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Sunday, April 22, 2018


 Short Story by Prapti Mishra


The masterful art of story telling is one of the key ingredients that has helped mankind to develop into a society of society of intelligent beings but most importantly, the art has transcended a way to communicate the differences in cultures and in spirits of human beings. 
Such is a story by Prapti Mishra. She tells this fantastic story about the fighting spirit of the woman who will become a shield for the ones she love and for the humanity itself. Read it 



The Last Battle
by Prapti Mishra

She woke up screaming again. This perhaps has happened the umpteenth time by now. There were the sweat droplets on her face shimmering in the beam of moon light that fell on her from the corner of a window. She has seen  the same dream again, the same nightmare again.
“Are you alright my child? Did you see the same dream again?”, the old man asked. He was way too old to stand straight .His age showing perhaps he has seen the centuries pass by. He looked like a saint bend by the age, white hair that was woven to make a bun on top of his head and white beard that reached his knees when he walked , and he was grinding some leaves with a stone, perhaps making  a medicine sitting on the floor near the bed. The situation introspected was like this young lady was too ill to get up and move. And the old man, perhaps a sage who has knowledge way beyond his age, was her doctor here.
This tale starts from the foothills of Mount Kailash and I am the only living person on this earth to tell this tale to others as a folklore. Some believe this , some ignore this saying it’s just a story. But only I know the reality.
I remember that night. It was a hailstorm  that had hit our village and that night was the chilliest of all the nights of the year.Around midnight the wild dogs started howling as if a stranger had entered our village of Bruce.We came out to find a young lady riding a white horse with full speed,her hairs braided into a plait flying in the air,she almost pale white because of the snow sticking to her face,but her body carefully covered.She was trying to cross the village perhaps.But was too weak to move further,she fell from her horse and fainted.
The morning came,like a new sun rising from the eastern skies and it seemed like the storm was never there the night before,or it was just the warning of some evil rising in the far off land,because the time has come.I went inside the hut where the lady had been taken the night before and she was being treated by the best hands in our village.There were a few people who have gathered inside the hut to examine the situation.
We saw an old man walking slowly towards the village from the curved path that was almost covered with the snow from the foothills that paved the path to climb the mountain.It seemed like he was descending from the mountains and was holding a stick to help him walk.His face had a shine like the Gods ,even the age couldnot have diminished that aura and energy that was emitting from the man.He was a saint who slowly came near the hut and said,”Let me go and meet her,because she is here to meet me.I am the end and the beginning of her life’s quest.I will treat her henceforth and she will recover soon.”
I was really astonished and my villagers were also dumbstruck.We never saw this old man before and how he came to know what happened last night.But everyone  preferred to keep silence.And we let the old man in.He exactly looked like a saint from the Mount Kailash,and I felt like he was The Lord himself , there was a calmness and a sense of purity and fulfilment around him. It was like he was a source of energy himself, disguised, so that commoners wouldn’t even imagine his identity.
He started his treatment soon.With his experienced hands the lady started healing .Now her wounds were healing and she got her senses back for sometimes in the day.Slowly she was recovering,and she had become a great friend of mine.We talked and laughed alot. She said her name was Sarah,his father gave her this name because she was a princess ,the princess of Dausa,the arid region that covered the northwest   of the land.She had travelled from the west to far north east,into the provinces of Bruce to get the answers to some unsolved questions.At first I couldnot believe my ears to what I was listening,but alas there was no way of denying it when the old saint also smiled in conformation to her words.
Now I knew she was a princess and had stayed in the hot burning climate for all her life and that was the reason why she was not able to breathe this cold air that burnt the nostrils.Her body was succumbing but her spirit was alive.She started again,”when I was young I my parents would always find me near Lord Shiva’s idol.It was like I was drawn to that energy everytime,in spite of having a lot may dolls to play,I would still prefer the bows and arrows.When I started to grow up ,I loved the forests and the jungles that the walls of my castle.One day a saint arrived at our doorstep .Seeing me he said to my father,”start searching for a groom for her,before she reaches Twenty years,else her fate will call her towards him.You will lose her forever.”
Then she drank her medicine and some water and continued,” Hearing that I got scared but I had no other options.That night I prayed to the Lord asking to show me what was written in my fate and went off to sleep.I saw a beautiful dream.It was lively,so real that it never seemed to me I was dreaming until it suddenly changed its course from beautiful to fearful and got converted into a nightmare.”She was feeling uncomfortable now.She paused for some moments,trying to get some breathe and again continued,”I was inside a jungle searching my path to get home quickly.I had travelled into this vast jungle perhaps without knowing my way outI felt lost and frightened too.Soon it would become dark and I will lose my path, but then something happened. I found a cave,and walked nearer to see if I could get some help, to find a young man ,perhaps in mid twenties ,sitting under a banyan tree near the gate of the cave, deeply engrossed in his meditation. He was young,but had grown long hairs and beard, it seemed like he was meditating for years. In the departing light of the sun, I could somehow see his face, perfectly ached to resemble to the Gods’. I just gaped at him. I had forgotton my existence .I felt like I knew him from ages and it was only him I knew, he was the one for whom I can fight any battle in life just to be with him. I sat near his feet waiting for him to wake up. My legs were hurting after travelling such a long distances, and I was not able to see properly inside the cave. I don’t remember how much of the time had passed, perhaps hours or days. I had nothing to do, no where to go, I just looked at his face ,blank, I had no thoughts,  I had no words, tears were rolling down my eyes and dried up.I had forgotten my existence and my world for him, without even knowing who he was.”
The saint was silent all throughout this conversation , now walked towards the bed and patted her shoulders. I saw tears in her eyes, rolling down her cheeks. She quickly patted it dry but her pain was intense. Till now I was only hearing out what had happened. After seeing Afriel’s condition, I started to listen properly.
She continued,” He opened his eyes,I was still sitting in that statue like posture ,no movement at all.I couldn’t even feel my limbs ,my body parts. He looked into my eyes, and just smiled.That energy was so intense that it made a current flow through my body.
The smile spread across his face like sunlight spread after the night. At that moment I forgot all my problems.  May be this feeling was love, deep sense of love, the calmness of a mother’s love for his child yet the pain associated with it. I wanted to ask him his name, to talk to him, but I couldn’t.I was completely mesmerised when I realized that it was just a veil and slowly it was fading.Now  I could see the gleaming red eyes clearly ,instead of the watery auburn eyes that created the ripples of  love in my heart. He turned into a completely black and shadowy figure .I could just see the silhouette , figuring out to be some kind of a monster. I wanted to scream, but there was no voice coming out of me .He attacked me ,mercilessly,as if he was waiting for this day to come I was fighting for breathe,he stabbed me mercilessly kept stabbing me until I was screaming in pain and then suddenly he vapourised, into thin air.I lay there,in the open, on the wet ground ,looking at the sky,everything slowly turning hazy.I finally lost my consciousness.”

I was shocked to hear such a nightmare that haunts this girl.I felt such pain that I couldn’t imagine how she must be holding herself up.I was in my own thoughts when the saint said,”This is not the end.”
I asked him,”Is there something more to say Lord?I thought her dream was over.It really felt so lively that I got goosebumps”.He continued”yes.That was just the beginning .That nightmare haunted her everynight since that day.Every night she felt the same pain being killed by the person she loved .When she started saying about this to her parents,they at first ignored thinking it to be just her imagination.Ther slowly days turned to months and she kept dreaming that dream everynight and woke up screaming.Her parents thought that she was getting mentally ill and called the kingdom’s best doctor.No one could trace her disease because in reality this time her energy, her spirit was dying and not her body.

Atlast the same priest arrived,who had made the prophecy.He told her”Ride east from here,then North.U’ll reach the foothills of Mount Kailash,the abode of Lord Shiva,whom you have worshipped since childhood.You will get all your answers there.”

And so one night without informing anyone,she took off on her journey,in search of her answers.I knew the time has come to save my child.So I woke up from my meditation and came here.”
Now Afriel and me ,we both were cofused and looked at each other.How did he know exactly what had happened to Afriel and what time has come?There were no answers to our questions,when he replied,”You both will slowly get to know me.Don’t stress out now.”And I knew he could even read minds .Such powers were rare for humans atleast.

Now that I knew the truth I was also searching for answers to Afriel’s problems.How will a person survive under such stress?Why her?These were the questions that kept popping up in my head.I couldn’t see her in pain and atlast I decided to meet the Saint.I went near him.He was in deep state of meditation  but opened  his eyes.
He said,”She doesn’t know yet.The prophecy says that  a gir will be born in November, will be saving the world from the devil ,pure evll, else no one can save the world .”
He continued,”When God created the universe,he created two energies complementing each other,The Yin and The Yang.The positive side,the light and the darkness.Now the time has come for the darkness to rule the earth,plunging the whole of mankindinto the grasp of evil for ages.So she was born on the eath.The positive side of this devastating dark energy to stop this from happening.This will be the last fight against the darkness just to save us.”
“Then who was the person whom she fell in love with?”I asked the saint.He replied”Its the devil himself,and he will keep coming to lure her and kill her until she kills him.”I felt afraid hearing to all these tings.Many things have changed since the night after Afriel arrived in our small village.This will be also a silent audience to see the greatest ever fight of this universe.
I asked him,”Now what?”
He replied,”I ll train her to fight.You will also help me in that.She needs to be ready before her journey begins.And so I am here to help and assist her.”
And so her journey begins,to save the mankind,to save the world.


Friday, March 16, 2018

Kathakaar story by Taha Joher

As is the case with stories, some are bad , some are good but the ones which really touch our heart are the ones which are told through the heart. Such Stories are difficult to find and harder to cherish but the literary team of IMI Bhubaneswar  is lucky to find such a story in the short story competition- Kathakaar organised by them.
The story by Taha Joher won the competition and more importantly won the heart of the readers.

The story revolves around a man's bad habit of gambling and not revealing any further let me share the story for you.























The worst thing that can happen to a gambler is that he wins….

By Taha Joher

It was the end of June, and the clouds started to gather in the sky. The depressed beings peering out of their windows could finally feel that the rest of the world was just as unhappy as them. Unbeknownst to them, this was true, but the ‘normal’ people just hid it better.

One person who was not unhappy, at least for now, was Sarthak Bansal. The dreamy and ambitious 23 year old stood in the convocation hall with a law degree in hand from an institution reputed for churning out the most bloodthirsty lawyers in the country. At this moment, he could be forgiven for thinking that he had the world under his feet. After all, where would we be without the reckless innocence of youth?

In India, people are divided into two categories. The first category constitutes of people brought up well by their parents- and the second category is made up of the people who are a disgrace to their family name. Needless to say, the former is overly romanticised, and Sarthak was the embodiment of its perfect specimen. Academically brilliant and athletically gifted, he was the benchmark that his unfortunate peers were often compared to. Above all, it was his incredible confidence that drove him to his legendary status. Some would say that his confidence bordered on arrogance, and they would be right. But in this wonderful world, no one would agree, and our poor friends would be chalked down as yet other victims of jealousy.

‘Beta, I am so proud of you,’ a beaming Mrs. Bansal gushed, rushing to her son as he stepped off the stage. ‘You have toiled for five long years to reach this day.’
Mr. Bansal, much like the average Indian dad, was much restrained in approval.
‘So AMC Associates, huh? I was Googling them last night and they are the second largest firm in the country. You should aim for partner in 5 years.’

Sarthak smiled. He couldn't care less about all that his parents were saying. He was preoccupied with something else entirely.

Remember how I said that the normal people just hide their emotions better? Sarthak was normal. Too normal. I say this because Sarthak wasn't just bluffing about his emotions. He was concealing something far too grave.

Looking around, he mused to himself, ‘What a lame crowd.’ Pulling out his phone he texted his closest friend, Milind Rana.
‘Dude.’
‘Where are you?’
‘Racecourse at 8. Don’t ditch man

Sure enough, his phone beeped after a couple of minutes.

‘Sure man. Get enough. It’s gonna be lit.’

For all our surveillance capabilities as a society, it comes across as a surprise when someone manages to find a shred of privacy in their lives, let alone keep such a major part of it as a secret for five years.

Three hours later, just as his parents were starting the dual monologue of Sarthak not spending enough time with them, he left for The Racecourse. Sarthak’s favourite place. It wouldn’t be an underestimation to say that this place had seen more of the young lawyer over the last year or two than his college had. There sure were some memories attached to this place. The first drink, the first hookup and most importantly, the first try at the slot machine.

Like they had been ever since the first time Sarthak came here, Mr. and Mrs. Bansal were under the impression that he was going over to Milind’s house. The excuse would generally be to study, but today Sarthak was feeling a bit rebellious. It was video games today. No wonder he chose law as a profession.

The 18 year old fresher walked into the bar turned casino. He was joking and laughing with his friends but as soon as the group approached the security guard, the young man put on the straightest of faces while fumbling for his fake identification. Thank God for the ubiquity of the roadside photocopy stores. The guard took one look at the ID card, and then glanced back at the boy, who was admirably resolute in his quest to get in. As long as they were not causing any trouble, the instructions were to let these moneybags in. Teenagers pretending to be adults were their main source of income after all.

Sarthak smiled as he saw this scene unfold. It felt like a throwback to those days. Those beautiful days. He was so engrossed that he didn’t even notice his best friend slithering into the seat beside him.

‘ We always got in because of our beards, don’t you think?’

‘Also because of my smooth skills, sliding those 100 rupee notes in the guard’s hands’

‘Always used to be from my wallet though.’

‘Absolutely not. I earned a lot from this place. Enough to afford the bribe every day for the rest of my life.’

The human brain is a magnificent creation. Always in its own delusions, despite staggering evidence otherwise. Can you really blame a person for being happy by simply choosing to believe what they want to believe?

Sarthak had earned a lot from this place, that was true. However, basic accounting knowledge would tell you a high turnover does not necessarily mean a profit.

The ecstatic cheers from the group indicated that someone landed an unexpected windfall. I envy successful gamblers. Earning money for doing virtually nothing. Sarthak went back to his own first win. Rs 20000 on an investment of Rs 500. The slot machine may as well be a money printer.

‘Let’s play?’ A question that these two best friends had asked each other too much for their own good.

‘Sure.’ The same old response.

The Blackjack table was brimming with a cocktail of excitement, disappointment, and speculation. Sarthak joined the table, winking at the lady who had been checking him out, failing miserably at her attempts to be discrete. Eventually, it was Sarthak’s turn. A nine and a King. Sometimes it just seems like even the universe is biased towards certain people. 2000 bucks, easy money.

Winning sounds like such a good thing, right? Another good hand. Another victory, more cash. Milind was beaming. His drinks tonight would be paid for. Or so he hoped.

There is a thing that does not make sense to me about how gamblers, the people who use so much intellect and guile to make bets, cannot see something so obvious. There was no stopping Sarthak once he was in the zone. But that is the thing about gambling. It doesn't matter if one is in the zone. In the end, it is going to be the dealer who has the last laugh. Till the time Sarthak has money, he will gamble. He will risk it all for more. It is a lethal fusion of greed and addiction.

What goes up must come down. An adage that is almost as old as time itself. What followed after the first two turns can be described as nothing but horrendous. Round after round, Sarthak kept hoping, and losing. He raised his bet with every loss, trying to recover it all with that one magical hand. The hand that never came. Out of cash, Sarthak turned to Milind. It was time to drown their sorrows in the healing elixir commonly known as alcohol.

It had been long since the Bansals had sniffed that something was wrong. Mr. Bansal in particular, rich as he was, had humble beginnings himself. The exorbitant amounts his son was spending in a month was not normal for a college student living even the most luxurious of lives. He said nothing initially, as he did not want to upset his only son. But eventually, he reached a breaking point. Both of them did. They knew Sarthak was lying to them, and sure enough, they looked into it. When they found out where the money was actually going, it shook them to their core. If it wasn’t for a desperate child’s teary-eyed plea coupled with a sincere promise of rehabilitation, they would have made him come back home. That was their official statement.

But Sarthak knew. He knew that the actual reason behind his reprieve was fear. Fear of the conversations people would have. Fear of the possibility that their prodigious son would be vilified by all the ‘upper class’ friends of the Bansal family. Fear that their reputation as a family would crash like the stock market that Mr. Bansal made his money from. The existence of these fears made Sarthak fearless.

He was still gambling, but the cash flow had stopped. Sarthak’s personal savings were the first to go. All the money that he had saved up from leftover pocket money, gifts, competition winnings and his internship. This menace was being fed all of his childhood. One fine day, he got rid of his entire book collection, something he had spent his entire life curating. He did manage to win some money a few times in between, but it was reinvested and lost almost immediately.

There’s only so long a fire will burn before you have to throw more gasoline on it. Being the natural charmer he was, the wily lawyer still knew he had options. He turned to his classmates, friends, and acquaintances. He started interacting with people he never bothered to look at before.
After some generic small talk, he would say,
‘Hey man. I’m a little short on cash. Could you lend me some? Thanks, man. You’re a lifesaver. I’ll get you back ASAP.’

It proved to be quite an effective pitch as well. Sarthak’s addiction was well known in his college by now. Many lent him money out of a sense of friendship or pity or both. Some handed over the cash just because they actually believed him when he said he would repay them. Some just took the opportunity to be associated with one of the most popular people in college.

It was the depletion of this source that made Sarthak someone he never thought he would be. His compulsion was almost crippling at this point, and he had nothing to satisfy it with. Desperate times called for desperate measures.


As midnight approached he would put on his hoodie and casually slip out for a stroll. A thing that would be completely normal, if it wasn’t for the shining knife he would brandish at unsuspecting and innocent passersby. Nothing mattered anymore, at least not as much as the dough for the next bet.

When the guilt got too heavy to bear, he confided in his best friend. Even Milind, his partner in crime was horrified and concerned, and understandably so. He was aware that Sarthak would never pay heed to his attempts to persuade him to stop gambling once and for all, but nevertheless, he made Sarthak promise he would stop these muggings temporarily at least, while he figured out what to do.

Three days later, Sarthak was introduced to a certain Mr. Sethi. He was a feeble 55 year old man, with a wide smile on his face. After hearing about Sarthak’s ‘business venture’ that he needed money for, he seemed impressed. To Sarthak’s disbelief, he made him sign a document and wrote him a cheque immediately. In his excitement, Sarthak made what was possibly the biggest mistake of his life.

He did not read the document entirely.

A law student not reading a document before signing it. If someone asked just how powerful a gambling addiction is, this would be a succinct answer.

The truth about the unbelievably generous Mr. Sethi was that this was how he made a living. Quite a great one too. Preying on people desperate for a handout. Instant money without any collateral came at a price. That price was the astronomical interest rates, that would keep climbing every time Sarthak defaulted on a payment. It was a vicious cycle that Sarthak was now unknowingly caught in.

Sure enough, Sarthak defaulted. The calls started coming in. The pleading and the reassurances began. Old Mr. Sethi was all too familiar with this routine. He knew that he was not going to get his money back unless he sent in his cavalry.

Walking home from yet another depressing night of losses, Sarthak felt restless. The streets were much more deserted than they generally were. It was maybe the onset of winter that was keeping people in their homes. Sliding his hands into his pockets, he began whistling.

In the distance, he could hear an engine running. He kept on walking. He could feel it getting closer. He still kept on walking. It was only when the headlights of the car careening towards him nearly blinded him that he stopped.
The doors opened and before Sarthak knew it, he was incapacitated by a pitch black hood covering his head. Despite his heart wrenching pleads and sobs, the car kept moving.

The first thing Sarthak saw after his vision was restored was the grinning Mr. Sethi.

‘Do you plan to repay me by continuing to dodge me? I thought we were better friends than that now, don’t you?’

‘I’m really sorry, Mr. Sethi. I will repay you, I prom-’

‘Promises, promises, and promises,’ said Mr. Sethi, cutting him off. ‘How can one even begin to believe a gambler’s promise? You have no credibility anymore boy.’

‘I don’t want your promises anymore,’he continued, the grin disappearing from his face. ‘I want my money.’

‘Your parents are on their way here. Until then, you will be my guest.’

Mr. Sethi walked out of the room, followed by his henchmen, leaving Sarthak alone to ponder the implications of what had happened and strategise how he would get out of this situation.

The room that was as dark as the hood was illuminated again, with the same people. But this time, there were two additions as well. Sarthak was both relieved and worried by the arrival of his parents. Their faces carried an emotion he could not read at all. No anger, no sorrow, no relief. Both of them had their poker faces on, completely expressionless. Sarthak was just going to be a spectator for now.

‘Mr. and Mrs. Bansal. Your son seems to have landed himself in some trouble here,’ said Mr. Sethi in impeccable English, much like the class teachers that Sarthak had in high school. ‘But there’s no problem. Just repay me the money owed with interest and take your boy home, safe and sound.’

The bland facial expression of the Bansals had still not changed. Both of them looked at their son straight in the eye, and in a complete state of awareness, Mr. Bansal uttered the words, ‘Kill him.’

A funeral-like hush spread across the dilapidated warehouse. Stunned silence. Mr. Sethi was the first to recover.

‘Are you sure, Mr. Bansal?’
No response. Just a subtle nod of the head.

‘Dad, please. Don’t let them do this. Mom, I promise I will change. I will give it all up forever. I will get a job and clean my life up. Please give me one more chan-’

The gunshot cut his final appeal loose.

The couple who had just lost their child stood there with the unwavering stiff upper lip. They had lost their son a long time ago. At this point, they were just glad to be put out of their misery.

All the people cleared out of the room, except the Bansals. They stared at the corpse of their son for a few minutes in utter silence and then started to walk back towards their car. They were going to go back home.



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kathakaar Story by Bhavya Subramanian.

As part of Literary club's effort to promote emerging writers. Literary club organised a short story writing competition- Kathakaar. We are happy to share two of the best submissions which the literary club got.  The first story is written by Bhavya Subramanian of IMI New Delhi. Her story is a response to travails of true love.






















“Courage lies in speaking the truth, but wisdom lies in knowing when to speak it.”
-By Bhavya Subramanian


Liam snapped his book shut in impatience and muttered “You know, I’ll ask for your wisdom if I need it.”
Emily nearly poured tea into the saucer at this outburst. “Heavens! You’re quite ill-disposed today.” She muttered to herself before turning her attention back to the tea.
She heard Liam shut the door behind him.

Liam wanted to yell, but he couldn’t. For two reasons. One, Emily was his sister, and he loved her to death. Second, she was right. As annoying as it was, she was right. Wisdom does lie in knowing when to speak the truth. But Liam didn't have an option. If he didn't resolve the problem now, he probably won’t get the chance to sort it later.
Holding his breath, he knocked the door of his father’s study before entering in.
“Come in.” A cold voice called out.
You need reslove this today, Liam told himself, today, you just cannot let him intimidate you into going in to his wishes. He then stepped in.

Augustus Harrison looked deeply engrossed in a book, so much so that he didn't even look up to see his visitor. Liam waited a few seconds for his father to acknowledge him, but seeing that that wasn't about to happen anytime soon, Liam coughed slightly.
“For God’s sake, Liam,” Augustus murmured without removing his eyes off the book, “if you’ve got a cough ask Mrs. Hudson to make you some soup. Do not bother me with it.” Mrs Hudson was the housekeeper.
Liam didn't even flinch at this indifference of his father. In fact, he was so used to it that he barely realised it anymore. 
“Very well then, father. Let me bother you with an issue that does concern the both of us.” Without giving himself time to think this through, Liam said in one breath, “I do not wish to marry Ms Jane Bertram. I realise I do not love her, and to marry someone in these circumstances will not guarantee happiness to either’s future.
“I did not know you were fond of fairy tales, Liam. Let me set the record straight. You’re not marrying Ms Bertram out of love. You’re marrying her because it is the best possible alliance for the Harrison line, and I will not let your whimsical notions get in the way of it.”

I will not give in. I will not let my father run my life for me. “I’m afraid, father, that we have very different perceptions of matrimony. I find that I cannot let your expectation of it determine my future. I am not in love with Ms Bertram. I love another woman, and I shall do everything in my power to marry the one I love. If you’ll excuse me, father, I will now write the letter informing Ms Bertram of my inability to marry her.”
“You shall do no such thing, Liam.” Augustus responded in a bored tone. “I will not repeat this for the third time, so listen to me carefully; I will not let you get in the way of what is best for this family.”
“What is best for this family is that the sons remain happy because they make decisions that they desire and choose.”
Augustus snapped his book impatiently, “What utter non-sense! You really have very fancy notions in your head! The best for the family is its future generations enjoy the best of rank and wealth, and established as we are, wealth will only insure more power, security and respect in this society. So, my dear son, you will kindly leave me to enjoy my book, and to the best of your ability, do whatever is needed to make the ceremony and the wedding a success. I would like to emphasise you would do better to treat my thoughts seriously. I will not hesitate to re-consider your claim on this estate if you give me the reason to.”


Dearest Amelia,

I am afraid that under the current circumstances, I see little hope of father giving us his full blessings. But, do not despair, my love, for I will not give up. Come what may, we will be man and wife. I know we can make this happen. All I need is, you, precious, to stay strong.

Yours only,
Liam

The letter was crumpled and thrown into the fireplace.


Liam held the gloved hand as the lady carefully disembarked from the carriage. He was so anxious. He knew what was going to happen, and yet, he couldn't stop his foot from fidgeting.
The chaperone followed behind them, maintaining sufficient distance to allow the lovers to talk freely.
“My dear, what has happened? I know something has happened for sure.”
“I asked you, Amelia, to be strong. Now, your strength has paid off. Amelia, my dear, I am yours to marry. Let us get married.” He knew she was going to be overjoyed.
“This is wonderful news! Oh, I am so glad to hear of it. My dear, what a wedding it will be! Your father, despite his initial opposition, would be there to bless us! Our families, friends, everyone! The ton will be so pleased! Oh! This is lovely news indeed!”
“I am very happy that you’re so pleased. But my dear, there is one thing. My father will not be there, for he has not given us his blessings. Everything else will hold true; your family, my sister and brother, our friends, everyone who matters shall be there, when you and I will get married.”
Amelia stopped walking and turned to face Liam, “Your father! Why won't he be there? I believed the matter had been resolved.”
“As far as our getting married was concerned, yes, I have resolved it for once and all. There was a little price to pay, but I believe for you, I would gladly do so.”
“What, Liam,” Amelia’s voice rose, “was the price you paid?”
“I will not inherit any share of my father’s rank or wealth once he passes on.”
Amelia dropped her purse. “Liam, let us sit there at that spot. The sunlight must be exhausting me, for I’m sure I must have heard wrong.”
“We can sit wherever you like.” He quickly lead the way to the seating spot in the park where they both sat down.
“You did not mishear me, Amelia. I have given up all claims to rank and wealth.”
“Oh!” Amelia murmured, and got up. She took a few and then came to sit near him. Again, however, she couldn't sit still and started pacing about.
“How-. What did he-. I cannot believe it came to this!”
“My dearest Amelia, I am so touched by your concern for me. Do not fret, it will be alright. We can get married in two weeks-”
Amelia looked contrite as she said, “If I may be so honest, Liam, I am not sure if marriage is the right path for us. I feel it would be wise for both of us to think things-”
“Think? My dear Amelia, you know very well how hard I have fought to make our wedding a possiblity-”
“Why did you fight, Liam? This does no good-”
At this point, an uncomfortable suspicion morphed into a chilling realisation. Amelia did not care about him, or the fact that he had let go of so much for her. What had mattered to her was what he had let go of. Literally, the wealth was what seemed to matter.
“Do you not love me, Amelia?” It killed him to ask his Amelia such a simple question, because for the first time, he was unsure of the answer.


“Father.”
“Liam!” Augustus’ voice was shocked, “You’re- you’re soaking wet!”
It had been raining outside. Liam had been vaguely aware of the downpour, but it had not mattered. Nothing mattered anymore.
Augustus was concerned. The boy was drenched like a cat, and yet, it was the eyes that were scary. Because they looked soul dead.
“Father, I’ll marry Jane Bertram. Whenever, however and wherever you wish.” Saying this, the son exited the study, without awaiting his father’s response. He remembered the conversation he had had in his father’s study.

“You really have very fancy notions in your head!The best for the family is its future generations enjoy the best of rank and wealth, and established as we are, wealth will only insure more power, security and respect in this society. So, my dear son, you will kindly leave me to enjoy my book, and to the best of your ability, do whatever is needed to make the ceremony and the wedding a success. I would like to emphasise you would do better to treat my thoughts seriously. I will not hesitate to re-consider your claim on this estate if you give me the reason to.”
“Without the inheritance, life will be less richer, but without Amelia, life will not be worth living.”
Augustus snorted his ridicule, “Liam! Now I am starting to worry, because you’re not sounding like a man in love, but because you’re sounding like a man disillusioned.”
“She loves me, father!”
“She loves the man that holds a rank in society, and will have a sizeable inheritance to gain. Being born into the family of aristocrats has its merits. But, Liam, it has its disadvantages as well. Your rank, your title will always supersede you. Are your friends, friends with you because you’re Liam, or because you’re Liam Harrison, son of Augustus Harrison, belonging to an enviable family of aristocrats? Does the woman you love, love you back because you’re you? Liam, let us try an experiment. Tell the woman you love that you no longer have any claim to the inheritance or the rank.”
“Father, it is unfortunate you are such a cynic. I will meet Amelia immediately, then. I will tell her that I don't own any wealth, and she will cry for me, but she won’t leave me. I will then inform you of these events and you will yourself give your blessings to our marrying each other.”
“We shall see, Liam, we shall see.”


Nothing mattered anymore. Liam had given up wealth to pursue love, and love had given up on him to chase wealth. What he felt could not be described in words. He had loved her truly, and she had made him believe she had loved him too. However, bygones were bygones. He belonged to the Harrison family. He would marry Jane Bertram, and the children they would have will never go through what he went. He will not allow them to fall in love. He would decide their life, like his father had done for him. He would protect them, from the world. From people like Amelia.






Friday, December 1, 2017

Why We Appreciate Bad?


Recently Shah Rukh Khan launched the new movie trailer for his upcoming film Raees. The trailer is a spectacular presentation of the thriller that the film is aspiring to be; the trailer is full of Drama and Shah Rukh Khan delivering dialogues in his quintessential baritone.


But as the trailer crosses over ten million views on YouTube, a question arises in my mind that is why do we love outlaws or appreciate the characters which have a sinister scheme. Take Raees for example, It is reportedly based on the Gujarat Don Abdul Latif Shiekh, who controlled the illegal liquor business in the eighties. And somehow, the trailer glorifies him as a hero and a courageous businessman whose methods were justified by his single minded obsession for profit and his daring in challenging the law of the land while breaking it.


If you think that it is a Bollywood problem; it is not. Hollywood is a predecessor for glorifying movies like these. The God father series is an exemplary to it and in the modern world; most of the stories that are told in the cinema these days depicts the plight of the villain or a more romantic term “The Anti-hero”


Gone are the days when there was clear divide between the Hero and the villain; now the central character of the story is the Anti Hero. Take for example, the case of Breaking Bad, The hit show revolved around Walter White, a high school teacher who sells meth and created an Empire out of it. The TV show was loved by the critics and the viewers alike. Similarly Netflix recently released its new TV series which is currently a rage among the popular viewership. The show ‘Escobar’ chronicles the life of the infamous Mexican drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar.

These type of characters, the outlaws are not created by the directors to satisfy their artistic persistence but to fulfill the ever increasing public demand. The industry offers only such products which sell. We as an audience demand and appreciate the bad or villainous in people.

We may forget Thakur saab, Jai, Veeru and Basanti but we can never forget Gabbar whose menacing dialogues are etched into our brains. Or let’s take recent example of The Avengers which was supposed to be a movie based on the heroics of a bunch of superheroes who stand for qualities such as Courage, integrity, honesty, pride, nationalism  etc. But the Audience remember the movie because of one singular character; Loki. The villain of the movie whose crooked smile and malign taunts left audience awestruck with the brilliance of his evil.

So I again repeat my question that why are we attracted to the crime, evil and their lives why we get intimidated by their power and why we are always curious to know about the crimes rather than the 
good things happening in the society.

The reason may be because the criminals represent a life which is not bound by the laws of the country or the norms of the society which often strangulates our desires.
How many times we wanted to kill our spouses in our dreams or wanted to ram our cars into the vehicle in front of us who would not give us a side but consoled ourselves by hurling abuses at him. This is because our desires are constrained by laws, society and most importantly our own inhibited conscience which doesn’t allow us to move as we would truly wish without the fear of consequences.

A story is not interesting because the benevolent son cares a lot about his parents, has perfect wife and good job to support his family. The story gets interesting when the benevolent son is actually not that benevolent. He has all the vices a man should not have.
He is an alcoholic and actually sells drugs to teenagers. But the story will be more interesting if there is no false public image of the son. He is rather a known criminal and has knack for consistently involved in the tussle with the police.

In such stories the stringent laws can be sighted as the real villains, which ostracize the individual free will to that of societal norms. To that effect he represent an array of discerning hopes, His acts might be wrong and ethically disheartening and as Breaking Bad shows us, his action doesn’t need to be justified as achieving some greater good for society, but might act on a selfish notion.
Our society tries to avoid bad traits of personalities by not acknowledging their presence in individuals, everyone is selfish, everyone has some pride in him, everyone fears something and it is human nature to like and dislike people.


Thus we can say that as long as people find themselves construed in the moral and social veil of society, family and nation. The individuals will never stop appreciating those who are free from the these shackles even though most of them would end up behind prison but the prisoner will always be more free from the ones who hide behind the veil.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are we prejudiced about middle India consumers?

Increasingly, we are finding consumers saying ‘Oh no, not again’ when they see another top established star in advertising or public service commercials. So, while established stars are always at the top of the Forbes and other celebrity indices, they are more a reflection of the box office earnings and fame ranks. But those ranks may be hiding something very potent for marketers – of how tired consumers are, of seeing their favourite stars too often. And more importantly, we need to answer the question ‘how relevant are they for our target audience?’.

For example, a few years ago, to mark the launch of its new XE model, car maker Jaguar enlisted singer Emeli Sandé, actor Idris Elba and designer Stella McCartney to ramp up interest from a new audience. Or Seinnheiser used Miley Cyrus to endorse its range. Steve Dalton, director of marketing at Sennheiser said, “Over the years we have decided that it’s not right for us to choose an artist simply because they are the biggest selling or most famous because it limits us to attracting only a certain demographic.” Vivienne Francis, director of communications at Prostate Cancer UK said, “Celebrity-fronted campaigns can be effective, but it is naive to believe a famous face is enough on its own to build credible engagement.”

Colgate broke the mould a year ago by moving from Sonam Kapoor to Shraddha Sharma for their Colgate Visible White. According to the company, they got much more traction with Shraddha Sharma. Perhaps then, it is no surprise that Thums Up decided to ditch Salman Khan for Ranveer Singh recently. Most colas are talking to young people and Thums Up’s major franchise is the youth in Class 2 towns. So, what might have made Thums Up ditch the no. 1 star Salman Khan on the Forbes Celebrity List, with the no. 12 star? I have no doubt that it is the same misgivings that have bothered marketers in other parts of the world as well. Thinking about tomorrow and about the appropriateness of how relevant the endorser is with youth. And there is little doubt that Ranveer Singh is becoming an increasingly influential icon with the Indian millennials.

An earlier study conducted by DigitaBi, Razorfish, Tumblr and Yahoo gave some tips on how to engage youth with content:

  • Set the mood
  • Help millennials escape
  • Fuel creativity and play
  • Spotlight pop culture
  • Help millennials succeed and help them discover

The new Thums Up TVC sticks close to that knitting by extending the earlier thought of ‘Main Hoon Toofani’ which was launched earlier this year. The ad aims to inspire consumers to unleash their toofani (heroic) spirit. However, in the new commercial, our protagonist is not crazy about going to any length to acquire the beverage as in the earlier commercials, but is more interested in saving school children from a road accident. Again, a subtle change that is likely to attract the youth, who hate a forced plug-in for any brand and the traditional ‘brand window’ as a mandatory. They say that the youth increasingly don’t like ‘hard sell’ and prefer ‘light touch’ advertising. The kind of scale and action portrayed in the ad is of course just what middle India thrives on. It is the kind of fantasy they would love to live, and this is where the brand becomes a kind of mirror for consumers to see themselves in. But we may miss that subtle nuance, if we put on our jaded, prejudiced urban lens to review the ad.

"Ever since youth culture became a defined concept, marketers have been using the unique values of youth as an ‘in’ to young consumers,” according to a study from Havas. So, most brands especially those in highly competitive categories are willing to do anything that can get that nod from the youth. Marketers are also realising that youth want a different relationship with the product and the brand. If brands can create a friendship with consumers, you can take your brand to the next level. Because then you will get a loyal consumer who is willing to support you all the way.

For most marketers hitting the sweet spot for consumers of the future, seems to be the name of the game. Also, isn’t choosing a celebrity a bit of a gamble like horse racing? It’s all about predicting the winners of tomorrow rather than betting on the winners of today.