“The Missing Fairy Princess” is the story of a 16-year-old fairy princess pitted against a powerful witch. The witch has stolen a potent new mantra developed by a colleague, ruthlessly snuffing out a brilliantly innovative mind. She then hatches an elaborate plot to frame an adversary for her misdeed. Her intention is to exact sweet revenge from her foe and at the same time, get away with the theft. The victim, caught in her vicious web, is doomed to disgrace and a life sentence on a harsh penal colony. Meanwhile, the witch learns from her crystal ball, about an imminent threat from a fairy princess wearing a pink tiara. To ward off that threat she kidnaps the fairy princess, wipes her memory clean and then turns her into a two-year-old girl.
Unfortunately for the culprit, she has goofed up by kidnapping the wrong fairy princess, Merlyn, instead of Ashlyn, her twin. The mistake turns out to be the undoing of the witch because Ashlyn proves to be her nemesis. The brilliant fairy princess exposes the cobweb of misleading evidence fabricated by the witch, ultimately unmasking her.
If you love mystery, whodunit, with a dash of magical realism and sci-fi, this book is for you.
“Cleanliness” ~ a topic which has featured so prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches whenever he addressed gatherings across the country, Swachh Bharat!
Despite the rigorous drive by the central government, it is disheartening that except in small pockets, the larger picture that emerges is that there has been no appreciable improvement.
Why is it so difficult to inculcate the habit of cleanliness in us Indians? This question gives rise to a plethora of others. Is it inborn and so deep-rooted that it has become uncorrectable? Have we been always like this and have fallen into a rut!
Certainly, not! History attests that for bygone centuries India had an unblemished record as a much admired country. Our hospitality matched our wealth and surroundings. Our famed structures like Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar attracted visitors from all over the world, praising our land. Given such a glorious background, how does one explain the degeneration to present abysmal depths?
Also, one mustn’t forget that the issues of overall cleanliness and environment damage although distinctly separate, are definitely correlated. One has to take a look at the pathetic condition of our famed river of Ganga which at places reeks of raw sewage, despite 22,000 crores claimed to have been spent during the last four years. In Mumbai, the Mithi river has been reduced to an open sewer and is an eye sore, again after humongous amounts of public money supposedly spent on cleaning it.
Those born in 30’s and 40’s would agree with me that the conditions in those days weren’t as pathetic like those one sees today. There is a plausible theory that the industrialization was the cause of the fast deterioration. If that indeed is the case, then it inevitably gives rise to a serious question; one of dereliction of duty. Unquestionably, the finger of blame points squarely at the watchdog authorities, including the governments at the centre and the states. Were they so consumed in their eternal fights for power that ‘minor’ issues such as the blatant environment damage taking place so openly all over the country, were ignored overriding the persistent grave warnings from the environmentalists. In the process, some of those politicians succeeded in turning the national calamity to their advantage, abetting the defaulters by fraudulent means by lining their own pockets.
I am sure we could discuss this issue for hours, but at the end, it would emerge as a classic example of the ‘fence feeding on the crop’! The present policy of the ‘carrot and stick’ hardly has shown a worthwhile improvement. It seems imperative that sterner and punitive measures are called for.
I cannot resist the temptation of quoting an interesting anecdote. There is the proven case of a tiny state in the Far East which was struggling to come to terms with filth and squalour and a true visionary leader transformed it into a country which is now proud of its environmental achievements. Many years ago, a visitor stepped out of the International Airport and even as he was looking for a cab, succumbed to the habit of spitting. In the blink of an eye, a marshal materialized and gave the man a receipt for 500 dollars in local currency, pointing to a prominent notice prohibiting spitting. Apparently, there was further misery in store for the despondent visitor. Another marshal handed him a pail and a groom and ordered him to clean a stretch of around 100 feet as a token punishment.
There is a colloquial saying that you cannot expect one’s hand to produce the results what a stick alone can do. May be it is time for our authorities to shift gears and adopt tougher legislation to discipline the legions of errant citizens blatantly spitting and littering. Many years ago, it was a common sight to see people urinating at dark corners, with the result one had to block one’s nostrils while passing such stinking spots. Subsequently, someone came up with a brilliant idea of putting up ceramic tiles with the picture of prominent deities at such places, the results were noteworthy. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t have the desired results in curbing spitting.
Mere sloganeering will not help! The change has to take place at the grassroots level. The parents and teachers have a greater role to play in moulding the young minds. A recent advertisement on TV comes to mind where a child sees her mother throw a wrapper in a park and replicates it later at a public place. The rebuke from mother has the kid saying the former did exactly the same thing in the park, causing acute embarrassing as well as realization of her folly in the mother. It pains one to see even educated youngsters indulging in wanton littering from the trains, buses or cars involving plastic bottles, wrappers and plastic sachets with little regard to the environmental damage they are causing. That also applies to the disgusting habit of spitting which we have formed maybe due to of our pan-chewing habit.
I can recall yet another significant effect of the role of the teacher. My granddaughter was in the first grade then. One day we saw her coming home inconsolable, tears rolling down her cheeks even though she had left her class a good 10-15 minutes earlier. The reason as it transpired was that the teacher has explained to the class how unscrupulous builder were irresponsibly cutting down trees to make way for new buildings, thereby destroying what the nature has taken centuries to build. Such was the impact on the young mind of a five-year-old that she was prepared to take part into a demonstration against the errant builders.
Precious moments are ticking and with every passing minute, the mankind is racing towards an inevitable tryst with doom. The nature sounded a number of loud warnings, but if we stupidly continue to ignore them, we would be dropping the proverbial axe on our own feet.
After spending over 25 years in the Middle East, the author, aged 75, now leads a retired life. He lives with his wife and son in Thane, near Mumbai. He has been passionate about writing from his early days. His first book was a fast-paced sci-fi novel titled “This Nightmare is for Real”, was self-published. That was followed by a historical fiction titled “Bheem – The Sage of Madhavpur”, again a self-publication. A third book, a fairy tale titled “The Missing Fairy Princess” which was published on Kindle Select during the first week of June 2019, while a fourth on the oft-discussed topic of cross-border terrorism titled “The Carnivore has a Heart” is slated for publication shortly thereafter again on Kindle Select.