Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a kingdom. The King was very particular about law and order, discipline and cleanliness, uniformity and conformity, and so on. So he ordered that no one should criticise the administration overtly or covertly, explicitly or implicitly. He had soldiers and spies throughout the kingdom to catch anyone who disobeyed his orders.
Divyanshu was arrested by one of those countless, nebulous officers. His crime was that he had painted a portrait of the King. In fact, the King looked more handsome and imposing in the portrait than he really was. The King was displeased by something about the portrait. Divyanshu was never told what it was that displeased the King. He thought he had made a magnificent portrait. He had placed in his prayer room along with his gods. But the King was angry. Without even seeing the portrait.
Divyanshu was given the usual punishment. He was ordered to set up his own funeral pyre before sunset. At sunset he would be executed and placed on the funeral pyre. He had the liberty to make the funeral pyre as beautiful as he wished.
With whatever pieces of wood he was given, Divyanshu began making his funeral pyre as beautiful as he could. Being an artist he had a clear vision of how the funeral pyre should look like. He made it on a platform. He gave it the shape of classical tombs he had seen in pictures. By the time his body would be burnt the platform would catch fire too. The entire thing would collapse with a thud which he imagined to be loud enough to shake the heavens. Artists have such big egos that they imagine heavenly participation in their funeral too.
“You idiot!” The soldier who was guarding him shouted. “Finish it up quickly; there’s only an hour left for sunset. What do you think you are making? A monument?”
What else? Divyanshu asked himself. Don’t I have this freedom at least? What sort of an artist would I be otherwise?
The sun was beginning to show signs of sinking beyond the horizon. The soldier approached. He looked at the funeral pyre with some dismay. “Beautiful!” he mumbled in spite of himself.