She is in love. She was in love. She would always be in love. Always. She puts her left palm on her heart as a gesture of promise to him. Always. They can take away her life but they cannot take away that.

She looks at the shallow silver cup before her that contains the thick blackish poison, bends down, and curls her fingers around the cold stem. As she picks the cup up in a sweeping gesture her fingers shake a little and the surface of the liquid frizzles creating a little wave. She sees him, a tiny him, riding on the crest of that wave. He is smiling his benevolent smile. In one hand is his flute. He waves at her with his other hand and then spreads his arms beckoning her to come into their realm. It calms her and her fingers stop shaking. She smiles back at him. The surface of the liquid comes to rest again.

He then bends down and touches the surface with his finger. A slight touch. She sees the drop of vermillion form at the point, and then it spreads outward like a wave of redness till it hits the walls. She now holds a red liquid in the cup, bright red. She dips her middle finger in the cup, and draws her finger in a red line where her hair parts on her scalp as a symbol of weddedness. She is wedded to him. He smiles at her, a playful smile acknowledging the gesture, and touches the liquid again, now turning it the color of saffron. He then looks at her with raised eyebrows and a thin smile, his lips in a slight pout, as if asking her what she would do now. She nods her head once, acknowledging the challenge. Rising to it, she thinks for a moment, and then begins pouring the liquid over her dress, her shapely hands in a slow dance around her lithe body, turning it the color of saffron. She pours the liquid till all of her is clad in saffron. She is parted from the world now. She looks at him flashing a triumphant smile. “I am as good as you.”

He smiles back, and turns the liquid yellow. She smears it in a straight line over the length of her nose. He turns it green. She throws it around herself, on the objects in the room and on the walls, turning the world around her green. He turns it blue. She paints her body blue. He turns it indigo. She daubs her eyelashes in it. He turns it violet. She is lost. What will she do now? She looks around the room searching for a solution. Then she finds it, tucked on the forehead of her lover. She asks him for the feather of the peacock he has. He gives it, albeit reluctantly, knowing he has lost the game, and she smears the violet onto the feather. He bows to her in defeat.

“Meera!” a gruff voice resounds in the room behind her. She hears the clobber of the heavy steps as they slowly near her. She looks at him, her eyes pleading for help. He smiles at her, his face ethereal, and she feels the soft radiance of his smile. Warmth floods her. Then he bends down and dips his finger in the liquid again, and whiteness swirls into the liquid riotously. It froths and foams, and then comes to a sudden rest. It looks milky white. He extends his right hand asking her to come to him. She looks at him, looks at the cup, and then feeling the sudden weight of a heavy hand on her shoulder, she tips the milky contents of the cup into her mouth.

After some time, when people come in to carry her away, they do not find evidence of the painful death by poison they expected. Her face is beautiful as before, enveloped in a serene smile, though the black poison trickles down the side of her mouth. They are astonished. The news of the strange death of the princess spreads through the kingdom like wildfire.



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