Recently, I was lucky to read “The Tale of Melon City” by Vikram Seth :
In the city of which I sing There was a just and placid King. The King proclaimed an arch should be Constructed, that triumphally Would span the major thoroughfare To edify spectators there. The workmen went and built the thing. They did so since he was the King. The King rode down the thoroughfare To edify spectators there. Under the arch he lost his crown. The arch was built too low. A frown Appeared upon his placid face. The King said, ‘This is a disgrace. The chief of builders will be hanged.’ The rope and gallows were arranged. The chief of builders was led out. He passed the King. He gave a shout, 'O King, it was the workmen's fault' 'Oh!' said the King, and called a halt To the proceedings. Being just (And placider now) he said, ‘I must Have all the workmen hanged instead.’ The workmen looked surprised, and said, ‘O King, you do not realise The bricks were made of the wrong size.’ ‘Summon the masons!’ said the King. The masons stood there quivering. ‘It was the architect...’, they said, The architect was summoned. ‘Well, architect,’ said His Majesty. ‘I do ordain that you shall be Hanged.’ Said the architect, ‘O King, You have forgotten one small thing. You made certain amendments to The plans when I showed them to you.’ The King heard this. The King saw red. In fact he nearly lost his head; But being a just and placid King He said, ‘This is a tricky thing. I need some counsel. Bring to me The wisest man in this country.’ The wisest man was found and brought, Nay, carried, to the Royal Court. He could not walk and could not see, So old (and therefore wise) was he — But in a quavering voice he said, ‘The culprit must be punished. Truly, the arch it was that banged The crown off, and it must be hanged’. To the scaffold the arch was led When suddenly a Councillor said — ‘How can we hang so shamefully What touched your head, Your Majesty?’ ‘True,’ mused the King. By now the crowd, Restless, was muttering aloud. The King perceived their mood and trembled And said to all who were assembled — ‘Let us postpone consideration Of finer points like guilt. The nation Wants a hanging. Hanged must be Someone, and that immediately.’ The noose was set up somewhat high. Each man was measured by and by. But only one man was so tall He fitted. One man. That was all. He was the King. His Majesty Was therefore hanged by Royal Decree ‘Thank Goodness we found someone,’ said The Ministers, ‘for if instead We had not, the unruly town Might well have turned against the Crown.’ ‘Long live the King!’ the Ministers said. ‘Long live the King! The King is dead.’ They pondered the dilemma; then, Being practical-minded men, Sent out the heralds to proclaim (In His [former] Majesty’s name): ‘The next to pass the City Gate Will choose the ruler of our state, As is our custom. This will be Enforced with due ceremony.’ A man passed by the City Gate. An idiot. The guards cried, ‘Wait! Who is to be the King? Decide!’ ‘A melon,’ the idiot replied. This was his standard answer to All questions. (He liked melons.) ‘You Are now our King,’ the Ministers said, Crowning a melon. Then they led (Carried) the Melon to the throne And reverently set it down. This happened years and years ago. When now you ask the people, ‘So — Your King appears to be a melon. How did this happen?’, they say, ‘Well, on Account of customary choice. If His Majesty rejoice In being a melon, that’s OK With us, for who are we to say What he should be as long as he Leaves us in Peace and Liberty?’ The principles of laissez faire Seem to be well-established there.
I was deeply inspired by the poem and it’s ideas and thus, decided to write a sort of sequel to it myself. Here it goes :
In the city of which I sing, The principles of laissez-faire Were established as firm As the King's chair. The King, A just And placid melon, Loved his people, And his melons. One fine day, When all was gay, The King was nowhere To be discovered. The guards searched And searched the kingdom Through, Even under the archway, But to no avail. The Courtiers then proclaimed, In the name of the late Melon, Whosoever passed through The city gates, Shall decide the ruler Of this pretty place. A tiny creature, Who purred and purred Passed through the gates. The guard asked the Cat, "Who is to be the king , Say". The cat replied, "Meow", as that was All should could say. The courtiers thought for Days, at large, And finally mischarged, The cat was to be crowned the King, After all. A grand ceremony was announced, The King pounced and bounced And bounced. Days passed, When one fine day, The guards ventured Out under the Archway, To meet the King, On his birthday. But behold, What they saw, They could not believe, Your Majesty was savoring a melon. Surprised, and thrilled, The guards exclaimed, "The King is untamed, he has eaten and shamed, The long lost King, What a shame!" The guards took the King Without any fling, To the the royal courthouse. The courtiers deliberated, And deliberated through, And finally blew Out the decree, That the King must be hanged, And hanged, he was.
I hope you liked it and will continue to read my content.