Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Complete Fairy Tale

The Mime makes for the only source of entertainment in the tiny kingdom. He isn’t exactly a mime, as he packs an occasional mimic and a clown into the black-and-white striped-shirt he wears, but most of his act is silent except for an odd line or two. He breathes life into his performances and his most popular act is the Jungle Scene, in which he imitates the antics of the funniest animals. When he skips around like a monkey chasing a flying banana, the little school children split their sides laughing, and the worried moms have to rub their tummies and backs to settle them down. Occasionally, an overcautious parent would urge the Minister in the Church to denounce the Mime. But the Minister considers himself a patron of arts on account of his own amateur pursuit of nature painting, and lets the Mime be.
But imitating the animals isn’t the Mime’s most favourite act. He performs his best when he entertains Princess Cora, the liveliest and the prettiest creature to have ever set foot on that part of the world. The Princess grew up with the Queen’s father in a faraway land, to fulfil the wishes of the dying Grand parent. As luck would have it, the dying patriarch spent 18 years on death bed, so when the Princess finally went back home to her parents, she was a dainty young spirit in the prime of her youth and on the verge of a delighting ladyhood. When she made her appearance, the Kingdom was mesmerized with her virtuous nature and dazzling looks, and when the suitors started flooding the gates of the castle, the King had to recruit more guards to protect his little Cora.
These days the King screens the suitors himself, and after the toughest investigation and tests, that even Sir Lancelot would acknowledge as ‘challenging’, the best of the lot would be chosen to meet the Princess for courting. The Princess ofcourse, promptly rejects every one of them. That’s because a majority of the eligible young men of the tiny Kingdom live abroad these days working as drivers and plumbers for rich Arabs and what were left are just shepherds and school teachers. So the Princess is waiting for someone in her class to amalgamate.
The King saw that the Princess was getting bored with all the rejecting and employed the Mime to keep her in good spirits. The Mime and the Princess, they took to each other like long bosom-pals and struck an instant camaraderie! The Princess loved the Mime’s antics and laughed at his every move and the Mime, he adored her like nothing before. He would tirelessly perform every act he knows and can invent, to entertain her and her pearly laughter and the twinkle in the eye made him strike the form of his life.
‘Will you come again tomorrow?’ the Princess would ask him with a pout and appeal in the eye.
‘Do I ever go away from you Princess? After they make me leave the castle, I hoodwink your guards and sneak up to your window every night. If you don’t believe me, look outside for a shining plate in the sky. In the nights, I play a new act for you called the Moon!’ he would reply.
She playfully asks, ‘Oh, is that so? But I looked outside last Friday. You weren’t there!’
‘On the new moon’s day? That’s when I take off my make-up. Oh, I was there my Princess! I wash off my white paint once in a month you know, to put on Dr. Dock’s face-pack for my complexion! You see, I am trying to look beautiful like you!’
The Princess would then jingle her laughter, and the Mime would pretend to catch the imaginary pearls spilling on to the floor before being dragged out by the guards. That ‘dragged out by the guards’ act is a piece he invented to delight the Princess and at a pre-set time every day, two guards would come and drag him out to his protests and threats, to the utter amusement of the Princess. She found it the funniest part of each evening, until the Mime invented an act titled ‘The Jilted Lover of Princess Cora’.
In a moment of inspiration bordering on genius, he conceived an act where the Princess plays herself, and the Mime plays an ageing Royal seeking her hand. The Mime skips and dances, contorts his body into weirdest shapes in an attempt to show off his non-existent muscles, performs little magic tricks of flowers sprouting out of thin air to impress her and finally flourishes a heart-shaped air balloon to profess his love. He then implores the Princess to just touch it once, but the balloon blows up inexplicably when she hesitatingly tries to take it from his hand. The Princess could never figure out how the balloon blew up, but a tiny pin hidden between the Mime’s fingers knows a thing or two about it.
The grand finale of the act comes when the Princess runs away from the annoying man, into the arms of a handsome young Prince played by the Princess’ maid. The aged royal suitor cries inconsolably during the marriage, the tears aided ofcourse by some glycerine the Mime smears into his eyes.
This act became the favourite of the Princess and she would insist on an encore of the last act of the Mime crying. The Mime obliged her as often as she demanded, for her delight brought a hitherto undiscovered meaning to his lonely existence. The local Pharmacist ofcourse saw a sudden boom in glycerine supplies and the stock indices for oil by-products and industrial lubricants went up by leaps, sniffing an opportunity.
One day the Mime gave a memorable performance to the Princess and seeing her in high spirits, mustered courage and asked her for a walk around her private garden. The Princess consented to his request and the two of them set out making an unusual sight to the peering eye. The Princess, in her royal splendour and stately figure, with a face that could launch a thousand ships if only the Kingdom had a coast, walked by the side of the paint-faced Mime, with his puny, non-descript figure showing all in the black-and-white striped tights and a funny gait that came with years of practice. The Mime contorted his face into an absolute delight at the honour of holding her arm, and the guards who were initially alarmed to see them together in the open, dismissed it all as just another act developed by the Mime after seeing the exaggerated ecstasy on his face.
When the pair reached the garden and sat down on a bench, the Mime looked up at the full moon and made a menacing gesture at it, ‘Ah, I see I have competition today! Draw your sword Knave and fight like a gentleman for the fair hand of my princess!’ And he made a few swishes in the air with his imaginary sword and promptly pretended to be stabbed in the heart by his worthy competitor. He fell down at the Princess’ feet and made a long and absurd dying speech professing his love to her even in death. The Princess spilled a few more pearls but was too tired by then.
So the Mime suspended his act and sat by her quietly staring into the young night. After a while, she made a gesture to go, and an impulse seized him to say, ‘Do you know something, Princess? If I weren’t just a clown, I’d have stood in that queue outside your father’s office for your hand!’
‘If you weren’t just a clown?’ she said with a smile on her face.
‘Yes, if I weren’t just a miserable clown!’ he said.
‘Why, how does it matter that you are a clown?’ she said without looking at him and went away. That night was unusually long, but pleasant. A citizen or two who stayed up late thought they heard someone sing tuneless songs on the river bank, but since there were no injuries reported next day, they just dismissed the matter out of their minds and went on with their work.
A handsome Prince from a faraway land was at the gates of the Castle next day, and asked the King for his permission to court the Princess. An astrologer once told the Prince that he would find immense joy and happiness in his marriage, and the prediction came true when the Princess agreed to marry him after just a week of his efforts.
There were celebrations all over the Kingdom and the marriage date was fixed for a fine day. The King invited all to the marriage and distributed money, clothes and sweets to the poor. The Prince drew praises from the whole kingdom for his fine qualities. The noblemen showered rare and expensive gifts days before the marriage and the common people brought whatever they could afford. The Mime couldn't be seen anywhere since the day of the walk, but no one missed him. Even the Princess forgot all about him until two days before the marriage when the Prince had gone out hunting with the noblemen.
He came up to the castle and congratulated her. He said he had gone out of town on some work and he was overjoyed to hear the news. What could her poor Mime give her as a gift?, he asked. She looked at him keenly, and thought she saw something. But she had things to do now for the wedding and cannot waste time on trifles, so she just asked him to play his best act during the marriage as her gift. The Mime said he would be delighted to do it, and went away.
The Prince returned in the evening alone, and said he lost his way and separated from the hunting party.
The wedding preparations were made and on the appointed day, the bride and the groom were all dressed proper for the occasion. The Princess looked heavenly, and the Prince looked princely. Everyone was there waiting for the wedding except.....
Except who? Except some folks who couldn't come, that's all. Everyone else was there.
The Mime? Yeah, he was there too, where would he go? He was there right next to the Princess from the beginning. He peaked his form that day and put up his best show. He played her favourite act ofcourse, of the funny old King asking for her fair hand. His funny attempts to woo the Princess and his imaginary fights with the Prince delighted everyone and he became the main attraction of the day.
When the final moment of marriage came and the young pair made their vows, the fake Royal cried aloud beating his heart throughout, to the amusement of one and all and the Princess was beside herself with merriment. She got her best gift of the day and the clown put up his best performance that day. When he pretended to cry, every young child at the party went berserk with laughter and people spoke of it for days afterwards. And at the exact moment when the lovely couple kissed each other to seal the marriage, two guards appeared by design to drag the desolate Jilted Lover away from the party. The Prince was annoyed a bit that the Princess was not devoting him enough attention even during the kiss, but seeing her heavenly laughter, he stepped back and let the Mime take the center stage. The old King later offered the Mime immense wealth and comforts, so that he never had to work for a living again.
The Prince stayed back in the Kingdom and the old King retired a few years later to hand over the reins to him. The Princess, now the great Queen Cora, gave birth to two beautiful children in time, who became such big fans of the Mime that they made him stay at the palace forever to play with them.
And the King and the Queen lived happily ever after....
Well, the fairy tale had a happy ending didn’t it?
Oh, I’m forgetting one character who didn’t find it a very happy ending. Any guesses who it was?
It was the pharmacist ofcourse. When the Princess asked for her gift, the Mime came to him on the day of the marriage to buy a fresh pot of glycerine. The pharmacist said, 'Oh, I went out of stock! I ordered for ten times the normal order this time and the supplier has taken extra time to deliver. It would be four weeks before the fresh lot arrives. I’m sorry!’
The Mime replied with a smile, ‘Never mind, I don’t need it immediately’ and went away. The pharmacist was relieved when he saw the Mime at the wedding. ‘He must have scraped some from the last bottle’, he thought and thanked his stars for it.
When he finally got the extra supplies a month later, the Mime refused to buy even a single bottle saying he doesn't need them and to this day, the entire lot of glycerine lies unsold at the pharmacist’ store, even though the Mime plays the Jilted Lover whenever Queen Cora asks him to and never fails to mock-cry in the last scene.
The pharmacist lost a lot of money, and is still trying to find out where the Mime is buying his glycerine from. When he finds out, he is going to give a piece of his mind to the seller for snatching his best customer away! Princes and Princesses, and happily living after is all a fine lot of caramel custard, but what will happen to the poor side characters like the Pharmacists, I want to know!
But let's not forget it is just a fairy tale, and the tale belongs to the Prince and the Princess, who are now the King and the Queen, so they live happily ever after, just as they should....

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