Somewhere deep in the netherworld:
“Sire, welcome back! How was your journey this year? Do they still remember you, your words, your principles? Did you enjoy the feast? Will it be another great year?”
The king raised his downcast head and looked up at this minister who could only gasp at what he saw. His king’s face was tear-stained, weary and exhausted. It was only then he noticed his king’s fine robes were all dirty, his feet caked with drying mud. But his eyes shone with pride!
“Mahamantri, for the very first time in all these yugas, I saw a celebration of a different kind. The men did not dress up like tigers or dance to the beat of a thousand drums. The women and children did not buy new clothes nor dress up in all their finery, or adorn their long lustrous hair with flowers. There were no elaborate flower decorations outside every doorstep. My temple was not decorated either. There were boats and snakes all right, but no snake boat race! The feast I was served was food for survival.”
The minister cut the king short, utterly shocked by this departure from protocol. He fell down in shock and said, “So it’s finally happened. They have forgotten you. We knew this day was coming. We knew the fickle mind of man. That is why you are so upset! I’m sorry my king. I guess this ends your annual visits. Now you return to the netherworld, never to look back. I don’t know what to say my king.”
The king glared at his minister in amusement and anger all at once and straightened himself to his full height and glory. “Mahamantri, a wise man once said – if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything!” This silenced the minister who meekly waited for what his beloved king really wanted to say.
“If you would have let me finish, you would not feel that way. On the contrary! My subjects had to deal with rains, floods, destruction of life and property. Some went hungry for days on end. Many are now homeless, figuring out how to rebuild their life piece by broken piece.
In that situation, I saw how they came together as one. Many were reborn into volunteers and leaders. Many found the strength they didn’t know they had to rescue the very elderly and the very young. And I was there, all those ten days. For the last few weeks Mahamantri, every subject of mine was a Mahabali in his own right.”
The minister was overjoyed and began to sing the song that extolled the glories of the days of his beloved king’s rule:
Maveli nadu vaneedum kalam,
amodhathode vasikkum kalam
kallavum illa chathiyumilla
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people were equal.
And people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
There were no lies,
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no one was false in speech either.
Measures and weights were right;
No one cheated or wronged his neighbor.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless races
“It’s true to this day Mahamantri. I saw everyone come together as human beings and help. I saw temples opening their doors for Eid prayers. I saw everyone involved in cleaning and restoring each others’ places of worship.
I also saw something else in all this positivity. In some places, I heard reports of looting, theft and deliberate harm. Fear not Mahamantri, they will also remember me soon and regret their actions. The spirit of Mahabali is alive all over Kerala, and it will move them to do the right thing.
I continue to live on in their hearts. I always will.”