Isn’t he? Aren’t they all? Isn’t that why they do what they do? Always have done? Built forts and battlements, and ramparts atop and moats around and posted guards and archers and also spies? The biggest and the bravest among them, or the ones who can brag the loudest about being the biggest and the bravest among them? They do such things, and mostly only they do — they build protection around themselves, massive, monumental, often majestic protection; protection whose contours aren’t even all revealed while the protectee is around because that would fiddle with the purpose of that degree of protection, wouldn’t it?
Is it in the nature of being big and brave that you must be afraid too? Afraid of what you might incur by dint of being big and brave?
I mean look at us folks who reside beyond and outside the scope and scale of those walls and their impregnable protections. Look at us who live open to the elements and all else, look at us who have no walls around, nor canopy, nor battlement, nor moat. And we have not a care. We go whistling in the dark, we embrace unhindered winds; we hug, we do not do pat-downs, or get others to do them on our account.
Not so the biggest and the bravest, not so the ones whose size mimics the flanks of mountain ranges and whose mere stare can reduce the adversary to meek mercy-seeking mewling. That’s what we’ve been told, hai naa? But no. This is really what the biggest and the bravest and the NeverBefore rulers are like: afraid. They hear a mouse scuttling about nocturnal spaces looking to steal a desperately needed bite and they begin to imagine enemy cavalries huffing and hoofing towards the fortress, about to pull down the walls and breach the gates and sunder everything sooner than the mouse would find a bite. Their fortress, their bedchambers, their sentries all about, demanding of every sliver of breeze to produce papers before seeking entry, their very own mice, and when the mice play and in the act of playing put the fright into the bones of the big and the brave, they sit up and demand an enquiry: how dare they? And why? And at whose instance? And to what end? This is a conspiracy and it must be probed and unmasked and the perpetrators punished in a manner so exemplary nobody big or brave will feel the need to be afraid in future. But for now they remain. Afraid. And an enquiry has been ordered.
It’s a qila, not a coward’s cage
And I am its well-crowned king
You’ll see when you get to my age
That fear is a rather useful thing.