The Life that Never Was: Part Five

Vasusena sat on the steps of the small house, helping Padmavathy’s uncle in repairing a chariot.

“I thought you would have forgotten all this,” he told Vasusena. “It’s good to see you still remember your trade.”

Vasusena smiled. “How can one forget the craft one learned from the cradle, uncle?”

“So true,” the old man beamed. “But the way I heard it, you learned to shoot an arrow and to ride a horse from the cradle too.” He paused. “All this war and archery is for Kshatriyas. We should stick to what we do. Charioteering or singing and storytelling should be good enough for Sutas.”

Vasusena smiled. The old man was a firm believer in tradition.

“But there are some good warriors among Sutas,” the old man continued. “And times are changing. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Suta warriors in our armies. But being a King is not for Sutas.”

“The circumstances were such,” said Vasusena, quite gravely.

“Yes, I know. I have heard tales of it. You could not have said no without offending the Prince. So it’s not your fault. That’s what I told my sister, your mother-in-law, when she asked my advice. She, having lost her husband did not know what to do when Atiradha came to her with the proposal. But I told her. See this boy is a King. But it is not his fault. You should not hold it against him. I’m certain he’s a good respectable Suta though he might have ideas about becoming a warrior. Young people will have new fangled ideas. But he comes from a good family.”

He beamed at Vasusena again. “And I was right. You never forgot your trade. I saw the way you drove the horses. No one would know you are a King. You drove them better than Sutas who have been doing it all their lives.”

Vasusena was trying hard to stifle his laughter. He feared he would not be able to much longer. Fortunately, Padmavathy came there telling her uncle that some of his friends have come.

“I had promised to go for the naming ceremony of one of their grandchildren,” said the old man. “He’s been too late coming, after prayers and what not. So now they want a good name. And I have to go there too. I know you are leaving tomorrow. Don’t delay even if I am not back by then,”

He beamed at Padmavathy. “I have told your husband that we are proud of him though he’s a King.”

He went inside, beaming.

Vasusena looked at his wife. Padmavathy looked aghast and that was the last straw. Vasusena went into peals of mirth. Fortunately, the old man was out of earshot.

Padmavathy sat next to him, laughing as she listened to Vasusena recount her uncle’s words, chortling all the while.


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