The Median Chronicles…

Tycoon in a Typhoon

Once upon a time,

but really, not so long ago,

a tycoon bought a burger,

with mustard that seemed to glow.


Intrigued after a bite,

hooked after two,

He polished it off with the third,

and went looking for something new.

Darting into a diner,

he made off with a serving spoon,

then feeling like dancing,

he was lifted off by a typhoon.


Whirling, dancing,

spinning around in the air,

there were mice and cats,

and some dogs knitting with great flair.


Everything was spinning,

and the typhoon laughed along,

And everywhere he looked,

people sang the same raunchy song.


He flew past his office,

riding his friendly typhoon,

and laughed that his employees,

looked like they had dropped off the moon.


Continuing in this vein,

for another hour and a half,

he ended up alongside,

the pier and the wharf.


And then the tycoon in his suit,

with a typhoon at his beck and call,

decided to take a swim,

and bared everything, to one and all.


Needless to say,

he was chased away,

and running along,

he felt himself lurch and sway.


Two hours later, the tycoon,

woke up on top of a half-eaten snack,

and found that the typhoon was gone,

along with the clothes on his back.


How he managed to get home unseen,

is a story for another day,

but get there he did, with two dustbin lids,

to keep prying eyes at bay.


As one might expect,

the burger man was now a target to dismember,

or would have been, but then, where he went off to,

none of his customers could ever remember!


And so the story ends,

of a day in the life of a tycoon,

when he ate a burger with mustard aglow,

and had fun along with a friendly typhoon.



The Circle of Life

It was the day of spring,

but dread was all around,

the pallor of death was evident,

even with the early bird making its sound.


It was the child, so small when born,

they said it wouldn’t survive,

in vain did the parents say they were wrong.


It ended there, the little soul,

outlived by parents unseen,

and their lives were shattered,

could they ever move past their little lost one?

Could they be again, what they once had been?


The summer did come, with blazing glory,

and autumn did pass azure,

but the sorrow in their hearts was like perennial ice,

undiluted; still raw; still pure.


Then came the winter,

fierce with snow, and wind so bold;

and their hearts did quiver,

for their little one was lying in a place so cold.


It was one chilly morning,

under layers and layers of snow,

they went to visit him,

the little one in the ground below.


Reaching there, they saw in wonder,

a little plant on the bare whiteness,

baring itself to the elements,

all with supreme disdain;

And then grew the bubble of hope once more,

for life had taken one more step,

and the wings of the silent wish had unfolded… again…



Sometimes in this life we see,

How things are, and how they should be.

Life’s like a crumpled up paper,

A clock left to unwind,

Sometimes slow, sometimes fast,

somehow always,

to the past it makes us bind.


Yet, from the ashes of the past,

Rises the phoenix of hope,

taking small steps,

for flight to regain,

Hope it is,

to look forward once more,

Hope, that one day,

this crumpled up paper,

Will be perfect again…


Life’s not what it seemed to be,

Climbing the high branches,

the one I trusted cut the whole tree.


Laughter and Joy, comradeship did flee,

there had always been hate deep inside,

but I was the blind fool, it was always me.


It was apparent from the start,

The end only I could not see,

If there was light outside the tunnel,

god knows, it was just for me.


Promises were broken,

friendship’s bond did break free,

it was loose all the time,

but my friend, I never wished to lose thee.


It was, as they say, an act of god,

fate, a twist of destiny,

but deep inside, I just know,

it wasn’t god who came calling,

but the devil inside,

who wrought the havoc I couldn’t foresee.

It was the devil in the heart,

who made it all undone,

it was because of his prodding,

that my best friend stabbed me…


They Said a Thousand Words…

Stories often have strange beginnings; not because they start strangely (although that happens a lot), but because they begin in the minds of the writers, who are, by definition, a strange lot. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be writing fiction, would they?



This one, though, started off quite normally. The writer took out a pen and put it’s tip on a blank page of his very expensive diary.



And nothing happened.



No words came out; no pithy remarks, no wise and insightful comments on human nature, and no anecdotes, humorous or otherwise. Absolutely nothing. The page remained completely blank, except for the ink stain which spread from the tip of the pen in a network of criss-crossing lines, appearing for all the world like a web which bound all the words inside the writer’s mind.



So he did what every jobless person does with a pen and paper – drawing doodles. At first, all that came out were a bunch of lines and circles. Then, slowly, objects began to emerge.



Circles and squares,

Notes and Bills;

And in the Midst of Them All,

Was A Man with A Quill.



Pleased, and a little surprised by his success, the writer made even more random objects.



A Table and A Chair,

Against a Windowsill;

And Besides the Two,

Was A Man with A Quill.



After every few drawings, the writer put down his pen and examined his creations with the eyes of a connoisseur;and every inspection brought a small happy smile – a smile which grew as he realized that his words had finally been set free.



Because, you see,

he had still not written a single word;

and yet, on that inkstained page,

there was no more space left free.


There were still no words,

and yet the pictures said them all,

for there was the man with the quill,

writing, never stopping,

until he had said it all.



And the writer, still smiling broadly, turned the page;

and started writing afresh…


“Stories often have strange beginnings…


Pursuing a Dream,

Hopeless Though it May Have Been,

Chasing a Ghost of a Thought,

Whatever That May Have Come to Mean.


Making Lines on a Map,

Meeting, Falling Apart,

A Distant Place With a Cross,

Reaching Near, Only to Depart.


New Ideas, Old Thoughts,

Colliding Forever, Eternal Chaos,

Same Old Problems, Same Old Mistakes,

A Perennial Feeling of Immense Loss.


Where does the story end?

A Rage, Brought Abruptly short?

Or Maybe A Small Measure of Peace,

Found at Last, After Being so Eagerly Sought…

The Reaper

I looked down the barrel of the gun at the man standing down the street, and wondered again, if I was doing the right thing.


And the answer, as always, was yes. You remove the disease causing part, right?


Well, I was doing the same thing.


I shifted the sight to his chest, right near the heart, and my finger moved back…



Afterwards, as I sat in my hotel room, not two blocks from where the body was now attracting crowds and police, I began to think. The same old thoughts. The same old misgivings about what my life had become.


And like all other times, I dismissed them. It had to be done.


The diseased elements had to be removed.


Removed before they infected someone else and killed them. Before any more people could suffer because of men like them. Before they caused any more pain. Before anyone else lost their meaning of existence because of men like them.



Like I had lost mine…



I had everything. A good life, a good home, a good business. And a great companion. She had made everything beautiful. She had come into my life like a whiff of fresh breeze, and my heart had flown straight to her. She made me complete.



And then I lost her…



My business was a small newspaper, which specialized in dishing out the kind of truths that are normally hidden from everybody. It was, and still is, successful in finding readers, people who wanted more than just half baked facts. People who wanted the truth.


And some people who did not.


I hurt more than a few people on my quests for truth; people in high positions; and some, who were so low that I had to dig to find them out. They all wanted just one thing more than what they already had: anonymity. And so I was a nuisance that had to be removed. I did not mind that. I accepted my mortality, and the presence of the reaper was my constant companion. They came for me. Repeatedly. And failed. Repeatedly. I had been in the special forces, and I knew how to kill.



And so did they… in more ways than just the physical.



And I could do nothing. I did not expect it.

There was an unwritten, unspoken rule among us denizens of the dark. Never touch the family.

And they broke it. And my heart along with it..



But they did not break me…



My heart, yes. They broke it. But not me. Not me…



I tried to bring them to justice. I swear I tried…



And the justice sent them back. There was no evidence, they said. There was tons of it. They just could not see it. And I could not convince them. I could not send them to the executioner’s chair. They would not let me.



So, I decided to be judge, jury and executioner, all rolled into one…



I tracked them down, one by one, and I cleaned the streets of the garbage everyone was too afraid to pick up.


It was not enough… It was never enough…


There were more like them. More of those diseased minds; more garbage on the streets; spreading even more death and chaos around them. And there was nobody to clean up the streets. Nobody could see it clearly.


Nobody, that is… Except me…




I looked again at the layout of the building, mapping my entry and exit routes. I broke down my rifle, and put the pieces in my bag.


I looked up, towards her picture. I touched it, with trembling fingers. And then my hands steadied once more.


I got up, picked up my bag, and walked out of the door, shutting it behind me.


It was time to go hunting for vermin…


And the reaper was still there, walking besides me…


The moment I had longed for has come,

yet, far from joy,

doubts assail me instead,

all this time I raced forward,

was there really light ahead?


The legs that had run ahead forever in good stead,

why, at the finish line,

have they, on their own, stopped dead?


It’s funny how life can turn around,

we wish to be free,

yet our flight is due to the cords,

with which we are bound.


The end of the tunnel has come,

yet the next one holds no appeal,

maybe it’s just the familiarity,

or something else I can’t name,

yet so acutely feel.


Maybe it’s the security,

which comes from what is known,

security in the knowledge,

that here at least, my life will not be blown.


Maybe it’s the knowledge,

that tough is the next hill,

after all, it is known to all,

that everybody out there,

is aiming for a kill.


Reasons are many,

each more probable than the next,

yet which is the real one?

Which one is the best?


Questions these are,

the answers to which,

I shall never know,


Yet there is one certainty today,

that this place is home,

and I don’t want to let it go…

The Bridge


There are many things that we always take for granted. For me, the bridge on the nearby canal was one of them. It was a fixture of my life. It was just there; important, but not overly so.

I had been seeing and disregarding that bridge for a decade when one day, purely by chance, I noticed it fully for the first time ever.

The circumstances in which this revelation took place were certainly nothing to laugh at, but somehow, after the first five minutes, I never noticed my problems. Life has a way of showing great things when we’re expecting them the least.

Many people laugh when I tell them about that time, for it happened because my scooter broke down just before the bridge. I faced the daunting prospect of dragging the heavy machine up to the bridge (it was on an incline) and then to my home, two miles away. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. The uphill drag was the main problem, and I was winded by the time I made it up, and decided to rest, right there on the bridge itself. As far as I knew, nobody ever stopped on that bridge. I had never done it before either.

I stopped there that day and sat on a parked scooter, looking at the horizon; and that made all the difference in the world.

It was, in one word, beautiful. The canal’s water was sparkling in the evening sun; a million rays of golden sunlight blinking on the surface like a horde of lamps; and far, far away, there was a big orange and gold disc, sinking slowly as the stars came out.

And I just sat there, spellbound, until the night enveloped me in its cover of darkness. Somehow, the journey home didn’t seem very difficult after that.

From that day onward, I was there almost everyday, watching the sunset.

For a long time, it was very peaceful; until the area developed, of course. Then, overnight (or so it seemed), everybody had a two-wheeler or a car, and that old, colonial style bridge was no longer peaceful. Once that happened, I too, started going there less frequently, and soon my evening visits became a thing of the past.

The years passed, and the fast pace of life in the big city took whatever memories I had of peaceful times.

Last month, I came for an extended stay at my childhood home, and one evening, decided to take a long walk, to see for myself the supposedly wonderful changes that had taken place. Walking on a newly built road, I came upon a brand new bridge, made from the latest technology – a thing of steel and grey concrete. In the distance, the old bridge was also visible, freshly painted in the colour of red sandstone.

In the light of the evening sun, it seemed strangely majestic, standing aloof on an incline, the old colonial style arches contrasting with the utilitarian design of the new bridge I was standing on.

Smiling, I made my way to the old bridge where I had first seen the majesty of nature. Climbing up the incline, I walked to the center, and sat on the parapet, looking out at the darkening water.

I stayed there for hours, staring out at the horizon, as the sun went down among the glittering horde of lights on the water, and the night came to envelope me again, just like that first day, so very long ago.

And there was a strangely familiar sense of contentment inside me at that moment.

It felt just like home…

Chanakya’s Chant — The Story of Sheer Genius

What is the meaning behind power? What is it’s source? What does duty, loyalty and friendship count for in it’s quest?

These are just a few of the many profound philosophical questions which lie at the heart of one of the most brilliant books I have had the pleasure of reading.

Chanakya’s Chant, written by an admiring entrepreneur, is a tribute to the sheer genius of the greatest political, economic and military strategist the world has ever seen… Vishnugupta, better known to the world as Chanakya, the power behind the throne of the great Chandragupta Maurya, and the author of one of the earliest treatises on politics, administration and economics in the world… Arthashastra.

This book runs in two parallel times… the present day world of politics in India, and the India of 2300 years ago, when Chanakya took a vow to unite India under one ruler. The present day story is the one which produces awe and shock in equal measure…. as it tells the story of Gangasagar Mishra, a wily Brahmin from the potboiler of Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur. It tells of his sheer genius and ruthlessness as he takes on the gargantuan task of installing his protege, a young girl from the slums of Kanpur, as the Prime Minister of India.

This book takes the readers to dizzying heights, and simultaneously plunges them to the absolute bottom of the seedy underbelly which dominates the interconnected worlds of politics, business and power.

This is not a book for those who are faint of heart or are filled with ideals which are unsuitable for a life in this ignoble world. Read this for a roller-coaster ride through the corridors of power, and prepare yourself for sudden twists and turns which will leave you breathless and amazed.

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Ashish Shakya

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