No, it wasn’t the same. The way he looked at her had changed. In a fortnight, the King had changed his loyalties. His revered Queen was worshipped for her beauty. Subjects from all around the country and the world pilgrimed their way to King’s court, only to get a glimpse of her. But the King ensured that his beautiful bride was always veiled. An encounter with her naked face could leave a man spellbound. That was the extent of her beauty.
But then, one fine day, the King lost interest. He was bored out of his wits as man after man visited his kingdom in search of his wife. There wasn’t anything attractive about her anymore. She was just another woman, with the same insecurities. He banned his subjects from making their pilgrimages. His wife was going to be treated as just another Queen. He was afraid his kingdom was coming to be known for her beauty rather than his bravado. And so, the people of India stopped talking about this Queen and her face was lost in the pages of history.
As he walked into the walls of his father’s riches, he saw a portrait of his great grandmother. The Queen. She wasn’t as pretty as they all claimed her to be, he thought. Wiping the dust off the portrait, he felt something move behind it. The portrait opened into a drawer. A piece of paper sat there intriguing him with its sheer presence. On opening it, he realised it was a yellowing piece of parchment. A handwritten note read: you’ll always find your worth somewhere. My King found it in my beauty. But soon lost his interest. But it was on me to find my own interest to feel worthy. And so, I decided to pass on a piece of me to you. Riches, beauty and fame will leave you. But experiences will always stay.” There was a recipe in there titled behrouz biryani, made with love and warmth.
He took that recipe home to try it out, and it was beautiful. The aroma of the spices, the finesse of the technique… It all spoke volumes about his great grandmother. Today, her recipe lives on, even after the folklore of her beauty was squashed out of existence. And the King? He is lost to the sweeping winds of time.