It was just another fine summer afternoon as she shifted her glance from white pages of book, towards the large glass window, right in front of her. Ah! the summers are here, white covers of these mountains were melting and flowing as joyous brooks down here, in our valley. Soon all these mountains will be naked and slowly the little green covers will show up to redecorate them, she thought.
Once again her eyes shifted to the small ink texts of her book. Summers were always a delight. Sunny days, little freshflowers, clear skies and cool breeze. Other than this what made her summer vacation more special was her birthday. Yesterday, Veda celebrated her precious ninth birthday. Among all those presents she got, the most awaited was from her grandmother, whom is lovingly called “Bu”. Ever since she was four, Bu gave her one book on each birthday as her present. They were picture books, stories, poems, fairly tales and much more. Her childhood was painted in the colours of those fairy tales. On each birthday, she waited for her book; she would cry and tell Bu to read her. But now Veda was a big girl, as she considered herself. She read on her own.
From the last morning, the moment she had opened the gift, she was lost in the story. This time it was “The Cinderella”. She kept on going and now she was just few pages away from the end. As she arrived on the last full-stop of the story, she turned around and laid back, staring at the empty cieling above. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and did what was her usual habit after completing a book. She ran. She rushed towards the garden, slamming the backdoor and began looking for her Bu. Bu was busy with her lovely roses, she smiled as she saw her little Veda.
“What’s it?” , she asked.
Veda took another deep breath and began to speak, better can be known as chirping. Bu listened to her little bird chirping about how the book was, how much she liked it. Her voice grew from melancholic to cheerful as she narrated about miserable life of Cinderella as an orphan to her meeting the fairy godmother. She didn’t missed a single detail, as she portrayed the colors of magic, ball dance, the gown, her glass-shoes and the prince Charming. As she took another breath, Bu smiled as she continued her gardening. Veda was done.
“Ahmm.. so you enjoyed it? Didn’t you?” Bu said.
“Yes Bu, I loved it! Thank you so much!” , she exclaimed. Bu smiled.
She was silent for a while and suddenly Veda asked, “Bu, have you ever seen a princess?”
Bu, slowly smiled and nodded, as Veda continued. “Oh! Where? How? Does she live in a castle? Is here castle far away from here? Can we go and see her? By the way how does she looks like? She has those glass shoes! Which dress does she wears? Have you met her Prince also? Oh Bu! Can you please take me there, please!”. Bu couldn’t control, she laughingly sat down on the wooden bench as looked into Veda’s inquiring eyes. “She lives here.” Bu said as Veda’s tiny eyes grew bigger. “She lives here, with me. I see her everyday, jumping around me, calling ‘Bu’; ‘Bu’ all the times.”
Veda couldn’t believe it, she was confused and in the same tone, she said “she does? But Bu, why does she calls you Bu? Aren’t you only my Bu?” Again, Bu laughed and kissed Veda’s cheek. “You are my princess”, she said. Veda’s mouth was wide open, she shouted, “Me! But how?”. “How can I be a princess? I don’t have glass shoes, dresses and a fairy! How can I be a princess?”. “Because, you have a heart of gold Veda. Million times more wonderful than glass shoes and those dresses!”, Bu told. Veda gleamed smiling, “I am a princess!”
Veda brightened up. Then she again said, “Bu, how can I be a princess? I haven’t met Mr. Charming yet! Cinderella became a princess, when she met him. Bu! Tell me when will my Mr. Charming come to see me?” Bu smiled and told her, “he will come one-day, wait till then.” Veda again smiled at the thought of her prince coming to her and making her a princess. But she was in another confusion. “Bu what if the Mr. Charming couldn’t find me? I live here in these mountains, it’ll be difficult for him to reach here! What if he doesn’t come? Shall I never become a princess?”. Bu smiled at her child, “Sweetie! You are a princess. Even if prince doesn’t come, you’ll remain my beautiful, kind-hearted princess! You don’t need a prince to become what you already are.”
Veda exclaimed, “No! It’s not like that Bu! I need to get out from here, It’ll become easy for him to find me and I’ll be the princess!”. In full aspirations, she rose up and ran away, shouting, “I’ll become the princess!”
Twenty years later, sitting outside the courtroom in this little canteen I Veda Mathur, wonder about that story as I sip my coffee. Soon my lawyer arrived and we went inside to complete some of the last formalities of my divorce. Both I and Piyush signed the documents and completed all formalities. I wanted to complete the work today only, it’s difficult for Piyush to travel here, Mumbai all the way from Goa. He is busy, he’s always been. I waved him goodbye as he left. I drove back to my flat and as usual, was welcomed by my four-year old daughter, Su who doesn’t have any idea about her “mum, dad and divorce thing”. Piyush has always been super-dad for Su, he is a great father. And joint-custody was best we could decide for our innocent child.
I sat on the couch as I think about my life, I came out of those mountains, I called home. I worked hard, met people. I met my prince and fell in love. We got married and I had my fiary-like daughter. I felt like a princess, something I always wanted. And now things are changed. The prince changed, princess changed, love grew remorseful and they decided to leave the happy castle of dreams. Now here I’m without my prince!
I was thinking all this, suddenly little Su climbed up on me and sat on my lap. She said, “mumma! I’ve decided I’ll become a princess, when I’ll grow up just like Sophia the princess. Mumma I’ll grow up and marry a beautiful prince and then I’ll dance”. ” Mumma, let’s go to the market! You’ll get me prince? Won’t you?”. She was making faces as she does, when she wants Piyush to get her candies. I smiled at my little child.
“Su, you know what is most important for a girl to become a princess? It is a good soul, a kind-heart full of love! Sweetie you have it all. You never need Prince to be a princess!”, I told her. Su rose up and started jumping upon me as she said, “yeah! Mumma I’m a princess!”. I hugged her tight and told my princess that she was.
My grandmother was always right, I never needed a Prince to be a princess. I was her Princess and today also I’m a princess.