Window smashed; king hurt!
The headline was too sensational for the mass to remain quiet. Who could attack the king? The royal families were often reported to have fallen out for nothing. But then, at this time of the year, the prince—notorious for his querulous nature and his often-time wrangling with his father over drunken debates—was living in Leipzig with his family, and the courtiers would not dare raise their fingers against their Majesty.
The news, therefore, passed on from interpreter to interpreter, and with each passage gathered some additional and forged moss. When people in the farthest corner of the country received the news from an oral informant—usually a lower-order party-man—, they almost maintained a minute’s silence. Thank God, the radio corrected them, when the king was back with his ‘great words’ on its first program of the day, early next morning.
It was during those fateful days, when monarchy was counting its days in Nepal. “King attacked,” shouted the sellers of the afternoon newspapers. They sold their papers like anything. Their dead business came back to life. Ever since the Maoist were back on the dialogue table and peace was partially restored, the afternoon papers had lost their ‘scoops’. With this news, some life had returned to them, and the business had squirmed as does a sluggish snake at the coming of a frog nearby. The morning papers had missed the news, because it came out of the palace gate almost at midday, and by the time they ran their issues, it would be a stale story.
There were discussions everywhere. About incidents inside a royal palace, people could make mere speculations. Palaces, those days, were perhaps the least accessible places for press, and many things they wrote about them were false or forged, or were mere speculations. Still, people wanted to read things about the palace, as it made them feel grand and better-informed. Knowing about the minute details from inside the palace gave them a different swagger in the village, and the laity looked at them with great awe. The royalists read them as great religious mythologies; those against it wanted to sense if the news showed any crack in the long-standing structure called monarchy. The neutral mass always thought, the kings were there for news-making, though seldom for nation-building.
The political parties called emergency meetings and judiciously drafted their reactions in writing. Most of them condemned the attack as a violation of human rights, but did not forget to add, “A sophisticated inquiry should be ordered before arresting anyone on any charge.” The FM radios across the country aired those messages. The army alerted itself at different locations and forts, and the palace became an anthill with numerous ant-like troops standing on duty to maintain law and order.
The incident was simply unimaginable. In the history of last two hundred and fifty years, the kings had lived as the most immune people of the country. Most of them had been draconian and cruel, no doubt. There had been outcries on the streets to remove them, but mere babblings would not move a hair on the head of the kings. The palace always removed calm and cool, as cold as death, though the streets boiled with the cries of the hungry generations. Angry leaders, who often entered the palace gates to rage their fills against the kings, always returned with half-submerged smiles. The palace had a magical rod to turn bulls into white horses, and vice-versa.
“An investigation commission has been constituted,” reported the royal secretariat, the next day. Nobody knew the details. They said, someone shot at the king, and the bullet went through the window pane, and not the bullet but a piece of glass from the smashed pane fell on the king’s body and he was cut on the left shoulder. They detailed, “His Majesty was bare on the shoulder at the time, as he was just back from the shower. We are trying to find the bullet.”
Investigations continued for a month, and one day, the commission came out with its report. The “truth” was more than a news.
A baby of three years had reportedly crept through the iron bars at the western gate of the palace. The guards there had seen him creep, but a child of three was considered of no danger. Most probably, they thought it was the little prince crawling in his playful stunt. The report added that the child slowly went to the room, which his father had shown from his tall building right to the opposite of the palace. “Honey, the lion lives there!” he had directed him one day.
They said, the child threw the stone straight at the king who was drinking imported scotch. It flew like a swift through the open window and hit the window pane, and it broke into pieces. It was one of those glass pieces that had hurt His Majesty.
“His Majesty was bare on the shoulder at the time, as he was just back from the shower. We are trying to find the bullet.”
The court announced ‘death sentence’ for the three-year old child. Attacking a king was an offense too serious for clemency. There was an outcry that such a law was not there in Nepal. “The kings can always make one,” said the royalists, and the judges said yes. The world community announced that in the small child, they had seen the greatest of the new-world revolutionaries.
The child went to the gallows with his mother’s name in his lip, crying not for amnesty but for milk. The king breathed a breath of satisfaction standing at the threshold of the citadel of his microscopic rule. The world saw the silliest thing that could ever take place with kings.
“Long live our Majesty!” shouted someone, as the king and his henchmen reentered the palace. Security was tightened even more the next day, a daily newspaper reported.
A week or so later, a royal scavenger was reported to have broken this news to a scribe: “When the stone hit the glass pane, the king was drinking scotch. Startled by the sudden thud of the stone on the windowpane, the king—partially inebriated now— happened to rush to the corner, where he bumped against the stone wall, and the glass in his hand broke. It was a piece from that glass that cut the king on the palm.”
People revised their earlier information. But the scavenger was never seen in the royal palace again; nor was she spotted in any part of the country, thereafter. This time, the newspaper did not say anything. An evening daily wrote an editorial where it concluded: “If children have started throwing stones at kings, there’s a lot much to be understood!”