“अपार एशिया, हम्म?”

“जी सम्राट!”

सारे यूरोप पर फ़तह के बाद सिकंदर के आगे अब प्रश्न खड़ा था। आगे बढे, अपार एशिया पर विजय पाने, या पीछे मुड़े, और अपने साम्राज्य पर राज करे? महलों की जिंदगी, या सैन्य तम्बुओं की? योद्धा ही रहे, या राजनीतिज्ञ बन जाये?

कई देर सोच में डूबे सिकंदर ने आँख खोली, जैसे फ़ैसला कर लिया हो। मुड़कर कहा, “मेरा घोडा लाओ!”


“Your car will be towed.” The thought kept echoing in her mind. She woke up with sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. When was this ordeal going to end? It had been weeks since these relentless nightmares began. She hurriedly switched on every single light in her quarter. Somehow the diary had made its way under the bed. This was one ritual she was very proud of. Writing about your day is like documenting your life, a piece at a time. Writers were hard to come by and Azetmur was among the very few who could still write.

Azetmur’s fondness for all things human was considered heathen. She had never seen a car! It must be like a tiny ship, but with wheels. She had recently read Harry Potter. How a whole new world could be born out of someone’s imagination was spellbinding. Having lived on the IKS K’t’inga all her life, she had visited many alien worlds, but they were all too real and all too alike. The adults only cared about treaties, directives, boundaries and neutral zones. For her new story, she had been seeking a bit of magic.

As they entered the Goldilocks zone, Azetmur prayed for something extraordinary. She looked down at her diary. Aparecium!


It was judgement day. For weeks the court had heard testimonies from the witnesses for the prosecution, followed by testimonies from the witnesses for the defense. For days the jury had coolly deliberated and hotly debated in their chambers, deciding the fate of the human being society had entrusted them with. A verdict had finally been reached, and the court sat silent, awaiting it.

“Will the defendant please rise?”, boomed the judge’s voice, and the defendant rose. “This court pronounces you”, the judge continued, “Guilty, of all charges!”

“Your car will be towed.”

Yawm al-Qiyāmah

He just hoped that someone would decipher his mess. He knew he couldn’t turn back now. Not now, not ever. Riyaya was waiting at the train station. He could see car headlights splash on him, through the rain and through the windows of the tiny phone booth, every now and then. His wet fingers were fidling with his jacket pockets. He could not afford to waste another second. He stacked the coins on top of the telephone. The cramped booth was making him nauseous, but this call had to go through, at any cost.

“Sab khairiyat?”

“Ji janaab.”

“Gaadi aayi nahi?”

“Saat ghante late hai, janaab.”

“Jald hi mulaqaat hogi. Inshallah! Mujhe tum par fakr hai.”

Riyaya looked down. Only she could hear the soft ticks under her burkha. It was judgement day.


“He just hoped that someone would decipher his mess. And we did”, concluded the philologist as he finally put down his pen. He just hoped that someone would decipher his mess.

The Duelist

This is how the end began. Évariste could see it all so clearly now. His muscles were no longer tense. The sweat on his brow had dried up. His heart was no longer racing. He could see Pescheux d’Herbinville standing 20 feet away, positioning himself comfortably. Death was a certainty. Évariste Galois had known this for the last 24 hours. The audience had no knowledge how he had chosen to spend those 24 hours. Not an iota of his time was spent in preparing for this duel. Évariste had stayed up all night writing letters to his Republican friends and composing what would become his mathematical testament, the famous letter to Auguste Chevalier outlining his ideas, and three attached manuscripts. He was not aware that he had solved a problem standing for 350 years! He had been able to determine a necessary and sufficient condition for a polynomial to be solvable by radicals.

Both Augustin-Louis Cauchy and Siméon Poisson had refused to publish his papers. Poisson had declared his work “incomprehensible”, declaring that “Galois’ argument is neither sufficiently clear nor sufficiently developed to allow us to judge its rigor”. However, in these last hours, he was glad he had chosen to take their comments postively. He did not feel any hatred toward them. He did not feel any disappointment that he had studied in École Normale, a far inferior institution for mathematical studies, as compared to the École Polytechnique, where he should have belonged. Now here he was, dressed in the same uniform he had worn on Bastille day last year. He had been at the head of a protest that day, wearing the uniform of the disbanded artillery, and had come heavily armed with several pistols, a rifle, and a dagger. He laughed at how he was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally wearing a uniform!

It all seemed so insignificant now. Mademoiselle Stéphanie-Félicie Poterin du Motel was not in the audience today. It was too late to realize that he had been a victim of an infamous coquette and her dupes. His last thoughts were those of his younger brother, Alfred. If Alfred had been here today, Évariste wouldn’t have let him cry. He needed all his courage to die at twenty. As he lifted his pistol, he said a small prayer that Jacobi or Gauss would understand the importance of his theorems. He just hoped that someone would decipher his mess.


His eyes held the look of fascination, as Ariovistus saw the Roman legions turn around and start building defensive fortifications behind their own lines. Had Caesar lost his mind?

Though surrounded and besieged, the higher terrain gave the German army a position of advantage. Ariovistus had sent word for reinforcements; when they arrived, his army would far outnumber the Romans. Caesar heard the thundering herd of the reinforcements arrive before the Germans did, and in the night the Roman army — half solider, half construction worker — set out to close themselves in. Ariovistus and his army, surrounded by the Romans, surrounded by the rapidly approaching German reinforcements.

The morning of the battle, Ariovistus looked across the field to see a lone figure wearing a deep red robe that fluttered in the breeze. As he was watching, Caesar turned, and the two Kings met their gaze. And when he saw those piercing brown eyes, Ariovistus knew that he was looking at perhaps the greatest military commander the world had produced. A superior general, a superior man, perhaps even a superior civilisation. The battle was yet to begin, yet on that breezy gallic morning, Ariovistus knew. This is how the end began.

The Conjurer's Omelette

“Now, how about that omelette?” The magician’s assistant briskly placed the tray on the table. On the tray was a single egg cup, holding a duck egg. There was a great hush upon the audience. The great hall was about to witness the concluding act. “Now, ladies and gentlemen,” said the magician, “I will present to you, in conclusion, the famous Indian trick invented by the natives of the Andamans.” “Will you, sir,” he continued turning toward the boy in the front row, “will you kindly help me crack this egg.” The boy nodded and smiled. There was a sound of gentle smashing and the contents of the egg were now flat in the tray. “And now, sir, will you kindly pass me that piece of enchanted glass? Thank you.” The boy’s face beamed as he handed the piece to the magician. On the magician’s signal, his assistant drew open the window curtains, and the great hall had a bright stream of sunlight. The glass piece sparkled as the magician held it high. “You see, ladies and gentlemen, there is no deception; there is nothing in the space between the tray and the glass.” The audience were assuming a puzzled expression as they saw the egg transform into an omelette! Amid a glorious burst of applause, the magician drew himself to his full height, and with a stern look at his audience, he concluded - “Please remember that your homework on reflection and refraction is due next week.” The boy in the front row was at his desk even after the class had dispersed. His eyes held the look of fascination.


13000 ft: I am addicted to utmost Euphoria!

11000 ft: Wheeeeeee!

7000 ft: I think I’m going to go home and make myself an omelette after this

5000 ft: Whooooooo!

2500 ft: Time to open my chute…

2300 ft: Huh? That didn’t work. Let’s try again.

2000 ft: Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit!

1500 ft: Oh well. Guess I’m going to die. Might as well enjoy the rest of the dive.

500 ft: Man, that omelette would have been so good

20 ft: Whoa! Look at those people, they look like ants from up here

10 ft: Wait a minute, I’m at 10 feet! Those aren’t people, they actually ARE ants

5 ft: Here we go. Goodbye world!



0 ft : Wait, I’m not dead? Guess I was so caught up in falling, I forgot to hit the ground. Weird.

0 ft : Now, how about that omelette?


The nightmare begins. I sweep the crowded room and realize I barely know anyone here. I slap a smile on my face and start strutting around greeting the ones I know. They seem geuninely happy to see me. I am showered with - ‘you are glowing!’, ‘oh what a lovely dress!’, ‘you should meet us more often’. I try to blush and stealthily retreat into a corner. Why is this tormenting me so much? Just as I am reminding myself, that I enjoy both parties and people, I notice the coffee container on the table I am leaning against. Then it hits me. I am addicted to utmost euphoria.


The dream is over. I awaken from my slumber, still feeling the ocean breeze on my face, and the crashing waves singing in my ears. Soon the sweet dreams fade, and I start craving my next hit. The nightmare begins.