The God’s dwelling was the darkest room in the castle. No diyas were ever lit here, no prayers sung, no reejh served in the last ten years. It hung in the shadows of the walls, ever so silent, ever so conspicuous.
And ever so slowly, the sound of my majestic laughter filled the hall.
Mine, all MINE.
Yes, it’s all yours, everything. From the tip of the flag flailing at the highest point of the castle to the ground that falls under my feet and begs for my commands so I keep on moving until I conquer everything.
“Everything!” I felt the satisfaction the moment I heard my words echo through the walls and softly caress my ears. The power I gave myself couldn’t have been greater than the power this crown gave me. My crown.
Oh, how I love the sound of it. My crown, my throne, my castle, my KINGDOM. All mine. Forever.
I hadn’t gotten bored of it in ten years. I could never get bored of these words, never in a thousand years if I should live that long. If God shall grant me this gift.
“Will you, God, hmm?”
My heels clicked against the marble as I walked towards the giant silhouette that stood at the end of the hall. The light of the mud diya between my cupped palms reflected on the walls that were covered with tiny fragments of mirrors put together to make different floral patterns around the colourful precious gems, giving off a golden sheen all around. From the corner of my eye, I saw a lady’s reflection in the slightly bigger pieces of mirrors who wore a red velvet gown with a shimmery crown on the top of her head. She walked so elegantly and looked Oh so beautiful that the mirrors decided speak on their own instead of being asked for the fairest of them all.
My husband used to tell me I was too proud of my beauty and that I might suffer one day because of that. I never felt like that. But he was my husband. Instead of praising me, he picked out my flaws. Wasn’t that what husbands did? But I was not the one who cared, I knew what I was. I was too beautiful for him.
I giggled. “My beauty doesn’t need a magic mirror,” I sang on my way.
When I reached the magnificent altar, I carefully set the diya down. I picked up a candle and lit it up with the dim flame of the diya, then gracefully lit up all the diyas set around the shadowed statues. In an instant, the whole room lit up, beams of light danced from mirror to mirror and the golden room looked shinier. This room was built so strategically so all the beams would point their sharp fingers towards the giant idols of various Gods in golden armours.
I inhaled the pleasant smell of burning oil that was the only thing that pleased me in this room.
“Will you give your sweet little daughter a gift of immortality if she agrees to obey you from now on?” I couldn’t control my laughter that bubbled up my stomach and I burst out then and there. “It must sound like a joke to you. The Queen of Kalindi offering to obey you? Must sound like a dream! Oh, I know how you feel.”
There was a large silver throne in the middle of the altar, and the magnificent idol of Lord Indra stood inches away. He was a man made of pure gold and his golden shawl was wrapped around his shoulder and loosely hung from his arm that was extended forward as if beckoning someone towards him. Beautiful Apsaras, the cloud spirits that danced in heaven, surrounded him, every one of them on their knees, their hand folded in front of their chests, heads bowed beneath him. They were a lot smaller than Indra, their silver sarees looked resplendent with monochrome stones on each one, floral patterns running up their clothing. There was only one apsara who wasn’t down on her knees, stood as straight as Indra, but not as tall, and towered over all the apsaras around her. Tillottama.
The sculptor was undeniably the best one we had. He sculpted all the crooks and crevices of Tillottama so perfectly, so precisely, that one look at this statue made my insides burn with annoyance and rage just like it did when I saw her for real. If not for my reverence for Indra, I would have burned down this whole room and watched until every inch of it turned into ashes and no more existent.
“The King of Kings... Lord Indra, it’s been months since the last time we met.” I walked around the statue of the blasphemous lady and poured some water on Indra’s feet, cleaning the layer of dust on it.
“Not interested in talking to your daughter anymore?” I smirked. “Huh, father?”
“Oh, child, he misses you.”
I knew who it was without turning around to see. After all, he was well acquainted with all of the three worlds: heaven, earth and underworld. This annoyance appeared wherever and whenever he pleased, I wished I had powers to control his movements.
“Greetings, Narad, what a displeasure to see you.”
His laugh echoed in the hall. “Oh, Cassiopeia, you haven’t changed a bit.” He tapped the tiny instrument in his hand.
I rolled my eyes around the full size of earth and turned. “That’s the most unpleasant sound I have ever heard.”
He lifted the khartal and tapped it again. Chhan. “It’s always pleasant for the pleasant, unpleasant for otherwise.” He winked and snickered.
Sly fiend. He knew how to get under my skin. I despised every inch of him, the long folded shawl that hung on his shoulder, his orange dhoti that matched the colour of the shawl, his stupid khartal... Oh, only if you weren’t Narad...
I took a deep breath to compose myself and straightened my back. “Why are you here?”
“You don’t need to worry, child, I will not bother you today, though that’s always been the best part of visiting you.” He stepped closer and clapped the khartal once again. Chhann. Chhann. Oh how I stopped myself from ripping off that grin. “I have a bad news... Though I‘d rather call it entertainin- ”
“- Say it already!” I growled through my clenched teeth.
His naked belly thumped as he laughed once again, tapping against the colourful flower necklace that hung from his neck like chandelier. I hate him so much.
When he saw me glare at him, he stopped laughing, though that smile was still on his face. “Your dear father wants you to know that it’s time you stop looking for it and start protecting yourself...”
“It? What do you mean it?” The words escaped my mouth so quickly, I could see Narad was enjoying this.
“So, desperate to know, huh, child? I thought you knew what it is...”
That was it. He was doing on purpose to annoy me and I couldn’t take it longer. In one aggressive swing of my arm, I swatted all the diyas off the nearest table, shattering all of them.
“Why don’t you just tell me!” I shouted on top of my lungs, anger and fear throbbed in my chest, the smell of burning oil now a dim fragrance. All I could smell was fear.
“If you so much want to know,” that malicious grin was back on his filthy face and his eyes sparkled at the sight, “Amethyst is coming for you.”
With that, Narad disappeared.