STOLEN KISSES ARE THE SWEETEST
What could be more cheeky than a plot and a plan to steal not just the Kohinoor from off the head of
the Queen, but the whole darned caboodle of sparklers, lock, stock and barrel? I’ll tell you: eloping with
the young crown princess, heiress to the throne, at dead of night, with her completely hornswoggled
and powerless to resist her conniving abductors. Well, something very much similar to the foregoing
hypothetical escapade found a prominent niche among the annals of screaming “make-believe”. It could
only transpire thus with a bunch of six young no-good pranksters putting their heads together and coming up with something utterly audacious and outrageous – out-of-this-world stuff!
It was a juicy apple, ripe for the plucking, and it was right there, hardly a hairsbreadth away from the
dividing wall, just begging to be plucked. And so, “plucked” happened when the plucky pranksters got
their act together. And would you believe it … the “apple”, in reality, was the ARK, the rarest of all artifacts in the entire world!
In course of time – actually, lots and lots and lots of time – folks would wag their heads in disbelief to
discover that the prank would rope in the likes of the Pope and a few Cardinals in Rome, one Knight
Templar, a bunch of Jerusalem johnnys, architects, engineers, carpenters, and craftsmen, believers and
disbelievers, natives with a high sense of righteousness, and locals reputed for their holiness and sanctity.
You will meet a Pope with “itchy feet” and “butterflies in his stomach”, with a zucchetto that threatens
to part ways with his balding pate; who would return to his home in the Vatican dripping with stories
of supernormal magnificence just experienced, that caused his pontifical, exposed, tonsure to
BERTRAM MICHAEL SIMA (Bertie, to his family and friends), was born on 22nd March 1947 in Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, the eldest of three siblings, the other two being Robert and Susan. Wedded for 46 years to Roshan, they have a daughter, Anuka (44), and a son, Nikhil (43). Bertie was initially schooled for three years (1954–1956) at St Joseph’s College in Coonoor, The Nilgiris, India, and then went on to finish his schooling (1957–1962) at the world-renowned more than the century-old St Joseph’s European High School, at Bangalore, India. It was in this second institution, a grey granite edifice of learning, that the Jesuits and his teachers trimmed the fat and inculcated in him a deep sense of love for the English language. Little bits and pieces of his writings then began to emerge that pointed to his leanings, but it was the next step that welded the knot in his romance with the magic of the English language.
He moved on to another world-famous institute, the Loyola College in Madras, India, where the Principal gave him no choice but to enroll in English Literature (Major), in which he graduated (1963–1968). He had a short stint (1969 to 1971) with the tobacco industry, after which he took up Banking in 1971 with India’s largest bank as a career, to retire prematurely in 1994 after 23 years of service rendered in 12 various offices of the Bank. Thereafter, for around 15 years of the bulk of his post-retirement years he worked as an in-house Consultant Editor with a few reputed pre-press companies situated in Chennai, India, mostly as a freelance editor. With the foregoing as his background, Bertie, at the ripe age of 74½ years, has now decided to launch into the vast world of writing; and while it is oftentimes said: “There’s always room for one more”, the result is this, his debut novel, which he has titled ”BLACK OPULENCE”.