Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Old Rajah

Old Rajah
Once upon a time (this means it isn’t true) there was a Rajah who wanted to live happily ever after. He had been ruler of his state for decades, but not continuously. Every few years a usurper would attack his kingdom, wrestle him off the gadi and send him into exile. Then, he girded his loins, gathered his army and marched back into the capital to reclaim his gadi, sending the usurper into exile. This happened quite frequently and confused his subjects who only wanted to get on with their lives without these constant wars for the gadi. However, they knew that whichever person sat on the gadi, their lives would not change. They would be thrown a few scraps (called sops) to keep them quiet, while the one on the gadi enjoyed life to the fullest, along with their many courtiers.
As it was the custom in those days, the Rajah had a few wives. No one knew how many exactly as this was a palace secret. Of course, the wives had children as wives are bound to do. So he had a few sons and daughters to look after, apart from the wives and his courtiers. But the Rajah was getting older and older, and he began to worry about how he was going to care for his progeny who were demanding that they too rule the state.
The Rajah loved power very much and was reluctant to share it with anyone, even his kids. When they grew more insistent, as they knew that one day the old Rajah could again lose the gadi, he agreed to divide up his kingdom. He appointed one son as the Prince Regent who sat on his right side wherever he went so that the citizens could see whom he favoured to take his place, should he die. He didn’t believe this would happen to him for, as he grew older, he felt stronger and stronger. To another son, he granted a portion of his kingdom far from the capital. The sons were half brothers and their mothers were very possessive and jealous ladies. Each one wanted their child to have the whole kingdom to himself instead of sharing.
The Rajah, being a wise man, knew half a kingdom was better than no kingdom at all. This made sure that the two sons had a goodly income to support them in the lifestyles they had grown accustomed to when their father was on the gadi. The Rajah also had a daughter whom he loved very much and seeing her half brothers getting halves of the kingdom, she wanted her share too. His favourite cousins also wanted a piece of the half. But there were no halves left to give them so the Rajah sent them all as his ambassador to the Maharajah’s court very far away in the hope they would be happy. And keep quiet.
In the Maharajah’s court there would be even more pomp, ceremony and riches for any ambassador. Having disposed of his quarrelsome progeny the Rajah thought he could now live a quiet and peaceful life on his gadi. So, for a while, the family was at peace too. The kids enjoyed their bounty to the fullest and so did their courtiers. The son who was Crown Prince went everywhere with his father in his chariot and the citizens saw how devoted he was to the old Rajah.
However, sons being sons and daughters being daughters the children were not happy with their presents. They were like any family’s typical kids. They were greedy and they wanted what the other one had. They began to quarrel among themselves first and then with the old Rajah, demanding he get rid of the other kids. And so the old Rajah’s peace and quiet was shattered and he couldn’t live happily ever after.

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