She yawned and stretched Her arms as She woke up. Yet another day, She thought.
It was the same dream. Again. A stupid one, it was. The same stupid dream that She has been having over the years, night after night. Well, not that frequently, but frequent enough for Her to remember the dream vividly.
It was a simple one, though. She had got up on time, got Her maids to dress Her up, had a hearty breakfast, and had set off for court. Only that She didn't make it to the court. Because She didn't want to. Because She wanted to spend the rest of the day, possibly the rest of Her life outside the regal section of The Palace, in a small little courtyard.
She remembered the courtyard vividly. It was a small square block of land. People never seemed to notice the courtyard - they always walked past it, busy with their daily chores. Obviously they were more keen on The Palace. The towering imperial structure of white marble stood with an air of unmistakable superiority: people seemed to marvel in awe, in respect as they stared at the imposing grandeur of The Palace: every nook and corner was decorated with mementos of the triumphs, the glory, the legacy of Her dynasty. At every corner you'd find a vanquished king's mounted head, or a plaque depicting a famous victory, or simply a number indicating the number of people massacred in a certain battle. Who would notice a small courtyard, when put into perspective?
She did, though. After all, it was the only portion in The Palace without a roof, exposed to sunlight, exposed to the sky. Perhaps it was for that reason that people avoided walking on that square: who would want to get out of their comfort zone and face rain or the Sun? It remained the most ignored section of The Palace - to such an extent that even when a couple of blades of grass seemed to grow, somewhat outrageously, people overlooked that as well. It wasn't really anything important, you see.
The Queen's dream always ended like that. She would skip court, and head for the small square of stupid bright sun-bathed yellow amidst the endless ocean of white elegance. She would even dream of a rain drenching Her, and even night falling across Her graceful self, bathing Her in an all-encompassing darkness. Then She would look upwards and stare for hours at the night sky: there was something in the truncated spectacle - the infinite vastness it promised was supreme. The night sky almost looked back at Her like a pair of real eyes, really savage, hungry eyes that seemed to devour the most private of Her interiors. Her bosom heaved in agony as She couldn't communicate with those mystical eyes - She stood up, Her arms outstretched in helplessness, Her voice almost emitting the most piercing of shrieks in desperation.
It was at this situation that She always woke up with a start.
Meaningless, She thought. Absolutely meaningless.
She got dressed and had the choicest of breakfasts. She talked to a couple of very important men. As they were very important men, they discussed very important affairs with Her. Since the courtyard was not remotely important, it was not discussed. Since the queen had dreamt of the courtyard the night before, it kept coming back to Her mind. She hated for not having a control over Her mind. After all, she was the queen: she couldn't afford to let Her very important mind drift away towards unimportant aspects of life.
She headed off towards court. Court, as you know, is a very important place. Very important matters are discussed there, mostly by very important men. Even if the men or matters aren't very important, everyone tries to ensure that both they and the matters they speak about sound very important. So she sat through a very important phase of time, Her adamant mind drifting away towards that unimportant square of outrageous sunshine, that now contained minuscule blades of unimportant grass as well.
"Excuse me, gentlemen", she said, as she left court early, leaving behind several very important men, awaiting their turn to recite off some very important pages of some very important material.
She was really mad at Herself now. She now knew that She had lost control over Her mind. However, She was determined, both to punish Herself for deviating from Her duties, and to stop Herself from visiting the courtyard in real.
So She called the royal blacksmith, and ordered him to do something unique: She asked him to nail Her feet to the ground.
The unimportant man, trained to follow instructions, and nothing but instructions, should have followed Her orders at once. Instead, he shuddered for a moment, and even dared to look up at Her.
She repeated Her orders again.
This time they were carried away without hesitation.
She was pleased with Herself now. She had finally been able to teach Her stubborn mind and body a lesson for a lifetime. She almost enjoyed the pain that was supposed to be intolerable. She even managed a smile.
She stood up, Her feet nailed firmly to the rock-solid marble. She was supposed to deliver a speech. She looked at the incredible number of people gathered below The Royal Balcony. Everyone had heard of The Queen and The Great Sacrifice She had gone through earlier the day to deny Herself access to a stupid, unimportant block of land inside The Palace.
"We're proud that She's our Queen", one of the proud very important men uttered.
"Oh yes, She's the greatest of them all", said another man who was not very important, but important nevertheless.
"She looks happy, though", said the very important man.
"Why are Her eyes glistening? Is She crying?" interrupted a somewhat unimportant man.
"No, silly, it's just that She's glowing with pride and satisfaction", said the important man.
Everyone seemed happy at this answer. They were, after all, trained to assume that is obvious, and ignore everything that isn't. That's the way the world should work, isn't it?
The Queen stared at the mass. Her eyes refused to look back at those expectant eyes, waiting for Her words. They searched for that stupid, unimportant block of sunshine, that in all probability still had those defiant specks of grass.
She smiled as She looked at Her people again. She didn't need Her eyes, anyway. One doesn't need eyes to stare at a faceless block of humanity. She looked at them for one last time, turned to an attendant and asked for the royal surgeon.
She knew that getting rid of Her eyes won't solve the problem. She had to get rid of each and every sense organ of Hers; She had to purify Her senses; only then would She become the perfect Queen the world knows Her as. She would be able to please everyone - everyone in Her kingdom.
The surgeon was a very important man, unlike the blacksmith. He knew that the blacksmith had shuddered initially, and he was hell-bent on following Her instructions without hesitation of any kind. There should not be any indecision on my part, he whispered to himself.
"Yes, Your Majesty?"
"You see all these organs of mine? Sense organs, my hands, legs, everything?"
"Yes", he replied, his voice unchanged, thanks to the importance he had attained in the society. "Is there an order for me?"
"Ampute. Endlessly. It's The Order."
BANNER CREDITS: RITUPARNA CHATTERJEE
A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
PHOTO CREDITS: ANIESHA BRAHMA
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.