They say we come into the world alone and depart in the same lonely way. Whoever thought this concept to be true never had an identical twin.
I must be truly blessed because I’ve never been alone, even inside our mother’s uterus, my brother has been by my side. Just less than two minutes apart, separated my younger twin, Ye Hua, and my birth. He and I are Ming’s royal third and fourth princes. We are not the Emperor’s firstborn sons, yet in the sense of legitimacy to the golden dragon seat throne, us twins, children with his main legal wife, Empress Lanhua, born under the Han blue banner are the rightful successors.
Nobody expected her to have any children. The imperial doctors had foreseen, warning her and our Royal Father of her rare blood condition and advised not to conceive or try to have any babies. Royal Father loved her dearly. His regard and unconditional devotion to her outweighed his desire for any lawful children with her. The royal harem consists of his consorts, concubines and ladies would serve their intended purpose, and carry out the tasks of extending his royal bloodline.
Suffice was their fairy tale-like love and he was content, but not she. Our Royal Mother defied father’s preventative measures, secretly stopped drinking the contraceptive tonic and conceived us knowing it would kill her. Our mother’s self-sacrifice’s gravity has constantly been suffocating, a source of unexplained guilt and blame, yet it’s been tolerable because my twin and I shared the weight.
Royal Father named me the Crown Prince at birth. My responsibilities are endless and my days full of obligations, but Ye Hua and I often switch clothing. I become him and he changes into me – my other half who voluntarily shares my burdens without ever receiving proper credit or merits for his achievements. We pretend to be one another. I wear his black travel garment, leaving the forbidden city to fish or see our people’s state, and he dressed in my royal robes to debate national concerns with the ministers.
Head to toe. We’re identical in every way. Nobody could tell us apart that was except Bai Qian and now she’s killing herself with a smile on her face. “Wait, I’m going with you!” She screams, running. Her rushed words echo as she throws her petite body onto the vertical blade. The point sinks through her abdomen and reappears in her lower back.
A radiant beam lights up her face before like a wave, a surge of blood gushes, overfills and blows from her upturned lips. I know why she’s smiling. An honorable death had been her wish. This immeasurable grief, staring into her shimmering eyes, I wonder if our mother felt this way when she passed. Was she as eagerly keen to die for love?
Five Years Before
“Crown Prince and Fourth Prince, Minister Bai has finished with the Emperor and is currently on route crossing the great hall to greet you.” My principal assistant, Eunuch Bo, states as he quietly removes the breakfast plates before us.
Ye Hua waits until we’re alone and says, “That man is like clockwork. Not a single day has he missed since Royal Father became ill. He tests father’s medicines and foods personally for poison, then reads and re-reads father’s favorite books aloud even when father is having one of his spells.”
My Royal Mother’s death not only brought an end to a great love story but our father, the Emperor, has never been the same. He began losing track of time. Displaying signs of senility, delusion and thought she was still alive. He frightened those around him witless. They ran and cowered when he conversed for long periods with the empty spot beside him as if she were standing there.
The other consorts, concubines, serving ladies and servants believed it was the Empress’s ghost. He wasn’t always confused and had moments of clarity. While during one of those times when he was lucid, our Royal Father once told my younger brother and me that we were one river.
One river, even though my twin and I may swerve into different paths throughout life due to unexpected factors out of our control, but we would eventually become one again in the end. Because before dividing to developed two heartbeats, one fertilized egg was our source and we must never forget our oneness was Heaven’s favor and design.
He also said, like brooks and streams in times of peace and serenity, we must be gently flowing cascades. However, during periods of storms and turbulence, united we, tranquil waterways, must transform into ruthless, unstoppable raging rapids that nobody could control or contain. His divine meaning was uncomplicated and divided. Ye Hua and I would undergo suffering and pain, even possibly collapsing and losing the throne or something more significant, yet united; we were unbeatable.
Not even the God of War in Heaven could destroy us.
To be continued…..