Friday, 8 July 2016

Chapter 27: Kundavai’s Surprise

Anirudhar Meets Kundavai
When Prime Minister Anirudhar entered Kundavai’s visiting room in her palace, the Princess stood up respectfully and bowed in front of him seeking his blessings.

“May you find a husband who is both valorous and good-hearted!”

Ayya! Will you bless me thus at a time like this?”

“I just felt like blessing you like this. What sort of blessing do you seek then Princess?”

“Everyone is worried about the Emperor’s state of health and my brother Arul Mozhi is missing…”

“However I don’t see a trace of worry in your beautiful face…”

“I was born in a race that is rich in bravery and valour. Do you want me to cry and wail like other women?”

“Definitely not. On the contrary you need to lend some of your courage to people like me… we are in need of consolation, especially from you ”

 Acharyarey! How can I console you and with what words? You are one of those people who stands steadfast like a rock even when the sea comes crashing on you…”

“Your actions are potent enough to crumble the rock Princess! Women in the royal family should spend their life happily within the walls of the palace. Your interference in the affairs of the Kingdom has brought forth many misfortunes.”

Ayyo! Why are you blaming me thus? How did I interfere and when? What sort of misfortune did I bring forth?”

“I wanted Ponniyin Selvan to remain in Elangai for some more time but you sent a message asking him come back immediately. Would your brother listen to an old man’s words as against his dear sister’s? Do you realize what you have done? Your brother sailed into the sea despite the storm and our Kingdom lost their darling Prince. You saw how enraged people are outside this palace, a little while ago. This is just a glimpse of the state of affairs in this Kingdom. People all over are fuming with anger and crying for their Prince. Do you realize that you are the one who is responsible for this?”

“Why do you say that Arul Mozhi left Elangai because of my Olai? Didn’t you know that the Pazhuvur brothers sent two ships full of soldiers to imprison him for treason?”

“I know. If you hadn’t sent that Olai, the Pazhuvur brothers would be bearing the sole blame of the Prince’s fate but the ships that they sent were destroyed. If they counter you by saying that the Prince left Elangai upon the receipt of your Olai, can you refute them?”

Ayya! How do you know that I had sent the Olai? How do the Pazhuvur brothers know about it?”

“Good question Princess! Everyone hereabouts knows about the fact that you sent a message to your brother. Your messenger was at first imprisoned in Elangai by our soldiers and everyone knew that he was carrying your message. That physician’s son who travelled along with him to Kodi Karai was responsible for spreading the news further here that he was your messenger. Your secret was thus revealed to the entire world. That’s why I firmly believe that women should not interfere in the affairs of the Kingdom.”

Kundavai was aghast and for a long while didn’t know how to answer the Prime Minister. He had effectively countered her and the bitter fact was that there was truth in what he told. When she realized that, she found herself getting angry with Vandiya Devan. She had no doubt that he was capable of brave valorous acts but his indiscretion has spoiled her plans. She wanted to meet and reprimand him strongly and that’s when she remembered that the Prime Minister had placed him under arrest.

Oh God! Why does he invite trouble upon himself and on me? Why couldn’t he stand quiet for a while? Why did he have to pounce on that Physician’s son from the balcony?
Ayya! I have a plea that I request you to hear.”

Devi! You only have to command me. Who would dare refuse a request from you?”

“When you entered the palace courtyard, there were two people fighting amidst the crowd and you placed them under arrest.”

“What they were doing there was nothing short of criminal activity. How dare they fight in front of the Queen at the palace and that too amidst an enraged crowd? Just imagine what might have happened if their actions had sparked a riot! One small spark is enough to destroy a huge forest.”

“Yes. I agree with you. What they did was terribly wrong but I wish that you would forgive and release one of them.”

“Who is this lucky man who has gained the benevolence of the Princess?”

“He is the messenger that I sent to Elangai.”

“What a coincidence!”

“Why do you say that?”

“I wanted to capture this messenger, thankfully he got arrested here on his own.”

“Why? What’s his crime?”

“Princess! A terrible charge has been laid upon his head.”

“And what’s that?”

“That he killed Ponniyin Selvan in the sea…”

“Who lays such a vile charge upon him?”

“Many do. Parthibendra Pallavan on whose ship the Prince was travelling says so. Pazhuvetarayar says ‘that might be possible’ and I too believe that there is some truth in these accusations.”

“Acharyarey! Do you think that I would send a murderer to Elangai to murder mine own brother?”

“Never! But you might have mistaken his intentions. You believed him to be your spy while he might have been somebody else’s all along.”

“I don’t believe that. Aditya Karikalan sent him to me only because he is a trustworthy man."

“What if Aditya Karikalan too was taken in by him? Or he might have changed his loyalties while he made his way to you. When I came to the palace courtyard I heard that someone was being accused as a spy. A man standing below was accusing the man standing on the balcony. What was that?”

“The man standing on the balcony was the messenger that my brother sent. His name is Vandiya Devan of Vanar clan. The man standing below was the physician’s son, Pinagapani. He was accusing him of being the spy of Pazhuvetarayars. How foolish?”

“Why do you deny that possibility?”

“That is not possible. He escaped from Thanjavur right under their noses. The Pazhuvur brothers made many attempts to capture him but they were all in vain…”

“How did he get the Pazhuvur Signet ring then?”

“That vile she-demon… seductive snake… forgive me… Pazhuvur Elaya Rani, Nandini gave that signet ring to him.”

“I am happy that you know this information. I feared that if I had told you about it, you might not believe me. Even if this Vandiya Devan is not a spy of Pazhuvur brothers, I fear that he might be Nandini’s.”

“How is that possible?”

“I will tell you. Vandiya Devan met Nandini near the fort walls of Thanjavur. That was their first meeting and she gave him her signet ring then. Later, he met her again at her palace gardens inside the fort. I believe that she helped him escape from the fort through the treasure chamber. She knew that he was taking a message to you. When he came back from Elangai, he met her again near Harichandra River at the dilapidated Pandian Palace. Even after all this time, he still bears that signet ring upon his person. What do you think Princess? Do you still have complete faith and trust in your messenger?”

After hearing this Kundavai found herself drowning in confusion!

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Volume 1 - New Flood