Putin was a troubled man. No, it was not the Ukraine Special Military Operation. Wars begin and end; there is no everlasting hot war and even the cold war had ended. Nations have armies and so they must have wars. Otherwise, the soldiers grow fat and retire without any glory and without the nation having the opportunity of being proud of them. So it is with a nation’s arms too; if not used, these expire and have to be disposed of leading to waste. Guns and vehicles rust, old missiles start leaking, old nukes become unreliable; wars solve all these problems. Thus it is that there were wars even before civilization. In fact wars created civilization; the inventions and discoveries during half-a-decade of WW II beat the previous century. Every nation should have a monument to war where everyone should pray for a war at least every five years. As is the generation of leaves, so is that of men. When men fall in the autumn called war, the spring called the generation of baby boomers is never far behind. Old may be gold but the young is a soldier who may soon be the glorious martyr.

Putin’s worries were a dream he had everynight that made him wake up with the nightmare still fresh in his memory. He wished he could forget it but it will not go away. A true leader of his people like him cannot display any weakness; it weakens the nation. That is too big a price to pay for an individual’s catharsis, even Putin’s. It is lonely at the top; the emperor can have admirers and advisors but friends among subjects is a luxury no emperor can afford. Then Putin thought of Xi. When leaders of other countries were shunning Beijing’s Winter Olympics, Putin had gone there. A grateful Xi had declared their mutual bond as “friendship with limit”. No harm in sharing with Xi; don’t they say for misery – If you share, you can bear.

Putin made a call to Xi on his unlisted, encypted phone, safe even from Israel’s Pegasus. He had once given that number to his trusted Lavrov as a challenge and he could not get it hacked. He knew that Xi also has such a phone, they had exchanged contacts at the last meeting. Both he and Xi (who is also a “he”) are conversant with English and so there was no need of a translator. Yet, Xi did not appear enthused as he took Putin’s call. He sounded weak and depressed, much like Putin who wondered if it was a good time to call. “No, it is OK”, assured Xi. I hope you did not have a fight with your wife, Putin tried to make it light. No, Xi said as he brightened a bit. Since I made her a major general in the People’s Liberation Army, that front is quiet. She knows the lure of promotion and the disaster called demotion. How are things with Alina, Xi asked. Oh, you know these women, Putin moaned. There was a rat on our Yacht Scheherazade and she was upset. I sent it to Italy for cleaning up and they seized it and she was more upset. I will soon get a new one but when told her it will take just six months, she was further upset. Xi laughed bringing a chuckle from putin too. Friendship works; everytime it works.

So, what is up, asked Xi, knowing that Putin will not use this phone unless it is too important and too personal. It is embarrassing that I am worried about a silly dream. There was a hushed silence at the other end. For what seemed like an eon, neither spoke a word. Then there was whisper from Xi’s side, “Is it about a boat?” The phone almost fell from Putin’s trembling hand. He was aware that USSR had done lot of research on telepathy and he had continued that quest. Has Xi stolen their work? Hello, said Xi, “Is your dream about a boat?” “Yes,” mumbled Putin. “But how do you …” his voice trailed off in the uncertain zone. By now, Xi was in command of himself, after all was not as old as Putin being younger by full eight months. “I guessed it because I have that nightmare everyday with you also in it,” said Xi. And who else, asked Putin. Xi’s reply reassured him of the reality of the shared nightmare. Khamenei, said Xi.

At the quickly arranged rendezvous in the picturesque Caspian resort of Ramsar, each one of them wanted to be the first to narrate all the details but Xi was prepared for the situation. He took out printed versions, one in Russian and the other in Persian, complete with a sketch of the boat. “Beats me, it’s exactly my dream,” exclaimed both Putin and Khameini, “the same leaking boat with the three of us on the stormy sea.” For sometime, all three sat in nervous silence. Khameini kicked himself for choosing that venue. The silence was broken only by the loud sound of the surf breaking on the shore, something not welcome in the given circumstances. Khameini clutched his rosary tightly as did putin with the cross hanging from his neck. Xi pressed his coat pocket; unknown to others, it concealed a tiny golden image of the Yellow Emperor.

This is a wicked spell, declared Khameini. Who could have put it on all three of us? The logical Xi was not at sea in such situations. Think of the common enemy and it is obvious. Yes, with that cue, it was obvious to others too.

(Wait for the next part – Source of the Spell)

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.