Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Grimm’s Fairy Tale

It is about a donkey who decides to reinvent himself. Just when his master writes him off as too old and good-for-nothing, the donkey plans a career change,” I tell the Lilliputians who ask me what I find so interesting about a particular Grimm’s fairly tale.

The expressions on their faces tell me I haven’t been able to convincingly convey my immense admiration for the story.

I try again. “It is about a donkey with high self esteem and the courage of his convictions. It is about friendship. It is about how our own fears can transform shadows into hideous goblins, so a cat becomes a witch, a dog  becomes a man with a knife, a donkey becomes a black monster, a good old rooster becomes a devil whose simple crowing is heard as ‘throw the rascal up there’ and so on.”

Very intelligent listeners that they are, they manage to cull out a few useful words from my largely unintelligible account of ‘The Travelling Musicians.’

“So it’s about a donkey, a cat, a dog, and a rooster. And they are friends?” one of them asks, editing my garbled details to a succinct, one-lined statement.

“What happens in the story?” another now asks a precise question to help me focus on the essentials.

“Once upon a time, there was a donkey who faithfully served his master for many years. When the donkey became old and unfit for work, the master decided to get rid of him. The donkey got a whiff of his master’s plan, but he wasn’t the type to sulk over the situation or make revenge plans. He made up his mind to give himself a makeover by going to city and becoming a musician.”

“Musician!” they laugh.

“Yes, he believed in himself. He thought he had a wonderful voice. On his way to the city, he met other friendless and lonely animals. The donkey told them about his decision to explore new ways of living and offered them to join him to form a music group-after all, they all had interesting voices- and hold concerts in the city.  The donkey’s enthusiasm rubbed off on the animals, they found the idea of music group and concert interesting, and jogged along the donkey.”

“Music group of animals!” now the Lilliputians understand why I gush over the story.

We read the entire story together; we all are charmed by the narrative. And there isn’t just one reason to like it.  

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Goldilocks Revisited

“Again my yellow bowl! Why you always take my bowl, and you are always eating cereal,” says Omar in a voice that’s higher and shriller with both anger and exasperation.

“I like your bowl. Cereal is my comfort food.”

Omar is not interested in knowing how I deal with my emotional and spiritual lows. And he is possessive about his cereal bowl. “Can’t you eat in another bowl? Take the green one.”

“Eating in your bowl makes me feel like Goldilocks,” I tell him.

My penchant for occasionally living out my life in fairy tales never fails to evoke Omar’s admiration. And now I have his attention.

“And I am the baby bear,” he laughs with a flash of recognition in eyes.  

“Yes. But we are friends. Godlilocks ran away in the end instead of making friends with the baby bear. They could have had so much fun together,” I voice my primordial issues with Goldilocks.

Omar thinks for a while and nods his head in agreement. “But why did she run away? Why didn’t she ask the bear to be her friend?”

“Maybe she thought people would consider it odd if she were seen romping about with a bear. Or maybe she was just afraid that the bear would say no to her friendship,” I try to think of the probable apprehensions that might have bothered Goldilocks.

“But it’s not odd. We play with teddy bears, don’t we? And why was she afraid… the bear could have said yes.”

“He could have said no,” I try to think like Goldilocks.

“So? She could have asked again,” Omar shrugs. My reasons don’t resonate with his ideas about people, bears, and friendship.

Omar isn’t yet tainted with the compulsions of conformity and tricks of the ego. I hope he always remains free.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

New Friend: Roseee the Cat

Roseee is a whimsical cat. For some reason she has decided to adopt the land of Lilliputians as her home.

Roseee was wooed the way stray cats ought to be befriended: with milk and butter. It was her skeletal look that made us want to fatten her up. Real fast. Perhaps all our milk-butter maneuvers touched a chord in her heart, perhaps she really likes us.

The rather unimaginative name, Roseee, stuck to her because Roshan's Baba uttered the word and she lifted her green eyes, looked at us disarmingly. Writing her name with three eee is my way of making the name extra special. But in my hyperbolic imaginative way, I also like to think that the name, Roseee, has a deeper meaning. Etymology of Roseee can be traced back to the word rose, the rose scent is elusive, roseee the cat is elusive, too. We can’t hold on to her, she likes her independence. 

There is also something royal about the name. It was Nur Jehan the queen who accidently discovered rose essence when she had the reservoirs in her garden filled with rose water in preparation for a banquet for her king, husband, Jehangir.  The banquet was actually Nur Jehan’s re-avowal of love for Jehangir after some marital tiff. A highly creative way to makeup after a squabble, I must say.

And so, as the story goes, at dawn she found a film of oil on top of the water in reservoirs. She smelled it, loved the fragrance, smeared herself with it, and went to meet Jehangir…..

Roseee has about her that royal air, the haughtiness… yes, it is a bit too far fetched, I concede.  

The land of Lilliputians is Roseee’s temporary home. Mercurial as she is, we are subjected to her vanishing acts from time to time. There are days when she can laze away the entire day, lying on a table in the veranda, doing cat stretches at regular intervals. And there are days when the Lilliputians and I wait and wait for her to show up, to lap up the milk we put in her plate in anticipation. Then she arrives, her mew-mew mingling with the shrieks of the Lilliputians and my cooings.

This is the way she likes to be: independent, with no strings attached. 

Maybe Roseee can teach us a thing or two about love without its trappings. But then, I guess, you have to be a cat to be so emotionally independent, to be able to occasionally turn your back to the world and sleep peacefully, to love and remain indifferent.