Whoever thought the cute boy from Masoom, who won our hearts as the innocent Rahul, would one day write books for children?
But he has, and actor Jugal Hansraj is quite happy with the new direction his life has taken.
In his latest book, The Coward And The Sword, Hansraj brings us Prince Kadis, a 16 year old who is neither courageous nor skilled in war.
What will happen when he is faced with a situation where he has no choice but to be brave?
In The Coward And The Sword, Prince Kadis of Kofu is scared of everything... of stepping out of his castle, of meeting people, of falling sick, of training in warfare and almost everything else imaginable.
A dreamer, he is happiest staring out of his window at the ocean.
His father King Rissho cannot understand the cause of his son's fear; every child born in the royal family had always been brave and courageous.
Spies warn the king about discontent and jealousy from Molonga, the kingdom that's a day's ride south of Kofu.
The king decides to tour Kofu along with the young prince to check how his army at the border is faring and thus begins a journey that will change young Kadis's life forever.
Armed with a mystical sword, the timid prince and his two young friends set out to bring peace to the warring kingdoms of Kofu and Molonga.
Will the prince overcome his fear?
Or will the prince discover that a sword doesn't make one brave, your heart does?
A delightful excerpt from Jugal Hansraj's The Coward And The Sword for your reading pleasure.
Kadis couldn't believe what he had just heard.
Only a few moments ago, Shonin had been talking about peace but now he wanted his grandnephew, who was anything but brave, to have the sword that once belonged to the Molongans.
The sword that was a symbol of the animosity between the two Kingdoms. This seemed very strange indeed.
As if reading his mind, Shonin smiled understandingly. "Don't be surprised, my child. I know how much this old, dull-looking sword was feared many years ago.
"But the might of this sword depends on the one using it. It can be used for either peace or war; it’s up to the person holding it."
Kadis was now quite afraid to have the much feared and legendary sword so close to him.
"But granduncle… I know nothing of peace and war, nor of any of the politics involved.
"And… and this sword… how can I… how can I use it for peace…?"
Shonin smiled mysteriously. "Oh, but you can! Remember the history that I just narrated and understand that how you use this sword is up to you."
"But can't you see granduncle, I’m not brave. How can I use this sword?"
Shonin patted Kadis on his shoulder and said something that the young prince would never forget all his life.
"A long time ago, I learnt something from a very wise sage: A sword is of no use in the hands of a coward."
"But… but…" Kadis tried to protest.
Shonin persisted, "The braver you get, the more useful the sword will be for you. Think of it like magic.
"You see how dull the blade of the sword is, so also the bejewelled hilt of this once magnificent sword.
"The greater the courage in your heart, the shinier the sword will become! Here, keep it, it belongs to you -- you're the one destined to inherit it."
"But… but what am I going to use the sword for?
"How can I create peace from a weapon that was used to cause so much destruction? How, granduncle… how?"
Shonin smiled warmly again, "That, my boy, is completely up to you! It is your destiny now.
"Use it for peace or use it for destruction: it's your choice. Be brave and use it wisely.
"And don't be afraid to keep it simple… sometimes that’s the best course of action."
So saying, the old man walked to the door and opened it, letting in a waft of cold breeze into the warm room.
"My trusted horse, Greybeard, will lead you back to the army camp the same way you came.
"And keep Greybeard with you. He's yours to look after, and I can assure you that he will look after you too."
He ushered the trio out with the parting words, "But do remember the words of the wise sage from long ago… A sword is of no use in the hands of a coward!"
Shonin gently shut the door and, a moment later, the light inside the room went off.
The three friends suddenly realised how dark and cold it was. Shonin's horse neighed and started to walk ahead.
The trio had no choice but to follow, this time with young Kadis carrying his destiny and the destiny of the two warring kingdoms with him…
Excerpted from The Coward And The Sword by Jugal Hansraj, with the kind permission of the publishers, HarperCollins Children's Books India.