When his minister Sendrakar left the world, Raja Katasuria did not have a ready replacement. Sendrakar was an old and trusted prince, impeccable in manners, and versed in custom and tradition.

As the raja’s representative and administrator for the district of Aluva-nadu, Sendrakar’s diligence and honesty were above reproach, and his tax assessments gave no cause for the people to complain.

Now the court officials manoeuvred to land the lucrative appointment. Tax collection was a ready gold mine.

‘These are honest men for now. But they are feeble, and we cannot lead them astray,’ said Raja Katasuria. He returned the palm leaf that contained a short list of names.

‘In that case, break up Aluva-nadu, my king, and apportion the territories to the other three administrators,’ said the chief minister.

‘They trot well, and tirelessly,’ said the rajah. ‘But how long can one gallop?’

‘If not the city, look to the hills then, my king,’ said the chief minister. ‘The Ayainar and his flock. There’re none more honest and versed in all sixty-four arts.’

‘These are recluses, untainted by temptation.’

‘That makes them eminently qualified for such an important position, my king.’

Raja Katasuria went silent. He looked past his chief minister, his thoughts elsewhere. Then he said,

‘Our man lives in the city. In Veloor.’

‘Veloor? I beg your pardon, my king, but that place teems with gaming houses and dance halls.’

‘We know, chief minister. Our high-born refer to that place as the anus of the city. Yet, the same high-born frequent the place.’

The chief minister flinched. The young raja’s reputation for forthrightness never failed to unsettle the older man.

‘How do I find our man, my king?’ said the chief minister.

‘Look for one who keeps meticulous records; does not cheat the harlots their dues; is faithful to his wife; and donates to the poor.’

‘Is there such a man, my king? And in Veloor?’

‘It is a thriving community. There must be at least one such person, chief minister. Locate him for us, this lotus in the muck. Find him not, and perhaps we erred.’

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019

13 comments

    1. Now, that is very succinct, Ankur.
      You have proven that one does not have to be verbose to get a simple truth across.
      My apologies for the late reply as I was away.
      I’m back 🙂

  1. I think we have communicated before many times visiting each others posts. You are an author of books but i had no idea that you knew so much about India, i wonder how you dont sound Indian. but you have great knowledge of hinduism and ita epics. Intrigued by your background are you Turkish? sorry for being so inquisitive and do visit my blog again and leave your valuable comments.

  2. To be a saint in an unblemished environment is much easier than to resist temptation in an accessible surroundings. Such a person will either be unpopular or have enemies waiting for his misstep.

    I recall when I was in the civil service, i had been offered briberies a couple of times. When I looked back now, I wondered why I simply declined without loosing sleep as if it did not bother me at all. But I always thank God for helping me chose the correct path.

    I like and enjoy this post.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Back in the old days offering “coffee money” to get things done was the norm in Singapore. Then, Lee Kuan Yew became prime minister and eradicated corruption. But right into the 1980s, some die-hards continued to offer bribes. Unfortunately, now under Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, matters have gone south again. It is not overt corruption but one cannot help noticing collusion, conflict of interest and nepotism.

      You did right of course by rejecting bribes.

      It happened to me too. A valued supplier once delivered an expensive food hamper complete with wine and liquor. I called him and made clear, the next time he did that – I will blacklist his company. It was Chinese New Year and he thought it was okay to give gifts. I put him right. Subsequently, I handed over the hamper to my HR manager and she suggested that I distribute it to the staff – which I did. But later I learned that many of my expatriate bosses were on the take. Much more than food hampers. I lost all respect for them.

      Glad you enjoyed this post.

      Cheers!
      Eric

  3. Once again a wonderful descriptive look into the ancient rulership and practices of a country I’ve come to love dearly. I’ll look with anticipation for the continuation of this interesting story. You tell these so well and obviously have a passion for that part of Bharat Mata. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Ian,

      You always come with kind and encouraging words.

      I can expand on this story but meant it as a standalone. As my focus now is literary historical fiction set in India, I plan to do some “exercises” writing flash in the same genre. Glad you like it.

      Have a great weekend ahead 🙂
      Eric

    1. Hello Liv,

      Welcome on board, and thank you for the kind words.

      Glad you enjoyed the read. I’m following your blog too and enjoyed “The Pen and the Flower”. Well written flash.

      Cheers!
      Eric

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