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The King Who Was Never Meant to Be

Tanvi Mishra

Posted on August 22, 2020 13:02

2 users

If Aesop told our tale, I imagine it'd be like this.

Once upon a time, back when tigers used to smoke, there lived a king known far and wide for his cruelty rather than his calescence. He danced in a gay manic around his Makrana marble palace, shining like a rusted orange copper coin amidst an ocean of ivory pearls. The noblemen liked him, for he was one of their own, and the clever king pacified them at every chance he had. He sat on his gilded throne comparing himself to better kings, berating honest kings, and forgetting important kings.

The nation's angered bourgeoisie revolted at every turn; "Not my king!" they cried over clouds of ignited gunpowder that shook their very souls while the noblemen jeered at what appeared to be a grandiose display of golden fireworks, with poignant sparks of crimson rouge every now and then. The paisans, laborers and workers; men who held up the nation, sat shining the king's grass-stained boots, (as he liked playing croquet as much as possible), and wiped away any tears in their eyes, for a king is a king, and titles make men.

The king tried to make promises to the people. But how does a caged bird know what the forest floor tastes like? He turned his back on his subjects, his lands, and his conscience.

One fine day, as the king rose from his piles of velvet and fur, his advisor had terrible news for him. A plague had arrived in the nation and had swept surrounding kingdoms into freefall. "Fake news!" he cried adamantly. Afraid of losing his hand (and head), he advised his dear advisor to keep calm and carry on.

The news of the plague spread faster than it, and soon people were alarmed and awake. They heard malicious tales from the lands of the better endowed; sickened nations and empty kingdoms. Deep inside the king could feel the imminence of the sickness, but he was not ready to give up. "I'll make us great again," he muttered to myself, not knowing what was about to ravage his reign.

Soon, the plague knocked every door and hearth; every flimsy hut and infallible fortress. The noblemen that laughed at the angered bourgeoisie were now tended to by them, their sickness having illuminated their brevity of life. The farmers, cobblers, and woodworkers, pillars of the kingdom, trudged into work every day despite the plague. No earnings, no meals. "No earnings, no meals," they muttered to themselves, knowing full well they wouldn't make it out alive. And once again, they paid for the nation.

As life shuttered and came to a standstill, wind howling and whistling in solitude, the king remained in his castle as his subjects withered outside. People had died in numbers too large for his own computation, but he frowned and berated others, saying that this was not his job to nurse every nelly.

In private, he was anything but brave. He realized gently; as much as you pretend, titles don't make men. Never have, never will.

Tanvi Mishra

Posted on August 22, 2020 13:02

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Source: NYT

To live without gossip is to scorn storytelling, and thus literature.

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