Some enjoy being alone. Many don't. But loneliness is a different thing altogether. You can be surrounded by a hundred people and still feel lonely.

A king and a queen who were very happy to be together felt strangely lonely. The king was handsome and the queen beautiful. Friends were aplenty and relatives too. But both of them told each other that they felt lonely for a reason they could not explain.

This “once upon a time” story begins on a puzzling note inviting pity on the good king and queen, simply because they feel lonely, until one day they hear a voice. It's a voice very near that they look under the bed, inside the cupboard and behind the cushions. Who could that be? Could it be the plants in the garden? No, not really. May be the voice is from the kitchen, or the bathroom, or from just about anywhere in the palace. They search but don't find anyone.

Finally, they grow tired, but the voice keeps calling. The king and queen run out of the palace. They don't want to give up.

Many obstacles come their way but they stubbornly move on. How far do they go?

Well, the story ends on a nice note. The king and queen are not disappointed for they reach a place where they find “the voice”.

This story for ages four and above has been illustrated by Deepa Balsavar, the author herself.

Though meant for children, the story conveys a few significant truths for the adult reader as well — the right of every child to be loved and to have a home being one of the morals to learn and follow.

THE LONELY KING AND QUEEN, Deepa Balsavar, Tulika, Rs. 95