My Comrade

My black and grey comrade,

Mightier than blade. Oh! The guard,

The harbinger of my thoughts

That will endure time’s onslaughts.

 

Oh! My black and grey friend,

A fine character, you lend

To my silent sentiments

And multitudinous novel rudiments.

 

Relentlessly pouring out, my

Words like a fountain,

Always with me, you tread by

My precious little pen.

 

P.S. : I owed one.

The lone Sentinel: Episode 5: The Esoterica

In the evening, as promised, pundit ji came to Vikram’s chamber. He was sitting in his bed engrossed in his thoughts, thoughts that raised questions about what he had come to believe, about his very existence.

“Good evening, my prince. I hope you are liking it here. I know you are troubled by numerous questions. I can feel your predicament” pundit ji consoled Vikram.

“We can take a walk in the Royal Garden, if you will not mind and there we can talk about the matter.” Vijaybhanu humbly asked, after reflecting for a moment. Vikram nodded in agreement.

Vikram was thoroughly perplexed and was so deep in his own thoughts that he did not notice the grandeur of the garden. “Pundit ji, you told something about ‘Bad source, bad energy’, beforehand. What did you mean by that?”

“Yes, my prince. Energy is something that provides us the capability to carry out physical and mental activities, for our sustenance. It is universal law that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed, it can only be transformed, from one form to another. But for the Good to prevail, good deeds are a requisite, which arise only from irreproachable sources. We humans, are also a source of energy and the kind of energy inside us, directs our actions. In case of Jairaj, his mother had evil intentions, which directed her actions and the consequence is as you know it.”

“Okay. The concept is all new to me but is it all true?” asked amazed Vikram.

Vijaybhanu replied, “It is based on varied observations and investigations by our scientists and it never has been violated, my prince.”

“Hmm… Basing on… What the…” Vikram was stunned seeing a fine-looking girl fiercely wielding her knife to drive away the boisterous boys, who were teasing her.

“Pundit ji look, they are teasing the girl, inside the royal palace. How dare they do that? Let’s go there and teach those juvenile boys a lesson.”

“My prince, there is no need of that. The girl is capable enough. My daughter is capable enough” Vijaybhanu replied calmly.

“Your daughter? And you are watching silently? How can you do this, pundit ji?” asked an irritated Vikram.

“I know my daughter well, my prince. She can handle it. That is an everyday affair for her. And moreover, those boys are your cousins” answered Vijaybhanu, still maintaining his composure.

“Does being a royal kinsman gives them the permit to disrespect women, to harass a girl? And are they not still aware of their father’s death?” retorted Vikram.

“These boys would create disorder in the entire kingdom, then” retorted the prime minister almost crying. This left Vikram wondering where did, the maturity and calmness of the person he was talking to, go. He could see remorse, a sense of guilt, in those tearful eyes of old Vijaybhanu.

Pacifying the old man, Vikram said, “But these are mere twenty or twenty two year old boys. What can they do?”

“Twenty three and twins, my prince. Yet, they have achieved significance by their unforgivable and heinous crimes; murder, rape and what not” said the prime minister wiping his emergent tears from his protruding eyes.

“Bad source, bad energy, bad actions. They need to be punished. I will see to that” said Vikram unsure of what he was saying.

“Yes, my prince.”

“Let’s go and help your daughter.”

“No, my prince. My daughter is capable enough.”

“But… But, pundit ji women are weak and always need help of men, the superior sex. We should go help her.”

“My prince, I will again say my daughter is capable enough…. And see, she has driven them away. A brave girl she is, my brave girl”, said Vijaybhanu, with definite firmness in his voice.

Vijaybhanu continued, “Oh my dear prince, your concept about womanhood or I would rather say about humanity, is very much flawed. Pardon me, prince for my language.”

Vikram became keen to what pundit ji had to say. “It’s okay. Go on, pundit ji.”

Vijaybhanu continued, “Comparing men and women is very much similar to comparing apples and oranges. The only true masculine is the supreme almighty. Others have character of both the genders. We differentiate them, based on which characteristics is majorly manifested in an individual. The base of our existence is our soul, which is gender-less. It is that both the genders complement each other, which is vital for our world’s existence. Yin and Yang. Lord Shiva and his better half Devi Parvati also, in an abstract manner, by their Ardhanareswar appearance, half man and half woman, try to demonstrate this notion for us. Without one, the other will cease to exist. So, no gender is superior or inferior, my prince.”

Vikram was astounded after hearing this. He evaluated what he heard from the noble prime minister. He paused for a moment.

“I… I was so… I was so wrong, Pundit ji. Thank you, very much” said Vikram, with an evident reverence for Vijaybhanu in his tone.

The lone Sentinel: Episode 4: The Revelation

The very next moment soldiers attacked Vikram and he retaliated.

“Whoosh…  Swash… Slash…” Two soldiers fell on the ground dead.

“At least, I killed the moron. Good for my tribe”, thought Vikram.

Seeing his minions fall, the army chief pounced towards him pulling out his extraordinarily large sword from its sheath.

“I will bloody kill you, you rat” the chief thundered in a raging tone. “Eeah…” he raised his sword. But, suddenly he stopped. He saw something that left him immobile for a while. His sword dropped from his hand with a huge thud. He had seen the ring & the trident.

*******

Vikram was startled to see the reactions of the courtiers for him, which changed from ire to reverence. He was wondering, why they were so sympathetic with the king-slayer.

Then the prime minister of the kingdom, pundit Vijaybhanu came, held his hand and announced, “Our savior has come, the lone Sentinel. Hail, Prince Aditya.”

“Hail, Prince Aditya” the courtroom echoed.

*******

Troubled Vikram was pacing up and down in his new royal chamber. That day’s event had left him contemplating what his future would be. He thought the people mistook me to be someone else. In the court, he could not appropriately explain that to those gullible people. Sometimes, he thought what the indelible symbol meant. Too many questions which needed to be answered.

“Hello Son, how are you? You look troubled” a grave yet caring tone broke his thoughts. It was pundit ji. “I know you have lot many questions to ask. Ask them one by one. I will answer each one of them.” Pundit ji consoled.

“Pundit ji, I am not Aditya. I am Vikram, of tribe Maruta. You all must have confused me with your prince, perhaps” said Vikram.

To which Vijaybhanu replied, “Oh my dear prince, hear me out about the great history of your ancestors, about the promise that will decide your karma.”

Vijaybhanu started narrating the tale.

“It was an awful time, when the devil rode the minds of men. Decisions they made were immoral, their deeds sinful. Corruption, apathy and lawlessness, the stewards of the Evil, reigned the empire, then. Brothers, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, thirsty for each other’s blood, fought history’s greatest war at Kurushetra, the war for Dharma. Lord Krishna, the supreme god, to create order out of the chaos, to alleviate the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, to reestablish the principles of Dharma, became the part of the war. It was then, he explained intricacies of life, to the great Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, in form of a song. The song that emerged from Bhagwan Krishna, the supreme almighty, is called Bhagavad Gita. To protect this treatise from the perils of time, Lord Shiva, comrade of Lord Krishna created the clan of fierce warriors, Rudras. My prince, you are a descendant of Rudras. You are the last true Rudra, the lone sentinel, who, by karma, is bound by the promise to protect the treatise.” He could see his prince flabbergasted. So, he paused for a while, so that Vikram could absorb the fact.

“Please continue, pundit ji”, said Vikram and Vijaybhanu continued his tale.

“My prince, the symbol on the upper part of your wrist is the insignia of Rudras. The ring represents ananta, the epitome of cycle of life i.e. cycle of birth and death, here the treatise. The trident represents your clan, who are the protectors. From, that we recognized you as our prince.”

“Yes, yes I know the concept of cycle of life, pundit ji but one thing still bothers me. Who was the King and if I was related to that moron, in any way?” Vikram asked impatiently.

“The king, my prince, was the illegitimate child of your grandfather, your father’s step-brother. King Rajadhiraj, your grandfather was tricked into drinking love potion by a wicked woman, who took advantage of his sympathies for her. The result of this relationship was the king Jairaj, who was devoid of love, compassion and sense. Bad source, bad energy, you see. He assassinated your father, became the king and we being pledged for life to the throne were bound to follow his amoral orders, pushing denizens of this kingdom to agony.”

Vikram looked tensed. “Okay pundit ji, please give me some time with myself to think over it. I am perplexed and tired.” Vikram requested to which Vijaybhanu readily agreed. “I will come in the evening. My prince, now you rest. It is your home” he said while leaving the chamber.

*******

“This is a baked up story. They are putting all these lies into my head and confusing me”, Vikram thought. “But this indelible symbol on my wrist? This is too much for me to handle.”

“Send a message to chief informing about the developments here, at once” he ordered his minions in an irritated tone.

*******

The lone Sentinel: Episode 3: The Travel for Accord

Reading the message the king created havoc in his glorified court.

“How could this mere tribal chief dare to defy my orders, Emperor Jairaj’s orders?” thundered the king. Reprimanding his army chief, “Am I harbouring nincompoops and emasculated men in my army? Are you yourself even adequately capable enough?” No one in the court had the requisite courage to mollify the king’s anger. All courtiers were shuddering in fear.

He then ordered his amanuensis to write a reply.

*******

It had been four days since the attack. Vikram was in his chamber, intently looking at the image of the ring with a trident drawn on his upper part of the wrist. Though he wondered what the symbol meant, he never asked anyone.

Just then an impatient Ugrasen entered his chamber with his bodyguard.

“See, what that moron has sent us” said the chief, signalling his bodyguard to read the letter. “Come to my court and we will recognize your freedom. Otherwise get ready for worst consequences” read the guard in a satiric tone.

Jyestha, see the king’s contempt. If you agree, I will go to his court, on your behalf” humbly Vikram asked for the permission. Ugrasena readily agreed and gave him the scepter.

*******

The journey to Adirajyam’s capital Swarg-puri was of two days’ travel and Vikram had to pass through two major cities and many small towns of the empire on his way. He was amazed by the architectural magnificence of the buildings, which created an impressive scene, which was worth admiring. He was amazed by the elaborate underground drainage systems and extraordinarily clean streets. He wondered how they managed to build and maintain such imposing structures.

But amidst all these splendor, Vikram noticed the empire had an appalling affair. He found people chained to wall and being traded. He was horrified by the seeing how they were treated; worse than the animals. Vikram wondered why some people wore an iron bit in their left legs.

“Those who wear an iron bit in their legs are daasha or slaves” clarified the charioteer.

*******

Vikram arriving at the gate of the palace, saw a cryptic sculpture of an ananta, a snake biting its tail, which amazed him. He was escorted to the court by one of the palace’s guard after due inspection. There he saw ministers and courtiers, either sitting or standing on both the sides of the longitudinal hall. King sat at an elevated podium, at the center, of the room’s other end in his enormous throne fanned by court-maids and drinking his madira, an alcoholic beverage.

Vikram bowed before the king, as a formality. The guard introduced him to the king, then.

After the introduction, “I, Vikram, of tribe Maruta, come here on behalf of my chief to negotiate. Oh King, I humbly request you to refrain from attacking and capturing my tribesmen, entering our territory. It would be a wiser and beneficial decision on your part. I…”

“Stop your nonsense, you scoundrel. You despicable creature, you come to me and speak to me with such audacity. How dare you? I will destroy your tribe and take your arrogant chief as my slave. Your women will be the spoils that my army will savor. And then they will be traded.” retorted the king in a demeaning tone. He advanced towards Vikram unsheathing his sword. “I will kill you today. You swine…”

“Shiiing…”

”Ahh…”

But before he could swing his sword, Vikram punctured his heart with the asi, mid-sized sword emerging out of the scepter and the royal blood oozed out. King collapsed onto the linen covered floor and lay there motionless.

The lone Sentinel: Episode 2: The Defeat

“You idiot, tell me your plan otherwise…” barked the general. “Torture the wretched man till he spews their devious plans” said the general to a soldier.

First group, as directed had lit the forest to fire through which the soldiers had planned to tread through and launch an attack. This move helped the tribe immensely to gain precious time to set up their other traps. Though the move was successful but a man was captured by the enemies.

It became unbearable for the man to bear the pain any more.

“We had lit the fire to deter the soldiers’ movement into our territory” he cried.

The merciless general then asked, “Do you know any other route?” The man nodded. “Then show us the way.” The man suppressed his elation. He knew he was successful in his endeavor. Vikram would be proud of him, he thought.

*******

 “This is the way, right?”

“Yes, master” retorted the new slave.

The army vigorously marched through the narrow end of the valley. That was dense, untrodden part of the forest, harboring exotic variety of flora. There, trunk of the trees were thick, the grass in that part was greener. General though, was too busy abusing his new slave that he was least bothered, about the splendor of the jungle.

“Boom…” The sound of explosion left the soldiers astounded. A shiver ran through them, as they saw the decapitated bodies of their fellow mates. General was shocked. He could see lines of fire emerging out of nowhere, approaching them. Before he could comprehend anything… “Boom… Boom… Boom…” several more explosions back to back. The army of a thousand reduced to mere three hundred.

The second group had hid the barrels of in-flammables at the base of the trees. They had tested how much time the fire took, if lit at their end, to reach the site. Vikram was very particular about even trivial things and the plan was well executed.

Meanwhile, the archers of the tribe rained arrows on the petrified soldiers, augmenting the blitzing assault.

Tribesmen attacked the dumbstruck soldiers who could be easily slayed or captured. In the meantime, the stunned general was taken captive by his slave.

“Well done, Veera. Wonderful” praised Vikram. “It is your valor that won us the battle.” Veera replied with a humble tone, “It was your plan. My endeavor made you proud, the pain was worthwhile. Thank you, bhratah…”

“Now, send a message to that despot” said Vikram with a cogent tone “that we are freemen. If he attacks us again, we will kill their soldiers, one by one.”

*******

The lone sentinel

Prologue

[Blood and glory, murder and victory are inevitably agonizing. The scene was astoundingly devastating. The shrouded sky poured tears into the heart of the blood-soaked battlefield. Critically wounded, their magnanimous leader stood in that inferno holding up the Truth. The Truth that is the epitome of their civilization, their very existence. It seems that every single thing is now concurrent with its finality. But the Wise Ones know, that it is a new beginning….]

Episode 1: The Battle Preparation

Vikram gazed at the moon-lit sky, fondly recalling the reminiscences of his childhood. From that he derived a peculiar kind of strength that filled him with vitality. He recalled how his parents cared for him, counseled him and loved him. Now he is alone. He lives amongst his tribesmen, yet alone. Recollecting and introspecting. Over the years, shrewdness has replaced his innocence. He is the Machiavelli of his tribe, the strategist, known for his novel tricks and ideas. And he was revered.

That day too, he was busy devising a plan, a battle strategy against the army of the neighboring kingdom. The wicked king of Adirajyam kingdom, the supreme state, captured the denizens of the tribes, residing on the frontiers of his kingdom to enslave them, to exploit them. He had vowed to save his tribesmen.

Bhratah…” the trembling tone of one of his fellow mates broke his thoughts. “There are 1000 men, will be here in less than two days. What we 400 can do???”

Pacifying the troubled soldier Vikram said, “I have a plan. Do not worry brother.”

*******

On the request of Vikram, tribe chief Ugrasena ordered the people to gather near the big Banyan tree, near which they generally conducted village meetings and other festivities.

Malaypur-vasi…” Vikram addressed his tribesman with an authority that only he commanded, “the despotic king plans to capture us, to make us his slaves. He thinks he is powerful enough to enchain our souls. They took our brothers before, they come again. Are you willing to live your rest of life devoid of freedom?”

“No” bellowed the tribe in unison.

“Are you willing to surrender?”

“No.”

“Then, vengeance it is.”

“Vengeance, Vengeance…” the valley reverberated with the sound.

He elaborated his plan to annihilate the soldiers of the king, to send him a strong message. He divided the non-fighting adults into two groups.

A Question

Once, I was an innocent teen,

Adored the finest and serene;

Oblivious of sours of human,

And oblivious of the Pain.

 

One fine day, a demon arrived,

Made my day, the darkest night.

His lust had my soul shadowed,

Incised my hopes with pure spite.

With dead beating heart, him I watched

Devouring my meat with all his might.

I failed to save the innocent child,

I failed to put up a valiant fight.

By his black dark ink, I got stained,

Stain difficult to omit outright

From the pages of my life,

From the pages of my life.

 

People loathed me due to the Stain,

Not anyone understood my pain

A question, for such men in line

Was that fault gravely mine?

 

P.S. Could not stand their agony