By Neel Anil Panicker

“I proudly present to you the winner of this year’s International ManBooker Prize for her debut book TURNING POINT, Alisha.”

The jam packed hall reverberated with thunderous claps and loud cheers emanated from all four corners as a bespectacled lady in her mid-forties, and clad in a soft creamish Ka

njeevaram saree made her way to the stage.

After receiving the plaque and citation, she looked towards the audience who were still cheering and clapping, honouring her with a standing ovation.

A few moments after, she gave the customary acceptance speech.

“Distinguished members of the Awards Committee, respected ladies and gentlemen, and all who are dear to me___I begin by thanking the eminent five member internationally acclaimed jury who deemed me worthy enough to honour with such a prestigious award, and that too for my very first book.

This book has grown with me, been with me all through my life, and is a witness as well as testimony to all that I have gone through in my life so far.

They say all of us have a book buried within us. It is for us to dig it out. And here I would like to thank Lokesh Tripathi, India’s best known stand up comic, who incidentally is also my husband for helping realise that I had a book within me and who in his own way helped dig out that book.

The world knows of us as separated, but the truth is that we have never been as close as we have been these past years.

At every stage of my life Lokesh has been a pillar of strength, helping me by just bein there for me. It’s true, we had gone apart for some years, even sworn never to meet, but then such is destiny that we today, even after a quarter century of our marriage, remain as united as ever.

This book documents that journey, our collective journey___Lokesh’s and mine. The dichotomy of life and human relationships is that even if we are the kindest, most lovable of people, we inadvertently fail to realise leave alone acknowledge that the person we love and care about the most may have their lives, ambitions, aspirations.

Lokesh was one such person. I say___was. Initially, he was pretty much the regular Indian male___albeit one madly in love with his wife.

He never thought that a woman could even have a mind of her own, could also have dreams and desires of her own  could also want them to be fulfilled.

It took a while for him to realise and i am glad to say that the five years of forced separation that we ‘enjoyed’ worked wonders for both of us.

For him, as it made him go through the cycle of agony, remorse, self analysis, realisation and final revelation of the true meaning of man-woman relationships.

As for me, it made me introspect deeply about the true purpose of my existence, assess my self worth and dignity, and the resultant clear headedness of purpose that made me reach out and achieve my goals.

The happy result of all this is that today, Lokesh and I are as united as one can be, and needless to say mighty proud and happy for one another’s successes. And most importantly, the happiest couple on earth.

So, to sum it up, I would like to dedicate this award to my best friend, critic, lover and husband Lokesh. Thank You”

An hour later as she sat in the car and made her way home, seated beside her, Lokesh smiled and whispered into her ears, “Darling, I have baked your chocolate topped pineapple cake. Hope you like it.”

As if in answer, she reached out and took her hand in hers.

#neelanilpanicker #flash #fiction #shortstory



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