Chapter 53 – Malayaman’s Anger
Of course Aditya Karikala did not faint on hearing the shocking words uttered by Thiru-kovalur Malayaman who was capable, intelligent and experienced. Nevertheless, he was stunned into silence for a few moments. Parthiban was also shocked into wordless silence. Even the roaring sea seemed quiet. By then even the `elelo’ songs of workmen loading the ships had stopped.
Aditya felt ashamed to have shown his shock. He quickly looked up at his Grandfather’s face and said, “I too heard of such talk in the countryside and cities. I dismissed them as mere rumors. You seem to be convinced. Are you sure? Is it possible?”
“Why is it not possible? Didn’t your Elder-grandfather Gandara Aditya rule this Chozla Kingdom before your Grandfather Arinjaya? Doesn’t his son have more rights to this Empire than you two brothers?” asked Lord Malayaman Milad-udayar.
“Never! That fool who cannot utter four words clearly, who has never touched a sword in his life, he who should have been a woman but was by accident born a man — he has a right to this Empire!? What of the rights of our Prince who entered warfront at the tender age of twelve, who has never seen defeat, who bears the title, `Valiant Prince who took Veera-pandiya’s head,’ the bravest lion Aditya Karikala — what of his rights? Sir, have you lost your senses in your old age?” screamed Parthiban in rage.
Karikala silenced him and then turned to Malayaman, “Grandfather, this Empire is not a big thing for me. If I want, I can establish an empire ten times larger than this with the help of my sword. But what is the justice in this? I would not have cared if they had declared in the beginning itself that the Kingdom was for Madurandaka. With the consent of countrymen, citizens, chieftains and the people they declared that I have a right to the throne and anointed me as Crown Prince. How can that change now? How can you support that?”
“I do not support it and never will I do so. If you ever concede and agree to give up your throne to Madurandaka, I will chop you to pieces with this sword of mine. Then I shall cut your dear mother to bits. After that, I who gave birth to your mother shall hack myself to death with that very same sword. Till I have life in this body, I shall not let the Chozla Empire slip from your hands.” When the old man roared with passion, his eyes shone with a bright anger; his aged body shook with emotion.
“Say it like that Grandfather, say it like that,” shouted Parthiban as he ran up to embrace old Malayaman. Even his eyes were filled with tears of passion.
Karikala kept gazing at the deep sea for some time. “If this is your opinion, why hesitate? Grandfather, why should we not gather our armies and immediately march towards Tanjore? We can easily overcome the Lords of Pazluvoor and Mazlavaraya, Muthuaraya, Sambuvaraya, Munai Raya and all the other chieftains who support them; we can capture Tanjore Fort. We can imprison Madurandaka, free the Emperor. If I have your blessing, if I have Parthiban at my side, who on this earth can overcome us?” asked the Prince.
“True; none can win you in warfare. But what can you both do against conspiracy and treachery? Even as you approach Tanjore with your army, they will declare that the son has declared war on his father. They will announce that unable to bear the shock, your father, the Emperor gave up his life. And people will believe that. What will you do in such a situation? You too will loose courage. My son! Can you tolerate an accusation of declaring war on your own father?” Aditya Karikala covered his ears and said, “Oh Lord God! It is horrible, disgusting even to hear!”
“That is why I have been cautioning you from the very first: grave danger surrounds us.”
“What is the solution, Grandfather? What is the solution?”
“We must first send a trustworthy messenger to Lanka and make him bring back Arulmozli with him. Your brother will not easily leave the battlefield, abandon his men and come. We must send a capable man who can convince him, change his mind and make him come here.”
Parthiban stepped up and said, “Sir! If it is agreeable to you, I can go and bring him here.”
“That depends on Karikala’s wish; and your will. Whoever it is, the messenger should not get involved in extraneous affairs like Vandiya Devan.”
“See! Remember what I said!” spoke Parthiban.
Karikala asked, “Grandfather, did you get any news of Vandiya Devan?”
“In the beginning I even had some suspicions about him. I wondered if he had joined our enemies; but, later my doubts were cleared.”
“Let him finish, My Prince, let him finish; you are so hasty! Sir why did you suspect Vandiya Devan?”
“I found that he was at Kadamboor on the night of the treacherous meeting. But, later I came to know that he had no involvement in that conspiracy.”
“Grandfather, how do you know all this?”
“I did not get an invitation to the banquet at Kadamboor. That itself raised my suspicions. After that, I imprisoned the Chieftain of Kunratoor who was returning home from that get-together and took him to my mountain fort. I learned of everything that took place at Kadamboor from him. Apparently Vandiya Devan is a dear friend of Kandamaran…”
“Yes; we know that. They were both in our army garrison near the North Pennar. I knew that they had become good friends from those days.”
“Anyway, Vandiya Devan was at Kadamboor that night. It was not clear if he was part of the plot or not. Soon I found the answer! When I heard that he had stabbed Kandamaran on his back at Tanjore before he escaped …”
“Grandfather! I can never believe that story. Vandiya Devan may do anything, he would never stab someone in the back to escape. That too he is not so wretched as to stab his own friend.” Karikala spoke for his friend.
“If he had found that his friend was involved in treason against his master? If that friend had tried to recruit him also into that treason?”
“Whatever it may be; he would have fought face to face; never would he stab someone in the back.”
“I am amazed by your confidence in your retainer. Who knows the truth? Lord Pazluvoor has accused Vandiya Devan of having stabbed Kandamaran on his back; they are looking for him; that is all I know. We can surmise that there was some kind of a quarrel between Vandiya Devan and Kandamaran; and that he was not involved in that scheme against you.”
“We need not look for such involved proof of that. If Vandiya Devan joins forces with my enemies, this earth will turn upside down! The deep ocean will dry up! The sky would shatter and the sun will rise in the night. The Chozla Dynasty will face utter destruction.” Aditya spoke with intensity.
“I agree with the Prince. Vandiya Devan will never betray us and join forces with the enemy. I find only one fault with him. If he sees the face of a beautiful woman, Vandiya Devan will turn dizzy; he will loose his senses.”
Aditya smiled upon hearing these words of Parthiban. “Don’t I know that nature in him! That is why I ordered him to first deliver my letter to the Emperor and then meet my sister, the Younger Pirati. If he sees my sister once, he has no escape; he has to be her slave!”
Malayaman now asked with surprise, “Is that what you told him? I didn’t know it! Did you get any news from him after he left Tanjore? Did the Younger Pirati send any information?”
“I am expecting some message every minute. Nothing has come so far.”
“After Arulmozli comes here, we must get your sister also to come here. Then we do no not have to worry about anything. We can leave all thinking to her and follow her orders. That will be enough!” said Malayaman of Thiru-kovalur.
“You are worse than Vandiya Devan in this, Grandfather!”
“Yes Karikala! Your sister has picked up the mace of authority ever since she was two years old! She would rule over us — me, your grandmother and your parents — and make us dance to her wishes when she was a child. Even now nothing has changed as far as I am concerned. Her rule is law for me! Karikala, don’t think that I am demeaning you by praising your sister. It is added honor for you that you have such a sister. I have not seen a man or woman so far, who is possessed of an intelligence comparable to your sister’s. You know how capable our Prime Minister Brahma Raya is? He himself consults Kundavai’s opinion on certain matters. What other endorsement do you need?”
Parthiban had not overcome his rivalry over Vandiya Devan. He asked, “All that is fine, who disagreed? But, what are we to do if Vandiya Devan has met some other woman and fallen prey to her enchantment before he has met Kundavai? For example, if he had met that enchantress called the Young-Queen of Pazluvoor?”
He had uttered the last few words in a soft voice; the old man did not hear them. Karikala had heard; he turned to look at Parthiban with eyes brimming with fire. That look petrified Parthiban.
Malayaman stood up saying, “Parthiba! I hope you intend leaving for Lanka tomorrow itself. You two young men may have much to talk about. I am old; I shall slowly walk back to the palace. You can both talk about everything and come back slowly.”
After he had walked away a little, Parthiban looked at Karikala and said, “My Prince, My Master! There is some turmoil in your mind. Some sadness engulfs your heart. I think it has something to do with the Young-Queen of Pazluvoor. Your very appearance is transformed if there is any mention of old man Pazluvoor’s wedding or his Young-Queen. Your eyes redden and spit fire. For how long are you going to bury this sorrow in your heart and suffer? Your have called me your dearest friend at least a thousand times. Why don’t you share your secrets with me, your friend? What is your anguish? Why don’t you tell me? Why don’t you give me an opportunity to wipe out that melancholy? How long am I to keep quiet, watching you suffer like this?” Parthiban asked in an impassioned voice.
Aditya Karikala sighed deeply, “My Friend! My heart ache has no cure. It is a sorrow that will die with me; it has no soothing solution. It is nothing that I cannot share with you. I’ll tell you tonight. But, let us go back to the palace wi th Grandfather. It is not correct to let him go back alone.”
The Prince stood up.