Parthibendran had been devoid of emotion until now. But now, he wiped off a tear, proving that he was a human too. He could not believe it himself. He was choking.
It looked like the cultural program had ended. There were loud cheers praising the Emperor and the Crown Prince.
“I was twelve years old, when I first met her. It was a summer afternoon, when my brother, sister, and I were playing in the pond behind our palace, in Pazhayarai. We had finished playing and were heading up the stairs to the garden, when we heard our grandmother, Sembiyan Maadevi’s voice. She was sitting in the garden with three others. One of them was a young girl, who was in our age group. We assumed that the other two adults were her parents. It was her large inquisitive eyes that captured me that day. I can still picture them. “
The three warriors decided to stay in a royal guest house in Maamallapuram. After dinner, Malayamaan went to a cultural program that he heard was happening in the town. Parthibendran and Karikalan went to the terrace. Karikalan was looking at the beautiful night view of the city.
After hearing what his grandfather had to say, Aditya Karikalan stood rooted to the spot. He could not think straight. Parthibendran also stood staring into nowhere. The waves seemed to suddenly become silent.
On the shore, there was a bund of loosely piled granite rocks to keep back the sea. The famed sculptors of Maamallapuram had not left out any of these rocks behind. Each rock had sculptures on them. Aditya Karikalan and Malayamaan walked to two flat rocks, which almost looked like thrones. Parthibendran stood a little afar. Waves crashed on the rocks and sprayed sea water on them.
We wish to take the reader to Maamallapuram. This port town was built by Mahendra Pallavan and Maamalla Narasimhar. Three hundred years later, the town was not the model city that the founders had planned it to be. The market places and the streets were empty.
The next morning, the sun was shining bright, warming up the front verandah of the Princess’s palace. An elephant with a howdah came and stood near the entrance. Kundavai and Vaanathi climbed up a flight of stairs and got into the howdah.
Kundavai read through the palm leaf with intense concentration. When she finished reading the message, her tense face relaxed into a wide smile. “Now that you have delivered your message, what do you intend to do?”
“Devi, my job is done. I guess I have to turn back home now.”
After meeting with the Princess, Alwarkadiyaan decided to go to his cousin, Eesana Shiva Bhattar’s house. It was a short walk away. Nambi noticed that the festivities of Shree Jayanthi had died down considerably. He passed through the army quarters where the wives of the soldiers were whispering among themselves. There was discontent writ on their faces. It was night by the time he reached his cousin’s house, which was right next to the Shiva temple.