(Dedicated to my children who often wish that rules did not exist)
Ali groaned as his mother scolded him from the doorway. He pulled a pillow over his ears and tried to dive deeper into the bed. His mother glared at him for a minute and then gave a last ultimatum.
“That’s not fair, Mom,” Ali tried to argue but his mother had already left the room.
“Bah!” Ali thought angrily. “I wish I was a prince or an emperor. Then nobody could order me around. I’ll give orders and everyone would jump to fulfill them. If I had a kingdom of my own, it would have no rules and no work, only fun … “
There was suddenly a bright light and Ali blinked in amazement. His bedroom was gone. In fact he was not even in his own house. He looked around in wonder.
“Where am I?” he wondered.
He was in a strange place. There were people everywhere and music blared at full volume. Many people stood around talking and laughing. Some slept on grass while others were just sitting and doing nothing. There was a big CLOSED sign in front of the school and kids were zooming around on skateboards, bicycles and roller skates, eating ice creams. When the people saw Ali, they rushed towards him shouting:
“Long live the emperor! Long live the emperor!”
“But where am I?” Ali asked in a daze.
“You are in your kingdom, Your Highness. The Kingdom of No Rules!” they said.
“WHAT?” Ali shouted in amazement.
“Yes, Your Highness. There are no rules here. Nobody works or goes to school. We are free to do anything that we want and we have fun all the time.”
“Oh! What a marvelous place.” Ali said in delight. “I would love to live here forever.”
Ali set out to explore his new kingdom but it proved to be rather difficult. Nobody followed traffic rules. People did not bother to throw empty cans or bottles in bins and there were piles of rubbish and junk everywhere.
Ali reached his castle. He was feeling hungry so he decided to order his royal chef to prepare a pizza. He told his footman to call the chef. The footman was playing a video game and looked annoyed to be disturbed.
“The chef is not here. She is away shopping,” he said. “Nobody works in your kingdom, Your Highness. Remember?”
Ali was upset. “All right, call the treasurer. Tell him I need money to order pizza from a shop.”
“The treasurer is away playing cricket with the rest of the castle staff,” the footman replied rudely. “And there is no money because nobody works.”
Ali was struck dumb. He was about to say something when he heard a great commotion outside.
“What is happening? Call the guards, “Ali ordered a bit frightened.
“The guards have gone for a seaside picnic, Your Highness. Your orders were that nobody should work.”
Just then, a knight in splendid armour rushed in with lots of soldiers.
“Aha! I knew conquering this kingdom will be a piece of cake. There are no rules and so much chaos and commotion. Everybody is lazy and disinclined to work… Take this prisoner to the dungeon,” the knight ordered pointing towards Ali.
“No, no, no! Let me go, let me go…. “Ali shouted and struggled with all his might.
His eyes snapped open and to his utter relief, he was in his bed. It had all been a dream but Ali was not taking any chances. He jumped out of his bed and cleaned his room at great speed.
Then he went to the living room and cleaned that up as well. He opened his books and started doing his homework. Just then his mother came in and was amazed to see the tidy house and Ali immersed in his studies.
“Thanks for everything that you and Dad do for us, Mom.” he said, giving her a quick hug. “I just realized that our lives without rules and discipline won’t be much fun after all.”