Aditya woke up with a slight headache. Did I really drink so much last night? he wondered. The melancholic musical night led to a rather obnoxious dinner and the only way to get through was to stop counting the goblets of wine.
What should I do this morning? he asked to no one in particular. I could perhaps jump off the ledge, climb down the roof and then make a run for the airport. My ticket is valid for another month, the next-in-throne Aditya Vikram Singh contemplated.
Hukum. Mandar was back.
Rajmata is calling you. There are some people here to meet you.
Blimey! Already? Getting out of bed, Aditya walked towards his bathroom. He reappeared at the so-called courtroom after twenty minutes. The people were waiting patiently.
Ah son! mother beckoned him, lovingly. Please meet our guests. This is Rampal Singh and his wife Madhumati. And they are here to talk about their daughter's hand for you.
WHAT! was the only word that came out of Aditya's brains, but they didn't reach the tip of his tongue. He was completely taken aback. I am going out mother, we will talk about this later. Nice meeting you. Do have lunch and go, saying that, Aditya walked out towards the stables. I need a horse, he said, again, to no one particular.
Gyanendra was an idiot, thought Aditya of his older brother. I thought he loved playing prince and would eventually become the king. What is this all about him going and dying? It's just not fair. I want the froth lining of beer back on my upper lip, with Amy in tow. That is what I want.
Getting the stableboy to saddle up one of the royal horses, Aditya decided to ride around. It's a lovely day, he decided. Thanks to his training back as a child, he could get on and off a horse with ease, learn how to fence and drink gallons of beer without a hangover, a quality he'd picked up later in college.
How far to the nearest village? Aditya asked the stableboy.
About 25 minutes on horseback hukum, pat came the reply.
Aditya rode off, not really wanting to go to the nearest village.
Back in the palace, the queen's guests were readying themselves to leave. Lunch was not an option, especially since they hadn't brought any gift for the queen as such, not even a token of appreciation. Rajmata was very worried. Frowns had formed on her forehead and took various shapes as she paced up and down the landing of the staircase. Has he become insane? she wondered. At 29, I'd have thought him to be slightly more mature. All these years of 'foreign' education hadn't really worked. Inspector Ghanshyam will soon have to solve the case. Aditya needs to wear the crown by then.
I will have to have a word with him. Only if the king were alive.
Riding downhill through the hilly roads, Aditya stopped his horse for a minute to take a look at the landscape. All this? Mine? Bloody hell. I wonder if this horse will make it all the way to the Udaipur airport.
He found himself a clearing by the side of the road and parked the horse. Getting off, he sat under an unfamiliar tree, lighting another cigarette. I need to send for some more, he thought.
I cannot do this. I don't know why I agreed to even come. I haven't seen mother in the last seven years. I am not even sure if she is my mother. I didn't see my father's dead body and Gyan was gone by the time I was called back. How can they even expect to fill in so many shoes. I don't know the first thing about administration. Why can I not live with my Keats and Byron instead? I should have never come back.
But no one heard Aditya Vikram Singh, next-in-throne, the crown prince, the would-be king, the handsome man who hated wearing anything beyond his jeans, a man who hadn't told a soul of his royal lineage back in London. No one came to his rescue. I am doomed, declared Aditya, loudly. No one was listening to him anyway.
150 kilometres away in Udaipur, she was wondering if she should make a trip to Bombay to meet her agent. He promised to call me sometime during the week. And 'the' week was two weeks ago. What if he took the money and ran, she thought.
Asavari Sinha was sitting in front of her computer and searching for a mail that had actually never arrived. Do they call people for auditions over email? she wondered.
Moving to Udaipur was a really stupid decision. But she had found work, thanks to the various jewellery houses that constantly needed the 'Indian-looking girl' to pose in their jewels. She made enough money to get by. Maybe I should consider a job in Radha's advertising agency. She could pass off as an account executive and then find enough clients who'd make her a model. Lousy option, she counteracted.
It was time for tea. She walked to her miniscule kitchen and put on a kettle. Her mother had promised her a bit of help but that never came and Asavari was too proud to ask. I don't even have a fucking boyfriend, she said. At least the movies would be sponsored.