Raconteurs #13

Daughter: Dad, Dad, I built a robot today.

Dad: Wow! Did you really? Where did you learn it?

Daughter: I learnt it by myself. It wasn’t that difficult.

Dad: I am so impressed. I did not know you to be such a genius. Can I see the robot?

Daughter: Dad, I present to you U-Man. Just an H away from being a human

Dad: Wow. It looks impressive. What does it do?

Daughter: It can do a lot of things. It can talk, move around, sing songs and the best part is that it can even assemble other robots like itself.

Dad: I do not believe you! Are you serious? Let me see it talk.

U-Man: Pam is intelligent. Pam is beautiful.

Dad: Brilliant. Let me hear it sing a song.

Daughter: It will now walk around the house and sing a song.

U-Man: Pam is intelligent. Pam is beautiful
Pam is a genius. Pam is so cool
Pam is amazing in so many ways
Pam is my master. I’ll do what she says

Dad: This is exceptional. Show me more.

Daughter: Oh it has an ability to learn as well.

Dad: Artificial intelligence?

Daughter: Exactly. It can construct other robots like itself. Soon enough there will be an army of robots singing this song and following me around

Dad: Oh no, Pam! That is so wrong. You built a brilliant robot and you could have done so much more with it.

Daughter: I like it this way.

Dad: No, my little girl. You do not understand. It makes you seem very arrogant and self-centered.

Pam: Don’t you want to see it assemble other robots?

Dad: If it makes more robots like itself then I am not interested in seeing it. You are a genius but you are also egoistic.

Pam: But Dad if Okto expects us to create more of our kinds only to sing his songs then why can’t I expect the same from my creations?

Raconteurs #12

Dad: I am going to tell you a story today about a girl who grew up to become a wise and a beautiful queen. Do you want to be a queen when you grow up?

Daughter: I have made up my mind. I will start my own religion. That will be my career.

Dad: You can’t just wake up and start your own religion.

Daughter: Well then what do I need?

Dad: Religion and faith is a very personal thing. It is not a career option.

Daughter: But so many people have made a career out of it. Why can’t I do it?

Dad: Because it is wrong. I don’t want you to use people’s beliefs and faith for your selfish motives.

Daughter: I am not being selfish. I have my own set of beliefs and I want to preach the world about it. I want to see how many people I can connect with.

Dad: Really? Who shall be your God? You?

Daughter: Mine will be a religion without any God.

Dad: Well what will it be about then? What will you be preaching? What will your followers believe in?

Daughter: Kindness. My religion will be about kindness and nothing else. I will preach kindness and my followers will believe in kindness.

Dad: Oh I think you are a little late… because all religions already do that.

Daughters: Yes, they do but they also are so complicated that people forget that they need to be kind. People remember to be offended — like you do — but they never remember to be kind.

Dad: I’m not offended. I am just having a conversation with you.

Daughter: Oh really? Then why don’t you support me?

Dad: My girl, you are so innocent. You should really be playing with your friends instead of thinking about all this. Imagine you did go and try to start your own religion. Who do you think will believe in you? Who do you think will follow you? Why will people leave their existing faith and put it in your hands? How will you feel when your plan doesn’t go as intended? Plans fail. Hardly anything ever goes to plan. Your plan is already so whimsical that something or the other is bound to go in a way you cannot expect.

Daughter: Oh we shall see. I will go play with my friends and I will have my followers. We will be kinder than followers of any other religion.

Dad: Is this some sort of a competition?

Daughter: Not at all. If others can claim their beliefs to be better then even I have the right to do so.

Dad: You sure are a stubborn girl

Daughter: It’s strong-willed.

Dad: So let us go back to the story about the queen, shall we? Once upon a time in a kingdom by the sea…

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #11

Daughter: Dad! Dad! I heard another story today at school.

Dad: About how the world came into existence?

Daughter: Yes! It goes like this. There was once an almighty being: Zyx.

Dad: There always is

Daughter: Shush, Dad. He had lots of sons and they were all blessed with special powers. Zyx created a simulated world for his entertainment but it wasn’t entertaining enough. So he asked each of his sons to suggest an improvement. His sons, however, were not interested. Seeing their reactions he offered a special power to the one who would come up with the best suggestion.

Dad: How many sons did he have? And didn’t he have any daughters? And what kind of a name is Zyx?

Daughter: Shush, Dad. I don’t know all that. Let me complete the story first. So his sons came up with lots of ideas to improve the simulated world. For instance, Zyx had a son named Fire who suggested that the world should have volcanoes, candles, flames and sparks. Then there was Water who suggested that the world should have seas, pools, rivers and oceans.

Dad: Then there was Grass who suggested that the world should have plants and shrubs and trees.

Daughter: And flowers too! Have you heard this story? Do you know who won?

Dad: Go on! Go on! I haven’t heard this one.

Daughter: Then there was Light who suggested that there should be stars. Earth suggested soil and mud. And they all came up with lots of wonderful ideas. Zyx liked them all and said that he would incorporate all these ideas in his simulated world.

Dad: So everyone was the winner?

Daughter: No, no. I totally forgot. When all sons had suggested their improvements the youngest son stepped up to provide his idea.

Dad: What was his name?

Daughter: Chaos!

Dad: Chaos? What did he suggest?

Daughter: He said that all the ideas suggested were very impressive but a little bit of disorder and confusion was missing. Once that would be added to the world then the world will become a very entertaining game.

Dad: And he won the contest?

Daughter: Yes he did! And that’s why our world is so chaotic despite all the wonderful elements in it.

Dad: And what special power did he get?

Daughter: He can play with the world as he pleases.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #10

Daughter: Tell me, Dad. If Okto is the supreme being and everything is his will then why is there evil in this world.

Dad: Evil is necessary so that people can see the good. Without darkness there can be no light.

Daughter: No, Dad. I am serious. If someone steals or lies or cheats or kills then is he responsible? Or is it Okto’s will?

Dad: Okto cannot be held responsible for evil deeds. Humans have a tendency to be evil.

Daughter: Why did Okto create us this way? Surely he could have created an ideal world with ideal beings.

Dad: We do not have the right to decide whether this world is ideal or not. We may not see this as ideal but it may actually be so.

Daughter: Really, Dad? Do you really think so?

Dad: Who are we to question this great universe and its creator?

Daughter: But if you don’t ask you will never know. You limit your own potential by accepting your beliefs as truths.

Dad: Okto surely created you very differently.

Daughter: Oh! How come I never thought of that before?

Dad: Of what?

Daughter: If Okto created me then I wouldn’t be questioning Okto and his ways. How can Okto create someone who would question him? Moreover there are others who don’t even believe in Okto. Surely Okto could not have created them either. That means Okto is not the supreme being. Dad! Dad! I have found the truth. I feel enlightened!

Dad: Hate to ruin your moment but I think you have to go to bed now.

Daughter: I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.

Dad: It never takes you more than two minutes to fall asleep once I have tucked you in.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #9

Daughter: So reincarnation is true?

Dad: Yes it is true.

Daughter: So we are all made up of souls?

Dad: Yes, we all have souls.

Daughter: That’s amazing. I have so many questions. Does each person have a unique soul?

Dad: Unique it is.

Daughter: So for a population of seven billion humans there would be seven billion souls?

Dad: Right you are.

Daughter: And when the population was say three billion there were three billion souls?

Dad: That sounds right.

Daughter: So who created these extra four billion souls?

Dad: Souls cannot be created or destroyed. They have always been around and always will be.

Daughter: So these extra souls were always there? They were just waiting for humans to populate so that they can get a body to live in? And by that logic there should still be plenty of souls out there waiting for a body.

Dad: Right you are.

Daughter: Do they fight? I mean, when a human is born how is it determined which soul will take over? Do they fight it out? Do they play some games? Is there some sequence?

Dad: Okto determines everything. Nothing can happen without Okto’s will. He is the supreme being.

Daughter: Does Okto have staff to take care of everything?

Dad: Okto doesn’t need help of anyone. He is omnipotent.

Daughter: Can I become omnipotent too? Can any human become omnipotent?

Dad: Humans are mortal beings. We can never be flawless.

Daughter: I can become flawless if I try.

Dad: Yes you can. But not before you have a good night’s sleep.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #8

Daughter: How does Okto know whether we are good or bad? Does he keep an eye on everyone?

Dad: Yes, most definitely. Do you see a great ball of fire outside your window?

Daughter: The sun?

Dad: That’s Okto’s eye. He can see every corner of this planet with it. No person’s bad deeds go unnoticed. Okto sees them all.

Daughter: Is that why people do bad things at night?

Dad: That is just a myth. What people don’t know is that Okto can see us at night as well.

Daughter: But the sun is not there at night.

Dad: That is when he uses his second eye.

Daughter: The moon?

Dad: Right you are. So Okto can see us at night as well as during the day.

Daughter: Wow! Now I know what the sun and moon are all about! But Dad, sometimes I don’t see the sun or the moon in the sky. How does Okto watches us then?

Dad: Um… uh… It is not visible to you but Okto is always there.

Daughter: If Okto sees me doing something bad will he punish me instantly?

Dad: Sooner or later Okto will.

Daughter: What about those little children who are born with diseases? What wrong have they done to be punished like that?

Dad: Um… uh… well it is a punishment for some evil deeds of their past lives.

Daughter: So reincarnation is true?

Dad: Yes, yes, very much.

Daughter: So why didn’t Okto punish them then? It sounds very evil of Okto to give them life and then make them suffer.

Dad: What Okto does is always right. It is all part of a bigger plan. Who are we to question Okto’s ways.

Daughter: What’s the bigger plan, Dad?

Dad: Ah, that nobody knows. Nobody knows at all.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #7

Daughter: We felt an earthquake in school today.

Dad: Yes I know. We felt it too over here. I called up the school immediately and they assured me that everything was okay. It was, luckily, just a minor tremble.

Daughter: What causes earthquakes, Dad?

Dad: Oh it’s time to tell you a very interesting story.

Daughter: Yayyyyy!

Dad: There was once a tiny village and everyone there worked hard, earned well and lived a happy life.

Daughter: But…

Dad: But that happiness was destroyed by a mysterious man.

Daughter: Who was he? Where did he come from?

Dad: Nobody knows but he surely corrupted the simple men of the village. He opened a tea stall in the village and slowly everyone in the village used to come to his stall to drink tea. The men loved his tea so much that they became addicted to it. They craved for it day and night.

Daughter: What was the tea made of?

Dad: That which shall not be named.

Daughter: Ooooo… interesting.

Dad: As soon as he realised that his tea was in high demand he began to charge exorbitant prices for it. Soon enough the price of the tea was more than the price of gold.

Daughter: So they must have stopped having his tea then?

Dad: Not at all! They began to lie, steal and do everything possible to get money to drink his tea. The men were going crazy.

Daughter: Oh no! What happened next?

Dad: They even began to sell their wives’ jewelries.

Daughter: Didn’t their wives say anything to them?

Dad: Oh they tried. Try they did. But it was futile. The men weren’t listening to any reason or plea. The wife threatened that they will leave the village with their kids and never come back.

Daughter: That’s a very good plan.

Dad: But it didn’t work out well. On the advice of the tea vendor the men killed their own children and buried them in the ground.

Daughter: Why did they do that?

Dad: To teach their wives a lesson. Afterwards the men gathered at the tea stall and celebrated what they had done. The village was wiped off of all the youth. Not a child’s trace could be seen. The women of the village sobbed uncontrollably and their tears caused a massive flood.

Daughter: I thought we were talking about earthquakes!

Dad: Patience, my girl. First there were floods and then there were earthquakes. The ground trembled like never before. Cracks appeared everywhere. It is said that the soul of the children did this to avenge their mothers’ tears. The land beneath the tea stall tore open and all the men, including the tea vendor, fell in it.

Daughter: Everyone dies in this story. Doesn’t seem like a happy ending to me.

Dad: It was indeed a sad day. The women lost their children and husbands. But humans were taught an important lesson. Whenever any cruelty is done to children on this planet, this land will avenge them.

Daughter: Remember, Dad. Remember. No cruelty towards children. So from now on you are forbidden from pulling my cheeks.

Dad: Ha-ha. No earthquake is going to stop me from doing that.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #6

Dad: Here it is. This is the Okto shrine built in honour of …

Daughter: Okto.

Dad: That’s right. Now take off your sneakers and I’ll guide you through every statue and painting.

Daughter: Why do I need to take my sneakers off?

Dad: See, even I have taken mine off.

Daughter: But why?

Dad: My little girl, it is a tradition. It is insulting to enter the shrine wearing any footwear.

Daughter: But why?

Dad: Because footwears are dirty. We should be barefoot in order to connect deeply with Okto.

Daughter: But my friends don’t remove their shoes when they go to a shrine. They don’t even worship Okto.

Dad: Everyone has their own faith and God. And each has its own customs.

Daughter: So are there other holy figures besides Okto?

Dad: Yes there are.

Daughter: So Okto has no jurisdiction over them?

Dad: Okto has jurisdiction over everyone.

Daughter: Then wouldn’t Okto be mad seeing people worshipping other deities?

Dad: That’s not how it works. It’s a little complicated. You’re too young to understand it.

Daughter: Will my friends go to a different heaven when they die?

Dad: Oh let us not go that far. You will figure out everything when you grow up.

Daughter: At what age did you figure out everything, Dad?

Dad: I… um…

Daughter: Have you figured it out yet?

(Silence; a long silence)

Dad: Let’s go inside and I’ll explain everything.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #5

Daughter: Dad! Dad! I had a very frightening nightmare

Dad: Oh a nightmare! And frightening too! How unusual!

Daughter: Yes, but I can’t remember anything except that I felt scared.

Dad: Do you know why you had a nightmare?

Daughter: What do you mean?

Dad: Nightmares are Okto’s way of making evil people repent

Daughter: Am I evil? I have done nothing wrong.

Dad: Oh you have been a bad, bad girl. You have not been doing your homework on time. And you have been staying up late recently discussing all sorts of stories with me.

Daughter: Oh but I love stories! Does that make me evil. Will you stop telling me stories now?

Dad: In fact I am going to tell you how nightmares started.

There was once a poor village woman who worked hard in the fields all day and barely made enough money to feed herself and her four kids. Her husband had died several years ago leaving nothing behind. Most days she slept hungry but she always ensured that her kids had something to eat.

In monsoon the fields yielded a good produce which made her happy thinking that she will be to fetch a good price for it and not have to worry about food for some time. The next morning she saw that her crops had been stolen. She went from door to door asking for help to find her stolen goods but nobody did anything for her. That day even the kids had to sleep hungry. She was devastated and cried all night.

Meanwhile the thief was celebrating in his home about the ease with which he was able to lay his hands on the crops. He slept with a wide grin that night. But his happiness didn’t last long. In his dreams he saw a giant octopus who…

Daughter: That’s Okto!

Dad: Yes and Okto tormented him in his dreams all night. The thief woke up scared — just like you did — but did not pay any heed to it and went about doing his evil deeds. The next night Okto appeared in his dreams again and punished him for his evil ways. This went on for several days. The thief realised that this was not going to stop until he returned the stolen goods back to its owners. And so he did! He returned everything that he had ever stolen back to its rightful owners and begged for forgiveness. The villagers wanted to punish him but took mercy on him after seeing his plight. The man had not slept for several days and his mental state was on the brink of insanity.

That night Okto appeared in the woman’s dream and assured her that he will look after kind people like her and her kids and that no evil person will be able to sleep peacefully ever.

Daughter: So that’s how nightmares started?

Dad: Yes. If you want to avoid nightmares then you better be kind to everyone.

Daughter: But Dad I have a question. I didn’t see Okto in my dreams. It was something else for sure.

Dad: Okto has many forms. He doesn’t always appears as an octopus.

(To be continued)

Raconteurs #4

Dad: As a child I remember being absolutely fascinated with volcanoes and I would pester my parents with questions about them. To shut me up they had to make up a story.

Daughter: Really? Tell me, tell me, tell me.

Dad: Well here it goes. A long, long time ago lived a fire-breathing dragon who terrorized a tiny village. The dragon would circle the sky as an indication that he was hungry and then swoop down rapidly and grab humans for his meal. Everybody was scared of him and nobody dared to put up a fight against him.

There was, however, one brave woman who wanted to put an end to this to save the village and her toddlers from his terror. There was a cursed cave in the village that nobody dared enter because nobody ever came out of it. The woman felt strongly that she would find a way to conquer the dragon inside that mysterious cave. Despite strong protests from her family and other villagers the woman entered the cave in search for an answer. Days and weeks and months passed but the woman did not come out of the cave. Everyone assumed that she fell victim to the cave’s traps.

But they were all wrong. She did come out of the cave holding a powerful, shiny sword. She claimed that it will help her slay the beast. Everyone cheered at the sight of her and hoped that her claim would come true.

That afternoon as the dragon circled the sky she stood in the middle of an open field with the sword in her hand while all the other villagers took shelter in their homes and bunkers where they could safely watch the contest unfold.

And indeed they were not let down. When the dragon swooped down to grab the woman, she wielded her sword and slayed the fire-breathing beast. The village burst in celebrations but the woman stood still. She explained that there was still plenty of work to be done and that she needed the whole village’s help.

She explained that the dragon had the power to revive himself and the only way that this could be avoided is if the dragon was cut up and his parts deposited in various corners of the world. And so it was agreed. The woman cut the dragon up with her sword and the villagers deposited the parts in various mountain around the world.

Daughter: And that’s how volcanoes came to be.

Dad: You are absolutely right. It is said that if a person manages to collect the lava from all the volcanoes and put them in a pot then the dragon will be revived

Daughter: Great! I have so many questions.

Dad: Not now, my girl. Now’s your sleeping time.

(To be continued)