Challenge Four...Mature

Ozil Mir was deep in thought as he stood near the window overlooking the Palace gardens. The lushness of the grass and the clarity of the sky were enhanced by the majestic sun, which blazed in all its glory on this summer's morning. The larks had settled into whistling their familiar tunes and the oaks stood majestically at the perimeter of the gardens. The forest appeared to be a haven for anyone travelling during this sweltry day with its dense foliage and cool, shady shelters. Sounds of children playing nearby echoed back to Ozil's ears and transmitted an ache in his heart so intense that he nearly buckled under it.

It was the start of yet another day that promised a better end than yesterday, but one that always failed to live up to that expectation. A frown marred the distinguished features of the Overlord of Parzenia, and a grimace of pain overshadowed his eyes. It was as if he was looking out at a different landscape; one in which the sun was an obscure spectator in the dull, uninviting sky, and where the luxuriance of Parzenia had been replaced with the barren and parched land of Dahroob.

Time passes, but does it really heal?, Ozil thought to himself. As the Overlord, he had had to make only one singularly tough decision during his extended reign over the people, but as a grieving and aging patriarch, that one decision had cost him his relationship with the only person he ever truly saw as a reflection of himself. Oh! Shehzaad, why won't you understand my dilemma? Why don't you come and ask for an explanation? For how long will you freeze me out of your life? 

Ozil asked himself these questions every morning. Facing the plentiful lands of his country, he would lament the shortage of love between him and his dear Shehzaad. He would try to recall the memories of their time together, but with his rapidly increasing age it had become a lot more difficult. He barely remembered the magic lessons, the berry plucking, or fishing from the Lodha river. All these incidents had been marred by his grief and he only had one wish on his lips now. If only Shehzaad would return to him.

Since the day Ozil had used his conjuring prowess to devastating effect, Shehzaad had refused to face him. He had not come to the Palace and neither had he allowed his grandfather to visit him at his cottage. Ozil had felt a flicker of hope in his aching heart when he had fallen grievously ill, but even that had been extinguished when there had been no sign of Shehzaad at his bedside. It was Peeran, Shehzaad's younger brother, who kept him sane by feeding him snippets of information about Shehzaad.

But even these reports of Shehzaad were unhelpful. The only thing Shehzaad seemed to do these days was brood over the past. Ozil had thought that with the passage of time, these wounds would heal but it appeared not to have aided his grandson in the least. Ozil still remembered the red-rimmed eyes, the begging lips and the broken spirit of his grandchild. And there wasn't a single day that passed when he did not curse the day he lost control, or when he prayed for his child to return to him. But all his hopes shattered by the time the gloomy night befell the enchanted lands of Parzenia.

This morning, everything was unfolding in the same manner as it had for nearly four and five decades. The beautiful morning, the broken heart, the burning sun and the dark cloud of Ozil's hopelessness were all familiar eventualities. 

Peeran softly rapped his knuckles against the oak paneling of the doors of the spectacular library, waiting for permission from his grandfather to enter. Receiving no acknowledgement that his knock had been heard, he stepped into the cavernous room. He moved to stand behind Ozil and cleared his throat, trying to garner his attention.

"Grandfather, I bid you Good Morrow. I know you have been awaiting news from Shehzaaad, and I am pleased to bring you good tidings."

Hearing these words, Ozil turned around sharply and grabbed his grandson by his shoulders and exclaimed, "What did you just say, Peeran? Did I hear you correctly? Oh! Are my ears betraying me, or is it you?"

Seeing a ghost of a smile beginning to stake its rightful claim on Ozil's lips, Peeran could not stop himself from smiling and the words just came cascading out from his mouth. "Grandfather, I would not dare to taunt or tease you. What I say is absolutely true. Shehzaad is on his way to greet you and should be arriving any moment now."

"But....But how did this come to be? Is he well? "

"Yes, Grandfather. There is nothing wrong with him. I do not know why he is coming here but he told the Palace guards that he wished for an audience with you. I was passing through when  I overheard him speaking to the guards and immediately thought to come to you and relay the wonderful news."

"Boy, you do not know what joy you have brought me. I only hope that my Shehzaad is returned to me today after all these years. My heart aches at the mere possibility." So saying, a beautiful smile bloomed on Ozil's face. A smile which hadn't been seen in a long, long time.





The End

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