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Uday: Manyata is out here in this? It's so cold and dark though...
Tom was getting wet in his hands he took the mouse and stuffed him under his scrawny arm pit as a feeble attempt to keep the precious toy dry.
His hair was plastered to his face; his eyes wide Uday attempted to make out where he should go.
Uday: Manyata had to have been taken from her home, and that is really far away. If I walked it would take me months, if not years! Maybe my bike? My bike could take there in no time!
He glanced at the direction of the garage, which was where his brand new red two wheeler was stored and locked. A sense of helplessness dawned on him: How could he rescue here, when he couldn't even get his bike? Glancing down at his muddy Spiderman shoes, he felt a little disappointed. There was Peter Parker, an average boy who got Spider Powers and saves people; and here he was a Prince, who still couldn't do anything.
Uday: Maybe a car! I could take Daddy's car! The car's always outside! Birju could take me!
The Driver Birju would most definitely take the young Yuvraj wherever he wanted: It was his duty. But not like this, and not for this; and that finally dawned on the young Prince- he was stuck and utterly dependent on his Helpers. That made him both angry and disappointed. He hadn't realized until this very moment, being a Prince didn't help his situation in this instance. It shackled him.
Uday: Well! Who needs a stupid bike and a dumb car! I'll walk! And no one can stop me!
Peering through the back yard, he realized that making it through the thick trees and foliage was impossible, and suicide mission.
Uday: The front Gate then!
The Young prince matched with confidence and determination: it was a long walk. The palace was large and the perimeter around the building from the Back yard to the front gate was a half a mile each side. His young legs grew tired, and eyes sleepy, and his body cold. But he trudged onward: Nothing could stop him.
He realized he was half way there when he hit Unnati's tree. Komal Aunty and him had planted it when Unnati had been born'and Mama had died. He had cried in Komal's lap, while Manyata had held his hand, sad because his mother was gone and resentful because God had given him a sister only to take his mother. It was less than a year ago, but he still remembered scene which had happened not too long ago
Komal: Uday beta, this tree isn't just for you; it's for Unnati as well. Every year she'll get bigger, and so will the tree. You have to take care of both for your mother; you're a big boy now. Promise that you can do that for me?
He sniffled and whipped away his tears with his dirt stained hands.
Manyata who had been sitting beside him silently observing, took her little hands to whip her friend's face.
Manyata: Me too! I'll help Uday! We'll do it together!
Uday smiled at the distant memory, walking towards the ledge, he touched the young sapling, it was lush with young foliage, and getting bigger and stronger everyday just like his baby sister. Sighing, he slid down and listened to his tummy rumble. This mission was making him hungry. Opening his backpack, he found the sandwich bag containing 5 Oreo cookies. Quickly he opened up the bag and stuffed one in his tiny mouth. He was too hungry and exhausted to have any of the finesse he should be eating with, reaching in he almost ate a second, but stopped..
Uday: What will Manyata eat when I find her? She'll be hungry, and she loves Oreos just as much as I do.
Gulping, he gently placed the beloved snack into his bag and stood up, Tom fell from his grasp into the wet and slightly muddy ground.
Upset, but not deterred Uday took the mouse and whipped him as clean as possible with his wet Pj sleeve, and continued onward. It seemed to take forever, but he finally made it around to the gate, and once he saw where he was, an extra burst of energy invigorated him. Sprinting towards the iron gates, a delightful smile spread across his face
Meanwhile the palace was in an Uproar. Lights were turning on looking for the young Yuvraj. The Nanny had gone in to check up on the devilish little one, only to find the racecar bed empty and cold. Brijraj and Grijraj were frantic, calling the police, Komal held Jainandini and Unnati, both girls still calm and asleep unaware of the tension boiling in the room. Rajmata held her composure, even as a guest in this palace, she held an aura of control and finesse.
Rajmata: Grijraj, make sure the Guards have locked down the perimeter, no one gets in and no one goes out. Brijraj, we need to notify the police'.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a frantic guard running in out of breath, bowing to catch their attention.
Guard: Maharaja Shab, the Yuvraj has been found.
Grijraj: Where? Who took him?!
His voice was raw and frantic from the worry; these last 10 minutes had him thinking the worst.
The royal Adults followed the guard to the security room, and there the sight in front of them would forever be etched into their memories.
There was young Uday, clad in his wet Spiderman Pjs & hair plastered to his head, was pushing up against a heavy iron gate. The lock was electronic and Uday could not open the high gate. But he didn't give up, his little body heaved and pushed up against it, as if sheer determination could open this gate and let him go outside. The picture was clear through the rain, as the security lights let the camera catch such a heart breaking scene. His tiny mouth was moving, and the words were incoherent until his volume rose:
Uday: OPEN GATE!!! I need to FIND MANYATA!!!! Open!! I order you to OPEN NOW!
A sob caught up in Komal's throat, Brijraj abruptly turned away, unable to watch, Grijraj held his face in the palms of his hands, and Rajmata watched on at Uday in awe and admiration.
Rajmata: Yeh hain hamare Yuvraj. Ethne masum se umar meh bhi ethna janoon aur josh. Humne sahi rishta chuna hain hamare Manyata ki liye.
Outside Uday was still pushing against the gate; the rain was mixing in with his tears now. He had come so close, only to be stopped by walls: the very walls meant to keep him safe were preventing him from saving Manyata. So deep in concentration and thought, he was startled when a firm hand touched his little shoulder. Looking up he saw Rajmata standing regally behind him, a servant holding a large umbrella shielding her from the harsh rain; and another servant holding a flashlight and towel.
Bending down towards his level, she touched his face, and ran her fingers through his wet hair. Her hands were warm against his cold skin: he felt safe with her.
Rajmata: Uday beta, what are you doing out here?
Uday: I...I... I was going to find Manyata Dadi Shab.
It was odd to see such a composed women crumble slightly at such simple and innocent thought. But she did. Rajmata held him tight against her, silent tears streaming down her eyes. She whispered in his ear:
Rajmata: We will find her Uday, and I believe you will too. But for now, we need you here. You'll help us won't you?
Uday unable to come up with an answer, nodded.
Rajmata whipped his wet face, and signaled for a towel, wrapping Uday up in its soft arm confines, she held his hand and guided him towards the palace's main entrance. Uday looked defeated, and exhausted. His mission had failed, and he felt as if he had failed at what was the most important duty in his young life. He hadn't found his friend, and he had just made another person he loved cry.
His bed was warm; a nice shower had cleaned him up, and washed away the cold prickly feeling in his toes. His father had held him close, and scolded him gently, with concern and love. Brijraj had just looked at the young Prince, kissed his forehead and left the room without a word.
Sleep came easy, exhaustion and sore muscles won the battle of an active mind and curious thoughts. He slept, dreaming of finding Manyata: maybe it would be sunny tomorrow, and Birju would take him in the care, it would be faster and he would find her this time. He slept, dreaming his innocent and impossible dreams, and Komal watched over him, holding Tom and Jerry.
The morning came quickly and quietly, the storm for last night had turned over trees, and left puddles and muddy grass. Uday opened his eyes wide, and turned to the Spiderman clock resting on his bedside: it was 12AM...Lunch time? He was always woken up at 7:30AM to get ready and eat breakfast at the royal table.
Still a little sore, and very disappointed, he rubbed his eyes with his little fists. Yawning as he stared out his window at the bright sunny day.
Uday: I'll do it today then; I'll go on my bike.
Tears filled her eyes as she gently touched his face, and kissed his forehead.
Komal: Uday beta, don't leave us. Ever again.
Komal: I know. I know what you want: We all want the same thing. She'll come home, she'll be found. But...but I we can't lose you too Uday.
Uday: Auntyji...but...she's alone. She doesn't have home, you, me...Unnati, Dadi Shab...or Tom.
Hearing Tom's name, Komal grabbed the plush animal beside her, and handed him to Uday.
Looking at the toy, Uday noticed the dirt had been cleaned, and last night's adventure was just a story in the past for Tom.
Komal: Uday beta, I'm giving you Tom. You keep him safe. Keep him, and when Manyata comes back, you should give him to her. He's your responsibility.
Uday counted on his fingers: Unnati, Unnati's Tree, and now Tom. He had three new responsibilities along with being a Prince. He looked at his hand and saw one finger left from 5.
Uday: Auntyji, is Manyata my responsibility too?
Komal: She will beta, one day she will.
Komal left, leaving a young Uday to ponder her words, and stare intently at the plush toy. Slipping out of his bed, he grabbed Jerry to go along with Tom and walked towards his closet. Inside he found his box. It was a wooden chest, filled with nick nacks and toys his father brought him from around the globe. Silently the young Prince emptied out the box, every game, puzzle, plane, action figure and book he had collected in his short life, was thrown out without care. Finally once the chest was empty, he gently place Tom and Jerry inside.
Uday: You're Manyata's box now. When she comes back, I'll give her everything we are supposed to do together. This way she'll know she has a lot of catching up to do.
Uday smiled at that night, and stood up to stare at his room. Gone was the race car bed, and in its place stood a king sized plush bed. The photos of cartoons and superheros were also gone, Marilyn Monroe, and other sights from around the world adorned his room now. The Spiderman Pjs had been long replaced by a white muscle shirt, and black sweat pants. But the closet stood in the same place. Walking towards the closet, he opened the doors with utter care, bending down he slid out the old dusty chest which was hidden behind a gym bag and soccer balls.
Sitting cross legged on the floor, he smiled and opened the chest he had so long ago stopped contributing to. Underneath a mirage of other items, he found what he was looking for. There, still in the same clean condition as 16 years ago sat Tom, with Jerry. He grabbed Tom in one hand, and Jerry in the other.
Uday: It's time to give you back Tom, Manyata's home.
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