A handsome, lanky young man of 16 years with a man of floppy silky hair, dark brown eyes and a charming smile walked into the banquet hall as if he owns it; which technically he does. He was hungry. He could have had a princely spread in the dining area of his mansion but he wanted to have his lunch along with the other members residing in the mansion. He loves being treated as a prince the moment he enters the common area. After all he is the son of the King of the house and God for the men. He walked in tossing his head in the air with hands in his pockets. Wearing a pristine white t- shirt and blue jeans he looked every inch the royalty. The moment he entered people chatting, people having their food, even those who dozed off suddenly were jolted to attention.
‘Hi! Samrat babu!’
Resonated the whole area. Samrat smiled proudly and waved his hand at the people around in the imitation of royalty and then he started walking around. Suddenly he stopped reverted by a sight which never happened in front of him. A boy of close to 18-19 years was calmly eating his lunch from his plate on the table right in front of Samrat without paying a least attention to anyone or anything around him. A boy one would call attractive though may be not technically handsome. He has got lean body, serene face, shock of black hair and black eyes and that cleft on the chin and aura of something undescribable around him. An unusual boy in all.
Samrat stared at him. He couldn’t believe someone actually had the gal to ignore Samrat Virendra Thakur. He choose to think that maybe that other boy is either dumb or ignorant or too busy in eating that he failed to notice the prince of the house making his entry. So Samrat thought of correcting the boy and to make that boy understand the rules around the house. You always salute Samrat no matter who you are or what you are doing. People nearby stopped whatever they were doing and started paying attention to the scene that was about to unfold in the room.
Samrat went near the table where the boy sat and slammed his fist on it. The table shuddered at the impact. If Samrat thought the boy would be frightened he was grossly mistaken. The boy was neither scared nor did he even show a least bit of interest at the angry young kid standing in front of him.
He merely raised his eyebrows and said in a mocking tone.
“Any problem? Kid!”
That sarcastic tone and above all being termed as Kid by someone who is no more than two or may be three years older to him rankled Samrat.
“I will show you the problem you insolent pig.” Samrat hissed through clenched teeth.
The boy was not offended. On the contrary he looked amused. He merely gave a lopsided smile and the expressions on his face told more clearly than any words. ‘Oh really?’
Samrat was incensed.
“Do you know who I am?”
The boy simply folded his hands in the crook of his arms and sat back in the chair with supreme nonchalance said in that same mocking tone
“Will it break your heart if I say no?”
“You b*****d! How dare you?”
By now the silence spread throughout the banquet hall. People stopped chatting, eating and were jostled to attention. Those who were jut lounging sat up in attention. Everyone was playing the role of a spectator. Curious to see how and where this encounter between the prince of the House and the boy everyone secretly feared, would lead.
The boy merely gave a lopsided smile at the expletive used by Samrat.
“Kid! Why don’t you save the bother and time and just get to the point?”
Samrat was turning red with rage.
“Don’t you dare talk like that to me. You don’t know who am I?”
“Ok” drawled the older boy “Now you got me interested. So go ahead enlighten me. Who are you?”
Samrat announced loudly in a voice full of pride
“I am Samrat Thakur. Son of Virendra Thakur. The King of the underworld and your God.”
If Samrat thought the Boy would jump on his feet and show respect and fear at this announcement he was mistaken again.
The Boy looked amused.
He said in cold amusement.
“Glad to meet you Samrat Thakur. Will chat with you other time. Now why don’t you” He gestured with his hands towards the exit in indication for Samrat to leave “and let me” he gestured towards his plate “Finish my lunch. Unlike you I am busy”.
He gave that mocking smile again and slowly started to reach for the food in his plate.
Samrat was blind with the rage. Nobody ever so much as raised their voice at him in this house. Now he is insulted, mocked and dismissed by a boy, a mere nobody of no standing. He lunged.
Samrat swept the plate in front of the boy with his left hand in full force. The plate slid across the table and fell down on the ground with a clang and the food in the plate was thrown all over the table and the ground.
That got to the boy. He slowly looked up at Samrat. And for the first time in his life Samrat was scared. Looking into those eyes, that intensity of gaze Samrat was paralyzed with fear.
The boy did not waver his gaze. He was looking straight at Samrat in a way which told everyone including Samrat that he is now angry and the younger boy is gonna pay.
He reached for the table bottom with his right hand and simply tossed the heavy table out of the way. The table made a total 180 degree angle in the air and fell by the side upside down.
Then he slowly took a step forward towards Samrat. The younger boy involuntarily took a step back his gaze struck at the Boy’s eyes in fear. The boy who a moment back looked amused and calm is now looking menacing. His face arranged the expressions to a hard mask. He gaze was still intense and still frightening.
“What the hell is happening here!” a booming voice reverberated throughout the hall. Everyone knew that voice and respected its owner. They all slowly turned towards the direction the voice came from and looked at the man the voice belonged too.
Virendra Thakur, the king, the ruler, the God was standing at the door staring at the unfolding scene in the hall. And he was angry. With above average height, stocky and fit, face that is moderately well structured and big eyes that flash fire when in deep emotion he was a remarkable man. Dressed in light coloured kurta standing by the door with his expressions slowly turning to intense anger he glared at the entire room and boomed again.
“Can someone tell me what the hell is happening here?”
No one did. No one dared to.
He glared at the people around again and slowly walked towards the main players of the show. Samrat and the Boy. Both were standing in the same position as they were a moment back.
Virendra thakur or Saabji as he is called by all looked at the upturned table, the food all over the floor, then at the Boy who was now in control of his anger and looking more dangerous for that. Then he looked at Samrat. Before he could ask or say anything Samrat reacted. The young boy raised his hand and pointed his forefinger at the Boy standing in front of him and said in a voice that was slightly stuttering due to fear.
“He started it all”.
To his utter consternation his hand was shaking. The Boy in front of him merely looked at him with no change of expressions. Despite his current state of mind Samrat couldn’t fail to notice the boy was neither looking frightened or even awed by the presence of the great man himself, Samrat’s father Virendra Thakur. If anything he looked as if now he is getting bored.
“He started it all” Samrat reiterated. Then added “He was about to attack me Dad. He is crazy. I tell you Dad this boy is crazy”. He went on speaking fearfully in quick fashion words running one against the other.
Saabji stared at Samrat without blinking for a moment then he turned and gave another look to the boy who by now is openly looking bored. Then Saabji looked back at Samrat again and said in voice that was stern
If anyone was expecting anything it certainly was not this. Samrat couldn’t believe his ears.
“But Dad He is the one who started it all. He should be the one to apologize”
Saabji said calmly but sternly
“Give you father some credit for having good sense of judgement Samrat! I can see for myself who is right and who is wrong. The boy who is standing fearlessly and the boy who is shivering in fear.”
Samrat felt a sense of shame.
“Anyone can see who is guilty. So one more time.. Apologize!”
Samrat looked around at the people standing nearby watching the drama, in shame and humiliation. None voiced any opinion and certainly no one came in his defence to offer a counter idea.
He looked back at the Man, his father standing in front of him staring at Samrat in something close to anger and disappointment. Samrat respected his father and feared him. But apologizing to the Boy is something he can’t do. He won’t do.
His expressions turned obstinate.
Each one of the spectators was aghast. No one ever disobeyed Saabji. Never!
Saabji’s expressions didn’t change. He said in a smooth tone which he used when in extreme anger
“I think you have not heard me Samrat. I said apologize.”
Samrat started wavering. He was already scared now he was getting petrified. He saw his father occasionally for he stays far away in boarding school. He rarely dealt with that legendary anger. The instances where he did; he never forgot.
“NOW!” Saabji finally yelled.
Samrat flinched. He tried to look in his father’s eyes pleadingly but those eyes were unforgiving.
He then looked at the Boy. Among all those who were present in that room, only that Boy was calm, collected and supremely unfazed. The Boy gazed right back at Samrat. He was not expecting any apologies. Just felt no need for it. He couldn’t bother less with the drama unfolding right before him. His expression said it all. “Fine get over it. I am bored”.
“I am sorry”.
“Loudly!” Saabji said sternly.
“I am sorry!” Samrat almost shouted.
Then unable to take it anymore he ran off from the room. Away from the gazing eyes of the people watching him, his humiliation, his retreat. Some eyes were pitying, some amused. Samrat did not want to look at any of those eyes. His sense of humiliation and shame was too much. He ran.
He ran towards his room, ignoring the voices outside the room.
‘Babu! Why are you running?’
‘Samrat babu slow! Wait! What happened?’
He ran till he reached his room and slammed it shut after him. Then he stopped. He started breathing heavily trying to take in as much as air as possible into his screaming lungs. He calmed down and then he remembered it all. The insult, the humiliation, the sense of betrayal, the shame and above of the Boy who is responsible for this all.
Samrat screamed and started throwing things all around his room. Breaking them against the wall, on the floor with complete and utter disregard to their value or his own safety.
He raged on and on.
Then finally as the storm in his heart reached its peak he broke down. Sitting on the floor against his bed he wept.
He wept till he could weep no more. Then finally wiped his eyes on his sleeves and remembered that Boy again. At that moment Samrat knew he would hate him forever. His hatred towards the Boy was complete, total and absolute. What he did not know that the Boy will not hate Samrat. Hate is a strong emotion and that Boy rarely invested in emotions. He is untouched and uncaring of surroundings, of people. For him Samrat just doesn’t matter. But for Samrat the Boy would forever remain as someone he would hate with passion. Someone who will pay someday for humiliating Samrat Thakur. Someone who will admit that Samrat is to be treated with respect and fear and someone who will be begging Samrat to forgive him.
Samrat took a deep breathe and stared right ahead unseeing, overwhelmed, fraught with emotions.
Samrat was gazing at the crystal seeing that 18 years old boy of yesterday sitting in the same room broken and emotionally bruised. His gaze was unblinking and heart unfeeling. He slowly kept the crystal back on the table then leaned back in the chair gazing at the ceiling. Over the years whenever he came back to the house he heard the whispers. The whispers of the mysterious boy who is being trained by the best, then whispers of how he is now one of the best and then came the whispers that tore Samrat.
Samrat closed his eyes and went back to that day in the past that haunted him since then and is still alive and burning now.
A lanky handsome boy of 19years was walking by the corridors of his home going out to hang out with his friends. Then he heard two men who worked in the lower rungs of his father’s kingdom talking and laughing. He still doesn’t know what made him hide behind the door alongside the corridor and hear the conversation of those two men. Maybe he shouldn’t have. May be he should have just walked away. The pain would have been less then. But he chose to listen in.
First man said.
‘I told you! Didn’t i? Nobody agreed with me! I told you!’
Second man waved his hand at him and said
‘OK i believe you! Now stop saying ‘I told you so!’. It is getting on my nerves.”
First man agreed.
“OK i won’t say it again, but hey i was right, wasn’t I?”
Second man agreed this time.
‘That you were. But i guess we all knew deep down that boy would do it.’
First man whispered
“No! He is not ‘the boy’. He is Gabriel now!’
Samrat’s ears pricked up at that name. He too heard the christening of the boy, his arch enemy and was none to pleased. And he certainly did not ask anyone to narrate the glorious tale of that boy’s first kill. He chose to assume that it was an easy kill. After all it was the first time. It had to be an easy one.
Second man said.
“Yeah he is Gabriel now. Can’t say i understand why Rana gave him that name. But great man he is. If he says the boy sorry Gabriel will rule who are we to doubt him? And just between us I think this Gabriel soon would reach the heights scaled by Rana himself. Fire! That boy has fire in him’.
There was lot of admiration in that voice. Samrat’s lips curled up in disgust.
First man readily joined his companion in singing that boy’s praises.
‘True! You just have to look at him to know that he is born to rule. In fact” he lowered his voice ‘I think He Gabriel is the true son of Saabji.’
Samrat reeled back in shock.
Second man paused for a second then slowly said.
‘I think you are right. He could be the son of Saabji’.
‘What ‘could be’?’ The first man rallied on ‘I tell you he is the real son of Saabji. The true heir. Now see both have same strength of character. Both have the same world is theirs attitude.
‘Yes! Yes!’ Agreed the second man. ‘Now that you mention it even i feel Gabriel looks more like a son to Saabji than our Samrat babu’.
Samrat was listening in with horror totally shocked to react.
‘Samrat Babu!’ First man said in scorn. ‘That kid have no similarities with our great Saabji. I think even Saabji knows that. No wonder he packed that kid off to another country for studying. I mean studying.’ He asserted the word studying as if it is something beneath his brethren.
‘And’ he went on ‘You remember Saabji brought that Gabriel home here from nowhere. Nobody knows who that boy is or where he came from. Maybe… you know’ he whispered ‘he really is the son of Saabji. I mean like illegitimate or something.’
‘Naayy!’ Second man disagreed.
‘Saabji is not a man like that. Whatever he did or does he always did it openly. He is an honourable man. So no i don’t think Saabji is the real father of that boy. But’ he held his hand up to stop the first man from cutting in ‘but that boy looks like his son and true heir more than Samrat. And yes i feel that even Saabji thinks the same otherwise why would he choose that boy over his own son to train under great man Rana. May be he readying that boy to take over after him’.
‘You said it buddy!’ First man said in admiration. ‘Even i think the same. And i for one would want to work under Gabriel any day than that Samrat. That kid cant hold a knife properly forget handling a gun. Such a sissy’.
Second man shushed him. ‘Hush! What if he hears you! You dummy! Sissy or no sissy he still is our boss’s son’.
‘Oh what would he do?’ Said the first man still laughing ‘run off to complain about us to his uncle’.
‘Bhanuji dotes on Samrat’ the second man said sternly ‘he will have our heads off if he finds out we are making fun of his precious nephew’.
And they went off leaving a shell shocked Samrat rooted to his spot. He was horrified and in state of disbelief. He slowly walked off to his room like a zombie thoughts whirling round and round his head. He slowly entered his room unseeing anything. He sat on his bed.
‘So that’s why’ suddenly a thought popped in his head. ‘So that’s why, Saabji, the great Virendra Thakur sent Samrat far away from his home and world and brought in that boy to stay here in this house, to be trained under the best: to finally take over’.
Is that boy really the son and true heir of …..
Samrat eyes flew open. He started at the ceiling then looked around the room disoriented. He got up with a jerk from the rocking chair. And keep looking around the room then finally convincing himself that he is now no longer the same 16 years kid or that 18 years old young boy. He now is 26 years man who won’t sit in room and cry or simply sit here and wonder. He is the son of Virendra Thakur. That’s the fact. And it is time to make others realize that He not that Gabriel is and will be the true heir to this underworld. It is his right by birth. Years he spent years under the poisonous shadow of the boy now it is time to come out and reclaim his place. Dark though, reeking with death though this world is his. Samrat’s! And no one will take it away from him. Time to crib and complain is over. It is now or never. He wasted years sitting in the shadows mopping and moaning. He now has to go out and take what is rightfully his and his alone. His place under the sun. As the heir of Virendra Thakur, the king of underworld.