We reach our camp; Sun God has finished his day’s journey sometime back. A thin red strip of light is still visible in the western sky but the forest area has already sunk into deep silence. We have killed almost all birds that came to our sight along with dozens of Chitals, at least a dozen of Sambar, several black bucks, Barasingha and wild boars. Birds will not fly towards their nests at the end of the day for several months in this part of the forest. I wanted a couple of tiger skins too – do not consider this a happy hunter’s day without the chance of hunting at least one tiger. Killing a tiger gives a man a different sensual pleasure that one cannot have by killing deer; anyway have to wait till tomorrow for another chance.

I do not want to enter my tent so soon; sitting in front I will have a look at the row of tents. The servants lit lamps surrounding the open space where our tents are set up. Mine is the largest and most beautifully designed of course. At one side of the ground I spot some of the hunters busy skinning the animal – some of those will be cooked tonight. I see couple of armed soldiers ready to carry a cartful of skinned animals. Those are being sent to my palace for the royal kitchen. Some will be distributed among palace staffs and court-people too. The king should not be absent from the capital for long. Even if he is absent, his hunts should reach there to keep the people aware of his presence, let them know that the king loves to share his joy with them even from his forest tents. The soldiers bow facing me before leaving – I look at them nodding. I enter the tent, as it goes dark outside. I need rest too.

Two maids were waiting for me inside the majestically decorated tent. I feel relieved seeing them rather than embarrassed this time. The lamps inside this tent are fuelled by some aromatic oil. They help me taking bath in the perfumed hot water, give my body a gentle massage, and dress me up. I enjoy the touch of soft female hands on my body this time. Peggy the woman has left my body it seems. As soon as they leave, I hear my chief of the hunters asking my permission to enter. He presents a new idea of beating the forest again tomorrow to be able to present me couple of tigers this season. But I don’t want to take help from beat party any longer. I have own plan of chasing animals tomorrow morning without taking help of my men. The king will lose respect of the huntsmen if cannot do anything heroic. He leaves after sometime – maids enter again with my dinner – roasted birds, aromatic rice cooked with deer meat and spices, some more meat in a broth – the king is served the best food for sure! The king cannot talk to maids, and I suddenly feel lonely. In the palace I am never alone during mealtime. Meals are always more enjoyable in the company of my beautiful queens. I remember almost everyone’s name – they are happy with my memorizing their names. Loving ladies do not expect much – they are happy with being given the chance of loving me. I go to bed thinking of the love the entire ladies quarter of my palace showed me.

Out of the blue, that voice comes from within my stomach – no, I didn’t do a mistake this time. She is inside my stomach! – “You wretched guy! – Cannot even stop a moment thinking about women?” – I burp.

Ohh! What does this lady want? I wanted to enquire where we first met, wanted to be polite this time, but she is not giving me a chance! I respond, “Madam. I prefer company of even a ghost-lady than sleeping alone. Would you please come out? Isn’t it better fighting face to face than fighting like this? I, king Dusmanta find fighting with a lady a disgrace, still if you want, I can do that favour to you. After all, you will be my company tonight!”

She sounded perturbed, “You are such a scoundrel; you don’t even know we are inseparable. I cannot come out; neither I am fighting for a fight’s sake. You upset me!”

“I don’t want to upset ladies. And you a lady – may not be one of my dreams, may be too fat and sour-tongued but still…” I expect she would understand my words. Now I have a desire to see her before me.

“What do you mean by ‘Still’? Are you planning to plant a male seed in my womb?” – She chuckles.

I feel humiliated. A ruling dynasty’s power is preserved by its male descendants. And I the mighty ruler of the Luner dynasty could not present the clan a son till date. Pity me! People bow before me, palace ladies pretend to be dying to make love with me – but they all laugh behind me. All consider me a worthless man bringing only daughters to every single mating partner – yes I mate too. Not always I make love. Sometimes I just mate with women with the purpose of having a son. And in recent days I mate more than I made love. Neither my love, nor my purpose aided me having a son till date. I have reason to be upset with both my Love and Purpose. But how much this shameless lady knows about me? I feel irritated.

“Cuddle yourself if you want to cuddle me!” – she giggles. I have never faced such a humiliation in my life. Now I FEEL HELPLESS – cannot stop an unruly lady, cannot even call the guards to throw her in some prison – she is locked inside me! Why did gods push me to such a terror – what have I done to them? I don’t feel like talking any longer; feel my hot tears flowing down the corners of my eyes.

Does my silence hurt Peggy? She sounds serious this time, “You know what Dussi? (ME? She calls me DUSSI? Why doesn’t she stop shocking me again and again?) – I was lamenting while Joy, my once boyfriend left me. And then I was sleeping. Actually I don’t know whether I was lamenting or sleeping. I think I died in my sleep. I mean either I lamented or slept or died – I am not exactly sure – but reborn with your body five thousand years back. Now we are inseparable.”

I jump on my bed in horror, “NO! I don’t want you. How are you telling you are reborn? I am born as kind Dusmanta and was always Dusmanta. What is the proof you didn’t hijack my body, I mean My stomach?” – I tried to correct as I am still afraid of her giggles.

Even correcting myself cannot save me at times. She starts giggling again, “You are a bonehead. I am inside your bony head, not stomach.”

“I am least concerned about my bones or the head” – I know I have to stop her somehow, “Leave me alone!” – the sentence sounds rude to myself. I cannot imagine talking to ladies this way normally, but who tells this is a normal situation?

“Do you think I am happily staying inside the body of a ancient womanizer man? Even Joy was not as indecent as you are. In fact he was not indecent at all – only hurt me a little by marrying Riddhi. And now I am placed in the body of a man who enjoys killing innocent animals, eating them and looking at the female masseurs with indecent eyes while they provides service? Hope these are not your bonded labourers?”

I understand I cannot explain the concept of “labour of love” before the modern ladies after five thousand years. Probably the society will change so much in five thousand years that women would lose their love for kingly bodies and ask for payment for a simple body massage. What’s the use of talking to her? I fell down on my bed like a termite-eaten tree.

“You became patriarchal!” – She screams – “Let me go or come with me to the future. I can’t stay here in this primitive for longer. You are so dominating, so brute! Moreover you are into polygamy! How could you go with many women – you people don’t even have judiciary to punish you! I hate you!” – She starts crying. And ironically, her river of tears begins flowing from my eyes. I begin hating her carrying in my body. She is not a ghost; a witch! Moreover I hate the word that will form after five thousand year, “Patriarchal! Polygamy! Judiciary!” What do they mean by such words? I do not know– do not have any intention to know any longer. I lost patience. I shout, “Leave me alone, you witch!”

I hear the sound of footsteps outside, some people are coming running. I hear the voice jingling of anklets of my maids, then a worried male voice, “Is the master okay?” I hear the sound of tears of my maids, “Something must have happened to the master. He seems absent minded since morning. You shouldn’t have brought him to this forest.” I recognize the love of my people for me; answer, “I am fine. I was having a bad dream – will consult the astrologer going back to the capital.”

They leave. My tear or her’s, stopped flowing in the meantime. She tells now in a reasonable voice, as if pleading, “See you are a king, you have the power to decide. I cannot, especially when I am trapped in your body. I know you ancient people were amazing scientists. I read them in all Vedic websites – also some American scholar’s books. This must be a case of gender identity disorder. You must have a medicine to cure it. You cannot be a man you know.”

I keep on hoping that my silence will stop her. But she continues, “Or you must have a good time-machine and some great genetic engineers – please take me back to my time and release me from your body. I will never be angry with Joy and Riddhi, I promise.”

This is the end of my tolerance limit. I cannot digest so many foreign words, What – I cannot understand what she is telling me. I cannot allow a witch to torture me indefinitely drowning me in the ocean of unknown words like this. I harden my fingers; press my throat as hard as possible. She cries, “You are gagging me! Please don’t kill me – ancient Kings were forgiving, I have read.”

I don’t care what she had read. I am not ancient. Also Kings do not forgive perpetually. I gag her harder. It pains, it feels like chocking, but I am sure if gods has given me two lives by mistake today, one has to end. I will survive even if she dies; and I have to. She starts shivering under my tight grasp, not able to talk anymore. Soon the shivering stops. I heave a deep sigh of relief.

I feel tired. I ring the bell beside my bed. One maid enters; her eyes tell that she was sleeping. I feel sorry for her, order her: “Bring me the mirror.”

She brings the mirror. I tell her to go. I look at the mirror, red and blue prints of my merciless fingers on my throat – thank gods that I did not die in these powerful hands. I utter a short prayer in the name of my ancestor, the Glorious King Chandra as a token of thanks. Then I look at my face, the slightly curved ends of my beautiful moustache. The credit goes to my barber. I enjoy the admiration – especially by beautiful ladies. At this moment I feel like falling in love with my well-cared moustache. How about growing a beard too? I am sure I will look more attractive sporting that. First thing I will do tomorrow morning is talking to my barber. I love my beautiful face. Keeping the mirror aside, I start cuddling my face – with the same fingers, now flexible and soft.
To be cont.