Towards evening the storm was at its height. From the terrific downpour of rain, the crash of thunder, and the repeated flashes of lightning, you might think that a battle of the gods and demons was raging in the skies. Black clouds waved like the Flags of Doom. The Ganges was lashed into a fury, and the trees of the gardens on either bank swayed from side to side with sighs and groans.
“Once upon a time there was a king.”
When we were children there was no need to know who the king in the fairy story was. It didn’t matter whether he was called Shiladitya or Shaliban, whether he lived at Kashi or Kanauj. The thing that made a seven-year-old boy’s heart go thump, thump with delight was this one sovereign truth, this reality of all realities: “Once there was a king.”