Monday, November 03, 2014

Book Review: God Is A Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

Title: God Is A Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Thriller/Fiction
Number of pages: 324
ISBN-10: 0143421395
ISBN-13: 978-0143421399

Ravi Subramanian always brings to my mind ABBA's famous number which goes like this, "Money, money, money; Must be funny; In the rich man's world." It's this lure of money and the power that comes with it that makes the tales told by Ravi intriguing and engrossing, often leaving the reader at the edge of his/her seat wanting more.

God Is A Gamer, much like his previous four titles is based on the backdrop of banks and all that's associated with it. In this latest edition he taps on the mysterious new form of currency that took everyone by storm early this year, Bitcoins. Being a banker himself, Ravi has been able to explain the finer nuances of how this currency works and its pitfalls, however maintaining the simplistic language making it understandable.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Christian for my own good

Disclaimer: This is a post in jest listing the things that I, as a Christian am accustomed to. It is neither to promote a particular faith nor to condemn another. Now since we are clear I shall now kiss my bride :).


Non-veg on certain days, veg on the other

My non-Christians friends, Hindu’s in particular, follow a regimen where they are vegetarians on most days of the week and non-vegetarians on the unlucky few that are left. While I understand that it’s done in honour of a particular God among the 33 crore Gods, who have among themselves amicably settled for a day of the week each, it’s a challenge to plan a meal together as not only the restaurant and time matter, the day of the week does too. It also means that weekend plans involving chicken do not work. Wednesday, whether one likes it or not, is the best day to be a carnivore. 

Even during festivals the logic is different. For Christians, festivals are a time to celebrate and feast on the fattened calf. But the common trend in non-Christian families is the opposite. While we indulge in the best of meat and seafood, my non-Christian friends are strictly vegans.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Making Every Penny A Pound

In 2002, a few days before the FIFA World Cup and the football frenzy could reach its peak in my tiny little state of Goa, my father, frustrated by the picture quality of the TV at home set his mind on purchasing a brand new one. Very impressed by the advertisement on a local tabloid of a LG make which was shaped like a football, he sought details and thought of how he could fit it in our budgeted monthly expenditure. He had a plan in mind but only needed a plan to execute the plan.

Still undecided, we broke for rosary, our daily prayers.



In 2014, a few days before the FIFA World Cup and the football frenzy could reach its peak in my tiny little state of Goa, my father, frustrated by the picture quality of the TV at home set his mind on purchasing a brand new one. Very impressed by the advertisement on a local tabloid of the latest line of Sony Bravia LED TV’s, asked me to procure the details. After pondering over the information I furnished him with, he thought of how he could fit it in our budgeted monthly expenditure. He had a plan in mind but only needed a plan to execute the plan.

Still undecided, we broke for rosary, our daily prayers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Why I didn't follow my father's footsteps and join the Merchant Navy


While growing up I was often asked this question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Not sure myself, I would say a computer engineer, a cricketer or some occupation that held my fantasy at that time. Hearing my answer almost everyone would retort “Wouldn’t you want to be an electrical officer or be in the merchant navy like your father?” And I would simply reply in the negative.

The same was true back then and even today. Electrical or electronics never excited me as they always sent shivers down my spine; thanks to the minor shock treatments that I received while fiddling with live wires and appliances. Regarding a job in the merchant navy, given a choice or not I never would take it. And these are my reasons.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our country needs to wake up, not just get up every morning!

The 8 Monkeys

(This is reportedly based on an actual experiment conducted in the U.K.)

Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The nice guys at Writers Ezine took me to the top of the world with their July Issue

The nice guys at Writers Ezine took me to the top of the world with their July Issue.
http://ow.ly/z911Q

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A look at how World Cup 2014 can help us learn a thing or two

FIFA World Cup 2014 logo.
Within a few hours we shall have 2 teams sweating it out against each other for one last time for the coveted trophy in Brazil, with the final match being played out at the historic Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

While some may face terrible withdrawal symptoms after this month-long tournament has concluded, I can't help but think of what this tournament in particular has taught me and all of us.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My Path To Get Published


Once upon a time there was a young man called Nelton D’Souza. Nelton believed he had a very special gift of writing stories that moved one and all. This craving to write didn’t let him sleep at night. Every time and everywhere, be it on the bus or while doing mundane things or when he was by himself, his mind would wander to lands unknown where he would meet people unseen. Those people were like any other, but beyond their faces lay immense pain from the battles they fought on a daily basis. When Nelton didn’t write he would be enveloped by sadness but whenever he did, inspite of a tiring twelve hour workday and another four hours of travel, he would find a new sense of joy and vigour. Nothing made him happier than writing. After all it was writing which allowed him to escape into a world which was not judgemental and where he could be the hero slaying beasts, demons and fire-spitting dragons alike.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Would anyone be interested in knowing how to write a book and get it published and marketed?

If yes, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Remembering Mai Mai (My Mother’s Mother)

My grandmother visited me yesterday. Having passed away nine years ago she chose to pay me a visit in my dreams. Her visits, being few and far in between are always pleasant. Even though I knew her to a far lesser degree compared to my siblings, there was something about her that always caught my attention and has ever since stayed with me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Relationship advice from my column on Cosmopolitan

1. We're having great sex but it seems that every time we see each other, we're naked. Have I just become this physical thing for him?
Depends. Making love is great but only making out is not. If along it with you spend quality time talking about everything under the sky then it’s not bad at all. No place can be better than being in the arms of your loved one. But do make it a point to indulge in other activities as well. Limiting yourself to only one thing makes it boring. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Praise for State of the Heart

#1 Best Seller in Short Stories on Amazon (February 2014). Some of the stories will drive you to tears! The writing does justice to the little things in life that add to its beauty and mystery – Goodreads, Average Rating: 4.

State of the Heart app for Windows Phone

I created a mobile app for my bestseller book 'State of the Heart' for #windowsphone. Through the app one can read 3 of the best stories from the book and have access to exclusive content as well. The app is free and can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store at http://bit.ly/1iq7wKf

It's time for congratulations and celebrations

It's time for congratulations and celebrations. State of the Heart is now available on every major eBook in the world including Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, Oyster & Scribd. For all those in India, we're coming soon to Flipkart as well.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity

Namibie femme himba
Namibie femme himba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a tribe in Africa called the Himba tribe, where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

One mistake almost every Christian makes while saying the Angelus

19th century painting of Our Lady.
19th century painting of Our Lady. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's very common for a Christian to say the Angelus - the Christian devotional prayer in memory of the incarnation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at 7 PM everyday. But there's something wrong we do here. Nothing wrong with praying or the prayer. Neither how we say it. The problem is what we say. That too we go wrong in the very first response. 

Below is what should be said:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. 
R. And she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.


And here's what we often land up saying:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. 
R. And she WAS conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary was not conceived, but she conceived. Mary was born of natural causes, but the fact that she was able to bear a child still being a virgin makes it 'she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.'

I hope we realize the mistake we make on a daily basis and correct ourselves. I have often corrected people on this and been a witness to their facepalm moment. The irony with the world is that we hardly pay attention to what we say, but are critical of what others say.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: The Hunt For Kohinoor by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar


The joys of reading a book are manifold. The fact that language could be used in such a variety of ways to describe the same old mundane thing is refreshing. This is the feeling I got while reviewing The Hunt For Kohinoor by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, an opportunity I was given by Westland Publishers.

The Hunt For Kohinoor is a book that revolves around its main character – art historian and fresco specialist Mehrunisa Khosa. The half Sikh half Muslim girl, who played a pivotal role in cracking the first book of this series, The Taj Conspiracy, is pushed into war ravaged and ever hostile plains and places on the AfPak border where war can break out just at the fall of a match, to crack a case that hardly has got anything to do with her trade. 

Reconciling with the disappearance of her father, who she later realizes is a an Indian Intelligence agent, while she was just five, she comes face to face with him after sixteen years as he is being treated for injuries from a blast that killed the President of Pakistan just as he was to seal a treaty of peace with India by sharing the Kohinoor - confidential information abiut the location of a 26/11 type attack in India by the Taliban within the next 96 hours. Unable to send in his most trusted spy – Mehrunisa’s father, commonly referred as Snow Leopard, Harinder Singh Khosa or Harry, Jag Mishra – The Chanakya of the Indian Intelligence Pakistan Desk sends in his daughter as the bait to get Harry back into the field in no time. It’s the same Chanakya that Mehrunisa learns who kept her father away from her while he suffered a memory loss in one of the operations.

While Mehrunisa goes from pillar to post trying to decode the clues she finds on the way she finds herself in the constant battle with herself over the sudden disappearance and appearance of her lost and found father. But the case doesn’t give her luxury to ponder further as she and her close aides encounter ghastly attacks carried out both by the enemy and from within. Constantly fighting and losing accomplices on the way, she is kidnapped by the infamous Babur Khan, an American soldier who switched to the other side to connect to his roots. Well versed in American tactics he galvanises the Pathan’s and Taliban of the region, imposes strict Islamic laws where girls are buried alive if they speak to any unknown males, and becomes their supreme commander. 

If you haven’t read a book in a long time, then this book is a good place to develop the lost reading habit. Its language is good and keeps you in the midst of what’s happening. At some places you will find pearls of wisdom just thrown in which could make for a collector’s edition.

"Peace is a bloody business, wherein the seeds of war are sowed; terror is then reaped in abundance."

"Trust no one, not even mirrors."

“What the mullahs forget is that when a woman wears a burqa, it hides her looks, not her brain.”

“The only time a snow leopard might become aggressive if its cubs are threatened or it is.”

“The Americans have a chronic weakness: they believe they are the centre of the world.”

“The biggest enemy of this country were its leaders”

"With love you could persuade a Pathan to go to hell, but by force you couln’t even take him to heaven."

“Because Naxals wore police uniforms.”

However, it would have been better if the title was changed to something more appropriate. Half way through the book the Kohinoor has been hunted, which is sort of disappointing if you have a Da Vinci code at the back of your mind. What’s left is averting the attack on India and rescuing Mehrunisa from the clutches of Babur Khan hidden in the lawless and rugged area of North West Afghanistan. Certain parts could have been done with to make the book shorter. However certain parts could have been extended to give a more gripping feel. I couldn’t focus at the climax, more so because I lost interest by the time I reached there.
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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Perfect Match

Mahesh,Dharani
“Excuse me, I’m here to meet Nisha”, Mahesh Shah said with a slight flutter in his voice. Used to making and breaking deals with total suave, control and assertiveness, he wasn’t his usual self today. This was probably the first time that the ball was not in his court. In fact, this tennis match was a two-sided game where a rejection from the other could lead to a game set match in a single go.

“Mr Shah, you may go in now” the receptionist said, pointing towards a door that read Miss. Nisha Karamchandani. 

Mahesh walked towards the door and stopped just before opening it. Adjusting his coat and tie he checked himself in the vague reflection off the door. Using his fingers as the teeth of a comb he put the few strands of hair in place that had violated their Line of Control and disrupted the parting of his hair. Clearing his throat, he turned the door knob and spoke, “Nisha, may I come in?” 

With a smile on her face, Nisha replied, “Mr Shah, please come in.” 

Extending her hand forward, she welcomed him and asked him to be comfortable by pointing to the seat that lay before her. After the exchange of pleasantries she said, “Mr Shah, welcome to IndiaMatrimony.com”. 

“Thanks, but please call me Mahesh.” Nisha smiled in acknowledgement. 

“So Mr Shah, I’m sorry Mahesh, let’s get started.” 

“Yup, let’s start”.

Going through the file that contained the set of questionnaires Mahesh had filled and brought along, Nisha gauged the person Mahesh Shah was, and the kind of girl he would be interested in. When she was almost done, she realized one thing. In all the cases she had handled, this would be, if not the toughest, one of the toughest.

Mahesh was not a usual client. He was different, better said, very different. He had topped every exam he took, went only to the best schools and institutions and stood out from the rest in every way. He was tall, smart, good looking; a fabulous singer and loved horse-riding. He had his own business, and that too, just like his academics was among the best. In other words, Mahesh was perfect in every way.
Getting a girl that matched all these qualities would be a find. Still, hoping for something different Nisha asked, “Mahesh, what kind of girl would you want?” 

She held her breath as Mahesh opened his mouth to speak. “Just like me, perfect in every way.” Mahesh said with pride and a smile on his face. “We should be able to connect. She should understand me, even without any exchange of words. No matter what the topic of discussion, she should be able to contribute. She should love only the best of things and places and be a class apart. She should be able to do everything and be the best at it. In short, perfect.” 

Nisha waited patiently for Mahesh’s impromptu speech to end. At one point, she wondered why she had asked the question. 

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds
The city of Bombay woke up to a news that sent shivers down the spine of everyone who read it. Super cop Surjan Singh, one of the best police officers to lead the police force of the maximum city was caught red-handed with diamonds worth crores of rupees in the wee hours of the morning. Newspapers and tabloids, having no other bones to chew on, didn’t relent and shot every spade they could in delivering the news. No matter which paper you picked up or wherever you went, it was the same news that was the talk of the town. 

President Award recipient Surjan Singh caught red-handed with diamonds’.

“Nowadays you can’t trust anyone. If people in the police force itself act like this then who is the common man supposed to turn to?” “This country is going to the dogs; only God can save it” was the gist of discussions at every street corner across every section of society. Scams and other news of corruption had always given their daily attendance, but this news was different as it was about an officer whom people looked up to and regarded highly. It was about Surjan Singh – a man you could bank upon.

News channels leaving no stone unturned broadcasted the live happenings as and when they happened. “Surjan Singh has been taken to the Bandra Police Station where he will be questioned. The police will file for a fourteen day custody to investigate the matter further” a middle-aged, suitably well-dressed but with an unkempt beard correspondent reported.

“Surjan Singh has shamed the entire police force. It’s a sad day for all of us serving this city with honesty and pride”, a senior police officer replied on being questioned. 

“Such people should be flogged to death, only then will they understand” was the reaction of a few commoners.

‘BREAKING NEWS: Surjan Singh to be presented in court’ flashed across the TV screen. Though the courtroom proceedings wouldn’t be covered live, this news made sure that the interest of the audience was kept intact and would prevent them from shifting focus to other topics or channels. However, in the courtroom, things were different.

In the midst of the tsunami of people, a simple maroon tee-shirt clad man wearing loose fitting jeans made his way or rather was pushed to the front section. Unless seen carefully, you wouldn’t be able to recognize him as the Surjan Singh everyone knew. Always seen in his uniform, with an upright posture and no-nonsense demeanour he carried out his duties to the very best of his abilities. Be it any case and of any complexity he was always there with his force, even putting himself in the line of fire. It was always service before self and not vice versa. So much so that even his own family life was in peril with his wife feeling ignored and no kids, even on the anvil. However, today was different. The aura around him was missing; his face was pale and eyes droopy. You could easily see that he was lost in thought with anxiety, irritation and worry causing multiple lines to appear on his forehead. The crisscrossed nature of those lines somehow reflected the state that he was in - nowhere to go and no solution in sight. Things had happened too fast for him to react.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

The one piece of advice every Indian author or blogger should heed to

Image Credits: www.policymic.com
A casual Google search could give you many results on advice to newbie authors, but nothing beats this.

One mistake every author or blogger makes is he forgets the audience he writes for. Some write for their friends, some write for an organization or group of people while some write for the world. But let me tell you, that if you write for any of the three mentioned above then you will get utterly disappointed. 

Against common convention, writing was never meant for the world or masses, unless of course you're satisfying a dying man's wish or trying to record a message for future generations. The only person you should be writing for is yourself. Period. If you ask me why, here's why. Because writing gives you something that no other thing can. It gives a sense of joy which only you can enjoy, feel and understand. It emancipates your soul like no other. Have you anytime observed children closely? You play some music and they're on their feet moving to the beat. Do they dance for an audience? No. Do they care if there's an audience? No. Then whom do they dance for? Themselves. Why? Because it gives them immense joy.

When you write for yourself, you'll never get disappointed if people don’t read or comment on your work, since you have already got what you wanted. If people do comment or appreciate your work, take it as a bonus but not as the objective. Secondly, when you write for yourself, you are writing for the one single person you know the best - YOU. If you try to write for the world, your target audience is so jumbled up that it's likely to fall more on deaf ears. Simply put, if you try to make love to the world you’ll only get pneumonia.

Another piece of advice one should heed, which is closely related to the first is being true to yourself. Write what pleases you. It’s only when things come directly from the depths of the heart it touches the heart of the reader. Challenge yourself to convey the exact emotions that you want the reader to feel. If need be Google, read, ask people, visit websites like www.dictionary.com or http://www.merriam-webster.com or simply Google any word by prefixing 'define', but make sure you find the right words to describe the precise feeling - nothing more, nothing less. Till then keep hunting. Once it’s out on paper, use your mind. Format it well so the style is gripping and it makes the reader want more. Blatantly review it and get it reviewed for grammar, sentence construction, punctuation, etc. Edit, re-edit, write, rewrite, crop it & polish it. After all it’s only after a shinny stone is polished it’s called a diamond. 

Tip: This is something I have learnt the hard way, which I wish I had learnt from day one. 
One thing that I do is after I have written a piece I take some time off it to concentrate on some other unrelated stuff and come back to it after a couple of hours or days. Normally when we write, we are filled with the emotions of the moment that words just flow from pen to paper. But while we are in that zone, we often miss out on the right words or the grammar. Getting away for some time helps us to reset our brains and see the same write-up from the eyes of a reader. Automatically the errors begin to show. Remember, when you're too close to a project, loopholes become too obvious to miss.

Once you've done this, you have done your best and have been successful. Remember, success is user-defined. If you have done your best you are successful. What happens post your hard work is beyond your control. All the best for writing that bestseller. 

Is there any advice you follow which has helped you? Please mention it in the comments.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Letter

Photo credit: www.spinachandyoga.com
“Even if someone wishes to forget this day, he will never be able to”, I said to myself as I glanced through the various pages of the newspaper which were covered with advertisements of the oncoming Valentine’s Day. Special gifts, offers, discounts and related news made the task easier for people who either had run out of ideas or time to mark the day. Love articles and some news write-ups of a few cultural groups protesting against the day of love filled the remaining space. Though the newspaper resembled an advertiser’s paradise, it helped by giving a break from the ‘Sauna Belt’ and ‘Height Plus’ advertisements that featured on other days. Also love stories made for a far better read than articles on murder, theft and this country going nowhere. 

Husbands would be happier if reminders of their anniversaries could also be flashed in the newspapers. Not necessarily to celebrate the love that existed between them and their spouses (if there was any left) but more importantly to avoid the All India Radio-type sermons and uncalled for expense on gifts which had to be bought as damage control in case they forgot, I wondered. 

Personally speaking, I hated Valentine’s Day. Not because of any other reason but because to celebrate it you had to be in a relationship and have the prerequisite – a Valentine. I was single and wasn’t in one. And because I wasn’t, the heartburn was more. I would love to be in one but thanks to my work schedule I hardly had time for myself, having time for another was way out of the question. I was happy being single but not on Valentine’s Day. Seeing so many couples around sharing warm moments together, the heart, as irritating it can get, cites a need for someone. The heartache then transcends into something way bigger that’s easier felt than explained. Hence, all these years I locked myself up in a room with no access to the internet, TV, radio, newspapers or any other modes of communication so the day just passed by without my heart knowing about it.

My thoughts were broken when I saw my train chug into the station, that too when there were still two minutes for the train to arrive as per the display. Caught off guard and not having much time left, I folded the newspaper and rolled it up. To keep it safe, I held it between my thumb and index finger as I reached for the door beating a few hundred passengers who expressed greater interest in catching the same already crowded local as me. Irrespective of  the capacity, ‘find a place and fill it’ has always been the mantra in India. We never shy of it and live by example. We can proudly claim that we can fill any mode of transport to at least three times its capacity with ease. On some days, we beat our own record. In addition to carrying people way beyond capacity, the local trains in Bombay have this special state-of-the-art system for picking up and alighting passengers. The beauty of this system is it works best during peak hours. All you need to do is position yourself near the door. The rest is taken care of, all thanks to the system made up of the ever-in-a-hurry people who will do anything to get in or off the train. 

As I made another successful entry into the train and continued a dream run so as to say I chose to head to the seats on my right instead of the left. Activating my mental radar, I began the search for a seat to sit. But along with the seats I observed my fellow passengers as well. 

Man is a complex animal. No matter how much you study him, it’s never enough. In fact, he will continue to throw surprises. The more you study him the more amazed you shall be. As a pastime, I’ve always enjoyed observing people - the way they think, behave, act, and talk. Animals learn a lot merely by observing. That’s so correct in the case of humans too.

A trio of college boys were around who seemed more interested in their virtual mobile world than the real one they lived in. They kept passing around a BlackBerry phone...

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.
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Friday, February 07, 2014

It’s Not Easy

Nikhil was not his usual self. A sense of uneasiness had gripped him. If there was ever a doubt, his sleep laden eyes bore witness to the fact that he was disturbed at least for the last few hours. In fact, the uneasiness was so much that there was no need for the couple of cups of coffee he used to have daily to put him into gear. He picked up his phone to check if he had received any message or call. There was nothing. “Damn it” he said. 

There was no new notification since the last time he checked his phone, which was just two minutes ago. Unable to suffer the agony anymore, he dialled the first number listed in his favourites. The recipient’s phone rang and continued to ring. Finally a voice spoke, “The number you are calling is not responding.” 

Heaven Megs, answer the bloody phone” he thought. 

Tapping the ‘Call Again’ button on his iPhone 3GS, he held the phone against his ear hoping that at least this time he would get a better response. The phone at the other end rang once, then twice…he waited with bated breath, counting each ring but before the entire cycle of rings could be done, he got a reply, that too a different one but still not convincing. 

“The number you are calling is currently busy. Please try after some time.” 

“Megs…” Nikhil let out his frustration. His irritation was increasing. 

“Can’t she just reply to my messages or pick up the damn call?” 

He decided to try a third time. He needed an answer. Things were getting out of hand and fear was taking over which would soon lead him into doing things, not in his control. This time again the rings went through and again, he got a different reply, “The number you are calling is currently switched off or not reachable.” 

Nikhil couldn’t take it anymore. Placing his thumb, middle and index fingers on either sides of his forehead, he brought them towards each other hoping to quell the slight headache that had started its way into becoming a full blown migraine. Mental peace was at a premium and he was losing it fast. It was nearly two hours since he had walked into office, but it had been many hours since the anxiety had begun to creep in. Never been used to this kind of worry, he didn’t know what to do. He had loads of office work pending and timelines to catch up with, but with most of his mind blocked with thoughts of Megs he just couldn’t concentrate. To avoid unnecessary eyeballs, he sat at his desk and stared at his screen with his Outlook open. Using the direction keys on his keyboard, he moved from one mail to another. He didn’t read a line in the mails, all he needed was some solace.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Some good news to share on a personal front

Over the last few days, my book State of the Heart became the #1 Best Seller on Amazon in the 'Single Authors Short Stories' category.

If you wish you can purchase the eBook at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G7983PW or the Print book at a 35% discount at http://bit.ly/KHJfpY. Proceeds would go to charity in the buyer's name on Valentine's Day.


UPDATE:
Needed to make the Valentine's Day charity a success:
SIGNATURES - 82 at http://chn.ge/1ifqkOB
THUNDERCLAPS - 96 at http://bit.ly/SOTHCharity

DAYS LEFT - 9.

Please get your family, friends and colleagues to join in.
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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Greatest Of Them All

The Moon is the most common major object viewe...
It was a beautiful night. The moon in total splendour generously spread light on all who sought it. The river that flowed with its rhythmic motion accepted the moonlight with all humility and shone like a river of stars. In gratitude, the river painted the moon with a slight hue of blue. From a distance, it seemed that the moon and the river kissed each other; their passions taking over after not having met for over a month. The small cascades in the river seemed like eruptions of joy while the sweet melody of the flowing river provided for the right background score to make the setting perfect. With no peeking eyes, except the stars to add glitter, some fireworks and a few night birds and animals to keep guard, it was love in paradise. The other creatures, having done their bit for the day retired to sleep and regain the energy needed to battle the oncoming day. Life, though challenging, was peaceful in this quiet little jungle.

At a distance, the cries of wolves were heard. Did they wish to join in and add some overtones? They never did, but then why today? What began with one soon transcended across the pack. What had awoken these sly animals that sensed things before they happened? Was it a human intervention, a hunter on the prowl? The cries of the wolves woke up the entire forest. Mothers made sure their little ones were safe. The adults grouped together prepared to face any attack. The emergency bugle had been sounded in their land and their master strategic plans had been kicked in, but least did they know, no plan had been created for this kind of emergency.

It was as if the Gods were having a duel of their own, the spectators being the stars above and the earthlings below. At first, words were exchanged resulting in deafening thunders. One after the other the replies kept getting louder, each side trying to make his point by overpowering the other. When words failed to prove a point, weapons were drawn. The skies trembled with fear and cracked open to reveal streaks of lightning. Sparks began to fly and the poor animals below hid their faces in the earth. Suddenly all this celestial drama came to an end, ending with three gigantic shooting stars crisscrossing the night sky. Where they would fall, was not known. But it seemed like the worst was over, at least for now.

Ouch, I can’t see a thing. The sand is all in my eyes” 

“Forget seeing, I can’t feel a thing” 

“You can’t see a thing, you can’t feel a thing. I don’t deserve to be here. But…all thanks to you both”

 “It’s not my fault; I never started it.” 

“Mine neither”

“Enough! Both of you. We are already suffering enough. The Gods unable to bear us anymore have banished us from heaven. Unless we get our act together and resolve our differences, we won’t be welcomed back. So let’s work on that in a calm manner, which I hope we can do and get this sorted quickly. Or you never know, we may have to make this earth our home, the thought of which itself, is disturbing. Let’s dust ourselves of this sand and get this done right away.”

The three beings in conversation were Love, Intelligence and Boldness. Leaving no stone unturned in trying to prove their supremacy over the other, they were always at loggerheads. Their news had spread far in the heavenly kingdom, much to the anxiety of the rest who lived amicably. They had been warned many a times, but all it did was quieten them for a few days. The days that followed saw an increase in momentum surpassing the previous heights reached. The last fight involving the three went beyond the limits of tolerance, both in temper and destruction and had widespread implications threatening to divide the entire kingdom into sects. Using all his powers, Love played with the emotions of the people and blackmailed them. Intelligence, using all his wit, played games and laid traps. A favourite of all the intellectuals, he had a strong following beyond compare. Boldness drew fear away from the minds of the people and made them believe that they could win over any calamity that threatened them, no matter how small in number they were.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Chief Minister's Independence Day speech

The Chief Minister’s Independence Day Speech

I was summoned into the office immediately. Leaving my hot cup of tea behind, of which I had only taken a sip of, I picked up my notepad and pen and made a run.

“May I come in sir?” I said knocking at the door of the Chief Minister.

“Come in” was the reply.

Sir, you called for me immediately, anything urgent?”

“I’m supposed to give a speech on account of Independence Day tomorrow, and I’m lost for words. I need a speech that would speak of the work we have done and the challenges that lie ahead. It should sound assertive and have all the qualities of a good speech. Elections are due soon. We got to leave a mark from here itself.”

 Looking at my startled face the minister said, “Brij, I’ve said what I had to say. Ask any questions if you need to.”

The minister’s line made blood rush to my cold feet and got me into action. I glanced at the clock right above the seat of power – 7:12 pm. I had had a tough day, and this is not what I had asked for. The only thing I wanted was to spend the last few minutes in peace before my work day ended so I could gather some strength to face the rain that had been tormenting everyone throughout the day. The next day was a holiday thanks to Independence Day, but at the moment I had to write a speech to earn my independence.

 Mustering up a bit of courage, I asked, “Sir, I’m sure you and your government must have done a lot during this period.”

“Obviously; so many schemes implemented, food security bill, pension plan, kept the citizens safe, always thought of the poor and needy, what else do people want?”

“Sir, then why don’t we speak of them at length? This would bring the focus on all these schemes and help you win praise.”

“We can’t go into the details.”

“But why sir?”

“The deeper we go the deeper the opposition shall dig. They have already asked us for exact figures. There's talk of even roping the CBI in this. There are several areas where the numbers are inflated. With the news of the rotten food grains reaching everyone’s ears, it has made matters worse. It shouldn’t happen that we dig our own grave.”

  “If not social schemes we could speak of the security measures in place. After 26/11, there hasn’t been any significant attack.”

“Brij, you and I know that it would take astute planning and preparation by our ever-so-friendly neighbours to come up with another one. That would take some time. Obviously, without even us doing anything we would be safe and not have any major attack compared to 26/11. In spite of the great intelligence, we boast of; the recent bomb blast attacks did happen. Thankfully what has sustained is the notion we have drilled into everyone’s minds that everyone is safe. But with no coordination between the police department and the intelligence agency at times even I feel I’m not safe. Thankfully I have Z+ security and the chair of the CM, or else you may never know.”

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

We all have best friends, but no one can even come close to this.

My Best Friend

Nitin, you’re fine na?” a concerned voice broke my flow of thought, and I turned around to see who it was.

“Hey Akshata, yes I am. But why ask? What’s the matter?”

“I have been noticing you for the past few days. You have been blabbering something to yourself. Today you were doing it again, so I thought I better ask.” Akshata said as she took the seat next to me.

“Oh, I didn’t know I was being noticed“

“You definitely are. In fact, people also talk about you”

”After a tiring day of work people have the stamina to notice things? I thought everyone escaped into a world of their own.”

“They may be tired, but their mind is always wandering and looking for something unusual and exciting. You fit the bill perfectly.” I just smiled in reply.

Being popular was not something I craved for but to my good luck or bad something about me always caught the attention of people; making me popular without any effort.

“So what do you blabber about…the horrible work at office?” Akshata asked with a smile.

I looked at her and smiled too. ”You know, your blabbering habit is not a good thing. It makes an onlooker think you’re disturbed or probably swearing at him/her. You should see a doctor or try meditation. It would surely help.” Akshata’s concern was heart-warming.

In this maddening race of life where winning is all that matters and petty politics the order of the day, it was hard to find people who stop by and show some care.

Akshata and I were bus buddies for quite some time now. Bus buddies is how I term those people whom you only meet in the bus while travelling to and from office. You do not work with them or catch up otherwise. Yet, it’s their company and the conversations with them that makes the nearly four hour journey to and from office a pleasure. The best thing about the conversation is that it can include anything under the sun, even work details. Sure enough, some conversations with some people don’t go down the interesting line but still it’s a chance worth taking. I had noticed Akshata reading a novel by Chetan Bhagat, and that became our conversation starter. Before we knew it, we were on song. Bus buddies also come in handy when you need the current position of the bus or need to stop the bus when you’re running late. At that moment, they’re like angels in disguise.

“Hello, where did you get lost?” Akshata asked. “Something is surely the matter with you.”

Nothing baba, I just drifted away, that’s it.”

“What’s the matter Nitin? Won’t you tell me?”

“Something should be the matter to tell you about na.”

“I don’t believe you. You just go blabbering on and on and say nothing is the matter.”

“It’s not blabbering. I just speak to someone.”

“Someone? But to whom and how? You neither have your earphones connected nor have a Bluetooth earpiece clipped on.” Akshata was being herself. That meant she wasn’t going to let go off me easily. If there was something she didn’t know, she would pursue it by all means. What made matters worse was that I couldn’t even bluff with her. She would sense it and then get irritated. Tolerating an irritated Akshata was not a good proposition.

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Greatest Of Them All

It was a beautiful night. The moon in total splendour generously spread light on all who sought it. The river that flowed with its rhythmic motion accepted the moonlight with all humility and shone like a river of stars. In gratitude, the river painted the moon with a slight hue of blue. From a distance, it seemed that the moon and the river kissed each other; their passions taking over after not having met for over a month. The small cascades in the river seemed like eruptions of joy while the sweet melody of the flowing river provided for the right background score to make the setting perfect. With no peeking eyes, except the stars to add glitter, some fireworks and a few night birds and animals to keep guard, it was love in paradise. The other creatures, having done their bit for the day retired to sleep and regain the energy needed to battle the oncoming day. Life, though challenging, was peaceful in this quiet little jungle.

At a distance, the cries of wolves were heard. Did they wish to join in and add some overtones? They never did, but then why today? What began with one soon transcended across the pack. What had awoken these sly animals that sensed things before they happened? Was it a human intervention, a hunter on the prowl? The cries of the wolves woke up the entire forest. Mothers made sure their little ones were safe. The adults grouped together prepared to face any attack. The emergency bugle had been sounded in their land and their master strategic plans had been kicked in, but least did they know, no plan had been created for this kind of emergency.

It was as if the Gods were having a duel of their own, the spectators being the stars above and the earthlings below. At first, words were exchanged resulting in deafening thunders. One after the other the replies kept getting louder, each side trying to make his point by overpowering the other. When words failed to prove a point, weapons were drawn. The skies trembled with fear and cracked open to reveal streaks of lightning. Sparks began to fly and the poor animals below hid their faces in the earth. Suddenly all this celestial drama came to an end, ending with three gigantic shooting stars crisscrossing the night sky. Where they would fall, was not known. But it seemed like the worst was over, at least for now.

Ouch, I can’t see a thing. The sand is all in my eyes”

“Forget seeing, I can’t feel a thing”

“You can’t see a thing, you can’t feel a thing. I don’t deserve to be here. But…all thanks to you both”

“It’s not my fault; I never started it.”

“Mine neither”

“Enough! Both of you. We are already suffering enough. The Gods unable to bear us anymore have banished us from heaven. Unless we get our act together and resolve our differences, we won’t be welcomed back. So let’s work on that in a calm manner, which I hope we can do and get this sorted quickly. Or you never know, we may have to make this earth our home, the thought of which itself, is disturbing. Let’s dust ourselves of this sand and get this done right away.”

The three beings in conversation were Love, Intelligence and Boldness. Leaving no stone unturned in trying to prove their supremacy over the other, they were always at loggerheads. Their news had spread far in the heavenly kingdom, much to the anxiety of the rest who lived amicably. They had been warned many a times, but all it did was quieten them for a few days. The days that followed saw an increase in momentum surpassing the previous heights reached. The last fight involving the three went beyond the limits of tolerance, both in temper and destruction and had widespread implications threatening to divide the entire kingdom into sects. Using all his powers, Love played with the emotions of the people and blackmailed them. Intelligence, using all his wit, played games and laid traps. A favourite of all the intellectuals, he had a strong following beyond compare. Boldness drew fear away from the minds of the people and made them believe that they could win over any calamity that threatened them, no matter how small in number they were.

The fissures were clearly visible now, and unless something was done quickly, the kingdom would be torn apart. Worried about the impending future, the Gods decided to take the matter to the Oracle, the supreme power in the universe, the one who had an answer to everything. Though her solutions did not make sense then and there, but in the long run they were immaculate. Always clad in a deep V-neck white beaded flowing dress with a necklace of white jewels as her only accessory, she travelled in a cloud with the stars lighting up her way. Though known for her wisdom, her beauty was no less. Often people came to her to find a way through their troubles but would get lost in her beauty.

The Oracle was highly respected not only in the kingdom but the entire universe and was often consulted and visited by other Gods from near and far. She had a calm demeanour but a short temper. No one in recent memory had seen it, but the stories that had passed through the generations were enough of an indication.
With her eyes closed, she calmly listened to the distress of her people. Once they were done, she opened her eyes. Spending a few minutes in silence she said, “The problem is no longer about swelling pride but about three warring factions. I would like to address your people. Go inform your kingdom.” The Gods, without asking any further questions, bowed in respect and left.

The entire kingdom assembled to hear what the Oracle had to say. On earlier occasions whenever people assembled there were smiles and cheer around. But this time, with tempers soaring, animosity filled the air. People stuck to their clans and did not verbally interact with people of other clans. The only interaction was through dirty looks, which least said were provocative. The Oracle took the high chair and asked for Love, Intelligence and Boldness to step forward. The chatter dropped to a pin drop silence, and everyone’s eyes were fixed on the proceedings. The Oracle asked each of them their reasons for fighting. The three gave their own reasons but blamed the other for starting the conflict. The accusations and counter-accusations led to a fight again, increasing the unrest among the clans. Seeing their leaders being blamed for the fights, with tempers flaring, forgetting they were in the presence of the Oracle the clans joined in too. The Oracle’s patience was being tested. Swords were drawn, and brother was no longer brother. Rivers of blood had started flowing. The assembly had turned into a battlefield. The Oracle had had enough. Everyone present were about to see her fury.

The Oracle raised her hand and snapped her fingers rendering everyone motionless. They could see, hear but couldn’t move, no matter how much or how hard they tried. She looked at the three leaders of the clans. “You people have disgraced this kingdom and deserve no place here. If you all think, you can live without each other, then learn to live without your people first. It’s only then you will realize the importance of the other and what acceptance means. You are henceforth banished from this universe till you sort out your differences. To make sure you don’t go separate ways you shall be tied with chains to each other.” Looking at her guards, she ordered them to throw the three to a faraway land.”

On earth, after dusting themselves, the three of them sat down silently. No one wanted to speak first. Mentally, all of them were cursing the heat, the place, the position they were in. Most of all, the company they had. “It would be much better if I were alone” was the only thought on their minds. The afternoon passed. Yet, not a word was spoken. Thirsty, hungry and tired because of the exhaustion their spirits began to droop. Love saw a small lake at a distance. Wasting no time he stood up and began to run towards it. He took a few steps but suddenly fell down tripping on the chains that tied the three together. Seeing him fall, the other two burst out laughing. An irritated Love got up, looked at them with disdain and said, “Can’t you all see that lake at a distance? If we reach it, we’ll probably survive unless you have plans of dying here.” Intelligence and Boldness looked in the direction Love pointed to but couldn’t see any lake.

“Are you sure you can see a lake? I think all you can see is a mirage.” Intelligence said.

“Agree” Boldness spoke up.

“I’m stuck with two people who don’t even believe me. I so hate this” Love reacted.

“I thought where there is love there is no place for hate.” “And where there's love there's complete trust as well” the other two pitched in. Love felt silent and thought to himself. Wasn’t that the universal truth? Wasn’t that the essence of love?

“Look over there” Intelligence spoke up “I see a lady coming with a pitcher of water on her head. We can ask her for some.” The other two having no other option agreed and started moving. Boldness led the way. But Intelligence, as was always the case tried to take the lead. When he was just about to overtake Boldness, the chain around his hand got too tight for comfort. Wincing with pain, he stopped in his tracks and held his hand hoping for some relief.

“Intelligence is one thing, and smartness is another, but in this case over-smartness did you in”, Love said without wasting a minute to level the score. Though they were tied up together, the duel was still on, however, in a much subdued manner, probably because of the situation they were in. The two of them waited for Intelligence to get better but without losing track of the lady. She had what they needed dearly and couldn’t miss it at any cost.

After they were done they marched on with Intelligence leading the way. On reaching the lady, Love told Intelligence, "Ask her for some water".

Intelligence tried to avoid asking. He was intelligent but shy. Presenting his point unless asked for and taking a stand were qualities alien to Intelligence. Seeing life and its every opportunity as a profit and loss equation was all he did with no space or concern for emotions.

Not to be looked down upon, Intelligence tried to ask the lady, but all he could manage was a mutter, audible and understandable only to him.

“Lost for words?” Boldness asked him. “Intelligence is needed but to execute plans boldness is needed most. After all fortune favours only the brave.” Looking at Boldness, Intelligence said, “You ask her” and stepped aside and adjusted the chains to allow Boldness come forward. Boldness went near the lady who was ignorant of their presence and said, “Hello.” The lady who was in her own world stopped and looked around, but she saw no one. Thinking it was a product of her imagination she continued walking. Boldness went near her again and spoke louder, “Hello, can we have some water?” The lady looked around again. She had heard the words clearly but couldn’t see anyone. She was all alone in the desert and felt shivers down her spine. Without wasting a moment, she made the run for her life dropping the pot of water she carried. Her run confused the three to such an extent that they were caught off guard and remained spectators as the pot crashed and broke into pieces. The desert, as thirsty as it was, gulped down the water without leaving a trace.

“The water…” the three reacted on seeing it disappear into the desert.

“Now what should we do?” Love said helplessly.

“Let’s follow the lady immediately. In such a state, she must have run to her village to seek protection. If we follow her, we can be safe.” Intelligence had a point. If the lady came from somewhere she had to be heading somewhere. With a pot full of water, she most probably would be heading home. Using the lesson taught by experience, they quickly formed a single file. Intelligence led the way with eyes fixed on the lady in the distance. In case he missed her, her footsteps would keep them on track. While they were at it, Love asked, “But why did she run away?”

“Because she was scared I guess…but then why was she scared?” Boldness asked.

“Because she couldn’t see us” Intelligence answered. “We are invisible to these creatures. It just occurred to me. They can only hear us but cannot see us. We are after all, feelings, which to humans are abstract.”

The invisibility factor increased their woes. There was no way they could communicate with people for it would drive them away with fear. They had to find another way. However, their being invisible also gave them a cover of protection from humans and beasts alike.

Walking behind the lady, they passed through a cover of green. It was surprising that a large green cover existed in a desert. Amazed at the works of God they moved on and arrived at the gates of a large kingdom. ‘Welcome to Xenobia’ the signboard read. Without stopping for authentication, the three moved in and walked the streets. Children played with joy, vendors sold their goods and buyers bargained as much as they could. It was like a complete city based in the middle of nowhere.

Still thirsty they looked around for water but couldn’t find any.

“Strange isn’t it? You can find everything over here except water. The wells are dry too.” Boldness asked with shock.

“Surely something is the matter; we must find out” Love spoke with the rest nodding their heads in agreement. They headed to the palace to get more details.

History had it, that water was never scarce in this land until differences arose with the neighbouring kingdom Genovia. As a result, Genovia blocked the flow of water leaving their neighbours high and dry. In due course of time, their stocks ran out, and water had to be fetched from far away. The only way to end this was to sort out the differences and bring the two kingdoms together. The silver lining was the prince and princess of either kingdoms were in love.

“If we get the two together the kingdoms shall come together, and the people’s water problems will get solved.” Boldness said after the three of them quenched their thirst by drinking some water available in the palace.

“Also two people in love should not be separated," Love said.

“But to arrive at a good plan we need to play to our strengths. In short it should have the right mix of Love, Intelligence and Boldness. We also need to consider our limitations – no one can see us but only hear us.” Intelligence suggested.

“Wish we could consult the Oracle; a full proof plan would be ready in minutes. But anyways, we now need to think of one ourselves.” Love said as he saw the challenge that lay before him. The three of them discussed, debated and deliberated. It was for the first time that they didn’t fight with each other but complemented each other. Finally, they drew a plan and made sure no loopholes existed. A slight error could ruin things further and once the plan was in action, there was no turning back.

“Your Highness! our intelligence sources have informed us that the army of Genovia is preparing for battle against us. The king shall officially declare it soon.”

“What?” the king of Genovia reacted in shock at the news brought to him by his commander-in-chief. “But why and how come all of a sudden?’

“Sire, it seems their water woes have increased. The people have begun revolting against their king. Their king, given his old age decided to go with his people and all out against us.”

“We had no problems in sharing our waters. But they disrespected us. Remember?”

“Yes sire, but now what do we do?”

“What is the preparedness of our army?”

“Sire, just give us the orders and our troops shall march on”

“Fine then, get your forces ready and await my orders.”

Seeing the proceedings, Intelligence was satisfied. Spreading a rumour was his part of the plan. What began in the streets of Xenobia reached the ears of the kings of the either kingdoms. Man is in every sense,  a mere messenger. He will never try to verify the contents of the message before delivering it. He will blindly just pass it on.

In a few days, the two armies were standing face to face, both well in their territories, at least as of now. The situation was tight, and a slight provocation would ignite the fire.

“Father, I request you. Let’s not get blood on our hands.” The children requested their royal fathers. But their fathers were in no mood of listening. The enemy was in front of them. The time for talk was over. All that needed to be decided was who would be the last man standing. The bugle was sounded, and the armies clashed. The number of casualties on either side kept increasing. The king of Genovia kept moving forward bravely talking off the enemy’s soldiers in his way. He was almost about to reach the enemy’s gates when he called for his army to stop fighting. His army stopped at once but in wonder as to what made him stop especially when they had an upper hand. He threw away his guard and armour and made a dash for a spot where two people lay dead on the ground. Their attire did not resemble any of the armies but was familiar. When he reached the place, he knelt down and cried. Unable to see what was wrong, the king of Xenobia too came near him. On seeing the bodies, he too began to sob.

"My daughter," he said. “How could this have happened?”

“Sire! They must have got caught in the battle” The king’s officer replied.

“Look at what we have lost. Our fight has taken away our only kindle of joy. I wish we had not gone into battle. Our children would have been safe. Go, take your water” the king of Genovia unable to bear the loss broke down.

“I too am sorry for your loss and all the differences between us. I no longer want any of this. I have paid a hefty price. If our children were alive, we could have got them married and ended this feud forever.” The king of Xenobia replied.

“Promise?”

“Yes, but what’s the use now?” the king turned to the person who had asked him. He was in disbelief of what he saw. His daughter was alive, the neighbouring king’s son too.

“My child you are alive. We thought you were dead.” The king of Xenobia replied with a mix of shock and joy. Tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy as he hugged her tightly.

“I am sorry father. We acted as if we were dead, but we had no choice. We tried explaining that the war would lead to no good. But no one listened.”

“Did you mean you had this planned…How?”

“Worried that the matter would go out of hand, the prince sent me a letter with this idea. Understanding the gravity of the situation and with complete trust in the prince, I agreed.” The king’s head hung in shame.

“We are sorry that our foolishness took us to such extremes.” Turning towards the king of Genovia he said, 

“Let us end this once and for all. Our children have taught us a valuable lesson.”

“I agree, Oh king of Xenobia. In fact, I recommend we mark this occasion and take our relationship to a new high. I suggest we get our children married to each other.”

“That’s a fantastic idea. Our relationship would bring peace and prosperity to our kingdoms just like in olden times.”

Seeing the two kings unite, the prince and princess were very happy. Not only their people had come together and the scarcity of water had been eliminated but also they were going to get married, and years of separation were soon going to end.

In a few days, the two kingdoms came together to celebrate the wedding which seemed impossible till a few days back. Intelligence, Love and Boldness, had smiles etched ear to ear.

“Such a lovely moment isn’t it?” Love said.

“Yes, it is. Our plan worked perfectly. We spread the rumour intelligently, boldly taking the risk of war.” Intelligence replied.

“But wait a minute, where did love fit in all this?” Boldness questioned mockingly.

Love looked at Boldness and replied calmly, “Love is not about hugs and kisses but is a lot more than that. Love is also care and trust. In this case, both, the prince and princess cared for their people. Because they loved each other, the princess trusted the prince. Because there was trust, she decided to take the plunge. So, do you now see?” Intelligence and Boldness kept looking at Love. He was right.

“If we three are present together in any relationship it would never break and always be filled with happiness. 

Wonder why it took so long for us to understand this basic fact. All along we kept fighting on who is the greatest amongst us. We didn’t realize that we are great only when we are together, alone we are nothing.” Intelligence pointed out while the rest agreed in unison.

The three of them suddenly felt lighter on their feet. When they looked down they saw that the chains which had inhibited their movements had disappeared. But before they could react they were sucked up into thin air and found themselves standing right before the Oracle herself.

“So have you found out who the greatest amongst you?” The Oracle asked.

The three replied in the affirmative.


The Oracle, on knowing everything gave them a smile and said, “Welcome back.”

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