I opened the Kaavad and I....

it is a journey....

I  opened the kaavad and it was another world altogether. I saw a crumbling fortress. Why was I here? I saw a jackal peering from the edge of what could have been a significant watchtower.

 I stepped out and turned my head around. The blaze of sun glistened in reflection. It hurt my eyes. It was hot; the gush of hot wind blew across my face. Alas, what did I see?  A long, long surge of white, as far as my eyes could see. This land was silvery white, a long flatland, a desert, with spare SPOTINGS OF GREEN.  I walked close to a cactus, the only vegetation that grew. I bend and clutched a pinch of the soil, it was salt…. The desert reached the steps of a crumbling fortress. 

I walked in. I saw broken walls. It was like a wasteland, abandoned. There were no people, no noise except for a donkeys grazing. The jackal peeped, it sneaked away from intruders. The citadels were broken, the watchtowers torn down. The stones were strewn, burnt and cracked as though it borne the brunt of ramming armies and boulders of immense magnitude. The mess was everywhere.  As though signaling invitation, a strong breeze blew across the land and a creaky sound of a ruined door singing on rusty hinges , calling me in.

I waited, taking it all in and knew not what to do. What do I do? I was told to get the‘kalgi of yira’. As I turned back to leave, I heard a stringing of the sarangi. I followed the sound and entered a hut. I saw an old lady bedridden and at her foot saw a man, who was stringing a tune to help this dying woman.

I walked in and greeting 'zayada’ (meeting hello in Palvhi).

“I knew you would come’ she replied….

‘I would come’? I asked,

‘Well no’, she struggled to answer, pulling each word with a heave of air. ‘I waited for man who would come with a sword and speak the language of our forefathers, a language silent for years’

‘I die in peace’ she said, giving me a packet.  

What is this? I asked inquisitively, ‘What does this jewel mean?’

‘Son’, she said turning to the man, ‘sing the song I taught you, and sing it’

He began ‘Kusthatal was located on a hill, surrounded by bubbling streams, the trees grew tall, and the people were happy. The Kingdom was celebrating the anniversary of the King’s ascension’

The clear sky was a theatre of sounds and color.  The crackers lit and the firework burst like a deer into the sky.  It was a spectacle of brilliant purple, many many sparkles. The people milled, the heads beating each other, to get a better view.

The people of Kusthala were happy. The bards were singing into the night, the songs of the king’s humanity, kindness and victories.  The celebration would continue for seven days. The subjects acclaimed with loud joy “Long live the King! May his throne reign strong!”

On the Sixth day as the sun was setting. The fort was closing the doors. 

“Ahoy Ahoy, wait” a loud voice boomed. A caravan wanted to enter the city.

The king Vishwas stopped his strolling, over the eastern gate. He peered down. There was a commotion. The soldiers were shooing away the caravan. But the old man, ahead of the caravan, answered calmly. He waited and told the soldiers, the caravan needed rest. He had travelled a long distance to attend the celebrations. 

The king came down. The old man had a dignified bearing, walking like a prince. He had a strong body too.  But the King was struck by his eyes, they were rich with expression.

“Sire’, the king asked “from where do you come?”

‘Men forgive and live long’, the stranger replied.

The king was taken aback. ‘But who is he?’, the king thought; the stranger had used a customary greeting between visiting kings.

‘Come in Sire’, the king answered after a pause, ‘there is room at my home, the kingdom is open; be my guest sire, you and your caravan’.

The king summoned a courtier and ordered the Stranger be treated as a ‘King on a state visit’.

 The night continued with the singers and dancers swerving to the flute and Sarangi.  

The last day, was the day of the Public Durbar – the court was open to the public to get their audience with the King. It was an annual event. Mothers would tell their sons ‘listen and learn’ and courtiers from neighboring kingdoms would come to hear from the judgments of King, even to enact them in their own.

There was rush and noise at the periphery and people gave way to a shepherd, who dragged a bowman. He carried a dead goat and had another goat by a rope.  

The Shepherd cried before the King. ‘The bowmen’ he said, ‘killed a goat walking at the end of the herd’. ‘I told him’, he continued ‘to give me the price of restitution, to replace the dead with 3, but he kept he refusing’

I shot a stray My Lord’ wailed the bowman

‘No’, the Shepherd countered ‘your majesty he willfully and slyly waited for the heard to pass, and killed the last goat of the herd. He thought we would not notice and he would collect the hunt after the herd passed ahead’.

‘My Lord, he is lying, I’m innocent’ the bowmen cried.

The Shepher shot back, looking at the King Vishwas, ‘Sire, I’ve bought the lead goat, to testify. He is a witness. Ask him”

The whole court turned to the Goat, each wondering what the Goat would say.

‘Sire’, the Goat began

 “Render a decision and make known your counsel;

Make your Shadow like night at noon day,

 

The Shepherd is the laziest lead

Of all my master’s helpers

Our master is a tough man

To whom all numbers must muster

 

The Shepherd hid his face; he did not where to run

 

‘He left’, the Goat continued ‘all to our fate

For him to chase the maidens

He ignored those full with babes

Walked the herd in hectic pace

 

His flashed his stick to hit

For fun and every season,

The big and small got beaten

Kids too faced the harsh lessons

 

The court was silent and did not know what more was in store.  

 

‘my brother kimli was at the back,

To care for mothers and kids

The bowman lurked near the crevice

Peeping thence and swiftly

 

The herd a few steps apace

His bow leaped flashily

And shot at full view

Kamli died with a shriek

 

I pulled the Shepherd to the crime,

He sprung on the bowman,

Catching his collar and bow

I wept over kamli like a baby

 

On the way to the court

I heard the Shepherd, boast

One killed, one I lost

Three I’ll get and one to roast

 

The testimony of the goat sealed the fate that day.

 

King Vishwas, banished the Shepherd from the kingdom. To the bowman he ruled ‘pay three times in kind. You are to be placed on the frontlines of the Kingdom. You will shoot the enemies and not the innocent’.

 

As the goat was leaving the Durbar, the king asked the goat if he had anything else to say;

 

‘Yes sire’, the goat replied ‘please have mercy on the young. Allow the new born kids, to enjoy infancy with the mother’

 

‘Well said’ responded the King.

 

He continued “I decree today, all kid goats will enjoy their infancy and the kingdom will respect this birthright. What more, the palace shall forever abandon the making of Karghosh’ – a dish made of kid meat boiled in goat milk.

 

The people applauded and goat walked away feeling justice had been done.

 

That evening, after the people and dancers left and celebration turned silence of the twilight, the King recalled he had a guest, the elegant old man. ‘What had become of him?’ King Vishwas thought.

 

The king turned to the chambers, but the stranger was not to be seen. He summoned the courtier, ‘where is the Stranger?’

 

The courtier said ‘the guards told me, the caravan left for the South this afternoon after the Durbar Sire. Do you want send horsemen to call him back?”

 

‘No, let it be.’ Said King Vishwas wondering what it meant.

 

‘But Sire, he left behind a packet’.  The King opened the seal and saw a jewel. It was a kalgi, a turban jewel, worn only by Kings. But this was an Eagle feather kalgi, three metal strip shaped like eagle feathers, studded in black emerald on each  metal strip and anchored on a green ruby. Below the ruby there was a small plaque with words “A Noble heart makes Noble plans and by them, IT STANDS”.

 

‘An eagle feathered Kalgi!! Unique’ thought King Vishwas. The unfolded a paper and it read

 

My name is Yira, ( Meaning Fear of God)

It is the kings of the Land I court

 

A kingdom on justice stands,

A noble heart on noble plans,

The sigh of the poor and Wish of the meek

a King is wall against  hegemony

 

My name is yira

It is the kings of the Land I court

 

Oh! King , Yira is the key

For a noble heart to see,

The door ways to salvation and victory

Holding treasures of wisdom and all mystery

 

My name is yira

It is the kings of the Land I court

 

 I leave behind a kalgi

A crest on your turban to wear

All power to those who seek in humility

For them Yira is always THE KEY

 

King Vishwas sat down amazed. He pinned the jewel on the Turban and recited to himself

 

‘I leave behind a kalgi

A crest on your turban to wear

All power to those who seek in humility

For them Yira is always THE KEY’

 

The man finished the song by repeating the stanza ‘yira is always the key’

 I got up and bowed to the woman. I held the Kalgi and clutched it tight. I turned and left on the journey again.

 

 

 

 

                          

 

 

 

 

 

The End

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