War of the words

War of the words

Rohith Rajagopal holds a BTech degree from IIT Madras and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. His love for programming and design sees him being a software architect with ThoughtWorks, a boutique consulting firm. Rohith is a voracious reader and believes that all is well with the world as long as there’s a book to read.

Rohith’s favourite genre is comic fantasy and he believes that Sir Terry Pratchett is the greatest living author. Rohith looked far and wide for a girl whose name also had the extra ‘h’ in it. He is married to Shruthi, who also shares his passion for reading and writing.

They have a lovely four-year-old daughter Advika, who has no idea what’s in store for her. Rohith finds special joy when he reads and hopes his writing brings the same joy to other people. He wrote ‘War of the words’during the many nights his daughter kept him awake.


Humanising some of the commonly used words in English language, Rohith Rajagopal gives us a witty yet emotional saga of love.

Courage was sauntering through the woods when he first spotted Dazzling. It was a warm, sunny day with a clear blue sky. The heady scent of the earth, the wonderful sight of the orchids in full bloom, and the sweet chirping of the sparrows all made for a potent concoction — the perfect setting for cupid to shoot his arrow.

He was temporarily blinded by the brilliant light emanating from the narrow opening at the Eastern corner and had to squint his eyes to prevent them from watering. Upon opening them wide, he saw a lovely maiden walking ahead of him and he was smitten. Cupid smiled from behind the lass — his arrow had found its mark.


Courage didn’t need any nudging to go talk to the lady. He marched ahead, beheaded a poor orchid and promptly presented it to Dazzling. Dazzling wasn’t used to bold young men; very few had the valour to approach her, let alone give her a flower, for most men were afraid of her brilliance. She hesitatingly accepted the flower and gave him a shy smile. His face lit up, and for a fraction of a second it seemed as if the sun had moved closer to that part of the garden.

Dazzling was not willing to let the world know of their romance yet. They were never spotted together alone. She made sure they were always surrounded by fellow nouns and verbs, much against the wishes of Courage.


They spent the next few months discovering each other, uncovering the subtle nuances each had to offer. She realised that Courage was different from his brother Audacious. While they both had the same mother, Adventure, Courage had inherited far more from Endurance, his father. Audacious was easily swerved by suggestions made by his cousin, Reckless, while Courage would never do anything without weighing matters out.


In the meanwhile, Courage was slowly discovering who Dazzling really was. When Dazzling was born, her mother Dazzle searched far and wide to find a nice name for her, but couldn’t find one which was good enough for her lovely daughter. When her daughter’s godmother, Most Brilliant, paid her a visit, she immediately suggested the name Dazzling, as she was her mother’s daughter through and through.

 

Dazzling was not very fond of some of her kin. She particularly disliked Confound, her first cousin once removed. While Dazzling blinded a lot of people by her attractiveness, she didn’t have a single negative bone in her body and would’ve never dreamt of using her brilliance to cause any harm to anyone.


It was only after they were sure of their love for one another that they started stepping out in the open together. Courage had an interesting set of friends. While he naturally gravitated towards like-minded words, he was also fond of some that were very different from him. He was never class-conscious — one of the many things he had in common with Dazzling. Neither minded being associated with adverbs, adjectives and conjunctions even.

Some of Courage’s closest friends were Meek, Timidity, Bold, Nerve, Pluck and Steel, while Dazzling loved hanging out with Blinding, Hypnotise, Overwhelming, Surprise and the conjoined twins Razzle-Dazzle, though Mirror was her best friend. They spent many a blissful months celebrating their love for one another.


Audacious had been busy these last few months. He’d been called away very often on business to various parts of the world. He was on one of his business travels when Courage first told him of Dazzling. He was happy for his brother and gathered he’d found himself a good match from the many details he shared of her.

He didn’t think much about the matter until he came back home. And saw Dazzling. He took one look at her and fell head over heels in love with her, and with no further ado, decided to let her know how he felt. Dazzling was taken aback by his proposal and firmly said no to him, but she didn’t act any further on the matter for fear of causing unrest in the family. She knew Courage wouldn’t have taken it lightly had he heard about his brother’s escapade. Audacious was not one to be quiet about things, but even he feared his brother’s wrath.


All Audacious could think about was Dazzling. He told his cousin Reckless about her beauty and his unsuccessful proposition. Reckless told Audacious that she had slighted him and should not go unpunished. Audacious, goaded on by Reckless, decided that Dazzling should be punished.

Reckless drew up a devious plan and sought Confound’s help to put it into action. She was crucial to his plan. Confound was always jealous of all the attention Dazzling got and was waiting for a chance to get back at her. Confound first used her charm and confused poor Bowled to think he was Bold, Courage’s dear friend. Now the brave Steel, another one of Courage’s friends, had an identical-homonym-twin Steel, who was a hard metal. Confound used her devious charm once more to temper Steel and convince him to join the pack.


It was past midnight and the streets wore a deserted look. The two evil words marched along recklessly with their two confounded companions, waiting to pronounce a harsh sentence on poor Dazzling. Bowled knocked at her door. They didn’t get a response. Bowled was getting a bit fidgety. He was not the bad sorts and Confound’s magic seemed to be wearing off. Confound worked her magic on him once again.

Bowled knocked at her door one more time. This time, a sleepy voice greeted them at the other end. “Who’s there?” asked Dazzling. Bowled replied, rather falteringly, “This is Bowled, Courage’s friend, and I have Steel with me. Something’s happened and we need to talk to you urgently”.

Normally a shrewd girl, Dazzling would’ve never fallen for this trick, were it not for Bowled. He had bowled her over with his voice. She opened the door and wham! Reckless had knocked Dazzling over using his companion, Steel. Dazzling fell to the floor and the world was engulfed in darkness.


Courage woke up from his sleep with a start. He was soaked in his sweat. He was surprised by the darkness of his surroundings, unusual even for this hour. His thoughts immediately went out to Dazzling. He knew there would always be some light in his world, however dim it may be, when Dazzling was around. He had a sudden urge to go over to her place. He struggled to reach her home because of the darkness.

He was about to knock at her door when he got there, but was surprised when he felt the cold draft of air hitting his face. He thought it was odd that her door was open at this hour and rushed inside. He tripped over something and felt his nose bleeding. He called out to Dazzling. He heard someone come down the stairs and finally saw some light. His shouts had awakened her mother. As Dazzle came closer, she cried out aloud and fainted. Courage turned around and saw what had caused her to cry.

Dazzling lay in a pool of blood, her body limp. She was unconscious, but Courage spotted Pulse standing beside her and knew that she was alive. He took her to the Grammar School and they promised she’d be fixed in a few weeks’ time. Courage breathed a sigh of relief but promised to get even.

The incident was the talk of the town. Courage’s friendship with the masses came in handy, especially that with the prepositions. A few words got together and looked far and wide, through the length and breadth of the country for the culprits. They didn’t spare any nook. They looked over houses, under canals, inside bins, aboard ships, across towns, but to no avail. They travelled along with Guilty who would’ve immediately sniffed out the culprits, but even though he met many who had committed many other crimes, they weren’t the ones they were looking for.

Meanwhile, Steel began to notice a change in his twin. He seemed fidgety, hardly ever looked him in the eye, avoided talking to him and didn’t even spend much time in the same room as him. Now anyone who’d seen them together would have vouched for their closeness, so it surprised Steel a great deal to see this change in his brother. He was also wary of Audacious’ frequent visits to his house.

 

They had never been close, both Steel and Audacious, so his visits aroused suspicion. He followed them one day and overheard Audacious threatening Steel, asking him to remain mum. Steel lost no time in informing Courage about what had happened.

Courage set out to confront Audacious and Steel insisted on joining him. Courage suddenly had an idea. He asked Steel if he could bring along his impish brother, Steal. He called upon Mirror, Dazzling’s best friend, and the foursome marched along to Audacious’ house. Steal was sent inside first, and was tasked with bringing Reckless out of the house without alerting anyone else.

Only he could’ve hoodwinked the alert threesome. But successful he was, and when Reckless was brought out, Courage punched him square in the face and Reckless was knocked out cold.


The four of them climbed the stairs ready to take on Confound and Audacious. Audacious intended to use Confound to lead them astray, but as soon as the door was opened, it was Mirror who faced Confound. Her tricks were reflected back at her and she soon got entangled in her own web of deceit and confusion. Audacious feared for his life. He felt weakened without his friends’ support. He tried telling Courage that Dazzling wasn’t worth the trouble and that a girl shouldn’t come between brothers.

Courage thought it was only befitting that Dazzling choose Audacious’ punishment. He took him over to her house where she was recuperating slowly and told her about what had happened. She took one long, hard look at Audacious and spotted remorse in his eyes. She then turned to look at Courage, who was looking at her eagerly, yet full of love. She knew what she had to do. She asked him to set Audacious free. Audacious was shocked. He recovered some time later and remarked, “That’s Dazzling Courage”.

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