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Tale of Twins
|by Ramendra Kumar|
In the land of Bharat, not very long ago, was a kingdom called Braj. It was ruled by Mahendra Singh - a kind and just king. He had two sons Veer Singh and Raj Singh who were twins.
Veer who had been born 3 hours and 23 minutes earlier was the heir apparent. The two brothers loved each other very much and were inseparable. Like their father they too were kind, caring and brave and were adored by the people of Braj.
When the twins were sixteen years old, Veer was crowned 'Yuvaraj'.
Among the king's ministers was a man named Vijay Rana. He had only one eye and was called 'Kanarana' by everyone.
Now Kanarana, who was the Minister of Revenue, was a shrewd, cunning and extremely dishonest man. He was looting the treasury and stuffing his own pockets. One day Mahendra Singh came to know of his activities and sacked him. Kanarana was asked to leave Braj immediately and to never show his face again.
A week after Kanarana left, the King received a letter from him. "King Mahendra, by throwing me out you have not harmed me, you have merely sown the seed of your destruction. One day I'll come back and destroy you, your entire clan and the kingdom of Braj," Kanarana had written.
The King tore the letter to pieces and never again gave it a thought.
Three years later King Mahendra fell seriously ill. While on his deathbed, he called his sons and told them: "Veer and Raj, my time has come. I am leaving Braj in your care. As you know all my life I have treated my people like my own children. I expect you to do the same. The most important advice I want to give you is that the two of you should forever remain united. Unity is your biggest strength. If you are together no one can touch you. But if you split than only God can save you and Braj."
A week later King Mahendra Singh passed away in his sleep.
* * *
After Mahendra Singh's death Veer was crowned King and Raj made the 'Yuvaraj'.
"What's this? Who are you?" demanded Veer.
"Son, I don't know whether you remember me. I am Vijay Rana a humble servant of your father's.
Raj got up, his hand reaching for his sword. "How dare you come here? Didn't father expel you from Braj?"
"Yes son, you are right. I am a great sinner. Your great father, bless his noble soul, was perfectly right in throwing me out. And son, believe me, the day I left Braj my torture started. In the last four years that I have spent away from Braj, I have not slept peacefully a single night. God made me suffer untold miseries for having deceived your father."
"What do you want now?" asked Veer. He felt pity for the old and haggard bag of bones in front of him.
"Maharaj, I want to atone for my sins. Today, after so many years I could gather courage to approach you because I know you are generous and kind. I request you to grant me sanctuary in Braj. I am an old man. I don't have very many years to live. The last years of my life I want to spend in your kingdom. I don't want any position or power. I just want to serve you and the people of Braj."
Veer, who was basically a kind and simple person, agreed and Kanarana started living in Braj.
In the beginning he concentrated solely on getting into the good books of Raj. He started accompanying the Prince everywhere. Soon he managed to win his confidence.
One day Raj and he were sitting together in the Yuvaraj's chamber.
"Son, sometimes I feel really sad for you?"
"You are as gallant, brave and noble as your twin brother. In every way you are as suitable as him to be the king. Yet, just because he was born a few hours earlier, he has become the King while you - ."
"Don't talk nonsense Chacha. So what if he is King. I don't see any difference between the two of us. We are two bodies but our hearts beat as one."
"Son, I really admire your sentiments. But just think, for the rest of your life you will remain Yuvaraj while Veer will be enjoying the power and prestige of a king. And not only that your sons and their sons will also never get to wear the crown. Because of an accident of fate you and your progeny will continue to suffer."
Raj kept silent.
A few months later Veer received a proposal of marriage from King Pitambar of Aanchal. He wanted to get his daughter, the beautiful and charming Princess Shreya, married to Veer. Veer readily agreed and the marriage was performed on the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima. A year later Veer and Shreya were blessed with a son whom they named Ankur.
As Veer settled down to a lead a married life Raj started feeling quite lonely. He started getting more and more busy with the affairs of his kingdom.
One day Kanarana told him, "Son of late I notice Veer is not taking much interest in Braj. He is too busy with his family. He has thrust all responsibility on you and is leading a happy and contented life. While you are doing all the dirty work he is enjoying the power and glory of a king."
"But what can I do? I can't fight with him. After all he is my brother."
"Who is asking you to fight? Come on Raj, I would never advise you to do anything which is not in the the interest of Braj. I have a far better proposal that will protect the interests of all concerned."
"What is it?"
"The two of you should rule Braj by turns. Veer can rule for the first six months of the year and you can be the king for the next six months. This is the only way you will ever get an opportunity to become the king of Braj. "
Raj thought for some time and said, "I think that is a very good idea. But who'll talk to Veer about it? If I suggest he may misunderstand."
"As long as your humble servant, your Chacha, is there you don't have to worry a thing. I'll talk to Veer and convince him."
The next day Kanarana went to meet Veer in his chamber when he was alone. He appeared before Veer with a sad and tearful face.
"What happened Chacha? Why are you looking sad?"
"I...I don't know how to begin son. I feel so sad and miserable. Why didn't God call me to his abode before subjecting me to such pain?"
"What is it? Don't talk in riddles?"
"Son, Raj called me today and gave me a rather strange proposal. But please don't tell him I told you or he'll kill me. The proposal is actually his but he has asked me to convince you it is mine."
"What is the proposal? Why don't you come out with it?"
"He says that since most of the time he is managing the kingdom while you are with busy with your family, he should get an opportunity of being the King for atleast six months every year."
"What? Has he gone mad?"
"I tried to reason with him. But he is adamant. He says for the first six months of the year you can be king and for the next six months he will rule. He feels that just because he is younger by a few hours, he should not be deprived of a chance to become the king of Braj. Believe me Maharaj, I tried my best to convince him, but I failed. I feel so sad. I could never imagine that Raj, whom you have always treated with such love and affection, could do this to you......"
Veer thought for sometime and said, "Chacha, what should I do? I don't want to have a confrontation with him. If I say no he might react and..."
"I know son, your fears are quite justified. I feel you should agree to his proposal. If the two of you start fighting it will have a very bad impact on Braj. On this 30th the first six months of the year will be coming to an end. I suggest that from the first of next month let Raj rule. Once he realizes that being King is not an easy thing he will gladly let you rule for the rest of your life."
"I..I don't know Chacha....whether your suggestion is a wise one or not, but atleast for the sake of the people of Braj I'll have to agree to your plan.
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