Meet KSM ( A short story) Kota Srinivasamurthy (KSM in short) studied Indian History in his college. He belonged to the times when the Principal of the college decided what was good for you and allotted you to that class. So KSM had history thrust upon him and he accepted it manfully. In any case, he had no clue why he was in the college in the first instance, being the sole heir of a wealthy industrialist. He knew he had to be in possession of a Degree, which was what his strict father had stipulated as a precondition to his induction in the Board of his company. KSM was in a way thankful that it was to be history that would earn him a degree. He knew there were other equally loathsome subjects, as mind-boggling as botany and zoology, of which he had as much idea as a carpenter would have about flying a Boeing 747. Let this not make you think that he had a keen mind for history. He was thankful because he had read something remotely connected to history in his childhood as the stories of Tenali Ramakrishna and Birbal. He had liked them immensely and hoped that with such a strong foundation, it would be easy for him to earn the dreaded degree. . So in due time KSM himself created history by clearing the final examination on his very first appearance. He was eternally grateful to Tenali Ramakrishna and Birbal who gave him the confidence to take on history head to head. He never ceased to marvel at their sagacity. But at the same time, he was intrigued how such busy monarchs like Akbar and Krishna Devaraya could find time to indulge in all kinds of pranks all the time. He was amazed that these kings were able to indulge in such frivolity while attending to some very serious administrative work. He could well imagine how tough it must have been to rule a kingdom and his admiration for them grew every time he thought of their penchant for jest and merriment despite being so pressurized. He had seen his father conducting the Board meetings and remembered how the bulging nerves on his forehead pulsated furiously when things were not going according to his plan. Against this backdrop, the equanimity and poise of the kings of yore in times of crisis which were a million times more complex than his father ever faced stunned KSM. KSM’s father kept his word and on an auspicious day inducted him into the Board. KSM’s first Board meeting turned out to be eventless but he felt very uncomfortable in his formal attire. The rickety air conditioners were making more of noise than performing their allotted task of bringing down the temperature of the room. His mind drifted back in time as it was wont to do ever since he became a student of history. He visualized Emperor Akbar sitting in his crowded court attired in glittering silk and bedecked with a few kilos of jewellery on a hot Delhi day. The ‘punkha’ above the Emperor’s head was swaying lazily producing an occasional whiff of air. Akbar looked the least bit uncomfortable and this vision took KSM’s admiration for the Emperor several notches up. One fine morning, KSM occupied his father’s chair after the old man lodged himself behind an expensive gilded frame. The genes in KSM’s system had to work overtime to ensure that he could continue the excellent work of his forefathers. The going was tough but he could manage the show admirably though KSM wished from time to time that the tensions were far less. It was then it struck him that it would be a wonderful idea to try out the examples of his idol, Akbar. He decided to induct into the board a classmate of his who always kept the classroom roaring in laughter with his pranks. He positioned him as some kind of a stress buster in the Board on the lines of Birbal and Tenali Ramakrishna. It was this chap’s job to provide comic relief when things threatened to get nasty. Things went on smoothly for a while and KSM patted himself on the back for introducing a time-tested remedy to combat stressful business meetings. The euphoria did not last long. KSM found that the practical jokes of his classmate were highly enjoyable and soothing but, for some strange reason, causing discomfort and tension to other members. Soon he found that the pulsating nerves on the forehead of his late father started showing themselves on the foreheads of other members. Every time his classmate stood up to speak, others clenched their fists and looked at him with blood shot murderous eyes. KSM started introspecting the wisdom of having appointed a stress buster in the Board. It was on a fateful AGM that the climax was enacted. The Board was discussing the depressing performance of the Company. The huge board on the wall bore a graph that was steeply plunging as if to explore the center of the earth. Explanations for this dismal performance were demanded from every member and remedial actions were put forth by everyone. KSM’s classmate rose and declared that he had a wonderful idea to reverse the downtrend in a jiffy and everyone looked askance at him. He walked to the Board, took it off from the wall and hung it upside down! The graph now pointed skywards and he looked around the room with a beaming face. All Hell broke loose in the room and as the stress buster left the room in tattered clothes, KSM wondered how Krishnadeva Raya managed Tenali Rama!