The Witch And The Prince – Chapter 1

 

He lay before her. A prince that looked every bit a prince. Handsome, well-built, popular and currently, her captive.

She sat there watching his princely countenance, trying not to feel jealous. Because, she was a witch that didn’t look anything like a witch. She was small, dark and had kind eyes.

And then, the prince woke up.

“Where am I?” the bleary blue eyes did nothing to diminish his beauty.

“You’re kidnapped, Prince!”

“Kidnapped… Are you going to kill me?” sharp and directed towards her; she resisted the urge to flinch in the grasp of those eyes.

“Kill you? Why would I do that?”

“Ah! That’s a relief! Well, I’m going back to sleep then.” An unfathomable smile creased his lips as he lay his cheek down on the ground as gently as if it might have been a soft pillow. His demeanour stirred confusion in her belly.

“Shouldn’t you be attempting something heroic by now?”

“Heroic? Why would I want to be a hero?” His eyes snapped open and held her in his gaze. She pulled herself up to her tallest self in response to the challenge in them.

“Aren’t you the Third Prince of Rathgar? You’ve been kidnapped, Third Prince of Rathgar, by an evil witch- me! Now, it’s your turn to bravely free yourself and return a hero.”

“If all you wanted to do was return me, why kidnap me in the first place?” His wrinkle-free forehead creased perfectly in the centre, “Or was it not you that did the deed?”

“It was me! Don’t be fooled by my small stature, Prince!” She bristled at the mockery written in those lips, “I stand before you, Vilia, the Evil Witch of the Northern Glades, on the cusp of my entry into the Witches’ Coven. I warn you, it would not be in your best interests to take me lightly!”

“Vilia…That’s a pretty name.” he smiled and brought an unwelcome flutter to her heart, “I’m Belmont. It’s my greatest pleasure to make your acquaintance, Evil Witch! At least, it would be, except these ropes biting into my skin are spoiling it a little.” He grinned at her dropped jaw and disbelieving eyes, “Ah! Don’t stare at me like that. You’re making me blush!”

Her jaw snapped shut as the flutter was replaced by stirring annoyance. “Are you sure you’re a prince?”

She thought she saw his smile turn down slightly at the corners, “Yes, unfortunately, I’m sure.” But, before she could be sure, he had it hitched back up, “But, it’s because I’m a prince that I got to meet you. So, I don’t feel too unfortunate right this moment! Now…about these ropes…”

His bright smile, his sparkling eyes, his complete nonchalance at being a kidnapped captive of an Evil Witch were what, she was certain, brought all this blood to her face. The unrelenting heat in her face was making her angry.

“If you think you’re charming your way out of here with all that sweet talk, you’re mistaken, Prince! I’m deaf to your flattery and blind to your sugar-coated lies. Talk all you want and then, some more. Talk until you realise that you are all alone in the woods, a witch’s captive and there is no help coming your way. Talk as long as you like to these walls that won’t listen nor reply. Because this is where you are and where you will be until my entry into the Coven!”

“You’re rather dramatic, aren’t you?”

“…………………………………….”

“But, you did a superlative job on these ropes, I tell you. I’m pretty sure, I’m bleeding already. Ah!”

“Stop struggling then, you moron. You’re chaffing your wrists.”

“Aww…are you kind after all? I thought you looked kind!”

“I am an Evil Witch!”

She had had enough of this un-princely prince.

She walked out.

**

Picking Up The Pieces

“What were you thinking?” squeaked the mouth on the floor.

“What were you thinking?” Colonel Batra shot back.

An entity with one arm and half a leg dragged itself over to the mouth, “I’ve often been told that I should stop running my mouth.” A toothy grin flashed from the mouth now nestled in a dirty palm.

Batra sighed. “What was I thinking?” he thought to himself as he looked around. His butt- a piece of his butt was missing and as a man rather fond of his butt, he was determined to find it.

He walked past two fingers and a kidney. Something that looked like a Gluteus beckoned to him from the left and he pounced.

“That’s mine!” a severed hand clamped over his leftover finger.

He jumped. “How on earth are you doing that?” he whirled towards the one-armed entity and snapped.

“I’m using the force,” the solemnity in the mouth’s voice didn’t match the twinkle in its eyes.

“Damn kid…dead and still joking around…” Batra grumbled as he pulled his hand away.

The entity was now beside him and offering a piece of flesh with its single hand. “Why don’t we think of this as my version of an olive branch?”

“My butt!” Batra snatched it from the hand and pressed it into his torn behind. It merged seamlessly into its place as if it had been waiting for the opportunity.

Batra sighed in relief. “I always thought my butt was my best feature,” said the 50 year old army officer.

“It is a nice butt. Felt quite meaty,” replied the 23 year old terrorist.

Once upon a minute, they had come face to face- gun to grenade. The officer was defending his base from the bomber; the terrorist was promoting his belief through the bomb. There was that split second when their eyes met. Then, they were dead.

Later that day, a terrorist cell will make a legend out of the young man’s name. Later the same day, the old officer would be honoured as a martyr that died in the line of duty. Neither had wanted to die. But, in that split second none of these thoughts entered their heads.

“Seriously, what was I thinking?” Batra mumbled as he hopped towards the wall, his leg tucked under his arm.

“The question should be: why didn’t you think?” came the cheery voice from behind him. The head was now re-attached to the torso and the entity ceased to be an entity and became a person. He slid down the wall beside the now fully-reassembled officer. “Don’t you need your fingers?”

“I only need one,” Batra held up his hand with the single remaining middle finger.

The terrorist snorted and opened his mouth. Then, closed it. The smile slipped from his face as he looked up at the officer he killed.

“Do you hate me?”

Batra moved the facial muscles to rise his eyebrows.

“That looks very weird when you don’t have eyebrows.”

“And whose fault is that?”

The young terrorist’s equally hairless face flushed. “Sorry…” he mumbled.

“What’s your name?”  Batra asked to break the silence that had fallen between them.

“Abrar,” came the quiet answer.

“Age?”

“23”

“First gun?”

“.22”

“Mine too!”

Abrar looked up with wide eyes at the excited officer. Slowly, his face creased into a smile.

“I used to love my rifle. I was only six then, so it was almost as tall as me. But, I would clean it every day and I would love to hold it, even if I wasn’t shooting!” Abrar fell back against the wall as the memories assaulted him.

“Ah…I know that feeling.”

The silence that fell between them now was more companionable.

“Do you hate me?” the terrorist’s question thickened the air again.

“I did. I hated you so much I would have shot you without a second thought.” The air became thicker.

“But…you didn’t.” the small voice almost lost its way in the miasma between them before reaching the officer.

“I know. I was surprised too,” Batra shook his head and shrugged. “But, what does it matter? I’m dead now. So, if it’s anything to you, I don’t hate you anymore.”

Abrar nodded. “At least, you died a hero,” he whispered.

“So did you,” replied the martyred colonel, “Just…to a different set of people.”

The air lightened and the companionable silence returned.

“You know, I read the Koran,” Batra started.

“Oh?”

“It’s a book open to interpretation,” he turned to look at his partner in death, “Just like any other religious book.”

Abrar nodded. “Yes, that’s true.”

“Then, did you ever wonder how it would’ve been if you had adopted a more peaceful interpretation?” Batra’s lopsided eyes didn’t leave the young man’s lopsided face.

“All the time,” came the reply, “But, it didn’t matter. Because good boys don’t ask questions. They follow orders and I wanted to be a good boy.”

“Ah! People-pleaser, aren’t you?”

“That’s my weakness.”

“So, let’s say you meet Messiah now. What do you think you’ll say?”

The dead terrorist guffawed. “What were you thinking? That’s what I’d say!”

Batra laughed, “I thought good boys didn’t ask questions?”

“I’m dead now. What does it matter?” Abrar winked. “So, what would you say?”

“Ah…” Batra let out loud sigh, “I’m not much for talking. But, I believe it’s a sign that the only finger left on my hand is the middle one.”

The terrorist placed a hand on the officer’s shoulder. “You have a lot of growing up to do, old man.”

“And you have a lot of Sorrys to say, young terrorist,” Batra shrugged off the hand from his shoulder, “Let’s go. It’s time.”

 

 

The mourning comrades had lit the fire, one in consecration of a martyr, another in desecration of a terrorist. Leaping flames consumed the remains of hero and villain alike and nobody noticed a well-shaped butt and a toothy grin walking away.

 

*END*

23:55 hrs, Among Thoughts A-Wandering

Where I come from, we have this expression which says marriages are not between individuals but between families. Where I come from, marriages are also arranged and paid for by parents. Where I come from, love marriages are not advocated.

Just in case you’re still in some kind of a doubt, let me reiterate, it’s a big NO to love marriages.

Especially, if the boyfriend/girlfriend is not from your community.

Does it sound medieval to you? Because it does to me; in spite of the fact that I grew up here, haven’t been anywhere else and the biggest cultural difference I’ve experienced is eating Roti for lunch instead of rice.

But, the thing is, I find it illogical.

At the tender age of 3 or 4, we’re sent off to school; where we’re encouraged to mingle with all the kids. Nobody asks about caste or community or religion before making friends.

When you turn 17, parents vie with each other in sending their children to the farthest possible college. After all, the best educational spots are all these large campuses cut off from the world and all with their own diverse communities.

Then, when you’re finally churned out by the system, degree in hand and dreams in your eyes, ready to integrate yourself into the world, suddenly, everybody’s asking questions that you’ve never really been asked before.

I mean, if I’d wanted to be defined by the hometown, by my parents or by my surname, why on earth did I spend these last 20-odd years slogging my rump off? I want to be a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, an artist, a writer. I want to be a person. I want to be more than my name and that’s what I’ve been taught to want. So, why is this job application or that nosy uncle at the wedding asking about my caste?

It feels like parents and teachers spend all our lives bringing us up on a healthy diet of the loftiest of values. But, when the time arrives for all that theory to be actually practised, it’s like they can’t pedal back fast enough. And you could reason it away any which way- you could tell me that these divisive practices have been around forever. You could tell me that I was wilfully blind and deaf to it; that it’s my fault I didn’t notice what was going on around me. But, the fact remains that when these concepts begin to take the centre-field in your life, it’s feels sudden; like a drunken whammy out of nowhere!

So, you can blame my ignorance as much as you like, but, I can’t stop being proud of having friends from any and every community. And I’m proud of my friends for willing to be my friends. And in the future, if the impossible happens and I fall in love, then I’ll be proud of my partner too; irrespective of where they’re from and what their last name will be.

You see, I came into existence before my name did. So, as much as I like my name, my identity extends far beyond that…and that’s what I want the world to know.

 

*END*

19:23 Hrs, At The Study Table

 

I’m a medico preparing for my residency entrance exams. For the last three years. I have an exam in two weeks.

My common sense tells me focus is key in these final critical days. My brain doesn’t seem to understand though. In the last few weeks, I’ve been distracted, disenchanted and completely disturbed.

Why? Because there are other things that I want to be doing. Because the one thing I’m supposed to do, studying, is the one thing I’m unable to do. Because I’m becoming increasingly unsure that this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

But, the question that haunts me is: Am I giving up?

A little bit about myself: I’ve always been a good student. Academically sound. Well on my way towards the scholarly path of a doctor. Nobody doubted my ability to accomplish what I had started, least of all myself. This branding of a “Good Student” is so ingrained in me that it’s become a part of my sense of identity.

“I’m not good at sports. I can’t sing or draw or play an instrument.

So, what?

I’m a good student. I have other pastures to explore.”

That’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years. Then, all of a sudden, I can’t study anymore. And if I can’t study anymore, what can I do? My extremely limited repertoire is already out of options. There is nothing I’m particularly good at. How am I to live? How am I to think of myself? What’s my identity now?

So, I begin to write. I write everything I feel, everything I want to say and everything I’m scared about. I write because if I don’t write, I will drown in an identity crisis that has no exit strategy. I write because every time I want to give up, I feel ashamed and that keeps me slogging, plodding my way through words that seem to make sense one instant and nothing at all in the next. I write because I can’t yet bring myself to confess that I’ve lost the ability to do the one thing I was good at and because the thought of my future depresses me.

I write because I feel like nobody understands me even while the practical part of my brain tells me that there are people out there who will; that there are people out there whose job is to understand; and most importantly, that to be understood I need to speak up in the first place.

I don’t have the courage to do that yet…and so, I write.

 

*END*

09:39 hrs, On An Unmade Bed

What’s my story?

I wish there was an archive of everybody’s stories. I wish I could go to that archive and take a quick flip through mine. I wish…I wish for a lot of things. But, if such an archive did exist and I did get to flip through my pre-written story, I’d probably scoff and do everything possible to not stick to it. Just out of spite.

It’s called contrariness of nature and humans have oodles of it. It’s evident in all those stories where the person finds out his destiny and then, does his best to fight it. I mean, wasn’t destiny supposed to give the purpose of one’s existence? But, that’s another topic altogether.

The reason I want to know my story is because I don’t know what I should do.

Should I continue doing what I’m doing now? What everybody and my parents are telling me to do? Or, should I stray off the beaten path?

Now, if I was writing a story, the answer would be simple: Stray off, away! Find your own way! But, this isn’t a story. It’s my life, I’m talking about.

Then, I start to think, isn’t life also a story? Chapter after chapter opens and closes and anthologies keep being written. Not by some great unknown hand either, but, by my own hand. I’m the author and this is my story.

Which brings me back to the question: what should I do?

It’s this confusion while standing at the crossroads that’s tempting me to hand over the pen to somebody else. Let them decide and I’ll follow. I want to hand over the reins of my future to someone other than me (Should there be a ceremony for that?). But, that’s scary too.

See, until now, all decisions regarding my future have been taken by me. Of course, I’ve been advised, suggested to, gently guided, blatantly manipulated and all that; yet, essentially, the responsibility of the decision, made with eyes closed or fully open, rested with me. If something went wrong, the blame rested squarely with me; which, ironically, gave me the freedom to mess up as much as I want.

I wasn’t bound to somebody else’s desires or dreams or to any sort of misplaced or displaced sense of duty. I walk the path I picked out and I’ll face the consequences of wherever it leads me willingly. All the emotions I’ll go through in the process will originate from me, directed towards me- happiness or sadness, frustration disappointment- and I can deal with me. But, such degrees of negativity towards someone else, that’ll turn me ugly.

At least, this is how I’ve operated till today and I’m glad to say that overall, I’m a happy person for it.

There is still a part of me that wants to continue in the same vein. I’ll pick the riskier option, the better story. But then, there’s the part of me that started this piece which says talk to someone, let them tell you what to do, even though I already know what their answer would be.

It’s making me angry and confused. Right now, I don’t have the leisure to be angry and confused. So, what should I do? What should it be?

Can you tell me my story?

*END*

 

19: 49 hrs, Contemplating the Happiness of the New Year

So, another year comes to an end. Everybody is celebrating. There was music last night and hungover faces this morning. Everybody is so happy that I’m almost sorry to say that I’m feeling as friendly as a cactus. Almost.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, it’ll be 1st Jan 2017. What does that change? I’ll still be woken up before sunrise by mum and I’ll still be reading the same book as last night. From page number 84. Not even a healthy round number. Nothing changes.

I’ll still be an unemployed bum mooching off of my parents. I’ll still be preparing for exams. I’ll still be dealing with the rotten consequences of all my mistakes from last year. So, I don’t even get that metaphorical clean slate. So, really! What changed?

Nothing.

These were my thoughts last night. At 1949 hrs of 31st December 2016.

It’s been 24 hrs since then.

19 hrs and 49 minutes into the newest year.

I was right. Nothing changed.

I’m still stressed out. I’m still carrying expectations that I don’t want to be carrying. I’m still uncertain regarding my future. But, apparently, my mother tells me, my horoscope says this year will be better.

I tell her, even my lace not coming untied would make this year better than last year. And the year before that. So, that horoscope has no business putting unnecessary hopes in my head.

She told me to stop thinking nonsense and take direction; and if I didn’t she’d smack that sassy mouth off my face.

So, I stopped thinking, followed the directions my father was giving and reached home in half the time than it would’ve taken me had I been following my own directions.

So, what I mean to say is, maybe…sometimes…it’s ok to ask for directions. It’s ok to listen to a voice other than your own. I’ve followed my own way for so long. Maybe, I can make this year different by changing the way a little. Just a little. Just sometimes. Just, maybe…I’ll be happier this year.

Damn that horoscope for making me hope!

Well then, my dear Netizens, Happy 2017! May we not repeat the same mistakes of last year and make entirely new ones! Here’s to 365 days of stumbling, fumbling and grumbling until the next party!

Cheers!

 

Daily Prompt: Calm

via Daily Prompt: Calm

 

You glare at me

You shout

You question

You demand an answer

You cry

You rave

You scream for the heavens to hear

You wish

You pray

You beg for deliverance

From me

From my gaze

From my knowledge

About you

You walk away

You slam the door

You curse

You swear

You call me responsible

For everything that’s wrong

You run at me

You punch

You throw things

To hurt me

You hurl threats

Harsh words of warning

You call me names

You say things

That you don’t mean

 

You say things that you don’t mean…

 

You say things that you never mean…

 

So, I stay calm

I don’t flinch

I keep quiet

I don’t give in

I smile at you, my baby

I hold my hands out

 

When you tire out

When you run out of things to say

When you’ve cried yourself out

When you’ve screamed until you can scream no more

When you stumble

When you hiccup

When you fall

When you collapse

I’ll be right here…

 

I’ll stay calm

I won’t flinch

I’ll keep quiet

I won’t give in

I’ll smile at you, my baby

I’ll hold my hands out to you…

 

For I’m your mother

And this is my promise to you,

My dearest; my baby.

 

*END*

Image Credit: A Hopeless Dawn by Frank Bramley.