A red flag was waved when the king woke up. Following the cue a servant rushed inside king’s chamber with a robe and a pair of feather soft sandals, the king’s feet shouldn’t touch the floor. Next arrived the physician with a glass of harde soaked water for the king’s ever ailing stomach.
New mandates were issued every month in the kingdom of Hundi. Moustaches can be grown but at least an inch shorter than the king’s. Doors of citizen’s houses should not be above four feet. Those who didn’t abide, were severely punished.
Muthu, a hostler at the palace, was exhausted unloading the saddles and putting the horses to the stable. More than ten thousand guests had arrived on the grand occasion of king’s fiftieth birthday.
After work he loaded his plate with all the delectable food items. The workers were directed to have food standing but his fatigued legs were aching and hands trembling. After taking a few morsels, he could not resist to rest his plate on a nearby table. This did not evade the guards’ eyes.
The king became livid knowing this and ordered for chopping off Muthu’s hands. The clever minister in an effort to conceal the king’s temperament in front of the royal guests from other kingdoms, coaxed the king to lessen the sentence. Muthu was immediately summoned and his beard and beautiful mane were shaved off.
The cuisines of the day before, didn’t suit the king’s frail guts. The physician advised him to travel in his chariot to attend the invitation at his in-laws. But the king being aware that his father-in-law always rode on a camel, refused to ride in anything less than an elephant. He started his journey on the elephant with his monumental pride. But soon it came crashing down, as with the mammoth’s gait the contents of his belly started churning
The physician who accompanied him could tell from his expressions, “it’s nature’s call.” He directed the mahout to halt. The physician whispered in the king’s ear, “we can arrange for you to relieve at the river bank, but at this time of the day it is frequented by the villagers. The news may spread like fire.” He continued, “there is another option, but……”
The King murmured impatiently, “But what? What’s the other option?”
“Muthu’s hut is nearby, we can ask him to…..”
“I would rather die,” protested the king.
“Oh great king! Sometimes there is no happy choice, only one less grievous than the other,” the physician cajoled the king. The king agreed, as the pressure built up.
The minister declared, “Our humble king has desired to visit and reward Muthu, as he thinks it was an unjust punishment given to him.”
A timid Muthu came out of his hut, folding his hands. The king hurried inside quietly. For the first time in life bending his head through the four feet door, he rushed to the loo. Muthu was rewarded heavily to keep it a secret.
The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00 entry.
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