An air of expectancy pervaded Mamallapuram. The Emperor was coming, with his daughter Kuntavi. The city was decorated and waiting.
From the Kaveri to the
They were seated on the royal elephant. Soldiers were arrayed around the elephant. Drums on the backs of huge bulls were out in front. Others- servants, goods and such- were arrayed behind.
To see the Emperor and his daughter at the same time was alike to seeing the sun and the moon together. There was a light in their face that came from within.
The Emperor of the Pallavas was tall and majestic. Determination, strength and confidence mingled with gentleness on handsome features. The white, angry scars that ran down his face were testimony to the battles he had fought.
Kuntavi was all feminity. Artists and sculptors said that Kuntavi was God’s reminder against arrogance. The bright jewels they wore and the clothes they had on were dazzling, and combined with the stature of the wearers, positively blinding.
‘Father, why was this city given your name?’ asked Kuntavi with an air of having said it many times.
‘To answer that we’ll have to get down from the elephant,’ replied the Chakravarti.
‘Shall I jump straight down?’ asked Kuntavi laughing.
‘Were you a common girl, you certainly could,’ returned her father, laughing. ‘You would also be entitled to break your leg doing so. Being my daughter, that privilege is not accorded to you.’
Kuntavi pulled a face at him. ‘Why? Being the Emperor’s daughter I am not even allowed to break my leg?’
‘True; very true. If you were to do so, all the fifty-six princes would refuse to marry you.”
Kuntavi giggled and said, ‘But you need have no fear of that, Father! I hate marriage.’
‘Why?’ enquired her father, laying a long finger thoughtfully upon his nose. ‘What did it do to you? Such anger for one so young,’ murmured the Emperor.
‘If I marry, I would have to leave you. Since I have no intentions of doing so, it is a definite nay to that question. I intend to stick very tightly to you indeed.’
‘O Lord of the hapless! Merciful Protector of the needy! Whatever poor man she is destined to wed, may he avail Your protection when she does!’ the Emperor steepled his hands above his head and gazed prayerfully at the heavens.
‘All right. Now, are you going to stop the elephant or not? Or I will try my hand at jumping from elephants, and then nobody will marry me, and I will be pestering you all my life.’
‘And that’s all I need,’ said the Emperor, and motioned to the rider to stop the elephant.
When it stopped, the two of them got down. The Chakravarti turned to the head of the escort and said, ‘Continue on to Mamallapuram and await us at the gate. We shall meet you there.’
He turned away from the highway and cut across the land perpendicular to their destination. His daughter’s palanquin followed. No one batted an eyelid.
Unpredictability was the rule with the Emperor of Kanchi.