The Oasis- Part 3- “The journey”

As the king was speaking, the attention of queen Sulochana suddenly drifted away far in the endless horizon where the setting sun looked so beautiful that it almost captivated the thought process of the queen. She could not stop herself from asking the king whether they could be carried deep into the desert for few more kilometres as if her small inner child had woken up, who innocently wanted to chase the sun and needless to say the king could not deny.

They delved deeper and deeper into the desert and the frequent whiffs of the petrichor of the raindrops falling on the dry sand felt nothing but sheer bliss, as it started drizzling. It seemed as if the Lord Shakra contributed in making their experience a memorable one by letting the clouds dispense their drops at the right time and the melancholy song of the palanquin bearers were flowing like a breeze.

Suddenly the palanquin stopped. The chief palanquin bearer asked them, “O my lord! Would you like to take a small break here? There is an oasis on the way.” Sulochana chuckled, “O Rajan! I feel that God wants to fulfil all my wishes today. How I wanted to see an oasis in my life as I have never seen one! Could we spend some time here?” Getting the affirmation of the king, the palanquin was brought down and there came out the beautiful couple. The sight was breathtaking. It was a small hamlet built around the beautiful oasis. In the centre was a small but abundant pond, which was surrounded by coconut trees. Away from the hustle- bustle and chaos of their overtly luxurious and imperial life, this oasis proved to be the oasis of their lives.

Along the pond, there were small Ghettos where lived some tribal Gypsies who were selling handmade silver jewellery, handmade puppets and other stuff. As they say, that you get attracted to what you don’t have, this opulent queen who had the finest jewels, her treasure chests stuffed with rarest of diamonds in her closet could not stop herself by getting lured to such ordinary silver jewellery studded with cheap turquoise and she visited all the small kiosks throwing a glance on the simple but beautiful designs made by the dexterous craftsmen. Harshvardhan was happy to see his beautiful wife happy and was admiringly gazing at the simplicity of the queen. In his mind, he was thinking that how lucky he was to have such a wife, as beautiful as a mermaid, yet so humble and pious who had such a keen eye to be able to appreciate little joys of life and find beauty in such petty things.

Somebody’s moaning suddenly disturbed his constant gaze. He followed these moans and in a small corner his eyes fell upon a handicapped beggar who was lying on the ground near the heap of garbage. He was deeply perturbed by the pitiable condition of this crippled beggar who had no limbs and looked more of a wooden log than a human being.

His clothes were completely tattered. As he could not walk or even sit, he lay on the ground trying to crawl towards the heap of half- eaten groundnuts lying on the floor, trying to pick up the ones which seemed to still have some groundnuts which could have been dropped accidentally by the passersby. He would pick one of those with his lips; crack it open with his teeth. He would rejoice with each of such victory of finding an uneaten grain in one of them, which even a king could not feel having won a battle and then he would get busy finding another one. The king Harshvardhan was deeply saddened by this disturbing sight. As if the castle of his pride had come down crumbling into pieces, he could have never imagined that a citizen of his kingdom could be in such a pathetic state. He was filled with remorse, feeling weak and uneasy.

Meanwhile, Sulochana had finished buying the jewellery and started looking for the king here and there. She saw Harshvardhan squatting on the ground and talking to somebody. She walked towards him and as she saw the physically challenged beggar, she could not stop her eyes from getting moist. She said to Harshvardhan, “O the merciful king! How can we help him?”

The king got up, called his aide and asked him to offer some gold coins from the royal treasure to this beggar. He immediately obeyed and pulled out and offered few gold coins to the beggar. To their utter surprise he would not accept them, instead he rejected them angrily. The king and queen were taken aback by his unexpected response, as this amount would be enough to make his both ends meet for years to come. It was actually an unprecedented experience for them to see such a needy man rejecting such a valuable gift.

The queen whispered in the ears of the king, “I think he is a man of high pride and he is feeling disgraced with this monetary help. Let us offer him some food!” The aide was sent to buy some fruits and other eatables but they were totally taken aback when he not only rejected this too but also angrily kicked the eatables aside and asked them to go away from there with his gestures furiously. Seeing his disgraceful and arrogant behaviour the king got enraged and he immediately ordered his aides to capture him and yelled angrily, “Let this beggar be put behind the bar immediately not because he has disgraced the king but because he doesn’t know humility and appreciation for other’s kindness.” His men immediately abided and aimed their spears at the beggar.

Before Harshvardhan could speak further he was intervened by Sulochana who stood in front of him joining her hands. She said, “O the Merciful King! Could we just have a word with each other before anything is done?” The king replied, “Sulochana! I request you to stay away from these matters. As a king I have to take some stern measures to maintain the discipline in my subjects.” The king was still furious and breathing heavily as his pride was attacked upon but still he submitted to the queen’s request. Sulochana replied, “As taught to us by our mentor do you remember the Ten Worlds he had talked about. You are currently in the world of anger hence you may cease to pay heed to my advice. With my folded hands dear Rajan! I request you to close your eyes and start chanting the Lotus Sutra till you come out of the world of anger.” The King immediately abided and started chanting. His facial muscles relaxed, his breath became normal and the queen could clearly see peace and smile spreading on his face. Harshvardhan opened his eyes and said, “Thank you Sulochana! Now I am feeling better”. Sulochana replied, “O king! Anger is like a blindfold, which despairs our vision. I, being your better half, took vows around the sacred fire that I will never hesitate in helping you see the right path, so I humbly request you to have a dialogue with me in person.”

The Oasis- A short story- Part 1- “The rendezvous”

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