Monday, January 20, 2003

Anya has asked me to write up a fairy tale. In turn I have asked her to post something on politics. Here is my attempt at a fairy tale. It's not complete and I shall post the rest as and when I complete it.

Appearance never equals reality - part 1

Long long ago in a place far far away, when the world was much younger than it is today, there lived a small boy in a village called Locke. The boy’s name was Dolan and he lived with his grandmother in a small hut just outside the village. They were poor but content; the old lady would make a few pennies by selling the sweets that she prepared at her home and with that money they would lead their lives.

Years passed and the old lady took ill. Much effort did the boy put to save his only loved one but to no avail. And in the days that passed many villagers would come to his house on one pretext or the other and loot what little he had. Soon the boy was pressed to beg but in a village that was already poor his takings were not much.

Hunger makes many a man adventurous. One fine morning the boy decided to leave the village and go to the town across the hills. There he was sure he would get a job that would allow him to sustain himself. By the time the sun shone brightly he had packed his few belongings and was well on his way. He moved briskly through the tall grass that grew on either side of the fields. Every time a carriage passed by him he would run along its side and ask its owners if there was a job they could offer him. They would say, he was too weak, too small or not fit for any job, and continue to ride. Some would ride on oblivious to his requests without bothering to even steal a glance.

It was nightfall by the time he reached the town and hunger pangs were beginning to make him numb. In the distance he saw a water tap and he drank as much as he could, but water is no answer to an empty stomach. He dragged himself to the sidewall of a house and sat down. He rested his head between his knees and let his sleep subdue the hunger.

“Mmmm mmmm mmm mmm ....”

The boy woke up with a start. Someone was sitting next to him and humming. In the darkness his eyes took some time to focus on the old man stroking his beard and humming.

“I’m hungry. Do you have anything to eat?” the boy asked.
“I’m afraid all I have is this loaf of dry bread.”
“Can I have it please? I have not eaten since last morning.”
“I can tell you are not from this place” the old man said as he handed him the bread. “Which village are you from?”

The boy was least interested in a conversation. He wolf downed the dry bread coughing and patting his own head as he did so. It was only after he had downed over half the bread did he speak.

“How do you know I am from a village?”
The old man smiled. “Your soles are rough. There is dirt under your nails. And your accent is a straight give away.”
The boy looked at his soles and his fingers. “You see” the old man continued, “even the beggars in the towns will wear discarded boots to protect their feet. They feel it is below their dignity to walk around otherwise.”

“Can you always tell about people by the way they look?” the boy asked.
“Oh no my boy. I can scarcely tell about a person by looking at him.”
“Why not?”
“You are young and yet to learn a lot. But let me tell you one thing – appearance never equals reality.”

The boy had finished the bread by now. He wiped his hands on his shorts and looked at the old man. “Do you know any place where I can stay?” he asked.
“You can stay with me if you want.”
“Where do you stay?”
“In this town.”
“Yeah... but.. where in this town?”
“Oh! all over the place. We can’t be choosers can we?” he winked.


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