Shreemanta sat propped up on his bed, trying not to think about the Rushimuni’s words. His legs were feeling weaker than ever, but he didn’t dare to breathe a word to his healers. He knew how politics worked. One word, and it would be blown out of proportion. The whole palace would know by evening, and after what the sage had suggested…any rumor that his health might be failing would only spark off a civil war.
Truth be told, he didn’t think anyone in his family could be trusted with the country. Prashantraj was impudent, and Sneharanjini immature. Amrutmayi he liked, but she had found her calling, and would never leave healing for bloodshed. Madhumayi…she was but a child, nay, a baby. She would need a regent, and that’s exactly what he wanted to avoid. He could guess that Viradhara wanted a shot at ruling. And his daughter-in-law won’t back down either.
He knew why Punyaraj hid in the library. He knew, and had hid it from everyone for years. But there would be bloodshed if his oldest son didn’t step up now. Arthini won’t mind poisoning a few. And Viradhara would calmly execute some more.
“Did the paste help?” an angelic voice asked, and was followed by Amrutmayi’s face at the door.
“Come in” he sighed.
“It didn’t, did it?” she sat by his bedside.
“You heard about the…”
“Yes” she sighed, “Everyone did.”
“And I can’t entice you back?”
“No” she smiled, “I don’t want to rule.”
“Like father, like daughter” a bitter note creeped into his voice as Shreemanta turned away.
“Grandpa…” she tried to pacify him, “If it helps…he has reduced his…intake.”
Shreemanta whirled back in shock.
“You know?” he was horrified.
“Everyone except Mother knows” she had a small smile playing on his lips, “I’m medicating him time and again. The only problem is that he irritates Mother now.”
He looked at his Granddaughter quizzically.
“He keeps asking her inane questions” she laughed in amusement, “He feels that he has no reason to hide from her now. Alas, his method of being a part of her life is…very irritating to Mother.”
“I’m the reason he started, isn’t it?” he asked.
“I don’t know” she said simply, “And I frankly don’t care if that is so. All I know is that he should have stopped drugging himself—”
Shreemanta’s wild gesturing stopped her in mid-rant.
“Oh. Right. Silence” she shook her head.