He was hungry and tired. After fourteen years of exile and a huge fight with a strong enemy, he felt the uselessness of everything. Now that his wife had gone to her mother promising never to return, he decided to end his life. So he went to a river thinking that he would jump into it and commit suicide.
People used to call him god and leader. But he never felt so. He had shown his prowess in war and had lived and ruled according to the ethics of his time. Everyone thought he was a just king. But he felt he was not living up to their expectations. They wanted him to continue. But the burden of losing his dear ones was too heavy to carry. He would not have thought of this cowardly act. But when someone loses faith in oneself it is very difficult to continue.
Standing at the bank of the river he contemplated on his life. It was fantastic in the beginning. The middle of the life drama was full of crisis. And the latter part was horrible, he thought. Even the lowliest of the lowly could doubt him and his clan. There was no point to live further. He could have listened to his soul before he had sent his wife to the womb of her mother. But he was trying to make a great balancing act.
He was about to jump into the water. But someone called him from behind. He turned back, a bit shocked and suddenly he felt shame at his own shocked state. He was about to commit suicide. Still why did he feel the shock? Upon turning, he saw a group of people standing there entreating him to come back. They forwarded well placed arguments to dissuade him from death. They offered him a place to stay and all care that an old man expected from others in his waning days.
He walked back to the place where they offered him a shelter. But he told them that he would stay only if the people there, which they had told him as his place of birth and his kingdom, which had by then changed its nature completely, recognized him. He said, as the scriptures suggested he would go to each house and ask for alms, love, care and shelter. He went from house to house and each time he faced utter scorn and contempt. Some ridiculed him for being old fashioned, some disparaged him for leaving his wife, some contemptuously slammed the door at his face and told him to get lost. Some said they would like to have his picture of his younger days than to have his older self living with them in person. Some even abused him saying that they could not give him an inch of space.
Crestfallen he walked back to the people who had exhorted him to come back. They looked at each other in wonder. Then they started doubting him. They huddled up together and conspired something for a while. When they turned to him their eyes were blood shot in anger. They screamed at him and said that they could have built a temple for him had he really died then and there. Suddenly they pounced on him and started beating him up until he collapsed.
He lay motionless there for a long time. None came out to help him. After a few hours a poor family came by that way. They did not have anything in the world. Their worldly possessions were contained in a cloth bundle. They saw the old man lying there, bleeding profusely. They took him along with them and as they were homeless they went to the river side where they made a fire and sat around it. They together treated the man back to life. In a few days time he regained his health. Though he was old, he still had some power of endurance left in him.
The poor family did not have any income. They were going around the places looking for some work. As they did not get any work, they begged or hunted small animals, which they shared with the old man who was still contemplating death by water. But two small kids in the poor family kept him alive because he got really attached to the kids by the passing days.
One day the poor man of the family came back with a lot of excitement. He said that the next day onwards he and his family would get job as labourers at a construction site nearby where they were planning to build a temple for their former king who had disappeared from amongst his subjects under mysterious circumstances. The old man knew what was going to happen. But he remained silent for some time and later he told the poor man that he would also join also a worker at the construction site.
The next day, the first load of bricks came for the construction of the temple. Along with many other poor families, the old man too joined to pick up the bricks. When he placed the load of bricks before the animated mason who had just laid the foundation stone of the temple according to the rituals, the old man smiled at him and walked back to the brick stack. For a moment the mason did not understand the meaning of the old man’s smile. But he did not have time to think about it. So he started building the temple, brick by brick.