The king is very worried today. He has four queens and no child. A fifth marriage will confirm what his subjects suspect and what he already knows. Yes, the king is impotent. He has not been like this always; but somehow he ended up losing his…well…his “virility”.

The royal attendant Suya enters the king’s chamber with a glass of green juice.

“Good morning, Your Highness,” she bows gently holding out the tray. The prime minister enters at the same moment and the king gulps down the juice at one go.

“A glorious morning; but alas, it is tainted with suspense,” says the diminutive man as he presents a golden envelope to the king.

The king scrutinizes the wax seal; the fine scratches tell him about the opening and resealing of the message within. Nevertheless he breaks it open and straightens out the enclosed piece of parchment. The prime minister quickly turns around, offering His Majesty a moment of ostensible privacy.

The king, however, is engrossed in the one liner content of the letter. He is being summoned to a secluded part of the dense woods adjoining his kingdom.

“I have some business to attend and will leave now,” says the king to the waiting minister. “Meanwhile you should work on your tampering skills. Go home and practice a bit. ”

He throws the envelope at the minister, who manages to catch it with extremely agility and then remembers to contort his face in shock.

“Suya, the potion tasted really good today,” the king tells the royal attendant. “I feel invigorated. Convey my regards to the Kabiraj.”

Suya gives a measured smile and resumes her work.

The king walks out along the stately path that stretches amidst colourful gardens to mount his white horse. He acknowledges the stable boys with a kind nod and gallops away towards the woods. The fresh air and the stale memories combine in his mind to form a delightful interplay. He knows who has sent for him. After all, the letter is written in a code language that he has used with only one person in the past.

On reaching the agreed spot the king finds an open chest and a sumptuous breakfast spread waiting for him. He caresses the bevy of silken clothes in the trunk and spots a diamond ring concealed among the layers. He stands up and looks around. There is no one.

“Shakuntala!!! I’m here to see you,” the king begins to shout. “Shakuntala…where’re you?”

There is a slight rustle amidst the thick foliage and she glides out of a bush.

20 years later, Shakuntala’s beauty mesmerizes the king again.

“Dushyant, I called you here to return your gifts; take back the chest,” Shakuntala starts.

“Dear…let’s not be so sour today. Why don’t we sit down and eat first?”

“Breakfast is set for three. Did you see that?”

“Three?” The king scratches his head.

“Our son Bharat will join us too. I named him after Bharat of Ramayana. He too is deprived in life due to his mother’s folly. Today I’ll return all that you have given me, including Bharat.”

“Don’t do this dear…you know I love you. But our child was born out of wedlock. My subjects will shun me if I admit the truth.”

“So, who’s getting the kingdom after you pass away?” Shakuntala smirks as she picks out a succulent wild berry and sinks her teeth into it.

Suddenly the king feels something waking up in his loins. He looks down to get a surprise. His manhood is ready to break the long fast.

The king nervously walks up to Shakunkala and enfolds her from behind.

“Dear, I have always loved you.”

Shakuntala slips out of his grip lithely and laughs.

“Please don’t deny me today,” the king urges.

“I want my son as the next king; and the huge country you rule, to be named after him!”

Shakuntala holds out her palm asking for the word of the king.

“Ok…so be it,” the king clasps her hand, pulls her closer and tries to kiss her.

“Bharat! Show yourself,” Shakuntala raises her voice.

A tall boy with a sculpted body comes out. He is fully armed.

“So he has listened to everything,” thinks Dushyant as he loosens his grip on Shakuntala. His manhood takes the cue and wilts away immediately.

Bharat steps ahead, bends down and touches the feet of his father.

The king smiles…in relief.

“You have inherited our best,” he tells Bharat.

“Shakuntala, I can officially adopt him as my son,” offers the king. “I’ll pass him off as the orphaned child of a learned Brahmin couple.”

A pleased Shakuntala bows her head.

“Thank you, that’d suffice,” she replies.

And without furthering the conversation the trio sits down to eat together for the first and last time.

When it is time to leave, the king takes Bharat by hand and looks longingly at Shakuntala.

“Can’t you come?” he asks.

“To be your whore?” Shakuntala laughs out scornfully. “Your impotency is cured. I’ve lifted the curse.”

The king stares at Shakuntala in disbelief but she only waves once at her son and then disappears into the forest.

Back in her cosy hut Shakuntala finds Suya waiting. She throws her slender arms around Suya’s neck and snuggles up.

“Anasuya, do you know where Priyambada is?” she asks.

“She went to collect more of the impotency herb,” Suya hugs her back.

“We don’t need more of it. Continue with the revitalizing concoction you gave Dushyant today…as long as he treats Bharat well.”

Suya nods with a smile.

Shakuntala looks deep into Suya’s eyes and begins to untie her upper garment.

“We can’t start without Priyambada…she’ll be so angry,” Suya protests meekly.

“Angry and wild…just the way I like it,” explains Shakuntala and plants a kiss on Suya’s lips.

Suya gets up once to set the door ajar and then lets her aroused body sink into the warmth of Shakuntala’s bare arms.

Tanima Das

Written by Tanima Das

Tanima writes primarily because she loves to write. She usually finds it really hard to talk about herself.