The warm South Indian wind slowly blew the loose end of my silk sari. It was 38 degrees and cold sweat drops trickled down my back. It was quite and each set of the 10,000 eyes at the royal courtyard patiently watched as the pandit chanted his mantras. I was draped in red and gold with heavy jewelry handpicked by my mother. I was dressed like I was about to be married but I was being crowned the next queen of Andhra Pradesh- a telugu speaking state in South India. As the diamond necklace choked my damp neck, I looked forward into the eyes of the man who just declared me Queen. He placed the vintage, gold crown that once rightfully belonged to my grandmother, on my head. It felt heavy. The sun glared down at me and I felt dizzy. I was unsure whether it was the heat or the people who are observing every movement I make made me feel like that. I turned and held my sword up to the air. With a sudden burst of adrenaline, I shouted my family name “Jai Lahagari Khatri”. A roar of the same name echoed through the courtyard and birds flew away. Frightened and shocked by the sudden outburst.I was a revolution. I was a warrior. This was what my people thought of me and this is why they chose me to be their next ruler.
My father was from Andhra Pradesh but my mother was from Baluchistan. He too fought for the right to love the woman he intended to marry. He fought for his happiness. My mother was immediately rejected by grandmother. And it was no surprise. My mother was neither Indian or Hindu. She was from Pakistan and a muslim. My father fell in love but also fell out with his family. However, after a year of persuading and convincing, the man broke the wall and got through. He finally got married to Sara Lahagari. She was now called Rajkumari Sara Lahagari Khatri. My father was the youngest and third child. He was never destined to win the throne and he never wanted to but it was never expected that his eldest daughter would lead his state in the future. My father’s older brothers were not interested in the throne either. They were more into the business aspect of royal hood. Since I have been involved in every royal activity from a young age, my grandmother did not fret even once when the uttered my name on her death bed. The woman who didn’t have energy to even open her eyes, gathered all her strength to choose me as her successor. I had to accept.
“Rajkumari Ananya?” a voice hovered from a distance. I was sitting in my balcony, staring into the tall mountains protected me.
I looked over to my left and watched as a frail figure stumbled towards me. I was shocked to see how someone could enter into this private space.
“You are not allowed in here, Miss. You are breaking a law” I carefully told her. But, she didn’t stop. Her stride was stopped when she was only 3 feet away from me. She looked up and I skipped a heart beat. I stopped breathing and could feel tears rolling down my eyes.
“Amamma” I whispered to my grandmother. Filled with shock, I stood on my two feet and walked over to her. Not for a second I wondered if this was real or not. The feeling of seeing the woman who lead a state with an iron heart, over took my rational thinking. I hugged her. But I could not feel anything except for a cold whiff of breeze on my skin.
“You know, I am not real” she snickered. “I am here to tell you something. Yesterday, you officially took over my job. And I am sure you will do a great job, my love. But, you need to remember something important. You are not the queen to the people of this state now. You are their family member. You need to treat everyone like they are you own so they know they can trust you. Don’t ever bow down but rather walk with your head held high. Show the world what sort of women we Khatris are. And finally, be humble and noble. ”
She spoke softly and her eyes sparkled as the words rolled out of her mouth. Before I could respond she disappeared. I was still in the pose as if I was hugging her.I fixed myself and walked into the sitting room. My brother, Aakash was on the couch working on his laptop. He looked up and smiled. I knew I was not insane.
The thought of discussing what just happened with someone hit me. But, I stopped myself and decided to keep this to myself. I decided to just sleep and begin my royal duties with a fresh start. I was questioning my skills for this job and whether I would fill the large shoes that were left behind. But I now know. I placed my crown in the box and laid on the soft, silky bed. I took one last breath before I drifted into my dreams ready to make a change tomorrow.