Bhanu, Sunaina and a Vision
Six Years Later
While Prince Rudra Narayan was drowning in the river he was saved by a middle-aged or rather you can say an aged-woman named Sunaina. Sunaina was the head of the cobbler’s village. Yes, you heard it right there was a cobbler’s village, the queen of the land, separated each area and its people based on their occupation. So, there was the farmer’s village, the fisherman’s village, the tailor’s village, and so on. None was allowed to migrate from one village to another. So, if a farmer felt that he would start trading things or be into business then he/she can’t move to the trader’s village or the businessman’s village. If someone migrates he/she immediately was caught by the queen’s men and put behind the bars, where they are tortured until they sign papers and submit to the fact that they would remain in their village until their death. Well, it may sound weird but that was the queen’s rule, very few could go against her wishes.
Each village had a headman or a headwoman, who would ensure that everyone does their work perfectly and none disobeys the queen. Now, Sunaina was the headwoman of the cobbler’s village. She was very strict; she had a whip on her right hand and a black cat on her left hand. The name of the cat was Sankar and it was very dear to her for some unknown reason.
When Sunaina saved Prince Rudra Narayan, all his memories of the past had washed away. He was a new person, whom Sunaina gave a new identity. The identity of a slave. He was named Bhanu, who lived in a very high tower in the middle of a jungle with Sunaina and the cat. He used to work all day, from dawn to dark, rarely he was given time to rest. Even at night, he was not allowed to rest; he would prepare a hookah for Sunaina and massage her feet until she had slept. Rarely did she have a deep slumber, so Bhanu had to provide comfort to her mistress almost the whole night else he used to get whipped badly. But he didn’t fear the whip anymore, what he feared was punishment because her mistress’s punishments used to be quite unique. However, for the onlookers, it was quite funny, but the one facing it for them it was embarrassing and painful. Often Bhanu found himself rubbing his nose on the floor almost for 3 days or chewing or rather trying to chew a stone for 8 hours. So, Bhanu always tries to make his mistress and her cat happy.
The cat was a mystery to Bhanu, it was not just given a royal treatment but Bhanu was also given the cat’s leftover to eat. Yes, you’re right, it was his food. In the beginning, Bhanu denied having that but too much work with no food in the stomach soon forced Bhanu to change his decision. He thought, “So, what it’s leftover, at least its food, it’s better to have something than having nothing.” With this thought, he started having the cat’s leftover every day. However, what the cat had every day, almost four times a day, was something that the villagers couldn’t imagine at least once a day, or rather once a year. So, the food ate by Bhanu was not that bad!
Don’t think that Bhanu didn’t try to escape; after all, he’s the valiant Prince Rudra Narayan Chaudhury, even though he didn’t remember that but he had lost just his memories, not his traits. He was still a good fighter, a man with high values, but this fight was not between equals. On the one hand, there was a great fighter of all the time, and on the other hand, was a sly woman with all her magical tricks. If Sunaina had challenged Bhanu or Rudra Narayan for a swordfight she would have surely lost it. She knew that very well, so her ways were different and every time, it trapped the prince, now the slave.
However, among all these bad things there was one good thing. Every day during the noon Sunaina would leave the tower with her cat and take a tour of the village. During this time, Bhanu would remain chained inside the tower. Most of the time, he had some work, assigned to him, by his mistress. However, there are a few times, when he had no work from his mistress, he would remain chained in his room and play his flute. The flute was there with him since the beginning. Sunaina wanted to break it, destroy it, but whatever, she did, the flute would return to Rudra or Bhanu.
The flute was the only friend Bhanu had, the only good thing in his life. Whenever he would play the flute he would have visions. Sometimes, he would see a girl around seven-years, is crying near the river, sometimes he would see a teenager, who looked strikingly like him is practicing swordfight or archery. At times, he would see a woman singing a lullaby to a little baby, who may have just learned to walk properly. Bhanu could not hear the lullaby but somewhere he believed that the tune of the lullaby is similar to the tune that he plays.
But most of the time he would see two little boys, one little younger than the other. The younger one is not that good at swordfight or archery so a man scolds him. Bhanu couldn’t hear or make out what the man was saying but he could make out that he was harsh on the younger one, which was making the older one sad. Bhanu would also see them, playing and teasing each other, both together looked very happy, as if they don’t need anyone else to make them happy. Among all, these visions one was very common. The elder brother is playing the same flute that Bhanu had with him, and is playing the same tune that Bhanu always play. And the younger brother is peacefully sleeping, putting his head on his brother’s lap. This vision would make Bhanu happy all the time. He would play the flute, only to see the peace and calmness that was there on the younger brother’s face.
That day, however, things were different. Bhanu’s mistress has gone out; she was in a good mood, so she didn’t assign any work to Bhanu. Just chained him and moved out. “I wish I can get out of this captivity. Then I would find out about my family. But they are poor, at least my mistress told me that, else they wouldn’t have sold me to her,” Bhanu sighed and picked up his flute. He closed his eyes, “This younger boy is kinda cute. Why the man scolds him that much? Why the sad and melancholic face of that younger boy hurts me so much? Why in fact, I see them. Who’s that girl and who’s that woman? Do I know them? Where I have seen the river, before? And who’s that man? He looks exactly like me, just a bit younger. But then he’s different from me. He is strong, confident, and independent. Not like me, a slave, whose sleeps are also been controlled by someone,” Bhanu sighed again.
Bhanu looked at his flute again and then started playing it. But this time he had a disturbing vision. He saw a man of his age, maybe a bit younger is weeping badly. His whole body is washed with blood as if someone has whipped him badly. His right hand looked weird as if it got burned due to some reason. Bhanu stopped playing his flute. He was jerked by this vision. It was not just weird, but quite disturbing too. He thought not to play the flute anymore. But he felt that as if the flute is alive and it just needs a person who would bring out the tune. Bhanu, couldn’t battle more, he started playing the flute again. This time the vision became clearer, the man is a prisoner. Bhanu didn’t stop his flute, now he’s also interested to know more about this man. The man didn’t bother about the wound and the blood. Yes, of course, he was bleeding badly, but it seemed that he didn’t care about that much. It’s not the physical pain that’s torturing him, but it’s something more than that.
He’s saying something. Something, inaudible, but Bhanu wants to hear it. The tears in his eyes were piercing his heart. He felt like running towards him, hug him, and wipe away all his tears. But he couldn’t, Bhanu’s helplessness is increasing, he wants to hear what the prisoner is saying, but everything is inaudible, “Why I want to hear from you? Who are you?” thought helpless Bhanu. Suddenly Bhanu stopped thinking and concentrated more on playing his flute. Yes, he could hear a word, at least the sound of it. Now, the word is a bit clearer. “Bhai.” Yes, that’s the word, “Bhai,” what more is he saying? But before Bhanu could hear more the door opened and Sunaina entered the tower with her cat.
to be continued…