Saturday, April 4, 2009

Three Dwarfs and a Devil


When Gopal sees in the mirror, he doesn't see his reflection. He sees a scary face of a deadly devil. The horror of this scary face continues to haunt Gopal, until three dwarfs suddenly turn up to help Gopal fight this devil. Who are these dwarfs? Where did they come from? Why is Gopal haunted by this devil? Read on more to find out...


Wherever he saw, only one thing caught Gopal’s eye – the sand. There was not even a single speck of greenery. The desert was all dry and the sun was shining at its best, right on the top of his head. With sweat drooling down his forehead, he did his best to carry the large heavy barrel on his back. He was thirsty. He looked around to see if there is any trace of water around. But again, all he could see till the horizon was sand. He continued to carry the heavy barrel and walk bare-foot on the burning sand.

“Faster! You DUFFER!! Move faster! You are getting slower and slower you good-for-nothing fool!!” He heard Santosh yell loudly from behind, sitting on the camel. “Yes Sir… I am doing my best…” Gopal replied with a frail voice.

Suddenly, going a bit further, to Gopal’s relief, he notices an oasis. He is elated, and asks Santosh, “Sir, I am thirsty… I need to drink some water… I plead… please allow me...”

“You only need excuses to escape from work… You have only 2 minutes to drink water. Go there and make it fast. Every second is important for you now. Only two minutes… Not a second less and not a second more…” Santosh roars.

Gopal is happy to hear these words from Santosh. He keeps the barrel on the ground and sprints towards the oasis. There seated on a rock, with sympathetic eyes, he sees Prerna. She notices Gopal and suddenly starts laughing. Gopal gives her a puzzled look.

He hurries on towards the water. He is too thirsty to wonder why Prerna is laughing. He bows down to drink the water… He sees a reflection in the water. But to his horror, he doesn’t see his own face. There floating on the surface of the water was a reflection of a devilish face. The face was more then ugly, with flesh melting down from all the sides, eyes popping out and every single vein below the skin running through the melting flesh visible. The sight terrified him. He shrieked in fright. In terror, he lifted up the first thing that he finds – a big stone, and throws it in the water where the reflection appeared. Gushhhhhhhh!!!! The water splashes up as the stone hits its surface and dampens Gopal’s face…

With a startle, Gopal woke up. He was gasping and he could hear his heart pounding loud. For the next few seconds he was in some kind of a spell. And a few seconds after that, he was back into his senses. The nightmare that often haunted him during the nights had struck again. It troubled him time and again, and every time waking him up from sleep with a shock and scaring him out of his wits. He turned to look at the clock. The hands of the clock struck 8.30 am. “Oh no… I shouldn’t have been late today… Patel Sir will be mad on me.” Gopal thought.

Gopal was supposed to report at his work place today at exactly 9.00 am. “Café Banquet” – his workplace a restaurant run by Mr. Jignesh Patel, fondly called as “Patel Bhai” by his regular customers and “Patel Sir by the staff of his café.

Café Banquet had become a big name in the city over the years since its opening. From a small-time hotel to a luxurious restaurant, Jignesh Patel had come a long way into the business of food and catering. Café Banquet had become a brand-name for catering services, and leading business people of the town, held their meetings or professional get-togethers with their clients at the Café. This also acquainted Mr. Patel with all the biggies of the town, and that made him a proud bully. He had set up a kingdom of his own in the business of food, and was looking to rule the town for many years to come.

Gopal worked in Café Banquet as an attendant. His classmates and friends were working in private companies or banks. Some were engineers and even bought a car. But Gopal was a dropout. He was a failure in his twelfth standard. He failed with such dismal marks, that the management of the college refused to admit him again. Gopal had no choice but to turn to the subject of his liking. Gopal knew he had a skill in Hospitality and Food business. He joined a diploma course for Food and Beverage, and clearing which he got himself a job as an attendant in the biggest restaurant of the town – “Café banquet”.

As Gopal sat into the public transport, he watched outside the window of the bus, and thought about the things gone by and the things to come. He had been working at Café Banquet for around four and a half years. As he looked back, he could recollect a stint that was very ordinary. He had worked with sheer sincerity and zeal. But he had no success to his credit. He just did his job and that’s it. Whenever it came to big opportunity, Gopal succumbed to pressure. He broke. He just couldn’t deliver his best when it mattered. He wanted to overcome this long standing drawback. He always got nervous when serving guests of high authority. His hands shivered, his mind would go blank and ran out of words to speak. He messed up miserably while serving the business executives that came to the café. Gopal was very good at his job and with this basics, but his ability to get nervous when it really mattered always let him down. It shattered his morale and confidence. He had tried his best in the past to work on it, but his efforts were futile. He read all those books who claimed to win over nervousness, and all other books that claimed to instil self-confidence. But when he went to talk to the guests, he forgot all the lessons that he read. He messed it all up. And after it happened on regular basis, Mr. Patel decided not to let Gopal attend any guests that belonged to the elite category.

Today, the biggest businessman of the town, Mr. K. K. Gupta, was holding a business meeting with his clients at Café Banquet. Being the most esteemed customer, Mr. Patel didn’t want to leave any margin for error. He had ordered his staff the earlier day, to report thirty minuites earlier, for an important meeting before they could start with the preparations. And there was a possibility that Gopal could get a big opportunity today where he could prove himself. But the very thought of it made Gopal apprehensive and sceptic.

It was 9.15 when Gopal reached the hotel premises. He zoomed straight to Mr. Patel’s cabin, ready to face all the consequences. He knocked the door softly twice, and out came a reply, “Come in…”
Gopal softly opened the door. He saw the whole hotel staff gathered in Mr. Patel’s cabin. Mr. Patel was sitting on his cozy chair, and looking at him. “You should know that today is a crucial day for this hotel. I had given clear instructions to all the staff members to report by 9.00 today”.

“I… I am sorry sir… Actually… the thing is…”

Gopal was interrupted by Patel’s raised hand. “No more wasting of time. As I said crew, I want minimum, to NO MISTAKES today. This is the biggest day for our café. If Mr. K. K likes the services today, then we stand a chance to be the official caterers and contractors of running cafés in all his companies”.

The staff members looked at each other in awe when Mr. Patel disclosed the deal.

“So you see crew, it’s the biggest day for Café Banquet today. Today is the day, which can change the future of our café. And it’s all in your hands. All the very best and give your best. You may disperse now, and get started”.

“The attendants team, please stay back” Mr. Patel said. Gopal could feel the chill now that run down his spine, because he was one of the members of the attendants’ team.

“Santosh, as I hear from you, we have two senior-most attendants who could not make it for work today because of some unavoidable circumstances. I have read their vacation pleas. We had no option but to grant them vacation… But, now we have a problem. This day unfortunately had to be planned during their vacations. Now it’s up to the remaining team to deliver the goods. Whom do you suggest to attend the table for Mr. Gupta and his clients?”

Santosh was the chief Attendant, and managed the Attendants’ team. He always had a fear that Gopal was his closest competitor, with the promise that Gopal showed with his nouvelle ideas and innovative thinking. And because of this he would tactfully keep all his ideas out of notice of the people that mattered. He always looked to magnify Gopal’s biggest weakness, and that is, his ability to get nervous. He used it as a sole weapon as well as a shield, to keep his position safe. Santosh’s mind was cooking a real foul trick today. Today was a good chance of letting Gopal down. Gopal had very good ideas of how to attend and serve guests, which Santosh could never think of. Gopal suggested the ideas in the meeting, and Santosh always brushed up the ideas, but then silently used those ideas, giving no credit to Gopal.

“Sir, Gopal is the senior most of the lot that we have now. So I guess, it’s got to be Gopal. We have no other option”. Santosh said.

Mr. Patel narrowed his eyes to give a short glimpse at Gopal. He quickly noticed Gopal’s unsure look. “Santosh, we don’t want any mistakes today. Are you sure he will be able to do it ??”

“Sir, Gopal has been working hard since the day we’ve heard of this event and its criticality. We knew we would be short of resources. So I had directed to start with his preparations. I am sure he’ll pull it off”.

“I hope he does. For the sake of this restaurant… and for the sake of his own job!!” Patel said in a stern voice.

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“I am not saying it because I am scared to do it... But, since it’s a very critical day, and it’s a question of the deal with K.K’s company, we should depute Prerna to attend the table. Just think of it… She’s beautiful, she’s presentable and has a sweet voice. She can deliver her voice well, she will sound soft and polite to the guests. And usually, it’s always comforting and pleasing for the guests when a lady attendant is attending…” Gopal tried to explain Santosh in the meeting of the attendants’ team.

“Gopal, just face it… You are trying to shield yourself behind Prerna. Are you telling me you cannot do the current assignment that is given to you? Just admit it once, and then I’ll see what is to be done next. Tell me Gopal….”

“No… I never said I can’t do it… I can … perhaps… I mean, may be… I think I can. I will do it… Okay… I am doing it…”

“Very good… now lets get started” Santosh directed his team.

As the team proceeded, Gopal heard a soft voice behind him… “Did you really use me to shield yourself Gopal?” Prerna asked.

Gopal turned to look at Prerna, and said, “I swear by all that is dear to me… I didn’t mean to shield myself. But I really feel today’s guests should be attended by a lady, as beautiful as you…” Prerna giggled with a smile, and then retorted back with a beautiful smile, “And what is dear to you?”

“YOU…” Gopal wanted to say… But he didn’t and responded with a smile.

“So team, any last minuite suggestions?” Santosh shouted looking behind at his team.

Gopal raised his finger. “Can I…?” asked Gopal.

Santosh nodded… “Go ahead”

“Since our restaurant’s biggest deal is at stake, I feel we should try some innovations in this event. Mr. K.K will be accompanied by his distinguished foreign clients. Hence we should arrange a grand welcome in our Indian style. We should have a couple of our attendants in traditional sarees. Welcome the guests by donning them with garlands, and with the traditional aarthis and pinjar. Foreigners will really relish this Indian style of hospitality…” Gopal finished.

Santosh looked into Gopal’s eyes with a grin. “How many a times should I tell you Gopal! In this business, try to think practical. What you are suggesting is not a last minuite suggestion. We don’t have time to do the preparations to do all this. The guests will be here in an hour’s time!! Anyways, team, get started with the preparations. Start arranging and decorating the lunch hall. Gopal help Prerna with the flower arrangements. I have some important things to settle. All the best team!!”

Gopal was glad he had to help Prerna with flower arrangements…

As the clock’s hands struck 11.30 in the morning, Santosh’s legs hastily struck on well furnished floor of the lunch hall… He came to the hall where Gopal, Prerna and few other attendants were doing the flower arrangements, and yelled… “Hurry up guys… The guests are here, they are seated in the reception lobby. Let them get settled with some soft drinks and snacks there, as we get ready for the lunch….”

“What?? When did the guests come? And how come we were not informed when they arrived?” Gopal wondered. Prerna gestured in agreement.

“Gopal, you will attend the table where KK and his distinguished guests will seat”. Santosh ordered.
A chill ran down Gopal’s spine. He closed his eyes and held his fingers firmly into a fist. All he could see when his eyes closed were Mr. KK, and his guests seated on the lunch table, staring at him. “Good luck Gopal” Prerna said.

The sweet voice gave Gopal the much needed solace. “Thanks Prerna…” And Gopal set for his mission.
Gopal stepped into the lunch hall… As he looked around, he could feel the atmosphere taking shape. A few tables were filled with some of the high-profiled employees of KK with their families. A few other employees cluttered together in groups spread around the hall. But right in the middle of the hall, was the big lunch table, with Mr. K.K and his distinguished foreign clients, some accompanied by their spouses. Gopal pushed himself towards the all important table…

“Good afternoon Sir!! Welcome to the Banquet!! How can I help you??” Gopal started with the sentence that he had read last night on a book. He thanked God for having started very well!!

Mr. K.K gestured at his most esteemed client with his hand to proceed with the order… The client, a middle aged man with blonde hair and pure Derby (Derbyshire, a county in England) accent, spoke out… “Well young man… your café seems to have a variety of dishes. But they have strange names… Can you explain me what this dish here….. It’s got a strange name… Chicken Silky fry!! What’s that??”

Gopal gulped. His long time weakness was taking his toll again. His mind was going blank. He knew about each and every dish in the menu. But at present he could find no word to explain Chicken Silky. He forgot all the lessons he read last night. He was simply, and he had no clue why, tongue-tied!!

“I… I mean… The dish is of Chicken… chicken…. And…..” Gopal began to dig his mind to look for the correct words.

The foreigner looked at him with narrow eyes….

“…And baked… no… not baked, fried, I mean roasted on those sticks… with olive oil…”

“Sticks???” Shouted another foreigner.

“I mean, Sir that thing… which is used to roast the chicken….”

“Grilled you mean ??”

“Yeah… Grilled…. I .. It just went out of my mind. Grilled with olive oil. The olive oil gives it a silky look”. Gopal finished.

“Suggest me something non-spicy. What do have best in non-spicy dishes ??”

Gopal had turned absolutely blank. He could recollect any dish…. “I … I can’t say….”

“Well Sir, why don’t you try our special Chicken Makhni?? It’s absolutely non-spicy, it’s Chicken cooked with delicious butter gravy. That’s why the name “Makhni”. In hindi, Makhan means butter”. Prerna joined in.

Gopal was saved of some embarrassment… But not without making him look very small. Gopal stood there and watched the rest of the conversation… helplessly.

“You may also try our Special Korma, with Aloo Sag…. Korma is very light and not too spicy… And Aloo Sag is a special kind of potato salad… So what is your order Sir???” Prerna was getting hold of the things.

“Okay… get all that you had just mentioned…. It surely sounds tasty…” The blonde man winked at Mr. K.K.
Gopal was feeling absolutely ashamed…. He didn’t even thank Prerna. He felt defeated. Those embarrassing moments flashed again and again in his mind…

“Thanks Gopal…” Prerna said softly, standing behind Gopal.

Gopal looked at Prerna in awe... “Thanks for what Prerna?”

“For giving the idea that I should attend the guests… I think you were right. When you explained it to Santosh, I thought you were right. And since I believed you were right, that gave me the confidence to come there and speak. Thanks for making me believe that I could do it… By the way, how was it??”

“Splendid Prerna… You were really splendid…”

Prerna gave another sweet smile and went back to work.

The business party that day turned out to be a great and successful event for Café Banquet, though the same may not be said for Gopal. Mr. Patel was elated to know that KK had finalized the deal of granting the contract to him. He was so overwhelmed, that he called his staff for a post-event meeting.

As Gopal stood amongst the crowd for the meeting, he felt he was the most undeserved person to be there… He had almost messed up the party, if Prerna had not come to his rescue.

“People… I am very happy to announce here that we have bagged the deal from the K.K’s.” Mr. Patel proceeded with the address. “And this has been possible because of your hard work. Though there were a few hiccups…” Patel looked straight into the eyes of Gopal as he said that… “Our experienced people came up with superb strategies to make the even successful. Santosh, it was a great idea to arrange a traditional way of welcoming the guests with garlands and aarthis. That was appreciated a lot by the guests. My special thanks to you Santosh for coming up with this great idea and making it happen by personally looking into the arrangements during the last hours. Good luck people… and keep thinking innovative, like our star of today… Santosh…” Mr. Patel said as he patted Santosh on his back.

Gopal was taken aback hearing about the traditional welcome. The very idea that was rubbished by Santosh, was actually implemented…

Prerna quickly looked at Gopal’s face when she heard this. Gopal again looked broken and demoralized. She knew it was all Gopal’s idea. She knew that those pats that Patel Sir gave on Santosh’s back rightfully belonged to Gopal. And yet she was pained to see Gopal’s eyes full of defeat.

That night again, Gopal returned home as a looser. All those incidents that occurred during the day hovered around his head… He stood infront of the mirror on the cabinet, and looked at his reflection. To his astonishment, he didn’t see his own reflection…

Gopal saw a devil in the mirror. A face of a deadly devil. The same devil face that was haungint him in the nightmares. Flesh floating of the face, and each and every vein visible. The blood drooled down the face of the skeleton. The eyes popped out, and the hairs were all loose and thick… The sight startled Gopal. He shrieked looking at the devil’s face. But as he shouted, the devil’s face turned more ugly and more scary. Gopal couldn’t help it more… He held the paper-weight that was placed on the table, and threw it with great impulse on the mirror.

CRASHHHHHHHH. Within seconds, the mirror was in hundreds of pieces. The pieces were spread on the ground… and now every piece of the mirror had that devil face… Gopal covered this face with both his hands as he shouted in fear…. With his face covered he threw himself on the bed, his eyes firmly closed and face firmly covered.

********************************************************************************

The refreshing ray of sunlight reaching the room the window pane woke Gopal the next morning. He sat on the bed. He dared not to look at the mirror again. Gopal still had no clue about the strange incident that happened to him last night. Just as he was getting up from his bed, Gopal was encountered with yet another surprise. There stood in the room, besides the bed, were three dwarfs, dressed in a strange looking grey robes.

“Who… What… What is this supposed to mean? Who all are you? And how did you step in to my bedroom? What do you want from me? Why have you come here?” Gopal said, still not sure about the strange things happening with him.

“We were always with you… We are a part of you… All this while, you couldn’t see us because you never respected us. Now it’s high time you make a note of all three of us. Hence, we had to come to you in this form….” One of the dwarfs in grey robe spoke.

“What do you mean? You are a part of me? And you were always with me? And I never respected you? What is this nonsense? Please don’t bother me… I have enough problems in my life to think about more problems. Please go away!” Gopal said in frustration.

“No we aren’t here to go away. But we are here to help you…. We know all your problems” Another of the dwarfs said.

“Huh? You know? Then what the hell do you know? Eh? Tell me……???”

“You messed up miserably at your work place yesterday when it mattered the most. You were rescued by the girl whom you silently love. And being demoralized infront of the girl you love pains you and hurts you. And finally, you are troubled by the devil that you see in the mirror when you see in the mirror. We are here to take you out of all these troubles…” The third dwarf said.

Gopal was amazed at the accuracy of the dwarfs. How do you know so much about me? How do you know about my problems? How do you know about the devil? Only my own self know about it… No body else.

“As I said earlier, we are no different from you….” Explained the first dwarf. “We are your personality traits. The most important personality traits that any person should have in order to succeed. But the devil inside you has turned us into dwarfs…”

“What?? Personality traits? What do you mean by that?” Gopal asked, puzzled by now.

“I am your Self-belief, your self-confidence. You hardly pay attention to me. You never use me. And that’s the reason I am a dwarf” Said the first dwarf.

“I am your positive thoughts… But you hardly have any respect for me. All you think is only negative thoughts… Those negative thoughts that have strengthened the devil in you… and turned me into a dwarf….” Explained the second dwarf.

“And I am your Attitude. The attitude that you need to live your life, and to work… But you always live without attitude. You always are influenced by other people’s attitude. Follow other’s attitude, and not your own. And that is why you have turned me into a dwarf….” Continued the third dwarf.

Gopal was clueless of what was going on…. “But… But… What am I supposed to do now …?”

“Nothing, just listen to us and do the way we say. Believe us, we are here to help you. And we will take you out of all this troubles, and also help you in fighting this devil. But you have to do a promise…”

“And what is that promise?” Gopal asked.

“You will have to do just the way we say…” The dwarf said.

“Ok… I agree… I am ready to do anything to come out of this serious mess that has occurred in my life. I will do as you say” Gopal said.

“Great… So let’s get going….” Said the first dwarf, “Explain me your situation in your words… We want to hear it from you…”

“Okay… If I have to…. I would explain my present situation as the most unfortunate then anybody on this earth can imagine. Look at me… What do you see? A big loser… Everything in my life is negative. I am a school drop-out. That’s my first defeat. I couldn’t take higher education like all my cousins. I confined myself to a modest career of hospitality. Though this career requires a very presentable personality, I don’t have any of those traits in me. I look awful… I don’t have those pleasing looks…. Being not so highly educated, I cannot speak fluent English like my peers. I have been working in this industry for more then 4 years now…. What do I credit myself? Nothing! There is not a single thing in my career so far that I can look back upon and take pride. There is not a single success that I can call my own. I have always been a small part of a team that is successful, and that’s it. And today I have returned home a loser again. I have messed it up miserably during a very important assignment at my workplace. Basically, I am a BIG … BIG loser.

The dwarfs were listening intently. The second dwarf stepped forward… “So this is what you think about yourself. Not a single thing positive!!

“There is nothing positive about my life…” Gopal said with a frown.

“What about Prerna?” Asked the positive thinking dwarf.

Gopal was zapped. He looked at the dwarf with his eyes wide open…. “What do you mean?”

“Isn’t Prerna a positive thing in your life?” The dwarf repeated.

“I can’t even dream of her… Though I do sometimes, but I know… I don’t deserve her. She rescued me yesterday of my difficulties… What she would be thinking about me? That I am a good for nothing moron! Santosh and Patel Sir already know that I am indeed good for nothing…” Gopal lamented.

The positive thinking dwarf said… “No Gopal… This is not what Prerna, Santosh or Patel Sir think about you… This is what you think about yourself… You can always think for yourself… But however you try, you will never be able to think for others… So never try doing it again….” The dwarf explained.

The self-confidence dwarf then joined in. “So have you ever told Prerna that you like her? And would want her with you in your life?”

“Okay .. Okay…. Let’s face it…” Gopal said in frustration, “I love her… But how will I tell her that I love her? I thought I would say it to her when I have atleast a couple of achievements to my credit. But till date I have none… Why would she love a loser like me?”

“Okay… Lets start your lessons from here…” The self-confidence dwarf spoke out. “Your first exercise is with Prerna… Do as we say, and be assured of you complete make-over. Are you ready?”

“Umm… uh… Okay…. Yes.. I am ready… What do I have to do?” Gopal asked not sure of what’s in store for the future.

“Call up Prerna… And tell her to meet up somewhere… Tell her you want to spend some time with her on a cup of coffee this weekend.” The self-confidence dwarf said.

“What!!! Are you crazy? I can’t even dream of doing that…. How .. I mean, How would she react? Why would she come with me? It’s ridiculous!!!” Gopal said, by now all nervous.

“You are backing off from your promise…”Said the self-confidence dwarf.

“I … But….” Gopal didn’t know what to do. He began to doubt whether it was really wise to trust and go by what these dwarfs were saying….

“Of course you can trust us… You have to! We are your conscience. If you don’t trust us now, the ugly devil will invade your mind, and continue to ruin your life… so much so that we will cease to have any existence in your life. Think about it… Believe us now… and together we can conquer the ugly devil…” The attitude dwarf, who was being a silent observer so far, finally spoke out.

Gopal was shocked! The dwarfs could even read his mind. They got to be telling the truth. And what’s the harm in trying? His life is anyways in ruins… If these dwarfs could help cobble up things right, then taking a chance was worth the gamble.

“Okay… I will call Prerna…” Gopal said, as he held his cell phone in his hand, with Prerna’s number on it… He dialed the phone. Now there was no looking back…

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“Hello Prerna, Gopal here… What’s up?”

“Gopal! What a surprise! How come you suddenly called? You never call up… Is everything okay?” Prerna’s sweet voice echoed through the cell phone’s speaker.

I… It just struck my mind Prerna… I … I have a plan…” Gopal continued. Prerna giggled…
“Plan eh? And what’s the plan?”

The self confidence dwarf said, “Say you want to take her out and chat for some time over a cup of coffee…”
Gopal looked at the dwarf in blank face….

“Hello? Gopal you there?” Prerna said on the phone.

“SAY IT !!!” The dwarf shouted…

I… Lets meet Prerna… This weekend is getting really boring… Lets have a chat over a cup of coffee… Meet me near the Coffee Corner, in the city streets”. Gopal said with his eyes closed.

“OOOOOh …. Gopal!!!! Are you all-right? You asking me for an outing with you? That’s very much unlike you…. How come suddenly….”

“I don’t want to hear anything… You are coming near Coffee Corner, and I am waiting for you there….” Gopal cut short Prerna, and hung up the phone, leaving Prerna bewildered at the other end.

The city streets were crowded with people walking over in enormous number. Coffee Corner was a favourite hang-out spot of youngsters in the city… and hence, being a Sunday, the place was very much crowded. Between the crowd, Gopal could easily recognize and spot Prerna coming. She was wearing a love red Salwaar Khamiz. Gopal could not help take his eyes away from her. And the dwarfs couldn’t help take their eyes off Gopal.

“Hey… You people hide somewhere… She shouldn’t notice you all” Gopal gestured the dwarfs.

“Do not worry my friend, not a single person in the town, but you can see us”. The dwarf smiled.

“Hi Gopal!!! What a change suddenly? How come this freaky idea of calling me for a date?” Prerna winked with the sweetest of her smile. “And to whom were you speaking to as I was coming?” Prerna looked besides Gopal, where the dwarfs were standing. Evidently, she couldn’t see any of the dwarfs.

Gopal and Prerna settled themselves on a table in the Coffee shop. The positive-thinking and attitude dwarfs seated besides Gopal. And the self-confidence dwarf lied on the table, between Gopal and Prerna and the coffee mugs, with his head resting on his palms, and his one leg folded and rested on other leg.

“Tell her you were getting bored this weekend, and so you got an idea of asking you out… And ask her how did she like the idea?” The self-confidence dwarf said.

“Gopal…. Why are you staring at the table. Say something dumbo!!” Prerna said with eyes wide open.

“I was getting really bored at home Prerna…. Sundays you know! And then I suddenly thought of calling you out for a cup of coffee… How do you like the idea?” Gopal said.

“Well, it was wonderful Gopal! I could never have imagined you could get this types of ideas…” Prerna replied with a smile.

“And there is another reason I called you here…. Say it…..” The dwarf said…

“There is another reason I called you here Prerna” Gopal said.

“What is that Gopal?” Prerna asked curiously.

“I need to tell you something… Something important…” The dwarf said.

“I need to tell you something… Something important…” Gopal repeated the dwarf’s words.

“Tell me Gopal” Prerna said.

“Now say it… Say that you love her… and always loved her…” The dwarf said.

“Uhh.. umm… the thing is….” Gopal was reluctant…

“SAY IT !!!” The dwarf shouted again….

“I need to tell you Prerna, that I love you… I have always loved you, since the time I have known you better and better at work. My mind has already decided that you are the one I need to share my life… I just had to say it… And that’s what I am doing now!” Gopal said it. He couldn’t believe he could say it!

Prerna’s eyes were wide, and her lower lips dropped opening her mouth. “Gopal… I… can’t believe this…”

“It’s true” Gopal admitted.

Prerna looked down in with a soft smile. And then looked straight in Gopal’s eyes. “I liked it Gopal…. I liked the way you said it… I could never have imagined that you would say it.. and that too in this way. You have certainly changed overnight Gopal. I like this change… Keep it this way. Just be the same” Prerna said with a very pleasant smile and a glow on her face.

“But you didn’t answer me… Do you also love me?” Gopal asked.

“I was waiting to hear it from you Gopal. And I am delighted today to hear it. If I had to say No Gopal, then I would have just stood up, bade farewell, and started my way back home…. But I didn’t do it… I am still sitting with you... isn’t it Gopal? Still smiling and still talking to you…” Prerna said. A sense of happiness that touched her was quite evident.

Gopal felt on the top of the world. He was never as happy as he was today…. The dwarfs began to clap in sync. The moment was far too joyous for Gopal, that he could feel the moist in his eyes.

“Well done my boy!!” The self confidence dwarf said. “Come now, you fools” He said to the other two dwarfs
 “Now let’s leave the couple alone” And the dwarfs disappeared.

With the moist in the eyes, Gopal couldn’t help but give a chuckle.

********************************************************************************

“Impressive!! Very Impressive!! You have done well in you first lesson” The positive thinking dwarf said.
Gopal was seated on his bed, after the best Sunday evening he ever had.

“The exercise of telling Prerna, was the beginning of your battle. This was necessary to boost your confidence. Now you have confidence in you. And that makes you ready for the bigger battle ahead.” The self confidence dwarf said. “Now, over to you Mr. Attitude”

“Thank you” The attitude dwarf was getting started. “Now that you have instilled self-confidence in you, its time for you to change your attitude. The attitude with which you approach your life. And primarily, you work life”.

“What do I need to do about it?” Gopal asked.

“Well, you are working sincerely, working hard no doubt. Keep doing it. Work for the growth of your organisation... But at the same time, do not forget YOURSELF” The attitude dwarf went on.

“What do you mean?” Gopal questioned.

“Along with your organisation, you work for yourself. For your growth. Think about yourself. Work in such a way that you contribute to the company, and at the same time, get noticed for the work you have done. There is nothing wrong in taking credit for the good work you have done. See that you always get noticed and take credit of your work. Work with the ME-FIRST attitude. If you have worked on something, then you deserve the credit.” The attitude dwarf explained.

“So… what do I need to do to change this attitude…?” Gopal asked the dwarf.

“Well, that’s to be done tomorrow. We have a long day at the office tomorrow. So you better retire to bed as soon as possible…. Have a good night’s sleep….” The dwarf said, turning off the lights.

The week next started, with Santosh calling on a team meeting of the attendants. All the attendants gathered in the meeting room, and were seated on the chairs, waiting for Santosh to start the meeting. Prerna came and sat alongside Gopal, giving him a beautiful smile. Gopal complemented with another.

“Good Morning team, as it has been brought to your notice by Patel Sir, that our hotel has bagged the catering contract for all the units of K.K Companies. Admittedly, this is a big opportunity for our hotel, and Patel Sir wants to depute each one of us to the different locations of the companies, to train the fresh staff of attendants.”

Santosh’s pause followed with a roar of claps.

“Now… Patel Sir would be glad to have any suggestions or ideas from you, so that we can serve the KK’s better and make the most of this opportunity.” Santosh addressed his team. “Any suggestions?”

The address was responded by a silence and a murmur between the team members. The attendants were discussing amongst themselves, but none of them had suggestions to give. Prerna looked at Gopal, expecting him to speak as usual.

“Speak you wont….” The attitude dwarf that was sitting on Gopals lap shouted. “Just be quiet now.” Gopal followed the orders. He just sat there quiet, with his hands folded.

Seeing no response Santosh called off the meeting. As the team dispersed, the attitude dwarf said to Gopal, “Tell him that you have some suggestions to offer…”

“Santosh, I have some suggestions to offer for our new venture…” Gopal said.

“That’s great…. I was hoping that you would speak during the meeting… But you didn’t. Never mind… Better late then never.” Santosh smiled, “Tell me your suggestions…”

“Tell him you would say it in front of Patel Sir himself…. And that you want to have a meeting with him…” The dwarf said.

“What??” Gopal exclaimed looking at the dwarf. Both Santosh and Prerna looked at Gopal, astonished.

The dwarf looked at Santosh and then at Prerna, and then back at Gopal. “Don’t make a fool of yourself… Don’t look at me and talk like that!! Remember Santosh and Prerna cannot see me. Do as I say…”

“I will give my suggestions, but to Patel Sir in person. It would be great if you could arrange a meeting with him.” Gopal said reluctantly.

“Good” The dwarf said.

“Hahahahahaha…..” You want to have a meeting with Patel Sir himself? Do you think he has time for meeting with attendants? Tell me the suggestions and I will convey it to him… If they are worth and good enough of course…” Santosh said.

“Well, if Patel Sir doesn’t have time, then it’s fine. But you can atleast try. Else, forget the suggestions; I will bury it deep into my heart.” Gopal said.

“What is this new thing now? Are you showing distrust in me?” Santosh said in a slightly raised voice.

“I never said that Santosh. It’s only that I prefer saying it to Patel Sir himself” Gopal Said.

“I will see if I can arrange a meeting…” Santosh said and left the meeting room.

Prerna couldn’t believe what she had witnessed. And the attitude dwarf was happy everything went to his satisfaction. “Gopal… you have really really changed…” Prerna smiled.

Gopal got a call from Patel’s secretary at 3.00 pm that day, that he was summoned in Patel’s cabin for a meeting. “Patel Sir has called me for the meeting…” Gopal said to the attitude dwarf. The other two dwarfs observed silently.

“That’s great, let’s get going to the office. Don’t worry, we all will be with you during the meeting… Just do as we say…” The dwarf said. But Gopal still had an apprehension. He said… “But… I hope I am able to do it!!” Gopal was again beginning to feel the mounting tension.

Just then he heard Prerna talking behind him… “Gopal…” she called him.

Gopal turned behind to look at her.

“All the best Gopal” She said with her best smile, “I know you will do it. I know you are right… I am with you”
Those words did a ton for Gopal’s confidence. All of a sudden the mounting tension disappeared. Gopal was now rearing to go!

“Come in Mr. Gopal.” Mr. Patel’s voice was heard from inside the cabin. As Gopal entered the cabin, he saw Patel Sir seated relaxed on his cozy chair. Santosh was sitting on the chair facing him.

“So I hear you had some suggestions for our K.K verture?” Mr. Patel asked with narrowed eye-brows.

“I am extremely sorry Sir, but I had a few suggestions, which I thought should be conveyed directly to you… Hence I told Santosh to arrange my meeting with you. I am very thankful for giving me this opportunity Sir.” Gopal said.

“That’s not a problem. Suggestions are always welcome…” Mr. Patel said, as he gestured Gopal to be seated.

“Now say all your suggestions with confidence… just the way you spoke to Prerna yesterday….” The self-confidence dwarf said.

“It’s your opportunity to get noticed to the person who matter…. Go ahead..” The attitude dwarf said.

“Just think that all your suggestions are very good. Be positive and go for it…” The positive thinking dwarf said.

“Sir, as this is our first venture of its kind, we need to analyze what is the kind of service we are catering to. We are going to serve food and beverages to the employees of the KK Companies. We should ask ourselves what the employees could expect from us. Since it’s for a workplace, I feel we should have some Energy drinks and refreshers in the beverages. Also, we should avoid being stereo-typed. If we offer same thing over a period of time, the employees may get fed-up of our services. Hence we should keep changing our menus periodically. Also, some of the employees work here staying far away from home. So, if we could inculcate a touch of home-made taste in our menus, then there’s nothing like it. And finally, we should be asking from all the employees their feedback at regular intervals. This way, we know where we stand and what our customers expect, so that we are able to continue to serve them better.” Gopal explained.

Mr. Patel nodded. He thought for the next few seconds. And then finally spoke out, “I am very happy hearing your suggestions. All your ideas are very good. Certainly worth pondering on. I like it. You have been the dark horse here. You have been working here for four years, and I wonder why your talents have been unnoticed.” Mr. Patel said looking at Santosh. Santosh looked down, and started to cough.

“Santosh, today morning when I asked you suggestions, you couldn’t utter a single word. You said you need some time. And I thought you were innovative….” Mr. Patel continued, “Well done Gopal, we look forward for more of you suggestions and contributions in coming days… Good luck my boy…” Mr. Patel greeted Gopal with a steady hand-shake. The three dwarfs clapped in sync again.

********************************************************************************

That night was a night of celebrations for Gopal and the three dwarfs. They lit a campfire outside Gopal’s apartment, and the three dwarfs were dancing round and round, celebrating in joy. And Gopal enjoyed as he watched them.

“You have done great Gopal” One of the dwarfs said as he danced around the campfire.

“You have self-confidence now…” The self-confidence dwarf said.

“And you have learned the right attitude of working” The attitude dwarf said.

“But what about positive thinking?” The positive thinking dwarf asked. Gopal asked. “What do I need to do for that now?” “Nothing… Just play a simple game with me” The positive thinking dwarf said. Gopal was relieved and at the same time puzzled.

“A game?” Gopal asked.

“Yes! But before that you will have to answer a question. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?”

“Well, Hmm.. I don’t know. Not sure. May be at some higher position at Café Banquet. Or may be at some other Food and Beverages company, with some better opportunity in my hand.” Gopal guessed.

“Are you sure Gopal?” The dwarf asked.

“Perhaps…” Gopal said.

“That means you are not… Ask yourself Gopal. Do you have a dream close to your heart that you wish would come true?” The dwarf asked.

Gopal thought for some time. Then he thought, the dwarfs can read his mind, so it’s better to reveal the truth.

“Yes, there is…” Gopal said. “I have a dream of starting my own restaurant some day… It would really be a dream-come-true. But I am not sure I have it in me to start a restaurant of my own. After all, it’s a big responsibility… and a big risk too!”

“That means you still have not learnt to think positive. Let’s get started with the game” The positive thinking dwarf waved at the other two dwarfs.

Both the dwarfs then suddenly appeared with something that seemed like heavy iron ball each, holding in their hands. Gopal had no clue what was going on.

“You are now going to play shot put now” The positive thinking dwarf said. The other two dwarfs placed both the shot puts on the ground.

“Here, we have two shot puts as you can see. One, a 4 kg one, and other, the 7 kg one. The 4 kg one is used for the lady athletes, and the seven kg one for the men. You look like a strong man to me!! Let’s have you throw the men’s shot put first” The dwarf said, pointing to one of those shot puts. “Come on let me see how far you can throw this 7 kg shot put. Give your best and throw it as farther as you can” He gestured Gopal to get started.

Gopal lifted the shot put in his hands. He had only seen this game on TV during some Olympics, years ago. But never did he dream that he would be playing it one day. He positioned himself and with all his might, threw the shot put, as far as he could. The shot put hit the ground with a thud. The attitude dwarf was quick enough to mark the place where it landed.

“Hmm… I expected you to do better Gopal. Never mind. Now catch hold of the ladies shot put. I am sure you will do a lot better with this!! Don’t let me down this time. You should throw this shot put much farther then what u did just now” The positive thinking dwarf said with a raised eyebrow.

Gopal now caught hold of the other shot put. It felt lighter then the earlier one. This time he was sure that he will do a better throw. Again, with all the force and energy, he positioned himself and threw the shot put. He couldn’t help but give a slight shrill as he was throwing the shot put. He saw it land a foot and a half farther then where the earlier shot put had landed.

The three dwarfs again clapped in sync. “Well done Gopal, As we expected, you have won this game, and you have fared very well” The positive thinking dwarf said.

“But I didn’t do anything special. It was obvious that I would throw the ladies shot put farther then the men’s one” Gopal said.

“No Gopal, now let me spill the beans. The first shot put which I had give you to throw, was not the men’s one, but it was actually the women’s that is, the 4 kg one!!” The dwarf said.

Gopal was astonished. “What!?! It cannot be!! The second shot put actually felt lighter” Gopal said, in disbelief.

“Exactly Gopal. That is what I have been trying to explain you! The power of positive thinking. When you held that second shot put in your hand, your mind thought that this was the lighter one. All you had in your mind that you could do better with this shot put. Your mind was full of positive thoughts before you threw that second one. And you actually did what you thought of! Remember, it’s not the weight of the shot put that mattered in this game. What mattered was your positive frame of mind that influenced how far the shot put would land” said the positive thinking dwarf.

“Similarly, if you have a dream, irrespective of the magnitude of your dream, the result matters on the positive frame of mind when you set yourself to achieve it. Do not think that the dream is too big for you to achieve. A dream is never big or small. It’s what you want to do, right from your heart. Then why think that you are not capable of achieving it? Why do you think that you may or will fail? Start thinking positive. Start thinking that you have it in you to achieve your dreams. Start thinking that you are good. You are capable. If you think positive, you will achieve positive.” The positive thinking dwarf explained. Gopal began to ponder on it.

Just then the three dwarfs pulled Gopal to dance with them round the campfire.

The next morning dawned with yet another change in Gopal’s life. The moment he woke up, he had made up his mind, that he would work on to realize his dream of starting his own restaurant. Even if he starts it in a small scale initially. The decision that he had taken had made him a different person. He now felt more complete, and focused with his goal prominent in his mind.

He went and looked into the mirror. And he found what he was looking for. He found his own reflection. His own face, his own self, which he was beginning to love. He didn’t see the devil face again. The devil in his mind was conquered. The dwarfs had really helped him conquer the devil. He was happy. He wanted to thank the dwarfs.

Just then he heard the dwarfs clap in sync yet again. Gopal turned to look at the dwarfs. He was stunned. All the three dwarfs were no longer dwarfs. They all were standing tall- their heads 6 feet above the ground!

“Thank you… Thank you so much” Gopal said as he knelt down.

“It was all you… Now that you have conquered the devil in you, we need to leave. We were here to help you conquer the devil. Now our job is done.” The dwarfs said.

“No No.. Please don’t. There’s long way to go yet. I have a long life ahead. I have to give my best and stand the expectations of Mr. Patel now. I have to start a new life with Prerna. I more importantly, I have to achieve the dream to start my own restaurant. I need you all during the course of my life. What would I do without you all?” Gopal pleaded.

“You are forgetting Gopal. As we had said before, we are a part of your conscience. Very often, where there are tough times, you hear a voice, deep inside you. That’s one of us. That’s your conscience. We always speak to you. But you tend to ignore this inner-voice of conscience. And then end up in a mess. Do not ignore the voice of your conscience. Follow it… and it will help you in achieving all your dreams.”

And with that the dwarfs disappeared.

And what happened to Gopal? Well, he did start his own restaurant. A small one to start with. Prerna left the job with Café Banquet and helped Gopal with the startup. As the restaurant did good business, Gopal also left the job, and they both ran the restaurant. One fine day, Gopal and Prerna got married. And with Gopal’s innovative ideas, his restaurant is a big success now, and is the biggest competitor of Café Banquet. Whenever asked, as to what is the secret of his success, Gopal always says, “I always listen to my inner voice of conscience”.

2 comments:

  1. Truly inspirational story.I loved it.Specially the description of dwarfs way of sitting on coffee table,their way of enjoyment during campfire.Really too good.Nicely put into words.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Read it again..
    Wah wah..
    Write more!

    ReplyDelete