|K for Kaikeyi|
The palace appeared like Devaloka when King Dasaratha rode on his chariot through the ornate gates, flanked by his four sons who were riding on horses. A smile broke out on the old king’s face. He knew that it was Kaikeyi who was in charge. She was the one who enjoyed the flamboyance of royal life more than anyone else.
Getting out of the chariot, the king’s eyes fell on Manthara, Kaikeyi’s faithful servant. Her half-bent figure was distinct in the twilight. His instincts told him that something was afoot. He went directly to Kaikeyi’s chambers to meet his favourite queen.
Kaikeyi greeted the king with a wide smile. She held out her hands to him, “Where have you been the whole day? Have you forgotten it’s our dear Ram’s coronation tomorrow? There are so many arrangements to be made.”
Dasaratha smiled at her enthusiasm. Was the king expected to do the work of organising the coronation? He did not utter the words as he did not want to curb her enthusiasm.
Manthara stopped outside the chambers, hiding behind a pillar, when she saw that Kaikeyi was not alone. She bided her time, waiting for the king to leave, before poisoning Kaikeyi’s mind.
It was sad that all of Kaikeyi’s enthusiasm for her favourite Prince went to naught by an old maid-servant’s words. In barely a few hours, King Dasaratha found that his world had tilted on its axis.
Devaloka – Abode of the Devas (Heaven)
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