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Chapter Z: Zero

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Advaita said “My father yearned for Power.” He fell on Shadow’s lap as tears started streaming from his eyes. She held him for some time as he finally got up recomposing himself. Shadow felt that he looked calmer and more focused now. “Me and the Shaka Chief had a very long conversation” said Advaita. “What happened between the two of you?” she asked. Advaita finally decided to reveal what had happened in Shaka after he had knocked on the door of the Chief’s house the day, it was early morning, the very same day when Cully and shadow were planning to go find him.

His Grandmother, Chief’s wife opened the door and they went inside. Grandfather didn’t want to talk to Advaita initially. When Advaita asked him why he had called his father a cheat, he came to know that Advaita didn’t know his father. Advaita told him Rob and Princess Agnes’s journey from Heaven to Bantu and all he knew was that Rob was Karma, his father. He opened the copper sheet and showed it to his grandfather. His Grandfather laughed and said “you have missed the most important part and she is not your mother. I will tell you the Karma we knew initially”. Valguka the Chief of Shaka finally started the story.

“We Shaka people lived in the Zulu kingdom. My brother was the chief then. We were both young at that time. One day due to a devastating earthquake we lost almost everything. We wanted to move north towards the border of Heaven seeking a place to live again. But my brother wanted to go to the City of Zulu. When nobody was ready, he along with his friend abandoned us and left for Zulu the very night. The next day they made me the chief and we moved here with great difficulties and started our life from zero.

I met my brother sometime later when I visited the City of Zulu a couple of times, I invited him to our new home, to come stay with us but he never came. Years passed and we became old. One day a man from Zulu came to talk to me, he informed me that my brother was sick and was on his deathbed. So your grandmother and I went to see him against the wishes of the tribe. By the time we reached he was already dead. We came to know he had a daughter Kiya. She was a young lady and all alone as her mother had passed away during her birth. Since we never had a child we took her as our own. We asked her to come with us and she readily agreed.

We were not sure how to tell this to our tribe as everyone had hated my brother. So we decided to say we met her on the way back and helped her as she was an orphan. But when we were about to reach Shaka we met a guy. He introduced himself as Karma. He looked tired and exhausted. Your Grandmother suggested we take him too. Thus they came to Shaka as two orphans. I took Kiya as my daughter, that very day I named her Akira in front of the Shaka people. Later Karma and Akira fell in love and they were married. You were born and all was good in their life. But one fine day your mother fell sick. She told your grandmother Karma’s story and made her promise not to tell this to anyone before her death.”

“What is this story” asked Advaita to his grandmother. His Grandmother continued from where his grandfather left,

“I kept Karma’s secret for a very long time. You had grown up into a young boy. If you remember Advaita the day before your father was attacked, I was sick. I got scared nobody would know Karma’s truth and your grandfather had decided to make Karma his successor but he had not yet shared his views with anyone. So that night I told him what Akira had told me”

Advaita was curious and nervous to know. He had not heard about Princess Agnes anywhere in the story so far, He wondered what happened to her. Grandmother finally stated what was told her the second time.

Akira and Karma had a baby boy. Karma was very happy on becoming a father. Slowly Karma had started loving his wife and child. He confessed one night to Akira that he had not loved her initially but married her to become the chief of the tribe. But he was a changed man now and he deeply loved her and their son.

Akira was shocked to hear that. He told her about his life before Shaka and that his actual name was Rob. He told her his story in the city. He explained her how lords humiliated and robbed them in every way possible. He wanted to assume power to change that. He said he was zero back then and somehow he had to reach a position where he was someone. He wanted everyone to pay for their harassment. So he had used Princess Agnes to do so. Karma told how he made Agnes fall in love with him and how they had run away. In Bantu they had exchanged the rings they had. Karma showed Akira, Princess Agnes’s ring which he had hidden all this long.

Akira realised that Karma had made her fall in love with him the same way too. But she kept quiet. Karma continued his story after Bantu.

As Rob and Agnes moved south from Bantu, Rob expressed his wish to go back to the city. Agnes said she did not want that life and all she wanted was to be with him. Rob who had hidden his real intentions so far, could not do this any longer. He was angry. He shouted at her, he said “How do you think we can live here. You are already hurt”. Agnes thought he was shouting because of love. She came near him and said “I am sure our love will find a way.” He pushed her away and said” Stop living in a fairy world. I do not love you. I used you so that I could get some status and power.” She fell on the ground feeling shocked and heartbroken. “We have nothing, zero now. I was a zero then, and after all my hard work I am back to zero” he said in anger and frustration turning away from her. She was still lying on the ground.

From nowhere a beast had jumped on Princess Agnes. Rob was shocked but instead of helping her, he saved himself. He climbed a tree and watched as Princess Agnes shouted with pain and breathed her last. Rob had not felt any remorse that moment. He was so blind with hatred towards the rich that he had lost the human inside him.

From there Rob had moved ahead with caution and came across the Shaka Chief and had introduced himself as Karma.

When Akira heard the story she was in shock. Her husband who she thought was such a good person was actually a power hungry emotionless demon. She remained silent. Karma said “I have realised how wrong I was in the past few days. You and our son brought back the lost soul in me. I have been repenting for my mistakes. I am in love with you both; I want us to be happy and nothing else anymore”. Akira nodded, but she was in shock. She came to know the two sides of her husband.

Akira could not cope with the truth she heard from her husband. She suddenly started to feel ill and could not eat anything properly anymore. Her health deteriorated badly, she decided to tell her mother everything about her husband. Akira realised that her father won’t let Karma live if he came to know the truth and her love for Karma made her ask for a promise from her mother.

“Now you know why I made people attack your father” said the chief.  “I never told the story to anyone here; all I said was that he was planning to take over as chief forcefully. And they attacked your father as I expected them to. But your father had a few supporters as well. It was like a war here when you ran away” he said.

Advaita was in shock. He had never known his father was that kind of a person. There was complete silence in the house. Sourav from the tribe knocked the door but was sent back by the chief.  “Don’t you think my father had changed after mother’s death?” asked Advaita. “He had, my child, but he had to pay for his past life” said his grandfather. Advaita nodded. “He loved my mother. I had seen him cry a lot of times remembering her” Advaita said.

Advaita who had worshipped his father and his teachings all his life was sad and distraught now. His grandmother noticed it. She came and hugged him. “You will always be my grandson” she said. They both cried.

Advaita finally told them his journey after the run. “So, are lords still harassing the poor in the city?” asked his grandfather when he finished his story. Advaita nodded.His Grandfather thought for a very long time. “Apart from us three nobody knows who your mother actually is. Give me your sheet” said the chief. He wrote something on it and put his seal. When Advaita saw this “This is wrong, Grandfather” he said. “You yourself said how lords are still behaving; there should be some people who can change that. I am sure Cully your friend can help you as well with It.” replied Grandfather. “But I may need to face the court to prove this, King himself had said that” said Advaita. His grandfather asked his wife to get that ring “Your mother kept Princess Agnes’ ring and she had given it to your grandmother before her death” he said to Advaita.

They both discussed on how the court session could go, finally as they were about to go out “Remember you need to start from zero again. Never lose your path as your father did. I have belief in you that you will be a better man.” the Chief of Shaka said.

When Advaita finished the story he turned towards Shadow. He could see even she was a little disturbed. He went near her, held her hand. He took Princess Agnes’ ring and said “I know my father was not a good man. He lost his way while he tried to bring a change in poor’s life here. But I promise you as I start from zero, I will be a good man, a good husband and a good father in the future to come. I will always be truthful and take your guidance in every step of our life as I fight for a better society, if you are willing to marry me. Will you marry me Shadow White?” She had tears in her eyes as she said Yes.

She knew how much he loved her. He placed the ring on her finger. They went out of the room for the new beginning that was going to come.


THE END

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Chapter Y: Yearn

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Advaita was standing in front of the mirror. He was wearing a pair of new clothes given by Shadow. He asked to himself “What do you yearn for?” the first thing that came to his mind was mother’s love. Then he thought about his father.

Advaita was back in their hut, he found his father crying, holding his mother’s clothes. Advaita asked him “Why are you crying father?”, “When you yearn for someone who can never be with you that makes you sad, son” his father had replied.

Advaita saw himself in the mirror again. He took his father’s Dagger and placed it in his bag. He wore the ring given by his grandmother, the Shaka Chief’s wife in his right little finger. He took the copper sheet which was drawn by Tip and kept in his bag. Cully came in, asking whether he was ready for the court. Advaita placed the bag on his shoulder as he said he was good to go. Shadow wished Advaita good luck as they left for the Palace.

They had come back to Heaven a couple of days ago. General Thomas had informed King Aiden that Advaita had got the required proof to prove who his parents were. The day had finally come when he would be presenting the court with those proofs. He was yearning to prove himself in front of the very court where he had been nervous before.

He was in front of the court now. King Aiden directly came to the matter at hand and asked Advaita to present his proof to the court. Advaita took out the painting and asked the King whether he knew who the two people who were present in the painting. King Aiden said “It’s my sister Agnes and my once best friend Rob.” Advaita thanked King Aiden for his confirmation. Then he turned the copper sheet and read what was written by the Shaka Chief and the Bantu Chief.

Advaita had asked the Bantu chief to write on the sheet, what he knew about Rob and Princess Agnes once he was back from Shaka with Cully and Shadow. When he had finished reading there were a lot of murmurs. Many of the court officials agreed to the proof. But few were still dissatisfied. They were not happy with it.

One of the ministers said “As far as we know anyone can write this, what is the proof that it was written by the Chiefs?” Advaita replied “They have put their tribal seals along with the writing.” The sheet was investigated by a few ministers and they confirmed its authenticity. Another minister said “We hear you are close with all the tribes around. How do we know that they are not lying for you?”

Advaita smiled as he heard that. His Grandfather, the Shaka chief had expected it. He took out the dagger from the bag and lifted it with his left hand, showing it to the court. “This dagger belonged to my father. General Thomas, do you know this dagger?” asked Advaita “Yes that was the dagger I had given to Rob, a long time ago” replied General Thomas. King Aiden asked for the dagger, looked at it and confirmed the General’s statement.

King Aiden was sure now that Advaita was indeed his nephew. But he wanted all in his court to agree on that too and so remained silent. “So you are Rob’s son that does not make you the son of our beloved Princess Agnes” said one of the ministers and couple of others supported that. Only three ministers were against Advaita now.

Advaita lifted his right hand with a smile. Everything had gone as his grandfather had stated. All looked puzzled. “Your Highness, this ring in my hand belonged to my mother. I am sure you know it.” Advaita moved towards the throne to show it to the king. As King Aiden checked the ring his eyes lit up, “It’s my sister’s” he said as he choked back the tears swelling his eyes. Advaita turned to face the ministers.

The whole court was silent now. No one said a word. After a while King Aiden spoke “I believe he is my nephew, does anyone have any questions?” The court remained silent. Finally a minister said he believed the king. The rest of the ministers followed suit. “Welcome to the family, Advaita” said the King. General Thomas and King Aiden had a discussion within themselves. General Thomas asked Advaita to follow him off the court as the court moved to next issue in hand.

General Thomas said Advaita to return back to the house for now and King Aiden would talk to him in the coming days on what needed to be done. Advaita nodded as he had already planned to stay in the city.

Advaita was back in the General’s house. He was in his thoughts when Shadow touched him on shoulder. Advaita smiled but she could see sadness in his face. She took him to her room and made him sit on her bed. She sat next to him and rested her head on his shoulders. She did not say anything but waited for him to talk.

“What do you yearn for?” He asked her. “For love and respect” she replied. He went silent again. She realised it was something to do with his father. “Did the chief of Shaka say anything about your father?” she finally asked. He turned to look at her, she saw him. “You know what my father yearned for the most?” he said.

She was shocked and surprised when Advaita said teary eyed “My father yearned for Power”.

Chapter X: ‘X’

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Advaita woke up early. He went straight to the Shaka Chief’s house. He stood in front of the door. He had to face them, he had to know what was unknown to him. As he stood there his thoughts moved back to the days when he had just started learning archery.

Advaita had chosen archery over everything else at a very young age. His father had made him a wooden bow and given him some arrows. His father put an ‘X’ mark on the nearby tree and made him stand a few meters away from it. “You see that cross mark I have created son” he said, Advaita nodded “You need to hit the middle of it, if you want be a great archer” his father said. Advaita learnt the basics from his father and tried to shoot his first arrow. As the arrow left the bow Advaita was excited. The arrow did hit a tree but not the tree where ‘X’ was marked. Advaita was disappointed with himself.

He tried a few more times and failed every single time. He was very disappointed. He said he did not want to learn this anymore. His father came to him and said “Son, everything in life won’t come to you easily. You need to practice. That mark is your target. To aim the arrow and make it reach that target should be your goal. You need to work hard Advaita”. Advaita had replied he would do his best and now he was one of the best.

Now he had aimed to reach back to his grandfather and he was here now. He knocked the door. His grandmother opened the door. “Advaita!” she said. She had recognized him right away. She asked him to come inside as she closed the door behind him.

A Couple of Shaka people had seen the stranger from previous night go to chief’s house. It was almost midday and nobody had come out. They had heard some argument happening inside but could not make out what was happening. Finally Sourav a member of Shaka and successor to the Chief knocked the Chief’s door. Chief sent him back saying all was ok.

Afterwards, sometime later Chief and Advaita came out. Both looked quite sad. All the people were curious to know what had happened. Chief said to everyone that he would address them later in the night and for now all should get back to their work. Advaita asked Chief “Grandfather are you sure, you don’t want to join me?” Chief replied “This is home my child, I want to spend rest of my life here and not somewhere else.” Advaita respected his decision. He folded the copper sheet which he had taken along.

Few recognized Advaita. Chief again controlled the situation as Advaita collected rest of his stuff and bid his final goodbyes to his grandparents. Chief’s wife, his Grandmother gave him some food for his journey. They wanted him to stay for one more night but Advaita suggested he would rather leave because of the tension that was created once due to his father.

Advaita was in deep thoughts as he entered forest. He was not sure how he wanted to take his story forward. It was in his hands. Though he and his grandparents agreed on many things. He was not sure whether he should go by it. Finally he decided what his next target was. Then he decided to concentrate on his way back to Bantu tribe as he wanted to reach there before it was too late in the night.

As he moved ahead, he could hear some suspicious movements. He moved with caution, a bow and arrow in hand, ready to shoot. Advaita was very good at being invisible in forest. He saw a couple of city soldiers which surprised him. Then he saw Shadow and Cully. They were walking the horses along with them as it was very difficult to ride in this thick forest.

He was about to reveal himself when a beast jumped from nowhere to kill a horse. The other horses dispersed because of the attack. Advaita noticed the scar on the back of the beast, it was Fear. Cully covered his sister as he drove the sword. The two soldiers had fallen to the ground. Even they were getting ready to defend their General’s Children. The beast roared and grabbed the throat of horse with its jaws. The horse breathed its last.

Advaita came out of his hiding. He shouted “Fear…” The Beast which had just choked the horse with its Jaws, looked towards Advaita. Others turned towards Advaita as well. Another female beast came beside Fear. Fear controlled it. Advaita slowly moved towards Fear. “Do you remember me Kid” He said as he came near it.

It was a tense moment for everyone. Advaita moved his hands around its back as he used to. Fear acknowledged it as it closed its eyes. All put their swords back in their sheath. “Looks like you have got yourself a girl” Advaita said smiling. Everyone laughed. The female beast looked uncomfortably around them. It took the horse that was dead with its jaws and dragged it to the bushes.

“You know this Beast?” asked Cully. “We survived together for years in this forest, his name is Fear.” Advaita replied. “So this is Fear!” said Shadow who knew about Advaita’s life in forest and continued “I have never seen a beast with white and black stripes.”  “Even I was surprised when I had first seen him, they are usually in Yellow with black stripes” replied Advaita.

Advaita asked them why they were here. Shadow said they had come looking for him. Cully said “I heard what happened in court, have you found any proof?” he asked. Advaita took the copper sheet he had and gave it to Cully.

“I Valguka, the chief of Shaka acknowledge that the painting of the people in this are indeed Parents of Advaita. They had come to me by the name Karma and Akira together long time ago. I pledge that whatever is written here is the truth. “

X (Seal of Shaka Chief)

Cully read it out loud. He had a huge smile on his face when he finished it. Shadow noticed that Advaita was not very comfortable when he heard it. Advaita said “we should head back to Bantu now before the night falls.”

He and Fear walked together like old times. Shadow had her doubts but she kept it to herself. She saw a calm Advaita who was walking along with a beast. Cully was very happy with the news.

They almost reached the outskirts of Bantu. Fear stopped its walk. Advaita understood it had to go back. He gave it a last hug as tears rolled down his eyes. It ran back with a huge roar.  “Hope we will meet again, my friend” said Advaita as they moved towards Bantu.

Chapter V: Venture

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Advaita felt that the moonlight would give him enough light to escape from the city. With a bag on one shoulder and a bow on another he reached the outskirts of the city. It was time to venture out into the forest. He decided not to take the path which was meant for the carriages but follow a path parallel to it.

As he went further the forest got thicker and the darkness followed. He decided to climb a tree and rest on a branch for some time. As he waited he ventured into his thoughts.

Advaita was struggling to keep up with his father’s pace. The sword was dripping with blood. He noticed that his father’s left arm was hurt as well. Rajan, his father’s friend came towards them as they reached their house. “Keep guard Rajan,” said Karma, Advaita’s father. As they both went inside Advaita could hear Rajan calling for help from some more people.

The sword from Karma’s hand fell as he locked the door from inside. The house was a mere hut with a single room. Advaita could hear the fight going on outside. He was scared. His father came near him and made Advaita look into his eyes “Listen son, from now on you will be venturing into a new life. I want you to run towards the north and not stop for anyone, especially our people.” Karma said.  

Advaita was struggling to listen. All he could listen was the sounds made by the swords clashing outside and the screams of people. He realized people were dying. Karma took out the hay from the top situated on the opposite end of the door. Advaita saw that his father put his dagger along with some arrows in the bag.  “Advaita concentrate on what i am saying. Take the bow and arrows. Climb the wall and get out, protect yourself, you need to run from here, go north” Karma wanted to say more but time was running out. The sound of fight outside had come to a sudden halt. There was a knock on the door. “Rajan, is that you?” he asked as he turned and walked towards the door.

There was a silence for a few seconds. Suddenly the door was burst open as Karma fell down. He moved for his sword. “Runnn..” he shouted to Advaita. As he climbed the wall Advaita saw that Rajan’s face was covered with blood just outside the door lying on the ground, dead. Couple of people were attacking his father. He dived outside and ran towards the forest. He heard his father’s cry as he ran ahead.  

Advaita woke up from his sleep as he heard a roar from deep inside the forest. He was wide awake now. He wondered whether his father had purposely sent him north with a dagger so that by chance if Thomas or Tip found him they would know he was Rob’s son.

He wanted to trace the steps of Rob and Agnes from where they left. Advaita remembered Bantu tribe people telling him, his face looked familiar, so he decided to go to Bantu first. He walked in the forest cautiously the whole day. Sun was about to set as he reached the Bantu tribe.

Some of the Bantu people were surprised to see Advaita. But it was not new to them as he always used to come in at odd times. They greeted him. He rested for a while and then he went to meet the chief. Advaita greeted the chief of Bantu as he entered the chief’s house. Chief was happy to see him. Advaita found the chief weaker than he had seen him before.

“You know what your specialty is Advaita. You become one of the tribe members when you stay with the tribe and become a vagabond as you venture into the forest until you reach another tribe.” Advaita took that as a compliment from the chief. “What brought you here my friend, I see your eyes and I feel you have questions for this old man” said the chief with a smile.

Advaita without wasting anytime took out the copper sheets and gave it to the chief. “Do you recognize any of them?” Advaita asked. Chief stared at it for a long time. He called his wife and asked her to look at the painting as well. She nodded. Chief said he had seen them as he went on, “Many years ago these two visited us. They were very tired and the lady was hurt. We had made them sit in this very room. It looked like it was their first journey in the forest.” “What happened afterwards?” Advaita asked impatiently.

“They rested here for the day and before we woke up they had left. But my wife had seen them leaving” he said as the Chief’s wife added “Yes. They had left very early. I do not know what had happened but I felt they were arguing over something as they went south into the forest. That was the last we had seen of them.” Advaita thanked them for the information. The only tribe in south after this was Shaka.

Advaita wanted to leave immediately. But they suggested him to stay for the night. Advaita reluctantly agreed. As advaita laid down he wondered whether he would ever win an argument with anyone. He thought of Fear, then Shadow, the two he cared and loved the most.

Now he had to venture into an area he had avoided for so long. He had to go back to Shaka.

Chapter T: Tale

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The wedding ceremony was the talk of the town for the next few days. The Jester’s act after the wedding made people laugh for a long time. Overall the day was one of the best days the Kingdom ever had. The King and People of Benin had left after a few days and everything was getting back to normal in Heaven.

Advaita learnt that wedding in Heaven or in any other Kingdom for that matter happened during the middle of the day when Sun shone at its brightest. It was a belief that Sun would be spreading its light all over the world, most at that moment and light in the newlywed’s life would stay on forever. He had found that belief interesting.

Now that the days had passed. He wanted to talk to General Thomas about the truth of Rob. When he raised this matter with General Thomas, General said they would sit in the evening for the same. Advaita now was eagerly waiting for sun to set.

General Thomas, Tip Roy and Advaita were again seated in General’s study and General continued the tale from where he had left

Rob was in love. Since he was very close to Prince Aiden he could met Princess Agnes. Rob started to impress her with his visions and thoughts. Slowly even Princess Agnes fell in love with him. Even Prince Aiden didn’t know about them. Rob and Agnes had started spending time in secret. They took our help to do so. When they were sure they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, they decided to tell Aiden about it.

Prince Aiden was initially not very happy but Princess Agnes talked to him. The views of Rob had always impressed him and he finally agreed to talk to King William on the same. On the Parallel Rob wanted to bring change in the kingdom. He wanted to remove the atrocity shown against the poor by rich lords. Poor girls were getting raped and killed. None of the poor supported him as they thought this would make things even worse.  

Meanwhile the love story of him and Princess Agnes reached the King’s ears before Prince Aiden could talk to him.King William ordered the soldiers to get him Rob. They had a discussion where King threatened him. Rob was not ready to listen to any of it. But he stayed silent as he knew he could get killed if he rebelled. The King gave him a final warning and let him go. Prince Aiden tried talking to the King but it went in vain.

One day Princess Agnes wanted to meet Rob. When she tried to sneak out from the Palace to meet him, few soldiers saw her and informed the king. King disguised himself and followed her; he caught her before she could reach Rob’s place. He threatened her that he would burn Rob’s house in front of her if she saw him again. That very night Princess Agnes went to Prince Aiden and told him what had happened. She had said she would die if she doesn’t get Rob. The next day King Summoned Rob’s father Lian and warned him on this as well.

Lian came to this very house to talk to my father. He explained my father the whole scenario and said that he would be leaving the city with the family and try to live somewhere peacefully. My father said he would try talking to King on this matter. I heard their conversation and immediately went to inform Rob about his father’s idea of leaving the town. Prince Aiden was with him at that time. He suggested that Rob and Agnes should escape from the city or else they could never unite.

Prince Aiden himself devised a plan for their getaway. The very next night he got Agnes with him. As I took Rob to the outskirts of the city. We gave them gold coins, food and asked them to be careful in the forest. That was the last we had seen them. Rob’s Parents were killed the very next day and their house was put on fire by an angry King William.” General Thomas ended the tale.

“I saw the dagger in your hand the morning of wedding day when you were asleep. I had given that dagger to Rob the day they left. When I asked Shadow how you had that, she told me it was your father’s. I am sure that you are their son now” he said. Advaita was silent now. “We do not live in a perfect world where fairy tales come true but in a world where life is a struggle for survival and we need to find happiness within it” he now understood why his father had said that.

Seeing Advaita silent Thomas and Tip realised he needed a break. “You take some time son, we will talk further on this later” Tip said. General Thomas left the room. Tip sat there for sometime. When he was about to leave, Advaita said “I need a favour Tip”. Tip said he would do anything. “Can you paint portraits of Rob and Agnes?” Tip agreed and told he would give it to him by tomorrow. Advaita thanked him.

Advaita sat alone in the room deep in his own thoughts. He had called the chief of Shaka tribe his grandfather. His mother called him father as far as he knew. But people in Shaka had called his parents outsiders. Now grandfather had told his father and he were a cheat. Advaita was totally confused.

He decided he had to get to the end of this tale as soon as possible.

 

Chapter S: Showdown

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Advaita was ready to shoot his first arrow. He could sense that all of the kingdom’s eyes were upon him. He shot the first then the second and on he went. Every shot was hitting the bullseye. When the final shot hit the bullseye there was a huge roar from the crowd. King Aiden finally smiled. Advaita’s opponent Commander Alex of Benin seemed impressed too.

Advaita suggested they have a round 2, with two targets placed one above the other and they needing to hit both of them simultaneously. Commander Alex agreed to that. Finally two such sets were arranged. They both took two arrows each ready to shoot their respective targets. The whole arena was silent. When the signal was given both shot the arrows. All four arrows hit the bullseye. The crowd went crazy over their accuracy. Advaita and Commander Alex decided to go two more times. Both the times they hit bullseye.

The Kings were very impressed with Advaita. The crowd was excited to see what would be the next round. Commander Alex suggested adding a third target on top of the two. Advaita agreed to it. He had never done this before but he was very excited.

Now they had to shoot at three targets simultaneously which were one above the other. Even commander Alex had not done this before successfully. “Are you ready for the showdown?” He asked Advaita. “I never thought I would be a part of one in the first place” Advaita replied with wonder. They both laughed. The crowd had gone silent again. “Son, you may feel in this life that you too need some showdown with beasts to feel its real thrill, but in life all you need is to be happy and at peace” Advaita was in a different kind of showdown and he was happy too as he remembered his father.

Advaita looked at Shadow as he got ready with the three arrows as he placed them on his bow. She smiled at him. Both Advaita and Commander Alex had set their arrows ready to shoot. 6 arrows flew towards the target. 4 had hit the bullseye. Advaita had missed the bullseye with a very small margin on the bottom target. Commander Alex missed the top target. The whole crowd went silent as it was decided that whichever arrow was nearer to the bullseye would be declared as winner. Commander Alex came and hugged Advaita “You are already a winner to me, son” He said. Advaita who never got too emotional about these things had tears in his eyes. He thanked Commander Alex.

Advaita’s arrow was nearer to the bullseye than that of Commander Alex’s arrow and was thus declared the winner. The whole crowd went berserk and cheered for Advaita. They had never seen such close archery competition before. King Edward congratulated Advaita for his talent. He turned to King Aiden and said “We have a tie from the games. Shall we conclude this tournament with a final game of longsword duel?” They both decided the best from both kingdoms would fight. King Edward called for his General Lucius as King Aiden called for General Thomas. They were asked to get their respective longsword with armor and step into the arena for the final showdown.

Both the Generals had immense respect for each other. They both greeted each other and took their stance. General Thomas had his longsword pointing to the ground whereas General Lucius was pointing it straight at General Thomas. As the signal was given Lucius attacked with the very first thrust which was very well deflected by Thomas. Thomas made Lucius come to him for every attack. Suddenly Thomas countered which caught Lucius by surprise but he dived over and escaped as the sword brushed past him. Thomas thought the game was all over when he went for a submissive move, but Lucius got away by kicking Thomas. Both fell to the ground; as both got up they were in an aggressive mode. Each thrust was parried by the other. There were counter attacks for each attack. People watched in awe of this duel. Both were matching each other’s strikes. The duel went on for a long time. Though both were tired, the pace of the duel had come down and their never say die attitude endeared them to their captivated audience.

The Kings, soldiers, lords and people were on their toes expecting the unexpected. They had already seen some amazing techniques which were never witnessed before. Both the Generals had been innovative in deflecting each other’s attack trying to outwit each other.  King Edward saw that it was almost midday and looked at King Aiden.

General Thomas waited for General Lucius to attack, as Lucius waited for a bit to get a breath both Kings signaled for the duel to be stopped. The whole crowd stood, cheered and clapped for both the Generals. They declared that it was a tie. The Generals bowed to the Kings, acknowledged the crowd for their support.

“It’s almost midday, we should get the wedding going.” said a happy King Edward. They all made their way to the Palace Church. Princess Margaret had not attended the tournament. She had stayed inside. A soldier was sent to inform her regarding the ceremony. Prince Rufus left the arena to get ready.

King Edward who until now had only hated the Kingdom of Heaven, started respecting them. The passion and support of the people made him feel happy. He saw Princess Sarah and how happily she was talking to her father King Aiden. He had tears in his eyes. King Aiden noticed it and asked Edward if he was ok. As they reached the church, Edward asked him if he could talk with him in private for a moment. Aiden asked everyone to get everything ready and took Edward to one of the chambers in the church.

“I had my daughters killed. I had so much hatred towards this kingdom.” Edward said tears rolling from his eyes now.  He bowed his face in shame. Aiden just stood there. “When I saw you with your daughter right now, it came back haunt.. Haunting” Edward was struggling to speak. Aiden was shocked to see this face of Edward. He went and hugged Edward and said “Whatever happened in past can’t be changed. But you will soon have a daughter”. Edward looked at Aiden and nodded.

Feeling relieved in no time Edward was back to his regular self. “Shall we attend our daughter’s wedding then?” said a delighted King Aiden. They both left the chambers smiling. It was indeed the conclusion of the showdown between the two Kingdoms.

Chapter N: Need

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Advaita was in shock after seeing the portrait of his father on the wall. He did not know how to respond to this. Shadow who was behind him now sensed something was wrong. She touched his shoulder from behind asking him if he was ok. He did not respond. She turned him towards her and asked “what is it?” A few seconds of silence followed.

“Who made this mural?” he finally asked. “Oh, this? Uncle Tip made it when he was around our age.” she was excited to talk about it.”Isn’t it very good? The person in the right is my father general Thomas White”she laughed as she said that. “The centre one is our king Aiden Rich and last person is…” she stopped trying to remember something. Advaita was waiting to know, he looked at her and asked “who is he?” “His name is Rob as far as I can remember. The four were very close friends.” she said. “Where is he now?” asked Advaita. “Father had said he died even before we were born.”

Rob was not his father’s name. Could this be a person who looked very similar to his father he wondered. He felt the need to tell everything to Shadow. “Son, you always need someone with whom you can share everything you feel” his father had said and he knew that it was Shadow. He thought and decided to wait as he was not very sure on this.

“What is it Advaita?” She asked him. He smiled and said “I just thought I had seen that guy before.Maybe it’s a different person.” she smiled back. Shadow knew he was hiding something but she trusted him. Advaita knew that Shadow knew he had not told her the complete truth and she would understand. Such was their love towards each other.

“Shall we go out then,” she asked wrapping her hand in between his. He nodded. As they came out Advaita praised Tip’s work. A soldier came looking for Shadow as Princess Margaret needed her assistance in the palace. Shadow left saying bye to everyone. There were only two days remaining for the royal wedding.

Cully and Tip decided to get the Mural done in Cully’s room after the wedding. Cully soon left the place as he had some work with his father regarding the security matters of the wedding. Tip assured Cully that he himself would drop Advaita at General’s house. Advaita argued that it was not necessary. As always Advaita lost the argument of words.

Advaita said he would like to walk when Tip said he would arrange for a couple of horses to drop him. As they walked Advaita asked “The Mural on the right wall on that room with three guys, shadow said that third guy is dead. What happened?” Tip was surprised and confused by this sudden question by Advaita. “Oh! That was our friend Rob. We were pretty close back in those days. I don’t want to talk much about it” Tip replied with a weak smile. Advaita could see sadness on Tip’s face.

Advaita had reached the General’s place. He was in his own world wondering the different possibilities. Later he met everyone during dinner. Shadow could see Advaita was not his usual self. After dinner Advaita asked General Thomas “Did the Dacoit we capture say anything?”  “The dacoits have been looting in that area for food and money for some time now. He confirmed the same. At least this incident will make them question their actions” General Thomas replied back with a smile.

Later that night the mystery of his father’s face on the wall kept him awake. He needed to solve this mystery.

The Innocent One

“How was the movie dear” his mom asked Ram as she buckled him in the back seat of the car. They had just finished watching a Superhero movie.  “It was awesome mom, I will save the world when I grow up” he said beaming with enthusiasm. “I am sure love” she said, smiling back at him as she closed the back door.

Raghuveer, Ram’s father was waiting for his son to settle into his seat as he opened the door for his wife to get in. “So Kausalya, our son will become a superhero now?” he said as she got in. Ram gave a glaring look to his dad as he shouted “Yes dad, I will be the strongest superhero ever!”, “First you need to drink your milk everyday dear” said his mom. Going by the look on his face Kausalya knew he did not like that. “Raghu it’s already 11, let’s hurry up” said Kausalya as she started to get worried about the deserted roads and the long distance they had to cover to get home, “No people, no traffic we can reach quickly” Raghuveer replied nonplussed as he drove on.

Ram started feeling drowsy, the faint noise of music from the radio in the background added to his drowsiness, he was imagining saving people like Lord Rama from the Ramayana, he wanted to tell his dad to continue this story as soon as they reached home as he fell asleep.

Ram was running behind SUBAHU, the Villain, who in turn was baying for the blood of the innocent people of Krishnanagar. Ram started to gain on SUBAHU as he sped up. But SUBAHU was very fast, laughing and taunting him as he closed in on his prey. Ram used his special jumping prowess to jump high in the air. When SUBAHU turned to mock Ram again, he could not find him and got confused. On turning back to his sheer horror he found RAM right in front of him. He panicked but he was not ready to give up. He used his special weapon BOMB which could blast off the person in front of it. Ram had destroyed all his BOMBs in his last mission and was shocked to see one in SUBAHU’s hand. He laughed as he threw it on Ram. SUBAHU was late in realizing that Ram was too close to him, Ram used his special jump again but it was too late. There was a loud thud as Ram yelled as did SUBAHU….

Ram was in shock. His hand was hurting. He thought he was in his bed as it was what would usually happen. He would fall asleep and his mom or dad would put him in bed. His first thought was he had fallen from his bed; He wanted to get up but something was stuck. It was pitch dark as he opened his eyes, he was still seated in the back seat of their car. His belt buckle was stuck and he struggled to remove it. He cried out for his mom as he was hurt.

His vision was blurred and the inside of the car was completely dark. He could see a light far away which was street light he guessed. He somehow managed to open the belt buckle. His side of the door was a little open. His dad’s head was on the steering wheel. He could not make out much. He tried to wake his dad up, he shouted for help but received no response from anywhere. He started crying “mummy, please wake up”. He managed to open the door, got down, and tried opening the front door. But he could not. He was experiencing pain in his knees, elbow and he could not say from where the blood was gushing out. He saw that their car was stuck to a side of the building. He observed that a guy was sleeping in the middle of the road. He was still crying. He wanted to go to his mom’s side and open that door as well. But it was stuck to the building.

He went near the guy who was in middle of the road. He could smell the guy from a distance. He saw that whole area was deserted. Now he had stopped crying. His hero instincts started to trigger in. He wanted to save his parents. He had to find someone to get his parents out. There weren’t many buildings around. Few which were there looked closed.

He stared towards the only street light that was on the deserted street. With all the pain in his body, he started walking towards it. As he reached there, there were 3 directions he could go. He chose left as there were street lights fully on that road.

He could not find any building or people around as he moved ahead. He was having a lot of pain in his head as he looked at various places, trying to find someone. He saw a bike approaching. He shouted “Help, please help!” The guy on the bike saw him, slowed down a little bit, but did not stop and sped off. He could not understand why the person didn’t want to help him. But he had to move and find someone.

Ram was slowing down now. As he took another right turn he saw that there was a small shop and it was open going by the light that was coming out of it. He wanted to run towards it as it was a little far to walk. But as he tried, pain took over and he stopped. He placed his hands on his thighs, took another deep breath and started walking slowly. It was a Tea shop.  Ram shouted for help as he was about to reach the shop.

The Shop’s name was ‘Parmesh Tea Corner’.  Parmesh who usually closed his shop at 12AM was waiting for his friend to arrive. Hearing someone shout at almost 12:30AM was a surprise for him. He came out of his shop to see his visitor.

Ram was in front of the shop now. He saw a guy standing in front of him. “Please help, there has been an accident, my parents are still in the car, please “he said..He held guy’s hand and tried to take him there. The guy stopped him and went inside the shop and took his mobile and dialed some numbers. All Ram could hear was “boy alone, some blood” . He was very tired now and could hardly stand.  The guy came back and offered him some water to drink. Ram said “Please help me, I need to go help my mom and dad”. The guy replied “My name is Parmesh, please drink some water, we will go in a few minutes”. He made Ram sit on a small bench which was beside the shop. He even took some chocolate from his pocket and gave him. As Ram was drinking water, Parmesh got a call and he went inside the shop again.

Three guys came from a narrow pathway near the shop and started towards Ram. They looked scary to him. They were walking towards the shop now. Ram was scared from inside but did not show any signs of fear.  

One of the guys in the group saw a chain on Ram’s neck. He asked “are you alone boy?” Ram stood up “Please help me, we met with an accident, my mom and dad are stuck in the car” as he held the glass which was half full. The three started talking among themselves and were about to make a move towards the kid.

A bike soon approached the shop. Parmesh who was scared looking at the local goons, had a sudden feeling of relief now. He had called the local inspector Yadunandan. The bike stopped in front of them. Seeing the cop the three guys started walking away.

“Hello Inspector, this is the kid I had reported about” said Parmesh pointing towards Ram as he came out of the shop. Yadunandan walked towards Ram. When Ram saw a policeman coming towards him, he said “Help me, my parents are stuck in our car”.

“Hi, I am Inspector Yadunandan. Please tell me what has happened? Can you tell me what you were trying to say to Parmesh” said Yadunandan as he sat on his knees. Ram struggled to recollect what exactly had happened, finally he said “our car has hit a shop and my parents are stuck inside. I tried to wake them up and get them out of car. But I couldn’t”. Yadunandan who just realized the seriousness of the matter asked “Can you take me there?” Ram nodded. He examined Ram and made sure that he had no major injuries. He took out his phone as he held the kid’s hand; He called someone “Possible accident, a male and female stuck inside the car, on my route there. Yes near to the Parmesh tea shop on Shyamnagar circle.”

“Parmesh you come along. Close the shop, quick” said Yadunandan. Yadunandan and Ram left on his bike towards the accident spot with Parmesh following them. As they started “which way Ram?” he asked.  The kid started to guide them. Yadunandan was shocked to see that kid was guiding them very well even in such bad condition. They had diverted 4 times already and gone about a kilometer. Yadunandan was going slowly giving the kid right amount of time to guide. He saw a car crashed to a shop when they took the last right. He accelerated and reached there quickly.

“What’s your name?” he asked the kid as they got down. “Ram” replied the kid. He saw that a guy had fallen in middle of the road. He went to inspect the guy and told Parmesh to check on Ram’s Parents. As he reached near the body it was evident that the guy was drunk.  He took his phone “Accident opposite Kubera Jeweler in Shyamnagar, need immediate attention”. He turned the body and confirmed that the guy was ok and he was just totally drunk.

Parmesh was able to open the Driver’s door as it was facing the road. He slowly removed the buckle and very carefully brought him out. “They might have taken this left turn and as they saw there was a guy in middle of the road, he might have tried to avoid him and crashed into the shop” said Yadunandan after a quick inspection. They heard the ambulance siren and soon an ambulance approached them.

Ram who was seeing and listening to everything that was going on slowly went towards his dad and dozed off as he did not have any strength left in him to stay awake.

Ram was injured badly. His followers had taken him to a nearby hospital. When Ram was fully awake “Where is SUBAHU?” he asked. One of his followers replied “He was injured too, but he escaped”. Ram got up from his bed. Everyone wanted him to rest but Ram took off from there. SUBAHU was injured and Ram wanted a solution to this as quickly as possible. But recently when Ram had gone to seek the guidance of his teacher Vishwamitra, He remembered his master saying “None are born bad, situations in our lives bring out the good or bad in us”. So Ram started to wonder why SUBAHU was bad. With the help of his brother Lakshman he found out that SUBAHU was a scientist and was devoted to his country. But when he came to know that Krishnanagar people had his mother Tataki and brother Maaricha arrested, he turned into a terrorist. Lakshman brought more info on Tataki and Maaricha’s death which proved that they were cheating and harassing people of Krishnanagar. Their death was accidental as well and people had nothing to do with their death. Moreover people were still in doubt of Maaricha’s death as his body was never found.

With all this info Ram goes in search of SUBAHU. When Ram finds SUBAHU, he talks to him with all the facts in hand. But soon Ram realizes that SUBAHU has been taken over by evil and nothing can be undone. Ram calls for Battle of Arrows till death. SUBAHU knew Ram was the best archer in the world but still he agrees to the battle as he had his own cunning plans to defeat Ram.

The battle takes place in Open grounds of Tatakaranya. Ram pleads to Subahu, “SUBAHU please listen to me, I do not want to kill you. You are mistaken about the death of your mother and brother”. SUBAHU interrupts him “Ram stop giving these talks. Do not try to talk about the dos and don’ts as you are here to kill me. This hurts Ram. He was there to fight but deep down he does not want SUBAHU dead but the bad in him. He recognized the power of love that could remove the hatred in people. He remembered the power of good to remove the bad. “Remember Ram everything can be won with good and love” he remembered the words of Vishwamitra.

The Battle started. SUBAHU was striking arrows in regular intervals. The arrows looked different and bigger. Ram realized they might blast. He made a special jump and escaped. As he jumped he sent few arrows towards SUBAHU. People who had come to watch the battle roared as they saw Ram sending arrows towards SUBAHU. Few of the arrows hit SUBAHU. But it did not hurt him at all. He was confused with the outcome, so were people. The battle continued as SUBAHU used various tricky arrows which were easily dodged by Ram. Ram’s arrows hit SUBAHU every time but nothing happened to him from outside. SUBAHU was unhurt from outside, but within something was changing him. He was getting weaker . Soon SUBAHU collapsed as an arrow from Ram hit his heart.

Ram ran towards SUBAHU. “What are you doing to me, why am I feeling as I have been wrong all along?” Ram smiled at him. “What is this feeling?” he continued. People had surrounded Ram now. “That’s love and kindness my friend” said Ram. Hearing the word friend from his enemy made SUBAHU cry. People chanted Ram’s name on seeing his big heartedness.

“Ram, Ram” Ram could hear his mom’s voice. Even though he was conscious now, he was struggling to open his eyes. He felt as his mom leave the room as he slowly opened his eyes. He heard the door open. He saw Inspector Yadunandan come in “Hi I was the inspector who got you and your family here, can you explain the events if you are ok now?” Yadunandan said. Kausalya nodded “we were coming back from theatre. On one of the turns we saw a guy coming right in front of the car. Raghu tried to avoid him and hit the shop nearby. When I woke up I was in bed.” She said. “Ya he was some drunk. He hit his head when he fell on the road. We have got him to the hospital as well. He was completely drunk and in no condition to walk. Your Husband did a great job avoiding him, but I guess he lost control in the process”. “How is Raghu? Did doctors say anything?” she asked. “Yes, he is fine, they are operating on him. Doctors are hoping he will be fine in a few days.” After a pause he continued “Your son is amazing, he walked for about a kilometer to get help in that condition” he said as he turned to see Ram.

Ram smiled as they both turned towards him. He slowly tried to get up. He sat on his bed and said “Mom I want to see Dad“. Kausalya came and sat beside him. “He is in a special room Ram, we can see him later” she said. “Please mom” he said. “Why don’t you walk him out and show around” Yadunandan said. Ram got down from his bed as he saw that his mom was bandaged on her head and hand. He himself was covered with a few bandages of his own. “He needs proper rest inspector” Said Kausalya. “I am fine mom” Ram said as he got down. She shook her head and started walking towards the door as Ram followed her. They went to the corridor.

Ram held his mom’s hand as they walked towards ICU to have a check on his Dad. “Why was that guy so drunk and what was he doing on the road?” asked Ram. Kausalya was about to say something when Yadunandan who was behind said “He is very poor and he is having a lot of issues Ram and these kind of people always think drinking will make their problem disappear.” Ram stopped walking as he turned back and said with a smile “Mom says being good, showing kindness and love towards people will always keep people happy”. Yadunandan smiled at the child’s innocence. Kausalya smiled too.

They reached the ICU door. As Kausalya opened the door and was about to enter, Ram stopped and turned once again towards the inspector to ask “What is the guy’s name?” “Oh! Its Subahu” said Inspector Yadunandan…..    

The War Within…

The pain in the heart grew bigger
With the thought of you leaving me
It’s weird to be scared of losing someone
Whom you have already lost

Stay and fight for your existence
It’s your life to live and love
Giving up is a fools option
Even with the pain around the loved ones

You rose from the ashes ones
Get up again from this pain
There is lot to see and explore
In this God created world for us

I know it is very difficult
With all the thoughts jumbled
Pick the pieces that are shattered
Creating a new one midst the chaos

Love and care is everywhere
Hidden between the fear and hatred
Leave the burden inside you
To reach the forgotten kingdom

Smile is indeed an essential tool
To reach the hearts in this kingdom
Happiness should never be the shadow
But the true expression from heart

Living is an art in this world
Facing the fear and dark within us
Giving the expression of love and light
To all from the heart

It is those fears that are dark
We should lose along the way
Spreading the happiness from the heart
And have a peaceful life

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Every one of us want a peaceful happy life. I believe if not all, most of us long for that. The major issue is that there are so many distraction in life which gives us all the needs and finally makes us forget the most important one. For each one of us, we need to face the fears and sadness within us. The fear can be of losing someone or something. Our mind plays us so beautifully that the others around who trick us are nothing in front of it.

In the poem above if you have noticed, I have never mentioned mind anywhere. I believe when we start smiling from the heart or spread happiness from the heart, we have controlled our mind. Conquering one’s mind is the biggest challenge. When you think you have outsmarted your own Brain, it might end up saying ‘no buddy not yet’!!
Face the fear/anger within and around you. Find that peace in life. Fun fact is we already have it but we don’t ever realize or see it.

There are so many kinds of war going on around us which have no significance as it is the war within us that is needed to be won.

THE PERFECT ONE

When he was born his cry was perfect. His cry gave away smiles in the hospital like never before. The Nurses who saw him called him the perfect one. His father’s joy knew no bounds when he held him for the first time. His mother smiled like never before when she set her eyes on him. From the day he came into this world, he was termed as Perfect.

Parents found it very difficult to name him. He grew more handsome and showed intelligence that belied his age. His walk was perfect. Finally they named him Krishna after Lord Krishna the Hindu God.

He grew up doing everything perfectly. He excelled in every field. Though he was getting tired of everyone telling him how perfect he was, he started to get arrogant about it by the time he was 16. Krishna’s friends envied him but still acted as if they were his best friends. He knew this but could not care less.

As he grew old he became lonely. When he was 20 his so called friends started to feel so insecure that they tried to avoid him. Everyone started to have girlfriends. Each girl wanted to be his girlfriend but because of insecurity they avoided him too. Moreover he was looking for a perfect girl to match his perfection.

At the age of 26 he started working for his dad, helping him with the family business. His parents had started looking for a suitable bride. He had rejected a few proposals and he got rejected by a few of them as they felt insecure. One night Krishna went to his dad “Dad, I would like to take care of the other site we have. I badly need a break from this city.” The site was in the other end of the country. His Dad considered for long and reluctantly agreed.

When he was in the plane that would take him to his new place, he saw the clouds, plains below. He was amazed by their naturally perfect beauty. “Everybody wanted to be him. All would just look at him as if he was next to God. But is there a need to be perfect? People don’t realize they are perfect in their own way. They really don’t realize it. Every child’s first cry is perfect not just his. A little one fighting for that extra piece of chocolate is perfect. A young student studying hard to attain success is perfect. A sportsperson working hard to reach his goal is perfect. A person trying to keep his family happy is perfect. A crow sitting on the branch of a tree and gazing around is perfect! It all depends on the view a person has.” Flight attendant woke him up as it was time to land. He never realized he was asleep. The thoughts were still strong in his mind. It changed his whole perspective on life.

He had come to a new city now. The look on everyone’s faces when they saw him were the same as before but now he saw perfection in them too, whether it was the auto driver arguing for extra money from his customer or the elder sister taking care of her brother while crossing the road.

Krishna was riding his new bike that was presented by his parents. As he rode, he found perfections in imperfections. He was indeed perfect now!

As he turned round the corner, another bike came from nowhere in front of him. As they tried to avoid each other they collided. Krishna fell and his head hit the road,it was just a minor fall as he just had a small cut on his face. He was worried about the other person.

“Oh my bike! I had got it ready perfectly” Krishna heard a voice. As he stood up.. “Oh No… my bike, OMG look at my face…” she said looking in the mirror. As Krishna faced to look at her, He saw a tag hanging around her neck, It had ‘Radha’ on it. He had a bruise on his face but it did not matter to him. He was not even hearing what she was telling anymore, just staring at her.

Radha was still shouting at him. As soon as she saw him, she stood still. Both were looking at each other as if they had eyes only for the other. A smile flashed across their faces as Krishna said “Perfect”.

THE END

Life we live is perfect. Every moment in our life is important as each of this moment becomes memory the very next second. Make every memory a Perfect One… Take care.