Wanderlust

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New Delhi… the magical city of dreams… New Delhi the maker or breaker of dreams…

Into New Delhi, came a young man with a bundle of dreams under his arms, literally.

He had a manuscript, a book and a laptop in a bag that he held under his arms. He hoped to make it big and become a reputed writer. On his back was a rucksack with some of his belongings. He got off the train from Dhanbad, a small town in Bihar blackened by soot from coalmines…

It was not that he was without contacts or was visiting the city for the first time… No, he had friends and family with who he could stay and the invitation to meet a television director who had said he was interested in staging his story.

Dinesh and Manish had met in Calcutta at Dinesh’s friend’s sister’s wedding. Dinesh was a dreamer who a few years earlier had dreamt of marrying the bride and then, when he found, the young girl preferred her fiancé, he started writing poetry, dipping a fountain pen in his own blood, which he spilt from a cut he made on his arm. The girl rejected the blood drenched poetry… and the poet. Dinesh started writing a story… a sad story of rejection, this time on his laptop, not with blood. Then he wrote another story and then another till he started having fun with stories in his head.

Dinesh went for the wedding not only because he was the bride’s brother’s best friend but to prove to the world and himself that he had completely got over his puppy love.

In the process of getting over his first crush, he had found another love… this time, it was not a woman but the sound of words. He wrote his heart out, poetry and prose. He started carrying his life in a few files in his laptop. At the wedding, when this affluent but jobless youth met Manish, a young dynamic director from New Delhi, who wrote and produced plays on television, he showed him some of his own stories. Manish saw potential for teleplays and asked him if he could come to Delhi with his work in three months time, when he would start looking for a new story. At that point, he had a serial going on on national television that was a hit all over India.

Now, Dinesh had started to dream of becoming a playwright. He had already started to dramatise his stories when he landed in Delhi. He got off the train in the New Delhi Railway Station and started looking for an auto rickshaw that would take him to his aunt’s house in Greater Kailash.

Dinesh’s aunt, Mallika, lived in a huge ancestral home all alone. She had never married because for her, career came before all else. She was very happy to have Dinesh over. He was close family…her nephew (her elder sister’s youngest).

Dinesh liked his aunt. She had always been always kind to him.

Dinesh reached her home on Sunday afternoon and on Monday, he went to Manish’s office with his manuscript and his laptop.

Manish asked him to summarize his stories and tell them to him. He selected one of the summaries and asked for the manuscript of the story. Dinesh sent the story and the script that he had written of the play to Manish. Manish of course had the script and story modified by the professional scriptwriter.

Dinesh’s job was done and he was given a cheque. Dinesh was a bit disappointed. He had dreamt of becoming the Shakespeare of India. When the opportunity slid out of his reach, he started grasping around for a new dream, for here was a young dreamer… New Delhi was the perfect city for this young man, a city where dreams can be broken, altered or made… Without his dreams, Dinesh felt like an empty egg shell!

He moved around the house listlessly. Mallika was the editor-in- chief of a newspaper. She knew things had not worked out the way Dinesh dreamt. Dinesh was just a average student from Calcutta University. He had done a management course in a private institute. He could not find a job anywhere, Delhi or Calcutta… yet, he needed his dreams. Was he an unusual young man in as much as what mattered most to him were his dreams, not the realization of them? Perhaps, he did not have the stamina to work for them or struggle for them. Yet, he could not do what his family wanted him to do… join in their family business…

Mallika asked him if he wanted to try his hand at journalism… he was not sure… All he knew was that he wanted to get away from it all… he decided he wanted to travel. His father refused to pay for his adventures and told him to expect no support from him if he did not join the prosperous family business.

One morning, Dinesh woke up, packed his rucksack and left the house… no one knew where he had gone…

Dinesh left home, cashed his cheque and caught the first train to Haridwar. He sent a message to his aunt telling him he was safe. He got into a cheap third class compartment. This was the time of the Kumbh Mela, a festival that collects millions in the holy cities of Haridwar, Varanasi and Nasik. Each city hosts the festival by turns, every three years. Mendicants, swamis, believers and viewers gather in throngs to bathe in the Ganges and wash away their sins.

On the train, Dinesh sat next to a young man, Hari. During the journey, Hari told him his sad story… he had married the ravishing Kalyani, chosen by his parents from a pure vegetarian family. He himself was a pure vegetarian, who could not stand the stench of eggs, meat and fish. Kalyani had lived in a hostel in New Delhi for five years, through her graduation and post graduation. There she had developed a taste for non-vegetarian cuisine. Hari saw her eat non-vegetarian for the first time during his honeymoon. He was horrified when she ordered mutton. They had not been allowed to talk before they married. Now, Hari felt cheated… he was in a dilemma. He could not tolerate non- vegetarian food and his wife loved her meats and eggs. She did not cook it at home but could not give up on these foods… he had asked her to choose between chicken and goat meat and his heart, home and hearth… She had not responded. After a few months, she went to visit her parents in Haridwar and had continued staying there for more than a month. She also informed him that she wanted to pursue her PhD on her return to Delhi. Hari was very confused and sad. Would his wife choose goat and chicken meat over him? Would she look for a career outside the home?

Hari felt lost and did not know what to do… his family, who lived in Roorkee, of course knew none of this.

Dinesh found Hari’s concerns a trifle amusing and petty as he believed in tolerance and his aunt had chosen career over marriage a couple of decades ago… So, Hari’s concerns seemed a bit weird… there was more to life than just family, marriage and home and that is what he had set out to discover!

When they reached Haridwar, Dinesh found his own way… he went to a dharmashala and got himself boarding. Then he went down to the Kumbh Mela on the banks of the Ganges.

The Ganges flowed down from the Himalayas in all her glory…swirling and beating against the shores, contained in it’s bed by the cemented ghats. There were chains and poles built into the shallow reaches of the river to help the devotees hold and bathe as otherwise, the swift current could sweep away the swimmer far beyond the reaches of helping hands.

Dinesh watched the river fascinated…

A group of ash smeared Naga sadhus walked past him. Dinesh took a picture with his mobile. Touts for helping him offer prayers and bathe surrounded him. Dinesh made a break and ran away from the growing circle of middlemen who offered various services. He saw beggars lined along the walls that led to the shore…

At last, Dinesh found a spot free of touts. There were Naga sadhus praying… Dinesh sat in peace and watched them. He took pictures. When one of the sadhus got up, Dinesh bowed down to him. He blessed him and went off into the river for his ritualistic bath. Dinesh went back to the same spot daily till he could get some stories of the naga sadhus. They were a rare sight and came down from the Himalayas only for the Kumbh Mela. He interviewed some of them and wrote a piece. Then he emailed his story to his aunt. His aunt was excited and printed the story. From Haridwar, when Dinesh returned to his Aunt’s home, she showed him the story in print and promised him a handsome cheque. She suggested he do a column for them, travelling to remote places in India and writing for her newspaper. His interview with the Nagas caused quite a stir and a couple of other newspapers approached him too.

Dinesh had got his break. He travelled and wrote till he became a very well known travel writer. He went to the northeast, visited tribes in Nagaland, saw the borderless existence people led between Burma and India, to Bengal where the haunting rhythms and the simplicity of the Santhals brought tears to his eyes. He travelled to the central India and met Gonds in their natural habitat, to the south and to the west of India… He also found time to do a couple of degrees in Anthropology as it aided him in his work. From the confines of his country’s borders, he moved to rarer tribes in the jungles of Africa, Amazon and, even, Eskimos in the frozen Arctic.

Though his family harangued him to settle down on his occasional visits home, he never found time to marry… He said he was married to his work!

After almost three decades, the young man who wrote poetry in blood and came to Delhi with a rucksack in search of his dreams stood on the podium before the President of the country receiving an award for his outstanding contribution in bringing home to the city dwellers stories about worlds beyond laptops, electricity and roadways, where people lived out their dreams in their own way… their dreams were different from those of a city dwellers just like his had been different from that of his parents or many other men who had not been struck by wanderlust!

 

 

 

 

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Medley

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Why is it...

It is all right to be different, not to be the same.
We are still all a part of the big game.

We still look at the sky each day
And see it brightened by the sun’s ray.
We still see the rainbow light up in delight
With the dust washed clean from our sight.
Violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red
Bring happy thoughts to our head,
Thoughts that glide and thoughts that play,
Lightening our burdens by the day.
If the different colors light up our lives
And fill our being with happy smiles,
Then why its it when we are not the same
We get thrust out of the game?
Why is it the differences matter more
Than ideas that make us soar?
Why is it we fear and hate the unknown
Instead of learning and making it our own?

It is all right to be different, not to be the same.
We are still all a part of the big game.

That is why each sunrise
Brings colors and blue skies,
And each sultry, soft, starry night
Punctuates the darkness with a silvery light.
That is why we have calm and storm
And each bird, it’s own color and song
That sings, harmonises and celebrates
The bounty of this infinite space.

Phantasm

 

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Flights of Fancy

Through the land of mists I glide
With thought beings by my side.
White, misty clouds shroud
Strange creatures that mouth
Hushed whispers, murmurs that grow loud
And emerge from the mists as beings thought out.
Robed in white,
With an inner light,
These creatures ride
Side by side
Through the woods.
Strangers flitting in hoods.
Silver girdles on their waist,
Ambrosia and honey they taste.
Sip off the little brooks that run,
Through the the patches of mists and sun.
When they emerge in light
They become beautiful and bright.
An emanation of the mind,
A figment of a fanciful flight.

The Creators

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In the misty forest, hushed whispers seemed to emanate from the very trees. Mysterious beings rode on strange horses among the trees. Everything seemed to have a fleeting sense of reality. A soft moist breeze twirled its fingers on the white robed, silver girdled riders. A sense of unreal surrounded Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge as they walked through the woods from the beach. None of these figures harmed them. They seemed intent on their own tasks.

A soft Zephyrus song seemed to pervade through the mists of the whispery creatures. Suddenly, the mists began to clear and the three reached a meadow by the woods. The meadow was grassy and had a little pond in the middle. There were flowers of different colors in the grass. The sun was peeping out from the mists. The music seemed to be coming from the mysterious white robed creatures that stood by the pond. There was a tall girl with beautiful tawny eyes and hazel hair wearing a tiara made of daisies. From the tiara hung a veil of diaphanous silver. It glittered in the sunrays. The clear voice rose from the girl drowning the earlier notes with its clarity and intensity. It sounded like the sunray had pierced the mists and was ringing out in clear notes.

At a distance, there were some enormous white steeds gamboling around. The sky had a vibrant rainbow on it. The steeds, on closer examination, had wings on them. A group of grey flying horses landed near the white ones and started grazing on the soft green grass. A blue bird chirped and flew out from a tree by the pond. Jasmine, Gorge and Jacaranda looked a little surprised because though they could all hear the song, the singer’s lips did not seem to move. Everything seemed to be in harmony.

As the song rang out, they could see the flowers in the grass bloom and a bright yellow bird flew out from a tree, followed by a red bird. The surroundings seemed to spring to life with the mysterious music. Again the whispers rose in a crescendo and the clear notes dissolved in it. The song slowly seemed to fade into the swiftness of a breeze. The tall, white robed beings now turned their focus on the three intruders.

“Welcome, O creations of Janice and friend,” said a strange voice in their heads. It felt as if all the surroundings spoke in unison. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge looked at them with stunned surprise on their faces.

“We come for help,” said Jasmine.

“We can hear your thoughts,” said the voices. “But we will use voices if you so desire.”

Gorge could sense the speech too. He was absolutely quiet and a bit scared. He had never seen anything so weird.

“Some of you are scared. There is no reason to be scared. We will help and not harm. Trust us,” said the voice.

Three of the white robed creatures, including the girl with the diaphanous veil, came over to where the three of them stood.

Their walk was more like a glide. They were much taller than Gorge, had pale but tawny skins that seemed to glow like moonlight.

“Let us lead you to our halls before we start to talk,” said a tall grey-haired man.

“Summon the steed.” Now, they could see he was moving his lips and talking just like them.

Three of the white horses that had been grazing at the far end of the meadow gamboled over. The three beings got up on the horses each one taking one of the three outsiders with them. Then the steeds took off to the skies. They soared over woods, meandering rivers and meadows till they reached what seemed to be a silver cliff-like structure. The steed descended just outside the cliffs

The riders and their guests descended and they went in through an enormous opening. Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge stared in amazement at the hall made of some translucent, crystalline material. The walls seemed to diffuse a natural yellowish white light of their own. There were more of these creatures in the hall.  Most of them were seated in small groups on plush sofas of red and gold against the walls. The floor was covered with downy carpets of mustard color. The shelter seemed to be a kind of cafe as most were sipping drinks in tall glasses. There were some who were behind a counter handing out drinks from different taps. Hushed whispers emanated from the different groups. Sounded like a pleasant chatter. The group sat down on an empty sofa.

The girl in the diaphanous veil broke the silence. “Come partake of some refreshments with us and let us talk over your issues,” she said. “I am Janice.”

“I am Halon ,” said the grey haired man.

“I am Anouk,” said the third man.

“We are from a distant planet called Lemuria,” continued Janice. “ We came here long, long ago. Earlier, we lived with mankind in the same dimension. Then the conflicts between different groups of mankind started. To keep out of these conflicts, we receded to this dimension.”

“I have read that,” pleaded Jasmine. “But we really need your help…”

“I know,” said Janice. “But this will be for the queen and her council to decide. I would like to help as you were an emanation of our ideals. We poured the emanations into your multiple selves as they were being formed. Your parents at some point were visited by dreams from us, which they would have forgotten. The dreams would translate to a physical reality…enough of this. You must be tired. Come, let us have some drinks.”

Janice and Anouk walked to the counter and carried back two trays. There were six tall glasses of a delicious drink. The drink was amber and filled Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge with a sense of peace. Their hunger disappeared and they felt rested.

“ Wow!” said Gorge. “What is this?”

“It is delicious,” said Jacaranda.

“This is Ambrosia, our main nourishment,” said Anouk.

“I feel really energized drinking this,” said Jasmine.

“So do we,” said Halon. “ It is our main diet. I would suggest that we adjourn to the queen and her council this evening. This is the time for our refreshment and then, we go back to work.”

“Perhaps, you would like to come with us to another meadow…” said Anouk.

 

Cosmos

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Cosmic Lights

Dancing lights,
Starry nights.
Sparkling, winking,
Swirling, twinkling,
Like the eyes I adore,
Memories galore.
Happiness, joy, fleeting life,
Radiant, glowing light.
Jewels on the river bob,
Sun’s reflections froth,
Strung by a melodic quatrain,
Of a strange,unknown strain.

From the forests deep, I hear,
A distant flute drawing near.
Who is it that plays the song
In harmony all night long?
Who is it that each dawn wakes
And the lingering darkness chases?
Who is it that this earth makes
Full of wonders and of quakes?
Is he in the lights I see
Dancing, bobbing with glee?
Is he the one for who stars do shine
And lines do haunt a poet’s mind?

The Creators

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Lemuria… the land of mists and murmurs came into being tens of thousands of years ago when mankind was in its throes of infancy. The ancient man saw the lemurians as gods from the skies. The modern man did not know they existed!

Lemuria was a strange land shrouded by white misty clouds. They had green hills and loud raging seas with patches of sunshine peeping through the clouds and mists. Flitting in the mists were tall and graceful lemurians. They were robed in white. Their skin seemed to glow with the light of the moon.

The lemurians descended on Earth because they needed a planet to live on. Their own planet was facing destruction from an aging sun. Some remained on the planet but many left to find planets they could terraform and continue living their lives as they had been used to.

Few of the space ships landed on Earth. In those times, Earth was scarcely populated. This suited the lemurians. They lived in harmony with nature terraformed by them. Their children were thought beings they developed with emanations from their minds. To reach out and make friends with mankind, who seemed rather primitive to them, they made some thought beings look human. These creatures were sent out as lemurian ambassadors to mankind. When people met these creatures, they thought they had descended from heaven, as they seemed to appear from nowhere. In reality, they were teleporting. But in those days, man’s comprehension did not stretch beyond the confines of his land and experience. Instantly, he gave these tall well-dressed, glowing creatures a divine status. They became the gods of mankind.

Lemurians had conquered disease. Death was a process that occurred in a five hundred years. After a full life, death was seen as a process of regeneration. The lemurians just dissolved into the mists when they died.Every lemurian was replaced by thought beings, who had powers similar to their parent. Some, who were made to interact with humans, had multiple biological systems that could adapt both to human and lemurian needs. Life went on peacefully for sometime.

The lemurians communicated telepathically. They did not have a language problem. It was easy for them to understand man’s words as they could read their minds. They could pick up the language very quickly and easily without man figuring out they did not know the language. The lemurians used a hundred per cent of their brain while man used only a small percentage.

As mankind advanced in intelligence, time and history, lemurians realized that they could no longer continue to live in harmony with these creatures whose wants came not from just needs but also from their greed. When battles started over land and violence became an accepted reality among mankind, these graceful aliens decided to create a separate space for themselves. The lemurian quest for ages had been to harmonize with that source of energy that created life and eluded all comprehension. War, hatred, anger were all emotions that took away from the positive. The lemurians wanted to experience only the positive energy so that they could focus more on understanding the energy that creates and destroys life, as it did their own life-giving sun. To keep negativity at bay, they decided to create dimensions. They did not violate or hurt man but, one day, they just seemed to fade out of existence. They had gone into a new dimension.

Some of the mythological creatures on the magic dimension’s island of wonder were children of thought beings and humans. But, no one except the lemurians knew that. The gods of mankind were lemurian too. The lemurians continued transmitting thoughts to people who were able to communicate with minds.

The lemurians, disappointed at the turns mankind’s history was taking, decided to create the creator’s dimension, which would help mankind evolve into a more positive being, into a creature that would live in harmony with nature and each other. The first five councilors were thought beings with human functions only. They mated with humans and founded a new dimension.

The councilor’s job was to experiment with different ideas to create a perfect civilization and home for man. They had not yet achieved this.

Sometimes, when people thought there had been a mass disaster where many died, the creators had merely generated an illusion and moved a group of people to new dimensions. Their minds would be wiped out and they would restart life on a clean slate, thinking what the creators would have them think.

People from the other dimensions who could communicate telepathically were also brought in. Sometimes, they made sure that some of the minds were replicated in a number of dimensions, as was Jasmine’s. These replicated people had  powerful minds and had their origins from the creator’s dimension.

Over eras, the creators had developed biases and some of them, felt a little more equal than others. These people made sure that they became council members. When this group rose to power, they wanted all creators to be in sync with their thoughts. Any aberrations were not tolerated. Jasmine with her open thought process became an exception. She wanted a dimension that would be open to all dimensions. The creators, like other humans, wanted their dimension to remain exclusive. That is why it was important for them to eradicate her and her multiple selves from the multiverse.

Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge had pinged to Lemuria. They landed by the raging sea when they arrived. Jasmine knew very less about this dimension. She had not ever met any of them in the mind stream. In fact, the lemurians were never sensed in the mind stream. But she knew there was a seaside in Lemuria from her history lessons. She knew that every creature in the creator’s dimension looked upto the lemurians.

The sea raged around them and there was a strong breeze. The little group moved inwards towards the green cliffs at the end of the beach. Jasmine could sense soft, reassuring murmurs rising from the sea. Despite the turbulence of the sea, she felt calm and at peace at last.

 

 

The Creators

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Jasper had spent more than three hours in outer space hovering between stations. He was starting to worry that he would run out of his supply of oxygen if he did not go for a refill. Yet, he was worried that the mind police somehow could have figured out things and might have spread their web to the outer rim filling stations. He decided to make a desperate bid to contact Jasmine. He focused his mind on her.

He was desperately looking for her in the mind stream. But, there was no response. There was so much chatter.

The mind police could sense Jasper in the stream. To entrap him within the stream, they created a chatter web. This would make it easier for them to trace his coordinates.

They were now near the cloud where the two mind policemen were keeping a lookout for Jasper. They knew Jasper had not descended and was not on earth. The mind police decided to use the outer space button to locate Jasper. They jammed on the button. They rose swiftly and suddenly higher and higher at a very high speed… Confronted with the bareness of outer space, they felt bewildered. However, they were still in touch with Jasper’s mind stream.

Every time they spotted a red vehicle,they tried to tally the number plate . The mind police had  a blue car.

As they circled around , they spotted Jasper’s car hovering near a space station. They went near the car and tried to lasso it from the back with a laser loop. But, Jasper still had his shield up. The laser bumped off. Jasper swerved. He realized he had been hit. He could see the blue car behind him. He recognized the car belonged to his assistant, Rudolf. But Rudolf would never hit him. He realized the mind police must have somehow got hold of the car and had traced him. Instantly, he quit the mind stream and zoomed away. He was a more practiced and adept driver than the mind police. The mind police followed him as he re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. He went behind thick rain clouds and disappeared again. He had managed to re-enter his hideout.

The mind police again lost him at his new coordinates. They decided to post some more guards at the new coordinates. What they did not know was this time unknowingly they had hit on the coordinates of his hideout. His hideout on the surface looked like a wild mountain.

Jasper felt the roof of his hideout close above him and heaved a sigh of relief as he got out of his vehicle.

Meanwhile, Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge followed Daedalus into his office. It was a huge dark cavern lit by fluorescent lights made of phosphorus. The office glowed with bright lights when it heard Daedalus’s voice. The lights were obviously voice-activated. With his fascination for technology, Daedalus experimented with science and magic to come up with unique products every now and then.

“So, tell me now…,”said Daedalus.

Jacaranda related all their adventures to him. Jasmine pitched in to explain how the issue had started.

“Well, I have one thing to say that you youngsters have a lot of spunk! I have one suggestion to make however. The moon is not as safe as you think. They technological dimension has a strong base there. So do some of the other dimensions, including the magical one. Rather, I think you should start thinking of involving the Lemurians. They are the only ones that can negotiate an amicable solution with the creator’s dimension. They are the only ones the creators fear,” said Daedalus.

“The Lemurians!” Said Jasmine. “I have never met one.”

“I cannot leave this isle without risking my very existence,” said Daedalus. “Otherwise, I would have come.”

“What do you mean … risking your existence?”

“Oh! You don’t know…,” said Jacaranda. “When the residents of isle of wonder leave this island, they lose their bodily existence and remain a only as a spirit, which can occasionally show up as ghosts in other dimensions. The souls here have been given eternal existence by a magic woven into the air of the island.”

“Wow!” Said Gorge. “That means I and Jolyn could live forever here…”

“You do have to face a governing council. It consists of people from magical dimension and the Lemurians. We do not want villains to find their way here. That is why there are spells to keep out souls with black hearts in the air too!” said Daedalus. “I have seen Lemurians only once in the governing council. They are seven to eight feet tall. They wear white robes and are peace-loving. They have powers beyond our comprehension and will always help people in need,” said Daedalus.

“Can we pinge to the Lemurian dimension?” asked Jasmine.

“I don’t see why not,” said Daedalus. “I had started work on pinging but abandoned it! Well good to see it taken up again. But, you can’t pinge from the maze as it is magic proof, technology proof and mind stream proof. Come, I will walk you out so that you can start onto the next lap of your journey.”

They again trooped out behind Daedalus, emerging this time outside the labyrinth, near the stream.

“You can pinge here,” said Daedalus. “I want to see you pinge.”

Jasmine took out the tong.

“Now, what is that?” said Daedalus.

“The pinging tongs,” replied the three simultaneously.

“Use it!”said Daedalus. “I want to see it done first.”

Gorge and Jacaranda held onto Jasmine’s shoulder as she clapped the tongs and the three disappeared.

“Hey ! Get back!”shouted Daedalus. “Now, I want to see the work that went into the tongs.”

But, the three were beyond his reach…

In the dragon’s cave in the magic dimension, things had calmed down. Jolyn was still pining for Gorge but the dragon prince had them all out in the garden involved in mind games so that they could hone their telepathic abilities. Jamie had started opening up. He seemed to be getting over his fears. Jacinth had started communicating very basic issues with JaJa using her mind. For instance, she could figure out when JaJa was hungry. She could give a simple command like ‘wait’. But, when a more complex command was needed, she had to take help from the dragon or Jamie.

Jolyn was starting to discover that women could do things too on their own, without men. In her dimension, women depended entirely on men. They did not work outside the home and had very less schooling. Talking to Jacinth, she was learning that men and women were equal and women could have opinions independent of the men in their lives. Jacinth had told her about Emmeline Pankhurst and how women had moved forward in her dimension.

Jolyn wondered how Gorge would react to her new discoveries. She missed Gorge very much all the time…his smile, his touch, his warmth…