses or in labs anymore.’

‘Animal rights, eh?’

 The stray dog behind them morosely thought, ‘Forget it, he wouldn’t have another man around to share his world and women.


The Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar was built by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619, and later, extended on the order of Emperor Shah Jahan. ‘Shalimar’ meant ‘Abode of Love’ or ‘House of Joy’.

On sighting these Gardens, the Emperor was believed to have recalled Amir Khusrau’s farsi couplet:

‘Gar firdaus bar rue zameen ast / hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast’
If ever there is Paradise on Earth / It is here! It is here! It is here!

More at

The Untold Story About A Rearing Horse (contd.)

Part 2

The story begins here:

It was the year 1509 when the King Krishna Deva Raya was crowned – this is vouched by an inscription in the Pampapati temple at Hampi. He celebrated his accession by erecting the great tower at the entrance of the temple, and another large tower shortly afterwards.

Domingo Paes, the Portugese traveler, may have seen him in person; for in his account he describes the King at length: ‘The King was physically strong in his best days, and kept his strength up to the highest pitch by hard bodily exercise. He rose early, and developed all his muscles by the use of Indian clubs and the use of the sword; he was a fine rider, and was blessed with a noble presence which favourably impressed all who came in contact with him. He commanded his immense armies in person, was able, brave, and statesmanlike, and was a man of much gentleness and generosity of character. He was loved by all and respected by all. Gallant and perfect in all things.’ All southern India was under Krishna’s sway, and several quasi-independent chiefs were his vassals. These were, according to the Portuguese chronicler Fernao Nuniz, the chief of Seringapatam, and those of Bankapur, Garsopa, Calicut, Bhatkal, and Barkur.

At the beginning of Krishna’s reign, Almeida was the viceroy of the Portuguese settlements on the coast, but at the end of the year 1509 Albuquerque succeeded him as the governor. When he suffered a severe reverse at Calicut, Albuquerque dispatched a priest Fr. Luis as ambassador to Vijayanagar, asking Krishna to attack Calicut sultanate, promising himself to assault simultaneously by sea. The governor declared that he had orders from his master, the King of Portugal, to war against the Moors (Mohammedans), but not against the Hindus; he offered his fleet to assist the King of Vijayanagar in his conquest of the place; that as soon as Calicut was captured the Moors would be driven there from, and that afterwards the Portuguese would assist the King of Vijayanagar against his enemies, the Moors of the Dakhan (Deccan). He promised in future to supply Vijayanagar alone with Arab and Persian horses, and not to send any to Bijapur.

There is no record of the King’s response. The sultanate of Bijapur was then ruled by Ismail Adil Shah of Adil Shah dynasty.

Albuquerque next attacked Goa, then under the Adil Shah, and captured the place in March of 1510. Immediately afterwards he dispatched his emissary on a mission to Vijayanagar, renewing Almeida’s earlier request for a fort at Bhatkal for the protection of Portuguese trade. Krishna Deva Raya was courteous, but did not specifically grant the governor’s request; the reason, it was speculated, was that the King had then made peace with the Adil Shah, his arch enemy! Presumably this peace was made in order to enable the Adil Shah to retake Goa!! In fact the King in his congratulatory message to Albuquerque on their conquest of Goa, promised to help them against Adil Shah. But this aid, however, does not appear to have been given when the Mohammedan troops successfully attacked and regained Goa in May after a severe struggle.

Reminds you of the coalition politics of today?

In November of the same year, Adil Shah’s attention drawn away by internal dissension at Bijapur, Albuquerque attacked and retook the place in December.

So much action over Goa and the swing of fortunes within the first two years of Krishna Deva Raya ascending the throne!

Krishna Deva Raya was desperate for the imported horses, a key piece in his plans for the campaign against Adil Shah. In 1514 Krishna Deva offered Albuquerque 20,000 pound sterling for the exclusive right to trade in horses, but the Portuguese governor, with a keen eye to business, refused. A little later the King renewed his proposal, declaring his intention of making war against the Adil Shah; and Adil Shah, hearing of this message, himself sent an embassy to Goa. Albuquerque was now placed in a position of some political importance, and he wrote first to Vijayanagar saying that he would give the Raya the first right of refusal of all his horses if he would pay him 30,000 cruzados per annum for the supply, and send his own servants to Goa to fetch away the animals, and also that he would aid the King in his war if he was paid the expense of the troops.

The wily governor did not stop there. He called in Timoja, a Hindu who had befriended the Portuguese. Through him, he promised the Sultan of Bijapur also the first right of refusal of all horses that came to Goa if he would surrender to the King of Portugal certain parts of the mainland opposite the island. It was at this time Fr. Luis discovered Timoja was in secret liaison with Krishna Deva Raya for him to take Goa before the Portuguese could fortify their possessions therein; and he declared Timoja to be a traitor. A furious Albuquerque set an assassin on Timoja’s heels. The latter escaped from a botched-up attempt on his life and alerted Krishna Deva Raya to the Portuguese governor’s friendly overtures with Adil Shah behind his back. Though, soon afterwards Timoja succumbed to his injuries.

Krishna Deva Raya wished to honor Timoja suitably in public for his loyalty and courage. When he funded the work on Sesha Raya mandapam he had it done in stone to last until eternity. It is Timoja that you see here attacked by the assassin. Sir, look at the serene face of a dutiful Timoja and cowardice and deceit writ large on his assassin’s. Please notice how the dagger is awkwardly plunged into Timoja’s thighs, not killing him immediately.

It’s another matter that the governor Albuquerque died even before the matter could be resolved and…

At this point, a rude interruption – a voice from behind us – brought the story to a halt and us back to the terra firma.

End of Part 2

(To be contd.)

The Untold Story About A Rearing Horse

A marriage in the family and a land transaction took me to Chennai and then down south to Thirupparaithurai, my village near Trichy (contraction for Trichinapoly or Tiruchirapalli). And from the village, I went over to the temple town of Srirangam, abutting Trichy across the river Cauvery. Srirangam, an island caught between the rivers Cauvery and Coleroon, and its ancient temple of Ranganatha evoke feelings not easy to describe adequately, a challenge I plan to take up some day. But for now…

To the east and just outside the temple was my uncle’s house where I stayed – also my birth place, making it possible to make several rounds of the temple for darshan in a short time. There was no one to rush me as I moved from shrine to shrine inside the temple at my own pace, pausing to observe closely the sculptures and the paintings on the temple structures. The mobile camera was handy for capturing the objects of my new found interest. An obvious stop for sculptures was the Sesha Raya mandapam (open hall on stone pillars) known for its richly featured iconic ‘horses’.

It was three in the afternoon on a bright sunny day when I was gawking at these rearing horses. There was no living soul in sight, save an occasional devotee making his way to the shrine of Chakkarath Azhvaar also located in the same prakaram to the north.

I had not noticed him until he came up to me from nowhere as it seemed: ‘Sir, I see these catching your interest. It’s so unfortunate that very few pause to look at these and listen to what they’re telling us.’

Eyes alert and sincere, decently dressed, shirt-tail flowing freely outside of his pants, shod in chappals. He was probably in his early thirties, a couple of days worth stubble on his cheeks, carrying a sling bag on his shoulders.

‘A guide?’

‘No, no, Sir. Just a serious student of history looking at these legacies of the past and putting together their stories. ’

I was stuck for words at this sudden and unsolicited meeting.

‘Not to worry, Sir. I’m not commercial. There are no charges for my services. Err…it’s not services – I’m just glad I can share what I know with someone genuinely interested like you.’

I was left groping for an appropriate response.

Seeing no vigorous rejection, he considered it as my assent and took charge right away with practiced ease, starting off with some general details: The Sesha Raya mandapam had 104 pillars to count, standing on the inside and left of the Vellai Gopuram (the White Tower) as one enters from the east, located in the fifth of the seven nested prakarams (enclosures) called Swar Loka. On the right of the Gopuram was the thousand pillared mandapam. The Sesha Raya mandapam was possibly constructed by the Hoysala Kings around 1200 AD. It was embellished later thanks to the munificence of the Tuluva King Krishna Deva Raya.

He then took me to examine closely the panels sculpted on the bottom of the stone pillars of the mandapam. Lots of interesting religious and social motifs that I surely would have missed but for his drawing my attention and his explanation (possibly the subject of another post?). Finally we came to the amazing horses arrayed in a row, about fifteen feet high, all broadly similar, but each one different in details – no words would be adequate to describe their beauty and richness in details. Again he had so much to show and tell about them. He even knew them by their names, I suspected!

‘Come with me, Sir, to this one with the most interesting story behind it.’ I followed him like a lamb.

There it was – one of those rearing horses. One could see even at first glance something intriguing. Under the horse on one side was a figure standing up and sticking a short dagger treacherously from behind into the thighs of an unsuspecting sword-carrying victim, perhaps a soldier or a guard. The figure looked like that of a firangi (a foreigner) in features and wearing a tunic. Essentially, a foreigner unfairly getting better of a native, sculpted for public display! Looked a little bizarre, you’ll agree. Well, my appetite for the story was now whetted right and proper. And, of course, the master story-teller was ready for the occasion, further encouraged by the perplexed look on my face. As he unspooled the history, I was transported to a different age, a different world, of kings winning and losing battles, of forts besieged and seized, of ever-fluid military and trade alliances of convenience, of betrayal by the trusted and of succession intrigues. My felicity of expression is not good enough to communicate to you the entire canvas and the drama that he unfolded. Let me present a brief and linear narrative of the story including the high points – a story that I had never heard before in all of my history classes.

End of Part 1

(To be contd.)

A Nation Makes A Payment On Its Debt…

This poignant piece is brought to light by a blogger who dug deeper into a routine and perfectly non-newsy report and was rewarded richly. His account of the research reads like a thriller! Here’s a slightly edited extract from his post:

“… What set me off today was an email I came across recently that mentioned, in passing, a state visit to Myanmar by President APJ Abdul Kalam of India, between 8-10 March 2006…and there is no reason for believing the Myanmar visit particularly special.

Newspaper reports of the visit (I have spent serious time on the internet trying to ascertain the facts alleged in the email I received) all confirm that during his three-day visit, President Kalam visited Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, but do not provide a lot of detail about the sites he visited in these cities. I have been diligent in my quest, scanning reports filed at that time in the Xinhua News Agency, the Hindu Business Line, the Tribune, the International Herald, the Asian Tribune, the Hindustan Times, the New Light of Myanmar, the Indo-Burma News website, the Singapore government site, and numerous news analysis websites meant for scholars of defense, international trade and diplomatic matters. From all accounts, it was mind-numbingly mundane, and an easily forgotten event, causing no ripples to form even momentarily across the placid surface of human history.

The closest I got to any excitement surrounding the visit was when I read of a seminar organized in New Delhi a few weeks before it took place, in which Burmese exiles and Delhi intellectuals, indignant at the Myanmar junta’s human rights record, strongly urged the President to cancel the trip, but the somnolent public ignored the seminar, and the visit itself.

I finally managed to stumble upon part of what I was looking for, on the website of the Indian Embassy in Moscow, where, on the 7th of March, the then Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, had briefed the press on the upcoming state visit to Myanmar, mentioning areas of bilateral interest such as space, energy, shipping, rice and historical cultural links. The Secretary, while expanding on the last item, casually referred to the curious fact that the last Mughal Emperor had spent his final days of exile in Yangon, while the last Burmese king had coincidentally been exiled in Ratnagiri in India. While the story of the last Burmese king remains for me to discover at a later date, I was instantly reminded of the miserable life and wretched death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal to rule over Delhi (indeed, he ruled over little else), until the British bundled him off into exile in Burma because of his role in the general imbroglio that goes by the name of the Sepoy Mutiny in British circles and the First War of Indian Independence in Indian history books.

Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Mohammed Bahadur Shah Zafar had much in common with President Abdul Kalam, besides their Muslim faith. Abdul Kalam was brought up in Rameswaram, between the Shiva temple and a mosque; Bahadur Shah’s mother was a Hindu. Both were influenced by Sufism, and were outspoken religious moderates. Leadership came to both with much reluctance; both were heads of state in title only, nominated as uncontroversial compromise candidates by others more powerful than they; yet both were powerful inspirational symbols to the general public, and both were more at home with poetry than with statecraft.

But poetry is also a point of difference between the two men. President Kalam’s poems attempt to make up in effervescent optimism what they lack in literary merit, while a rich, dark bitterness colors Zafar’s poetry, but no reader is left in any doubt that he was a poet of the highest calibre. Kalam’s poems are infused with visions of a radiant future, while Zafar’s are haunted by the loss of a glorious past. Legend has it that he poured his broken heart into a poem after his sons were killed by the British, after he had lost his kingdom, after all shreds of imperial dignity and the illusion that he was a leader of his people had been stripped away mercilessly. Bewildered, devastated and all alone, the octogenarian wrote:

Na kisi ki ankh ka noor hoon.
Na kisi ke dil ka karaar hoon.
Jo kisi ke kam na aa sakey
Mein woh ek musht-e-gubaar hoon.

(I am the light of no-one’s eye
There is no heart that beats for me.
A wretched clod of dirt am I
Of use at all to nobody…)

Perhaps, by then, he had forgotten that he was just a symbol, and that the indignities heaped on him were symbolic of the treatment of a slave nation at the hands of the victorious colonial masters – perhaps, then, he needn’t have taken it so personally. His defeat and inadequacies were no different from those of the people he represented; the clod of dirt he called himself was the ancient soil of India. Or perhaps he was aware of this, and his anguish was that of the nation.

The Mughals had come to India as foreigners: Babur made no bones of his disgust for the hot, dusty plains of Hindustan, openly pining for the gardens and orchards of Samarkand and Farghana. But Time worked on his descendents for three whole centuries, wrapping them in the earth, sun and water of India, its saints, its opium, its music, its women, and its heaving, teeming hordes, and the last Mughal wept when forced to leave the country. Legend says that he wrote with all the despair of a leader who had failed his people; his people, who had marched cheerfully to their death in his name, with a blind faith in him of which he had always secretly known that he was not worthy. This secret knowledge was his shame, and he wept because it was a secret no more, and he knew (and accepted) the harsh verdict that history would deal him:

Pay-fateha koi aaye kyon
Koi char phool chadhaye kyon
Koi aake shamma jalaye kyon
Main woh bekasi ka mazaar hoon…

(I am the grave of that unfortunate
Where no one ever kneels to pray
No lamps are lit, and at my gate
No floral wreaths shall people lay)

The British did not kill Zafar; he was more dangerous to them as a martyr than as a confused and incompetent commoner, stripped of his grandeur. They killed the aura around the Mughal imperial throne, and allowed the occupant to wither away on his own. The nation watched briefly, then turned her eyes away – the man was no longer useful to her cause, and others waited in the wings. But it was martyrdom in a way, for it is a kind of death for a king to be robbed of subjects who believe in his kingship, and it was a glorious martyrdom at that, precisely because it was uncelebrated and unsung.

But then legend tells us things that history doesn’t, because history tries to convince us, while legend strives merely to move us. In that sense, legend is more powerful than history.

News reports only tell us, for instance, that on 8 March 2006, President Abdul Kalam visited the dargah of Bahadur Shah Zafar in Yangon, but they do not tell us what he did there, and history must remain silent on the subject. However legend feels no compulsion to stop there, and gallops on.

The email I received last week told me that President Kalam, poet, president and patriot, had spent an entire hour at the memorial of his predecessor as symbolic leader across centuries, that he wrote on the visitor book before he left, and that this is what he wrote:

‘I lit a lamp at your grave today. Today did I lay a wreath of fresh red roses against it. There I sat at the very foot of your grave, and I read the Fatiha. May your soul rest in peace.’

Signed, Avul Pakir Jainulabdin Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India.

Yes, legends are more powerful than history, and over time, legends can become accepted history. And I believe it is just, and correct, that this should happen. It is difficult for me to verify the words written by the President, in the visitor’s book: Yangon is a long way off. But I know that I would like to believe that the event took place exactly as narrated above.

And yes, it was an inconsequential event…But somewhere in this busy universe, I imagine fondly, there exists a giant register where these things are recorded and reconciled, and on that register, a nation’s debt had just been reduced by a tiny bit…”

Thanks to Sriram Padmanabhan, the perseverent author, for disinterring this poignant piece from the grave-yard of the past.

The original post is at: 06/14/symbolic-twins-or-the-belated-gratitude-of-a-nation/. Reproduced here with author’s kind permission, earlier posted at http://srikuranga.