“Immortality, really! What a dreary thing to wish for!” I exclaimed.

“Oh? And what exactly would you wish for, were you granted that one wish?” P. asked, startling me.

No, it wasn’t actually the blinding brilliance of the question that startled me. It was just that I hadn’t heard her come into the room.

See, I have this rather exquisitely furnished room all to me at The Palace1.There are two guards stationed at the ends of the long corridor leading out from the room to the Winding Ways2 of The Palace. They announce nearly every visitor so that I get about five and a half minutes to prepare for whatever creature, or object was headed my way. I have a congenital dislike for nasty surprises before breakfast.

P., of course, had to be the exception.

“You know, just in case the beautifully designed brass knockers on my door are too heavy for you, you have been granted the gift of ten fingers with knuckles on them.” I grumbled.

“What’s your point?” P. asked.

“By an unfortunate series of totally unrelated and co-incidental events for which nobody can be held guilty, you know my point.” She had merited this tetchiness.

“Why let the minor problem, that I can read your mind, come in the way of a civilized conversation between us? Okay, I’ll knock before entering your room the next time. Happy now?” P. smiled.

“Yeah. Am positively struggling to stop my reservoir of mirth from brimming over. Isn’t this the seven hundred and thirty-fifth time you’ve promised me that?” I queried.

“Stop being such a baby and tell me what you would wish for.” Persistence, as always, the hallmark of greatness. And of P.

I had been reading the Ramayana, once again, you see. And I had just reached that part where Ravana asks Brahma for the boon of immortality, and is refused. This, somehow, had given me a brilliant idea. Which, like most of my brilliant ideas, was fundamentally flawed.

“Flawed? How?” P. once again invading my privacy. This time it was my mind, though. Far more intimate than my room.

“Stop that!” I burst out angrily.

P.’s smile evaporated rapidly and a film of tears formed over her eyes as she turned away, hurt, to leave my room. Damn. People couldn’t even afford to be angry nowadays if their privacy was encroached upon.

I leapt out of bed, and with another bound blocked her way. “Hey, don’t you dare to leave me crying. Both meanings intended.”

“What meanings?” She stopped.

“Figure them out for yourself. As I was saying, I have discovered, or rather invented, the most wonderful wish one could wish to wish for.”

“What…oh, right. What’s the wish?”

“Who’s the mind reader here?

I watched as P.’s hurt look slowly changed into a frown, then confusion, and then gave way to an expression of utter bewilderment. “Why don’t I know?” She asked, clearly surprised, and a bit frightened too, I could see.

“Don’t worry, it’s a little trick I figured out to protect my thoughts. Just checking if the theory could be put to practical use. Will explain it to you once I fully grasp it.” I said, trying to hide my ecstasy.

“Okay.” She was only slightly reassured. “The flaw?” She had, by now, stopped crying. Who says I’m not a PR egghead?

“Nobody to grant the wish, obviously.”

“Not even the Believer?” The smile had returned to her face.

“Nopes. This is a classic O-mighty-deity-grant-your-puny-devotee-a-boon scenario. The minimum apparatus required is a Santa Claus.”

“The problem with that is?”

“The problem with that is that dear ol’ Santa doesn’t exist.” I explained patiently.

“Says who?” P. arched her eyebrows.

“Says me and millions of other people, who, through the ages, have painstakingly gathered enough evidence not to believe…wait a moment…believe? Is that what you’re saying? I’ve got to make-believe3 a real Santa?” The penny dropped.

“Nah, wasn’t thinking of that. An interesting idea, though.” P. seemed thoughtful. The penny, which had recently dropped, leaped up, retracing its trajectory through my cognitive spaces in the reverse direction, and disappeared. And in a phenomenon which will continue to haunt the nightmares of physicists for the next millennium, the amount of entropy created by the fall of the penny, was restored as its potential energy.

“You mean you haven’t yet met the Saint of Clauses? Great, because today is his feast day, and the entire Hall4 will be at his residence. Come with me. He’ll surely grant the Believer’s one wish.” P. gave a bright smile.

Wow, I thought. If this works out, I’ll have the ultimate weapon that one could wish for.

As P. had unknowingly, but correctly stated, ‘The One Wish’.

The One Wish To Wish Them All.

—————————————————————————————-

1I am NOT calling it ‘The Palace’ without a reason. It was ‘The Palace’. You’ve got to hear about it from me one day. Remind me if I get a day off from saving the world.

2Same as above. ‘The Palace’ to be replaced by ‘Winding Ways’.

3For the uninitiated, ‘make-believe’ is a technical term indicating a P2C2E Grade 3 involving the creation of an object, organism, phenomenon, or internal/external effect by believing in it, and is the forte of the Believers. The placebo effect is a classic example.

4The Hall is the administrative organ, the second tier of the three tier system of Nayvair government. The Tower (legislature) and the Dungeon (judiciary) being the first and the third tiers, respectively.

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