Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Traitor In Court

Chapter 1

One fine day, in the kingdom of Alexandria, King Alexander sits on his throne, and discharges his royal duties, that is to say that King Alexander just sits on his throne and … well just sits.

Suddenly, he says to his minister of internal half-hairs, “By Jove, man! I’ve just been pondering…” “About what sire?” asked the minister in all earnest. “I’ve just been pondering ….” And a pause.

“Yes, m’lord?” “Oh, you know … I’ve just been pondering about wondering on what I should be thinking of. I’m sure that it must be something important; after all, I am Alexander you know …”

“I do indeed know m’lord” replied the minister, not a little perplexed. “As you should know. After all, I am the king and that comes with perks you know. Being famous and all.”

“Indeed m’lord”, said the minister begging and praying to God that he be spared this terrible ordeal. ”Hmmm …” thought the king and continued to ponder in wonder.

Chapter 2

 Meanwhile, in the near reaches of the far side of the nearby room, that is, the room next door, was seated the minister-of-all-things-that-were-sinful, or in short, Sinister. He was himself pondering, but unlike the king, he knew what he was pondering about, and that was to stop the king from pondering; in fact, to stop the king from doing anything at all; even living.

A plan was getting formed in his mind and with every passing instant of ponderous thought provoking wonder, the plan was becoming more and more lucid.

He rubbed his hands in glee and gave an evil smirk. Now the audience certainly knows that he is indeed the evil mastermind; well evil for sure but mastermind? Well, let’s just leave it at that for the time being.

Chapter 3

 If there was one thing that really fired up the passions of the people of Alexandria, it was the matter of economics. Before ‘The Great Recession’ hit the kingdom, not too many people actually bothered about the entire concept of economics. Indeed, not too many of them actually knew of the term ‘economics’ and they definitely didn’t even know of the existence of the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues, much less his name. This story would be incomplete if the reader does not know of ‘the great recession’ that hit the kingdom of Alexandria.

Chapter 4

 It was one summer when everyone was very happy indeed and going about their business, when ‘TGR’ hit; and when it hit, the effect was indeed ghastly.

Everyone receded, some by two steps, and some by far greater distances, usually four or five. Now what caused this recession?

Well, the great Emperor, on a whim, one day decided that every piece of paper in the land would become money and that his kingdom would thus become the most prosperous in the world. Why did he do this? Well, he just felt like it.

And so, overnight, everyone became insanely rich. No one needed to work anymore. Farmers stopped farming and so there was no food. In fact, even the leaves stopped producing food for the trees because they argued that since paper was derived from them, they were rich beyond their wildest dreams and they would not work anymore.

There were media storms created, newscasters had a field day (though, why the newscasters decided to continue working, in spite of being insanely rich, had most people in a fix) and the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues became an overnight celebrity (though no one still knew his name).

Now all this led to a serious predicament. No one did anything, anymore, and this posed a huge problem to the Emperor because he no longer had anyone to cater to his whims.

Chapter 5

And so, he came up with the most brilliant solution.

He announced “anyone found with any bits of paper(money), will be prosecuted and hanged until pronounced dead or the rope breaks(whichever happens first)”

And so, fearing the wrath of the almighty emperor, overnight, people burnt away all the paper that they had (the environmentalists went crazy and tried to stop the madness, citing the damage to the atmosphere, but they were thrown into the bonfire along with the paper).

Thus, parity was restored and Alexander had again became the supreme ruler of the land, and in addition, also became the richest man in the kingdom, yet again (inexplicably, when he had indeed collected all his paper to be burnt, he couldn’t find a matchstick to light the pile and he couldn’t call out for help because all his attendants were too busy burning their own paper).

So what was the role of the minister-of- economic-issues-that-were-pretty-much-non-issues  in all of this? Well, nothing really except maybe providing some absolutely indiscernible mumble about economic terms like ‘liquidity’ and ‘inflation’ that no one really understood or really cared about.

The final outcome?  People knew of the existence of the minister but still not his name.

Chapter 6

 Back in the room next to the throne room, Sinister’s grin had turned into a full-fledged evil laugh (muhahahahaha and all that). He knew exactly what he had to do to overthrow the Great ruler and in the process become the absolute undisputed ruler of all the land. (Muhahahahaha again)

He knew that the one issue that would certainly impact the people was the economy, and his plan was very simple really; he would make sure that the King committed unpardonable economic offences and then the people would never forgive him. After that, getting rid of the King would be easy and since Sinister would then become the greatest hero, his accession to the throne would be but a mere formality. (Muhahahahaha again)

And so, he set his plan in motion.

Chapter 7

 Alexander was a great king, no doubt, but his one biggest weakness was that he tended to trust people a bit too much. Whenever he was asked to sign any document, he did so without so much as a glance at what he was signing.

In fact, one of his rather dim witted ministers, who had aspirations to the throne himself, got the King to sign a document that handed over the entire power of the land to him. After he got the King to sign it, he did a dance, shouted his lungs out and proclaimed triumphantly that he was then the absolute almighty ruler of the land. The entire court, but for the great Emperor was in a state of total and absolute shock but the ruler calmly shook his head and said, “sorry my man but I signed it in blue ink and everyone knows that an official transfer of power can be only ratified if it is signed in black ink.”

Since no one actually knew of such a rule but were too dumbstruck by the absurdity of the argument, they could not even so much as open their mouth and so, in his typical manner, the King took this silence to mean compliance and said quite simply, “Terribly sorry, old chap but it looks like I won this time. Guards! Take him away… Now… where were we”, and that was that.

 Chapter 8

 So Sinister went about embezzling funds from the treasury and depositing them in illicit places, always making sure that all of it could easily be traced back to the King. He had the king’s signature on all the papers of course and the color of the ink didn’t really matter.

He did all this over a period of a week and in the end had transferred around one Million Trillion Dollounds in various illicit places. At the end of the week, he laughed out-Muhahahahaha-in happiness and was generally pleased with himself. In fact, he had already bought a scepter and a matching royal robe to go with it.

Tomorrow would be his day. His time was imminent.

 Chapter 9

 The next morning, all was well in the court of King Alexander. He was, as ever sitting on his throne and … well, just sitting. But today, the entire court was huddled in a hush silence. An intense game of GOFL(Go On, Finish Last) was in session and it was a titanic tussle between Tortie the tortoise and Snell the snail. Both both nearing the finish line, it truly was neck and neck.

It was at this time that Sinister made his entry into the court and upon seeing that no one really gave a damn about him, he coughed a little to gain attention. Didn’t work. He coughed again, this time a bit louder. Still didn’t work. Now he positively went into a rampaging, all-engulfing coughing fit that everyone in the court had to look at him and acknowledge him. Even Tortie got scared and went into his shell and Snell just looked bemused (if it is indeed possible for snails to look bemused).

Now that he had the attention he needed, he addressed the court, “I have a very important announcement…” He was cut short by the minister-of-short-cuts who said, “Cant it wait, Sinister? W’ve got a terribly exciting game going on here.” Completely ignoring him, Sinister continued “ … and it’s about the economy …” Suddenly, everyone’s attention was focused on Sinister. It was the effect of the magic ‘E’ word.

“So as I was saying, there has been a fraud to the …”

Again, he was cut short. This time it was the king himself. “The economy, you say? Hmmm… What about it?” “Well, m’lord, as I was saying” “Yes, yes… As you were saying…” “Yes m’lord, as I was saying…” “Indeed man. You have firmly established your point that you were indeed saying. Now say it”

Sinister was getting exasperated but he thought of the glory that lay ahead and kept his cool. “The economy…” Again it was the King. “Yes indeed. Funny old thing really, the economy. Money and all. Bemusing really. I mean …”

Sinister was near breaking point now but he had come too far to let it go. He interjected, “So, as I was saying my lord”, and without taking a pause even to breathe, continued, “ there has been an embezzlement of funds to the tune of one Million Trillion Dollounds” As he said the last two words, his voice leapt to a fever pitch, not so much because of his conviction but quite simple because of his utter breathlessness.

Chapter 10

 The entire court said “hunnnh”, as one would say when confronted with something that takes one aback, but only the sound here was made by the entire court, and in that hushed silence, Sinister left out his breath, just for dramatic effect (and also because he could no longer really hold it in).

He continued, “And the culprit is ….”

Before the culprit is revealed, we must take a moment to describe the reaction of the mighty Ruler to all this. He was unmoved. Now that we have taken a moment, we shall resume with the scene.

“The culprit is …”, paused for dramatic effect, turned around to face the Emperor, pointed an accusing finger, and said in the most dramatic voice that he could muster, “ ALEX-AND-ER.”

There was another “hunnnh” that followed this dramatic announcement and this “hunnnh” was way more dramatic than the previous one and also way more open mouthed. The entire court slowly turned towards the great Emperor.

Sinister turned to the Emperor and gave a triumphant smile as if to say, “Ha!” The Emperor finally began to take interest in the matter, and leaned forward.

Chapter 11

 Everyone was absolutely eager to know how he was going to defend himself and waited with bated breath for his response. The Emperor opened his mouth to speak and everyone just held their breath. And then, he spoke…

He asked quizzically, “And who?” Those were his exact words. Everyone was stunned beyond belief. Sinister was so flustered that he couldn’t bring himself to utter anything at all. He just gaped at the King and managed to mutter, “What??”

The King again asked, calmly and coolly, “And who?” In the meanwhile, it must be pointed out that the entire court did remember to release their breath but were still too stunned to speak.

“What do you mean ‘and who’?” demanded Sinister, now in a state of very high irritability. “Well, you were going to name the conspirators; you named one of them and were going to name the other when you abruptly stopped. Now I demand to know the name of the other,” said the Emperor with ever growing authority.

“What??” cried Sinister, just stopping short of pulling his hair out.

“Well, you said ‘Alex and er…’ and then stopped.  As your king, I demand that you name the other person involved in this heinous act.”

Now Sinister was absolutely livid. “Me?” he asked again, just to be sure.

“You?” asked the King.





“Me?” asked Sinister in a voice that was a mix between utter and total exasperation and absolute submission.

“Ha! So it was indeed you. Guards! Take this man away. He has admitted that he is indeed guilty of treason against the Kingdom. Issue an all points search out for a gentleman named Alex,” commanded the almighty ruler, raising himself from his throne and standing majestically tall, all six foot of him.

“Oh! And look …” he said cheerily, just as everyone was trying to get their senses back from utter chaos of the scene they had witnessed. “Tortie has won the game…”

So barmy, Oh so loony,

He was the one, he was the only.

So absurd, they couldn’t help but wonder,

Who else but Alexander the Blunder…