E. Breman Veerasingam

Oriental Queen

 

A marble palace adorns the bay.

Ships sail in with Arabian perfumes,

Brazilian Coffee and Spices from Kerala.

 

Bullock-Carts roll-in through the courtyard,

While the bell and the lantern continue to dance

To the rhythm of the bull’s walk;

Carts loaded with caskets full of diamonds,

And weaved cloth from the Silk Route,

For the Royal vision,

Taste buds,

Olfactory hunger

And the tactile thirst

To be satisfied.

 

She was found among the virgins

Who went to pluck yellow mangoes,

On their way back from the chilling springs,

After spending the summer-noon

Frolicking and bathing,

With laughter that disturbed

The painful silence of nature.

 

The royal boats floating among the mangroves

And the king’s horses roaming among the creeping bushes

With servants in search of a Queen

For the Majestic lineage,

Came closer, allured by the virgin prances.

 

The wind from the bamboo bushes,

Identified her voice to be musical and exceptional,

While her soft maiden laughter

Wasn’t new to the fins and feathers

That had witnessed her silent puberty.

 

The turmeric yellow on her cheeks

And the smell of fresh herbs

From the palm-weaved carton

That relaxed on her hip,

Made her gracious presence

Felt by those nearby.

 

Her fingers, that otherwise pluck tendrils,

Became engaged in setting her forelock

At the sudden site of the servants

Who arrived on time, minutes before

She got into a boat

Loaded with violet orchid garlands,

And a ferryman ready;

Ready to take her 

To the other side of the river.

 

Horses went galloping with urgency

In the path that led to the palace,

And the fading sounds of those trained beasts,

Brought the royal chariots.

 

Elderly eyes with expertise scanned her.

With nodding of heads,

She was wrapped in a pure white cloth.

Milk and honey was poured on her,

And at the river bank

Her innocence was proved.

 

Chosen to be the royal bride,

Her ears and nose witnessed the pearl rings,

Her feet adorned the princely anklets,

Her fingers, the rubies and sapphires

And she was taken in a palanquin,

That was filled with sandalwood crafts

And enveloped with the finest fabrics of the land.

 

The neighbouring kingdoms were invited,

And the processions of the regal elephants

Garnished the streets of the empire.

 

The majestic rings were exchanged

And her slender neck adorned the Thaali

Patterned with detail by the royal goldsmith,

On which emeralds, topazes, amethysts and jonquils

Were carefully placed.

 

Somewhere lost in the crowd,

Hiding behind a large trunk

Of one of the yellow mango trees

Was a young lover, snarling with loss,

As he watched his beloved Queen

Becoming the royal bride.

 

The royal spy would never know

That this young lad

Had himself dressed as the ferryman

And waited with garlands of orchids

Filled in his boat, by the river,

To take her into his world,

On that fateful day;

The day she was found to be the queen.

 

Drops of tears

That summarise his blood stream

And the mournful song of his heart,

Are now ready to float in pain,

In the flow of the river of life.

And that is

One of the beauties

Of human nature.