A Tale of Two Kings

Illustrated by Vaidehi Guha (9)

“You’re right Dad, the world is bad, in here I’d stay much rather”

Part 1: The Noble King

Good Evening all, by your kindest leave, a story if I may recount
Of all the things I’ve seen and heard nothing stranger have I found

By divine decree, it is on me, to tell this tale to the world
I shall not sleep, I shall not rest not till this tale is unfurled

How folks have tried to stop me, “Refrain! Desist!” they roared
My life endangered more than once, but the pen is mightier than the sword

O how they tried to stop me, they paid me handsome bribes
Exiled me to deep Siberia, where I lived with nomadic tribes

The called me names, they tortured me, they did not treat me well
They made me do long division sums, O I have been through hell

Through turmoil then, I wield this pen, for truth I paid a price
O read this fable, and if you are able remember the sacrifice

This tale is of a noble king, not to mention strong and brave
Suave and smart, yet kind at heart, good-humoured and yet quite grave

He was of a splendid dynasty, of ten score years and four
Those kings had conquered many land, and he had conquered more

The king was kind, the king was just, and for him did all rejoice
“Just like he, all men should be” they told their girls and boys

But listen close no one really knows how he met his fateful end
For years this tale has remained unheard, untold, un-penned

Part 2: The Plot

Envy is a savage thing, it can make a man a beast
Turn normal men to devilish fiends, or petty thieves at least

His courtiers seedy, gross and greedy, they hatched an evil plan
Their envy fired, those men conspired against such a noble man

Said Jaspal Singh, leader of the ring, “O King our lord and master
You’ve conquered lands quite fast enough but your father was so much faster”

“I remember the day, in the month of May our warnings all he spurned
And set out to conquer the entire world and since hasn’t returned

“Now I’m not meaning to be demeaning, O lord, my liege, O king
But you are the lad, of a worthy dad who did such a worthy thing

“To see you here, on this throne ensconced I swear I would much rather
But the people say, this month of May you should go in search of your father”

The king was bold, at once he told “Sure, I’ll do your bidding
No I won’t stay, I’ll leave today, although it sounds forbidding”

The courtiers smiled, their cheers were wild, and they winked their wicked eyes
The king would lose to their evil ruse and to their wicked lies

With a gleam in his eye, did Jaspal sigh as the liege his farewell bid
His alone, would be the throne, now that the king was rid

Part 3: The Journey

No royal sceptre was in his hand no priceless jewels shone
The king renounced all that he had, the king went all alone

The days went by, scorching, dry, it was a trying time
His eyes were red, his heart was lead, he was covered in dust and grime

Then one day, he lost his way and came to a forest dark
He heard the owl it’s deathly screech, the night was silent, stark

“I’m not scared” the king declared as he held his sword aloft
“Has anyone seen my father here” he whispered, gentle, soft

But no one heard his plaintive plea, nor saw his royal sword
For sometimes men are all the same whether peasant, slave or lord

Through sleet and rain, he walked in vain till he came to a river wide
He said “O bummer, I have to wait for summer when the waters will subside”

But that fateful day, in the waters lay a crocodile bigger than a boat
He wasn’t afraid, “Hello” he said, when he saw the beast afloat

“Although I’ve traveled far and wide I’ve met nor man nor beast
No one to lend me a helping hand or a heedful ear at least”

The river bank was damp and dank, the monster lay below
The kings heart bled, his eyes were red as he told his tale of woe

“O glory be, are those tears I see? For me does his heart bleed?
Not gods or men, will he be then my only friend in need?”

The king on the whole was a simple soul, he didn’t know what danger loomed
Though you might say, it was clear as day, that the friendship was quite doomed

For in a while, that gross reptile opened its mouth wide and tall
And that fateful day, I regret to say, ate him sword and all

Part 4: The Crocodile

Once inside, he bitterly sighed “Is this how it will end?
O it is hard to be devoured by a naively trusted friend”

“But wait and hark, in this hellish dark, what is that sound I hear
There! Once more! Was that a snore? Is another human here?”

“Who will I find, in these intestines, who will my eyes behold
It cannot be, but is that he? My father grey and old?”

In royal awe, he stood and saw “Rejoice, its true!” he said
“Praise Allah, there is my Pa snoring gently in his bed”

When the old man woke he gladly spoke “How I’ve waited for this day
I knew you’d come, some day my son I’m glad it went this way”

“Dad its true, to be with you I’ve been through hell and hazard
Though God is great, what twist of fate, we’ve met in a crocodile’s gizzard”

“For twenty years and ten my son this place has been my home
It’s always nice and warm in here though sometimes I feel alone

“The rooms are large and airy here the food is always warm
When you’re in here, you need not fear come thunder, hail or storm

“I must be true, there are bad things too, in here its dark, obscure
The food unboiled or raw or spoiled, these things one must endure”

“Fear not Dad, this sword I had to get me out of such peril,
Of steel its made, with its trusty blade I’ll cut open this devil”

“Though you are brave, your breath do save, your efforts are futile
No sword’s capable, no man so able, to penetrate this reptile

“It may be dark in here, but have no fear, here its quiet, serene
The world out there, is bad, unfair, rude, uncouth, unclean”

“You’re right Dad, the world is bad, in here I’d stay much rather
I might be a mighty king but I can’t disobey my father”

Part 4: The Tooth

To believe these words, it may be hard I know takes a while
But believe me chaps, when I say that, they lived thereon inside the crocodile

If any of you think this isn’t true or doubt it even in the least
I have with me for all to see a tooth from that giant beast

Now you may stand and rightly demand “Why is that tooth so small?”
Just today didn’t you yourself say he was as big as a boat and all?

How could this be, I too could not see but now I have no doubt
He had been eating men, since God knows when, so his teeth had all worn out!