|Ajay B. Patri|
National Law School of
I was watching the whole time. I saw everything. Nothing escaped my attention. If I may say so myself, nothing could have escaped my attention. Pride, my dear, is a folly I have long suffered from. Pride was the cause of this entire affair. Surely you will not begrudge me the right to be a little proud of myself now, even though I may not deserve it in your eyes. I am old and I think I might need that solace, however meagre it may be. It will make telling this sad, miserable tale much easier to me. And I know, in spite of our differences, you do not hate me so much as to cause hurt. You were always much too sensible to let your emotions get the better of you. I wish I was too. But forgive me, I digress. You deserve the story in its entirety and I will try my best to give it to you. Please bear with me.
I saw him as clear as day, just like I see you now. I always kept an eye on what he did. Sure, he helped me in the war. But remember, he was not one of us. My intentions were honest; I didn’t want to lose anymore. I wanted to sustain our new realm. I am sure you will understand this; I know I can get your sympathy here. I also know that sympathy will not exonerate me. I am guilty. I always have been, one way or another. But I want you to know everything and then decide. Maybe being guilty in a completely different way will change how you think of me. And that, my dear, makes a lot of difference to me. I am asking a favour here, I know. I am not sure I deserve it but I hope you will grant me this last wish.
That is how I knew what he was doing. By spying on him. By not trusting him. Another of my character flaws. I know I am not perfect. I never was and it shames me at times that people worship me. Or used to anyway. Guilt, my dear, is a poison that kills you slowly. It has stayed with me all this while. You must know that I never had it easy. At the end of this story, I hope you will understand my position.
` So, yes, I knew all about his creation. And what a creation it was! I must admit that I was envious of him. Yes, me, the all powerful one, envious of someone else. You must be surprised to know I am even capable of such an emotion. But I was more than capable of it. I was consumed by it. It affected whatever ensued and in so far as it did, I am completely guilty. I have no defence. But then I want you to know that I was not motivated entirely out of spite. That I suffered from all this too.
His creation would have been useless if he hadn’t resorted to thievery. They would have turned on themselves, the blackness in their hearts knowing no reason and no enterprise. They would have been driven extinct at their own hands. I saw it and I knew it. And he knew it too. I do not know when he realised it. Maybe he knew it all along; the steps he would have
to take to bring his plan to fruition. Maybe he realised it quite late and his act of thievery was just a desperate attempt to prevent his work from getting spoilt. It does not matter; not to the telling of this story anyway. This story is about me. There, my dear, my pride still lurks beneath the surface. There is no way I can tear it out of myself; and believe me, I have tried.
It was important that his creation sustained. It was too precious, too precocious an attempt to be discarded. There was absolutely no need to create them but once they were formed, destroying them would have been cruel. Yes, I say cruel. I daresay you can threaten me with being the same. I wouldn’t have a reply to that; yes, I have been cruel at times, unreasonably so at times. But please listen.
So there was only one way his creation could have been rendered useful. I could have done it myself. You will ask me that; I have no doubt you will. I could saved us all that trouble and that theft could just as easily have been a gift. But I didn’t.
I couldn’t. My pride played an important part in it all. I couldn’t openly sanction his work; it would have led to chaos. I was the king and a king needs to set boundaries. A king needs to be harsh at times. I had to assert my authority then. And the only way I could was by showing that I was displeased. I could have stopped him right after he created them but I waited. I admit I wasn’t exactly sure of all my options then. I quite simply didn’t know what the future would hold. The fates kept that hidden from me.
So, yes. I let him do it. I let him take the fire right from underneath my nose. This must be quite beside the point but you must realise this also made me look bad. I was portrayed as weak, as someone who could not control his own possessions, let alone the world. But I let it happen because it was crucial that it reached them. Crucial that they learnt the knowledge that has held them in good stead over the millennia. They have made mistakes too, I will not deny that. They are by no means perfect. But the knowledge they got also gives them the sense to realise they are wrong. That is the knowledge that pierced my being, my self, that day. And it has been a constant reminder ever since that I have erred. Time does not soften the pain that knowledge causes.
If I was arrogant enough, and I fear that I am, I could then claim some credit for their existence even though I did not create them. I am sure you will not approve of it. I agree with you there, my dear. The credit should belong entirely to the person who has suffered ever since. And yes, he has suffered because of me.
Once his actions were complete, I couldn’t just stand back and marvel at his creation like everyone else. I would have liked to do so; I had done that even as he had moulded them. But after it was all over, I had to be angry. I had to be the arrogant bastard that myths say I am. There was no other way that I could have maintained the peace of the realm, my own prestige and position as well as the continued survival of the humans. People forget that I did not destroy his creation. History always focuses on the more gruesome aspects of the incident, not the ones that were good. Such is their nature. I daresay they get it from us.
So, there I was, the one who had been made a fool of. The villain who overreacted to the actions of the person who had supposedly made a fool of him. Were my subsequent actions harsh? They most certainly were. But his punishment had to be a reminder to everyone that I was supreme. It had to be severe enough to act as a deterrent.
You might accuse me of double standards now and with just cause. I took those steps that ensured I did not get hurt too much. He became the fall guy. All these eons, I have tried to justify it all. Telling myself that he should not have defied me like that. He should not have gone ahead and created them without approaching me first. Maybe I should have stopped him before he created them. There are a lot of maybes and ifs and buts involved here and I am guilty of each one of them.
But I genuinely believed in what he was doing. My involvement at that stage could have changed everything. It is ironical, I believe, that I lacked the courage and the belief that I could create a better person than he could. My pride deserted me then. And my curiosity prevented me from interfering and completely stopping the process. These reasons are all I can offer you. I know they are not enough but I hope you can see my side of the story a little better now.
He got the worst deal out of it, I must admit. He will suffer eternally, physical pain, pain of the flesh that he created.
But I want you to understand that I suffered too. I lost face; I lost a lot of love from a lot of people for my actions. People will forever worship him as the one responsible for their existence. I am resigned to the sidelines as a person who unfairly punished their creator. I will never gain their respect for whatever good I have done, which furthered their existence or otherwise. I will forever be scarred in their memories by this one incident which they hold dear. I will be the eternal villain; a vain god they worship out of fear and not love.
But there is something even worse that torments me. It is the truth and the guilt it brings with it. I wish every day that I can forget it. Or change it into something else. But even I am not capable of altering the course of time. I will forever live in knowledge of what I have done and all the hurt I have caused. You must know that nobody else knows about this. I owe it to him to keep the truth to myself. And even more importantly, from him. He should never know that I knew. Let that ignorance grant him any happiness it possibly can. I see no other way of alleviating his pain.
A king is not infallible. But being a king lets him tide over this hurdle. That is the way it is. You, in your infinite wisdom and reason, know this already. We have seen this with the humans too. We are no different. We can be no different.
And that is what I wanted to tell you. It is not much of a story. There is nothing fascinating about it because we have seen it happen around us all this while and have grown used to the thought that we are impervious.
In the end, we are but puppets made of clay too.