Chapter 10 : The Young Boy and the Old Man

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in autumn. The prince’s friends were still sick with the pox while Kiaan too, had just recovered, thanks to the royal doctor’s tender care. The 11-year old felt restless and wanted to rush outside. Recalling the __arduous paths leading to the hilltops in Neem valley, the kid decided today was the day to explore.

__Confounded by the new trail, Kiaan was soon lost and tired. He headed towards a cleaning, where he plucked and ate some ripe berries. A voice boomed “Dear boy, did you steal those berries from my plants?”. The boy turned around and spotted an old bearded man in __austere robes smiling at him. He replied, “Namaste, I am sorry I did not know these plants belonged to you. Forgive me. I can pay you for them.”

Pleased by his __probity, the man said “It’s alright. You show signs of nobility, you wear a bracelet with the royal seal. Are you the prince?” Kiaan nodded.

“Ah well, I see. Long time since I met royalty in these parts. In 4 years, you shall be king, while still a mere boy. There is enough time to grow, yet not enough time indeed. Maybe you’d like to hear the words I told your father once. A ruler is made by his actions, not by birth. Remember no act or person is __inconsequential and even the most __mundane lives __belie interesting stories. So be curious, be __skeptic and find your own truths. You are but a __fledgling in politics but I sense you will do well, son. May your heart stay strong and your mind remain open. Alas, the sun is setting, you must leave these hills. Take this route, dear prince, and reach safely. Farewell.”

Kiaan bowed to the old man and walked back deep in though. The __sage’s advice had a __profound impact on Kiaan. For years to come, he would remember these words which changed his worldview forever. Kiaan returned to the hills many times for __desultory walks, but he never saw the old __recluse again.

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