The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens – Short fiction


The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens.

imsai-arasan

The king was bored, truly bored. He had, ever since he had clawed his bloody way over to the throne subduing all internal opposition and dissent had true peace for once as he had also subdued almost all the neighboring countries under his rule. Just sheer gossip that he was amassing an army to invade often forced the neighboring countries to surrender immediately and offer up tribute to stave off the invasion. For they knew all about him and his barbarian ways and knew they could expect no pity from this man who had risen up from the dregs of society by his sheer bloodthirsty ways to become a warlord who ruled over all the lands with fear as his main weapon, lands which had once despised his kind but forced to now kowtow to him. And like all uneducated barbarians who rose to be kings by the power of their bloodthirsty swords this king too depended on the advice of a learned minister to take care of the day to day ruling of the empire the details of which bored him immensely. As long as the palace coffers were full and as long as there were enemies who could be beheaded, hung or burned alive the king did not bother to think about anything else. The minister, the kings right hand man as it were, was like all educated men forced to serve barbarian’s to survive, secretly hated and despised the king for his bloodthirsty attitude and was merely waiting for the chance which one day, the minister often assured himself, the barbarians idiocy would offer him on a platter, a chance to destroy and replace the king on the throne where the educated minister was sure he could perform better. And his chance came that day.

The king as we said was bored, and being bored wanted to be amused. He called his minister and asked “tell me minister is the country happy? Are the people happy?” to which the crafty minister replied “of course your kingship, the country is happy and the people, they are very happy”. The king frowned for of course this was not the answer he had expected to hear so he asked the minister “but why?”. The minister hesitated a moment to ponder whether this was a trick question before answering “well, because the nation is at peace, we have no enemies. The people are all prosperous and rich and that makes them happy”. The king thought this over and asked in a puzzled tone “the people are rich? The people of this country?” and the minister began to fear the tone of the king in the conversation and hurriedly said “yes your kingship, we have conquered all the surrounding lands and there is peace and prosperity everywhere. At last all our people are free to work hard, make money and grow rich”. The king went on to ask “but what about taxes? Don’t they pay taxes? How can they be rich then?” the minister now understanding the way the kings mind was working went on to say “of course your kingship the people are paying all the taxes we have thought up. But what to do, these people, these peasants, are hardworking, sincere and very industrious. The more we tax them and take away their money the more these people work day and night to save money”. But the king was still not satisfied “but how can they be rich? That means that we are not taxing enough if they have money enough to be rich even after paying taxes”.

The crafty minister smiled at this and said “but your kingship, you forget one thing, these cunning peasants never tell us how much they earn in truth for us to tax properly. It’s all about parallel economy and black money with those beggars. They never tell the truth of their incomes and earnings to our sincere soldiers who go for tax collections daily. If a potter sells ten pots a day he pays tax on nine pots only and saves the money he makes on the last pot for the day he falls ill and cannot make a single pot. Similarly that old woman who sells idlis for a living says she had sold fifty idlis a day when in fact she sells sixty, hoping to save that money for a rainy day when she cannot stand in the rains and sell any idlis because the customers avoid coming out in the rains. These people are all cheats your kingship, they are selfish and avaricious and they lie boldly to the hard working tax collectors about how much they have saved for calamities like rainy days or sickness or any family emergencies. Almost all these peasants and farmers have stacks of coins-one annas and two annas- tied up in old bed sheets under their beds. That’s how rich they are.”

The king was incensed on hearing this “they are rich, are they? How dare they be rich? How can they be rich in a country where I rule? Don’t they know that I despise money? I never had any money yet I became king through my talents. I want to punish them – punish them all severely minister. Shall we hang them all in the market place for hoarding black money?” The minister at last had the chance he had been waiting years for, the chance to get rid of this barbarian king once and for all. In a slow whisper he went on to say “I have a better idea my king. These people with their one anna and two anna coins think they are rich. Even if you hang them they will die happy thinking that they die rich. The only way to properly punish them is to make them poor. Make them beggars again. Show them that even hard work and industry is not enough to make someone rich in our country. Show them that if they are born poor they can only die poor and never better themselves. Make them despair of ever improving their lives” The king was pleased with this advice as it was what he believed in wholeheartedly “How? How? Tell me minister, how to make the whole country poor, so I can be the only rich man in this country?” The minister with a significant look at the king said “my lord, people think they are rich because they have money in their hands- so break their confidence on money itself. Just declare that all money today onwards is worthless and you can beggar the whole country in minutes. Then you and only you will be a rich man my king, while everyone else will be left holding worthless pieces of metals, those beggars.”

And the king who did not have the benefit of a proper education and never learned the concept of thinking things through which is the benefit of a proper education, by a single decree declared all money worthless and beggared his nation and people at one stroke. And the aftermath of this act was filled with tragedy and pathos and many deaths which is a tale to be told on another day.

Bhoomi Madha With A Big Heart- Short Fiction.


Bhoomi Madha With A Big Heart.

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The minister was coming out of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple when he noticed a group of devotees clustered around a mantap near the entrance of the temple. Out of curiosity he hurried over to join the throng and to see what it was all about. In front of the mantap sat a beatifically smiling man in his 50’s clad in the saffron robes of a mendicant and he was preaching to a congregation of a few devotees. The minister paused to listen for a few minutes as the swamiji, as he automatically called him in his mind, started speaking again “how many of you sleep well at night? How many fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed and sleep dreamlessly all night? How many of you have a full appetite and eat when you are hungry?” He paused as few seconds and looked meaningfully at the listening devotees .

The minister felt as if someone had given him a knock on his head. He had just now prayed to god about his various ailments which included long and troubled insomniac nights and multiple ulcers which prevented him from enjoying all the power and perks of his office for which he had sacrificed so much and done so many crimes which still gave him a troubled  conscience even after so many years. He felt like this swami was gods way of answering his prayers, so he walked up to the mantap and gesturing his ever present security to stay back, well back sat at the back of the crowd to listen to the discourse.

“The only way  forward” continued the swami “is to reduce your expectations, your greed for more and more. However much you have you always yearn for more. At what point will you stop? Will you feel that you have had enough? Is there no end to your wants?” he paused again and seemed to be staring meaningfully at the minister seated right at the back of the crowd “unless you voluntarily decide in your minds that you have plenty you will never heal yourself” and he rasied his voice “and goddess lakshmi only loves someone who exudes satisfaction. She flees the unworty miser who grasps for more and more. So go home and reorder your life according to your needs and not your wants. Om shanti, shanti, shanti hi”.

As the crowd dispersed slowly the miniser approached the swamiji with folded hands “swamiji, i am blessed to have heard your dsicourse today, every single word you said reverberates within my heart. I want to do something for you, please allow this penitent to offer something”. The swami smiled enigmatically at the minister and said “ son, i am a beggar living on the good wishes of the gods and the alms of the devout. What could i wish for? I dont need anything. If my advice has helped you, then go in peace my son. I am through with this world, i desire nothing”. The minister who had built up his entire political life on patronage and doles to his faithful adherents wasn’t so easily swayed “ nothing swamiji? You are the first person who has said nothing even when the state home minister has asked you directly about wht you want. Its a novel experience for me to be refused like this. Its usually i who do the refusing.  I think my karma is preventing you from accepting anything from my hands. Do re-consider and allow this sinner to gain a little punya”.

The mendicant scratched his beard and got up abruptly to  walk forward and he beckoned the minister to follow him. As they went to one of the gates of the temple, the swamiji pointed out his hand towards the river which flowed beside the temple, specifically broad expanse of the riverbank  with its gleaming white sands “ i have been meaning to construct a small ashram on this peaceful river bank so i can perform my meditations as close to this peaceful river as possible. And besides the crowd for my sermons grow bigger day by day and its becoming harder to accommodate them all in the same small mantap i sleep in. I have petitioned the district collector about this previously when he came to the temple but he just accepts my petitions with a smile and does nothing with them. Maybe you can?”. The minister felt elated, “atlast”, he thought “there is something i can do to show my power”. The fact that he had been refused when offering to help had been a great shock to his system. He turned around and beckoned to the collector who had been part of the discreet group following the minister and the swamiji from a distance.

The collector came running forward “What is this i hear? That you refused to allot the swamiji this riverbank to construct an ashram? Every month some fellow or other comes with your recommendation letter and i allot him prime residential and commercial plots inside the capital city from the government quota freely, but you cannot find it in your heart to give up even a river bank for this holy man? Is this your administration?” he thundered at the collector who quaked visibly. “sir, no sir, i will sign the file as soon as i reach the office sir” he murmured.  The minister continued “See that you do. And no more troubling this holy man. If  i hear anything like that” he left the rest unsaid. After taking the holy man’s blessing the minister went back to his car and returned to the capital to take up governance again.

Although he meant to return to the temple town pretty soon to check up on the holy man again, events in his political life caught up with him and he coudnt afford to take the time off to go on a pilgrimage till more than an year had passed away. Atlast one day with the assembly not in session and nothing else to do, he decided to go see the swamiji again, to see how the ashram was coming on. When he reached the temple he eagerly looked around for the swami but he was nowhere to be found, so he hurried up to the eastern gate to look down on the river.  To his considerable shock he found the river bank desecrated, dug up to great depths, the river itself narrowed down to a thin trickle and everywhere signs of great destruction to the once pristine riverbank. He immediately got into his car and headed straight for the collectors office.

Once seated opposite the collector he asked “What happened to the swamijis ashram? What did you greedy bastards do?”. The collector who had had a pretty satisfying day till then, quaked at the minister’s wrath “We? We did nothing but follow your orders sir, we gave the man permission to build on the riverbank by granting him a patta and environmental clearance and everything. Soon lorry after lorry came down to cart away the clear river sand and when asked about it by the locals the swami had said they were clearing the foundations to build a grand riverside ashram. As the sand lorries started doing ten trips a day, some of the locals tried to complain, but the fraud swami threatened them with your name saying he was close to the minister and sent them to me as reference. I had to to tell them that you had instructed us government officials to leave him alone, so there was no way we could take any action against him. After removing all the usable sand from the river bed, the swami disappeared overnight” the collector concluded.

The minister sat there like a stone and reflected on the swami’s sermon a year back on the nature of greed and its effects on men. Nothing changes, thought the minster, everyone wants to loot the government money, be it a politician or the public. The bhoomi madha who gives to everyone again and again, no questions asked is the public money and goddess lakshmi is the public treasury. “And to think i was fooled by a greater fraud than me” he mused with a bitter frown.

P.S. Disclaimer- this story is not referenced to and in no one way about living persons or swamijis who conducted any meets in any river beds in recent memory. This is purely a work of fiction.

The Suicide Point – A Short Story


The Suicide Point

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The Inspector was in a deep slumber at his desk when he was woken up by the Head Constable with a shake of his shoulder “Sir, wake up. We have another golden goose come in” which must have been their code word for something of importance as the Inspector Of Police came suddenly awake and alert and nodded to the head constable to bring in the goose to be plucked. The two persons who hurried in next were both young, twenty something males who were weeping but trying hard to show they were not. “Sir, sir” said one of them who had stepped forward, “our father has fallen off the cliff into the bushes below, you have to help us find him”. The head constable hurriedly put in his own version of their story “Their father has jumped off suicide point sir”. At this the other guy, who looked to be the younger one interrupted angrily “no, no, he didn’t jump, he slipped and fell as he was posing for a photo”.

The inspector who had heard the same story a dozen times in his life raised a hand to cut him off in full flow “Stop, do you expect me to believe that any man would be able to slip and fall off that dangerous place despite all the warning boards we have put up and the fence surrounding it? Dont lie to a policeman” he threatened the brothers. The elder who seemed to be more in control of his feelings said in a plaintive voice “Sir but that’s exactly how it happened, even we didn’t see clearly how our father climbed over the fence and got to the edge to peer down there. When he called us to take his picture he was already there and waving at us. In a fraction of a second he disappeared over the edge and we think his foot must have slipped or something otherwise we could have saved him.”

The head constable said then “They have already wasted so much time trying to find the old man on their own, they should have come straight to us instead of wasting time”. The inspector looked sharply at the two brothers and asked “what time did this happen? “ The elder brother replied “Around noon today sir ” and he stood there staring guilty at the inspector who replied “And its going on three pm now, you look like educated people, how can you behave like this? Don’t you know you have to report any crime like this immediately to the police?”.

The younger and angrier brother replied “Sir this is not a crime, this was an accident. We know the rules too. But have a heart. Our father had fallen over, we were mad and distraught and didn’t know what to do. Coming to the police station to give a complaint was the last thing on our minds then”. The inspector looked sharply at him and asked “Then why have you come now ? For what?”. The kid looked boldly back at him and said “For your help in recovering our father’s, father’s” he couldn’t complete his sentence. “Body?” asked the inspector with a cruel grin “of course you will come to the police for help when no one else is there, otherwise what are we for?” he continued “Now hear this , we are overburdened with crimes already,the investigation of which takes precedence over anything else, you yourself say this was an accident, so thats it, go give a statement to the head constable that your father fell in an accident and take a FIR copy with you when you leave” he turned back to contemplate the calendar behind him marked with dates for court appearances.

“But, but” the elder faltered in front of him “aren’t you going to help us search for him sir? Search for” he swallowed and said “my fathers body?”. The inspector turned back with a look of genuine amusement in his face “what do you think we are mountaineering experts like they show in movies? Do you know how dangerous it is, that place whee you father fell? No policeman is going to risk his life searching for a corpse there” and he paused to look meaningfully “BUT,  there are people who can help you, certain of the guides there will go down to bring up your father’s corpse but it will cost you money, as its very risky they charge a lot, talk to the head constable there, he will guide you”. The elder brother said then “money is no problem inspector we just want our father” and suddenly the younger one erupted “wait a minute, isn’t it your duty to find our fathers body? Why should we employ someone else and what guarantee is there that they will find him for us after taking our money?”

The inspector almost got up out of his chair with anger “guarantee, how dare you ask for a guarantee here, you whelp” he screamed and raised a hand as if to hit the kid when suddenly the head constable loomed in front of him, intervening with his anger and driving away the two brothers to the other side of the room “sir let me talk to them and explain things” he cajoled the inspector into relaxing and moved away to the other corner of the room with the two bereaved offspring of the dead man. After what seemed a long time but was little more than ten minutes the head constable came back to the inspector and said “I have talked to the boys and the deal is finalized”.

The inspector grumbled “and how much are they willing to pay” the head constable gave a sly grin before he said “Five Lakh Rupees for their fathers body”. This time the inspector did get up out of his chair almost involuntarily “FIVE LAKHS? damn, how did they agree to that amount? And they have no idea that the tribals who do the actual finding charge no more than twenty or thirty thousand rupees depending on how deep they go?”. The head Constable preened himself “no sir they are just kids and they have no idea about the value of money. The elder has already given me fifty thousand rupees which he carries about as loose change in his pockets. He was ready to bring around the rest tomorrow but the younger one insisted, he is pretty annoying by the way, that the balance will be paid only after we show them their fathers body which should be no trouble at all. And then we are in luck- almost four and a half lakhs to divide between ourselves”. The inspector looked thoughtful “OK. This seems to be our lucky day. Get their statement, write a damn FIR that it was an accident and get rid of them immediately. Go  call up that fellow Irulan and his team, to go down the suicide point immediately before these two idiots realize they have been duped”.

But the best laid plans can go awry too and that’s what happened with the inspectors plan. Two days later, Irulan a well muscled tribal whose profession was retrieving dead bodies at the suicide point stood before the inspector wringing his hands “We searched everywhere Yeajaman, but we couldn’t find the old gentleman whose photo was shown to us. He must have fallen even deeper into the Devil’s pit area and not one of us will willingly go into there”. The inspector and the head constable both looked at each other sadly, they could feel the rest of the money slipping away through their fingers. As they hesitated over their next course of action it was Irulan himself who suggested a solution to their dilemma “unless, if you agree sir we can bring up some other unclaimed body fully smashed and claim its their fathers dead body. No one can say how damaged a body will be after failing from such a height and you can convince them and give a death certificate that its so.”

With no other option to lay their hands on the balance amount the inspector immediately agreed to Irulan’s plan and it all went as smoothly as he said it would. Even the younger brother whom they suspected will make a scene quietly accepted that it was their father’s body and after paying the rest of the finders reward the two brothers went away with the death certificate and the corpse, to cremate it. And thats the end of it all thought the inspector as he went onto buy a new maruti swift with his share of the dead body money. But fate had a different story to show.

A few months later the inspector got a sealed envelope which he opened, read thoroughly twice and then whistled before beckoning the head constable near to him “Those two bastard swindled us. Look,” he said and showed him a photo  of a fifty something man coming out of a bank “Do you remember those two brothers who came to us with five lakhs to find their father’s body. Seems that the old man had swindled five hundred crores from the banks before convenient falling off the cliff in an accident. The bank which had sealed his lockers in anticipation of his bankruptcy petition had finally relaxed their careful watch after seeing his death certificate and two days ago the same guy had walked in and emptied his lockers of all the cash. Now the bank has sent us a photograph from the surveillance camera asking us if this is the same dead body we recovered? And how a dead guy came back to life in the banks vault?”.

The inspector and the head constable looked at each other with crestfallen faces “And of course we have to reply that it was the same corpse that we recovered form the suicide point. We cant be changing our story now after all this time especially after insisting to the boys that it was indeed their fathers body we found. We would be accused of falsifying our own records and we will lose our jobs. We are screwed both ways unless we stick to our original story till the end”. The head constable looked sadly at the inspector “To think that we let those frauds get away with just five lakhs from that five hundred crores” And the inspector said more irritably “To think we were both fooled by two young kids pretending to cry over a still healthy father. What idiots we were”.

Set a Thief To Catch a Thief


Set a Thief To Catch a Thief

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“Notorious brigand kills three police officers who tried to stop his smuggling trucks at the border checkpost with neighbouring state“ was the headline which stared in the face of the Director General of Police as he sat down to his morning cup of coffee and opened the newspaper his wife had pointedly placed face up to catch his attention. The senior policeman sipped his morning brew thoughtfully while his mind was miles away at his office thinking over all the extra paper work he had to do to prepare the financial benefits and pensions for the three slain officers. He hated paperwork and the brigand had forced it on him on three separate occasions within the last twelve months. He just had three more months to go till his retirement and his political enemies inside the department, a phrase he used to describe all his eligible juniors, would leave no stone unturned to try and find some kind of financial malfeasance to to dishonor his last stage of service before e retirement and to make sure that he went out  under a cloud after thirty years of government service. If he wanted to retire with his pay and pension intact he had to, just had to, do something about this brigand problem. With that settled in mind  he got down to the rest of the days business.

It was late evening by the time he could finally put his plan in action. He directed his driver to take a long and circuitous way home via the police training academy. Once at the academy, he stepped in to confer his plan secretly with the principal-in-charge, also his long time friend and partner in quite a few real estate deals over the years at their various postings together over their thirty years of service. Although his friend demurred at first, he cajoled him into sharing the details he asked for by painting a grim picture of what would happen to both of them if their financial dealings were put into greater scrutiny by their enemies in the police department. Even their political patrons wouldn’t lift a finger to save them as they were both approaching their respective retirement ages and would no longer be of any use politically. So the principal-in-charge called to his room his three best cadets from the outgoing batch and the Director general of police interviewed them separately and decided on one particular person he felt best suited to carry out the job.

Exactly one month later the DGP called a press conference and paraded before the media the forest brigand handcuffed and looking beaten like a rabid dog. “This is the man” he thundered at the assembled scribes “who had slain over fifteen polic officers, enforcement officers, forest officers over the last two years in addition to slaughtering numerous elephants and tigers and chopping down sandalwood trees”. He looked at the tv hacks with a face full of pride “and it took a dedicated team of officers trained specially by the army commandos in jungle warfare  three months to trace and arrest this most desperate felon.” He went on to look directly into the  tv cameras focused on his large mustachioed face  as he said “ I hope the government recognizes the daredevil officers and grants them large cash prizes and allots housing units in prime localities as a reward for their bravery and hard work” as he looked meaningfully at the assembled police officers sitting in the hall below the dias.

Later that afternoon he rang the bell to call his personal assistant who was seated outside in the ante-room. “PA” said the DGP “has the trainee officer arrived yet?”. “Yes sir” said his PA “just as you said i made sure he only came here after the press conference was over”. The DGP twirled his mustaches “hmmm, well then don’t waste time, ask him in, he is a brave fellow”. The PA turned to leave and just then as if remembering something else turned back and said “Well, i have been getting a lot of calls from officers about including their names in the reward list for capturing the brigand”. The DGP said thoughtfully “The terms still stands the same, they have to pay us the value of the cash price, whatever the government gives them and 30% of the land price of their allotted plots if they want me to include their names in the brigand capturing team list. After all they are getting large residential plots in a prime locality inside the city at such a cheap allotment price from the government with no risk at all and after i did all the hard work in capturing that fellow”. The PA said “Understood sir” and went out to send in the police trainee who had actually captured the brigand singlehandedly.

Later, sitting inside the room and facing the nervous trainee the DGP looked at him and said “You did your work well, officer”. The trainee relaxed a bit and said “Nothing to it sir, merely followed your orders  sir”. The DGP twirled his mustache and asked “So you made sure none of the local police people knew you were there on my behalf to capture the brigand?”. The trainee officer said more confidently “Not a single person in the local station suspected anything sir, otherwise the brigand wouldn’t have boldly walked alone into the police station at 10Am in the morning to pay his regular monthly bribe sir. I handcuffed him right outside the station as he came out and brought him directly here. Your plan worked beautifully sir” he said and stood up to salute the DGP.

The Games Gods Play – Short Fiction.


 

The Games Gods Play.

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Ravi sat there in the exam hall scratching his head. The chemistry paper was as tough as he had feared. He had intentionally omitted to study certain chapters hoping that as the same questions had come in the previous years paper they would not be repeated again. Examiners tended to do things like that. They too went through the last years paper diligently like the students did and avoided repeating the same questions again and again. Or that’s what Ravi had gambled on. But unfortunately  this time Ravi’s gamble had only worked halfway. Sure none of the questions looked to be repeat offenders. But that was all that could be said in their favor. They were a bunch of no-shit garbage scraped from the bottom of the barrel. No decent person would spend three hours sitting in a crowded hall to answer these kinds of questions and still keep their self dignity intact. But. The pathetic state of the educational system forced students to crib and answer such drivel. He glanced up heavenwards to curse at an unthinking unfeeling God who had allowed such a question paper to come to him- now he wouldn’t even have to fulfil his promise of breaking those ten coconuts he had promised to break at the temple if he got an easy question paper. Ok God, he threatened heaven , you had your chance and you fluffed it- no more coconuts for you or temple visits or anything else special from me- you are persona non grata from now on- our relationship is definitely over even if you don’t agree. He was that angry with God for abandoning him like this to the whims and fancies of sadistic chemistry examiners.

Ok, he told himself, enough of staring at the question paper and questioning the paper setters multiple parentage. Its time to fill in at least a few pages of that so far blank answer book and hope to hell it at least reaches the hand of a compassionate paper corrector who wouldn’t mind being liberal with his valuations.  So Ravi put his head down and started scribbling stuff with his chicken scrawl hoping to fool the evaluator that the scribble was the correct answer just written in hieroglyphs. As time passed he got absorbed more and more into his creative writing assignment until a faint hiss woke him up from his total absorption in his work. He looked up to see who had disturbed his concentration to find the candidate sitting in front of him- their class swot Ramu trying to hoarsely whisper out of the corner of his mouth “Machan the invigilator has gone out of the hall da…tell me what you know”. Ravi was flabbergasted for a minute “he wants me to tell him? Hows that for a role reversal? Uh..okk…” He rapidly went over the possibilities for utilizing the invigilators absence from the exam hall and concluded that given it was the last twenty minutes or so on the clock he just had time to complete three or four short answers at the maximum. The essays could go to hell- if he could get at least half the marks on the short notes he might scrape through.  “Yeah i will help you” he whispered back to Ramu “if you will tell me the answers to these short questions first” and bargain concluded he started scribbling away as Ramu dictated the answers.

As Ravi finally numbered his papers, pinned them and waited for the invigilator to come around the hall to collect the answer papers at the end of the exam, he felt a strange guilt. He felt he had unnecessarily abused god and reneged on their bargain of ten coconuts without waiting for the end. Hadn’t he been a tad too harsh with god? Afterall, poor God had finally done his best by sending away the examiner from the hall for a good part of half an hour and allowed ravi to write enough short answers to pass or at least scrape through the exam which was all he wanted. What if god become angry at him for not following through with their deal? What if his answer paper got lost in transit and never even reached the evaluation center? Or something else equally bad happened? Its better not to risk Gods wrath felt Ravi and hastily tried to restore their earlier bargain. “God” he prayed again “those ten coconuts deal still stands, just somehow make me pass this paper and i will never forget you. Please forget all my harsh words earlier and show me a sign, just one sign that all is now well between us and you will make sure that I will pass. Show me the way god and give me a sign, just give me one, gimme, gimme, gimme”.

And as Ravi handed over his answer booklet and went outside the examination center, someone thrust a piece of paper hurriedly into his hand and went away. Ravi glanced at it and read “100% tutorial college, for those who fail this time, a pass guaranteed next time, God’s Promise” the last words in bold letters. He could almost hear god laughing at him from above. Even gods have their little jokes, don’t they?

Never Say Never Again.


Never Say Never Again.

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So Vee texted me this afternoon that she is back in India for the next few days and can we meet up somewhere to catch up on the lost years?  I read that text and was in a cold flutter. I mean, after what happened the last time she was here, did she seriously expect me to reply to her texts? Let alone actually meet her in person? If you are still wondering what I am getting so worked up about, let me take you along in a flashback mode to a couple years ago when Vee was again on one of her vacation visits back home from her university course in the USA. We were texting each other ever since she landed here in Chennai and then we decided to meet up and chat at least once before she took the flight back to Boston. So there we were one evening at a chic resto bar and we started off by reminiscing about the good old days of blogging when we were both active bloggers with lots of readers and fans- me slightly more popular than her (considering the number of crazy female stalkers I had for my blog).

After a few drinks (not more than a couple for me- I am a very light/social drinker) we bid adieu to each other till the next time – if ever there was a next time as she was planning to settle down in the US of A permanently- we could meet each other maybe decades down in time. And I came home and went to bed with nary an inkling of what was to come next. Around midnight my phone woke me up and I switched it on to see the call was from Vee. I was quite anxious to see why she was calling me at that time- didn’t she get home safely earlier? Was she in some kind of fix? Should I go out and see if she needed any help? All this went through my mind even as I switched on the phone and said “Hello, hello, what happened Vee? Are you all right? Do you need any help?” And you know what she said? She said “Yes, yes, yes a thousand times yes. I agree. Let’s talk to our respective parents and tell them the good news”.

Now remember that this was in the middle of the night and I had just woken up in a disoriented mood half-asleep and was anxious about how my friend was and what kind of fix she was in and I was hit with this. So after a speechless couple of second’s time I mustered up the courage to ask “Huh, but yes to what?” And she said, coolly “To your proposal of course” and she hung up on me. If I had been anxious before you should have seen me then- I was no longer in a cold sweat- I was in a hot steamy sweat- buckets and buckets of it. Never in my wildest dreams had I even thought about the possibility of a girl accepting my proposal when in fact I had made none such. No. Not to the best of my knowledge. Hell, to the farthest reaches of my memory I had made no such proposal to her at all in my life, leave alone during last evenings meet and greet get-together. We had just chatted polite chitchat about other peoples lives. And here she was claiming, falsely, that I had proposed to her. Now what should I do next?

Not able to think straight- it was the middle of the night after all- I immediately called up Jo and Gopi- my two 3AM buddies- woke them up and spent the rest of the night jabbering to them- over analyzing and cross examining and generally cribbing over what had happened. I am sure they must have cursed me all next day for their lost sleep. Anyway I drifted off to a troubled sleep somewhere in the early morning, wondering how on earth I was going to break the truth to Vee the next day- to break up with her after her high hopes and sheer pleasure of being prospectively allied to me- for it never occurred to my friends to doubt her words- they steadfastly assured me that I must have, in some indefinable manner, communicated to her- verbally or non verbally my desire to get hitched with her. In the face of such overwhelming evidence and unanimous reasoning by those closest to me I had non choice except to accept that yeah I must have inadvertently let something slip out of my big mouth.

Anyway when I woke up the next morning to check my phone, you know the first thing I found? A text from Vee apologizing that she was drunk last night and must have drunk texted me.  I have rarely felt such relief – except on exam results day when I am not sure of passing and I immediately forwarded the apology text to my two unbelieving friends to prove that i had been telling them the whole truth last night. And then I proceeded to delete Vee’s details from my contact list- one such night was enough to age me at least twenty years and I didn’t want a repeat. And then comes this text out of the blue…should I run for the hills and hide myself till she goes back to the United States again to complete her still pending Phd? Or should I just ignore her text or calls, if any and just get on with my life? Or should I meet her one more time, one final time and ask her in person what the hell happened last time? What do you think?

P.S. I still don’t know whether she drunk texted only me or if it was meant for someone else.

The Padlock and the Key……a Zen Fable for our times.


The Padlock and the Key……a Zen Fable for our times.

 This story, in bits and pieces, was found in and put together from palm leaves found in a long lost monastery hidden in the wilds of the tibetan mountains and was reputed to be written in the 11th century by the Great Lama Gan-fong-shing. This is all we could find of the ancient wisdom imparted to us by the sages of the ages…

lock

So there was this big beautiful padlock made of finely polished brass with steel lined tumblers inside guarding a safe with great wealth for whosoever had the luck to unlock it and claim for their own. Now this proud and strong lock had a mind of its own and whenever some key came near to unlock- it closed itself off and said “now go on , on your way, how can such a pathetic little creature like a key enter inside me and get my treasures. It takes a big brass lock with strong steel tumblers to even approach me, let alone touch me, open me up and take my hidden wealth” and listening to the padlock the poor keys slinked away with their tails tucked behind while the padlock hung there time after time, guarding the safe and its secrets and still awaiting the other padlock- shiny and new – which will open it at a touch. And it still waits. For no one ever told the lock or it never learned by itself that like doesn’t fit like in the real world- it’s always the diametric opposite which makes a difference and all the locks in the world however they look and feel similar cannot open each other up and all it takes is a tiny little key, although tarnished in glitter and unmatched in size but still has the right combination to open up the padlock’s secure and strong tumblers and bring rest to its seeking heart by being the right fit. The secret is- the key doesn’t matter as long as it fits. Now if only all the padlocks of this world realized this.

  (P.s.Although I wrote this story once to use as a pick-up line for a girl who wasn’t interested in me but looking at other options-similar option with same tastes, somehow I never got the chance to use it on her as she moved onto the other options before I could even talk to her. So any one else needing a pick up line -please feel free to use this as your own invention- no copyright required….best of luck)