Once upon a time, again..

1978, London

His suit could put the mayor to shame,

The windsor knot’s perfect symmetry

Is adjusted again, all the same.

She looks lovely, after all,

In her flowing lavender dress.

The handshake is firm… Too firm?

His anxiety has a tough grip.

Soul aquiver with nerves,

Heart on the edge of a cliff,

He reaches across the table –

Rosewood born in India –

To hold her hand, like in the fables.

Painted in the soft glow

Of a candle fleet,

Her skin is pregnant with perfume

Of rain on cobbled grey streets.

The beloved is more assured –

Allowing his winter fingers

To linger

Where men have perished to reach.

She knows he’s the one

When they first swing,

Untrained feet, unwavering eyes,

To Clapton’s strings;

His whispers confide

To her waiting curls –

She looks wonderful tonight.

2015, New Delhi

Struck by a bullet

At the strike of the millennium,

Thrust into a new world,

He’s, yet again, a boy of 15.

He sits across blushing pink cheeks,

Oblivious of the hue of her eyes,

The secrets under her skin,

And a song about fireflies.

Adept fingers move swiftly,

Fidgety feet tap around her toes

In anxiety still.

’What’s with the network here?’

He mumbles to empty spaces

Lit by a ghostly glow

Of his gadget sweetheart.

The paramour is more impatient still,

Pout. Click. Share.

Wait. . .

Loading. . .

‘Feeling wonderful on a date’ –

Her profile is about to say.

He will like it, of course.

They are no more a hushed secret,

Stolen glances, or a dance slow.

Magic is a notion scoffed at;

Love’s a myth on show.

Prince Not-So-Charming

More often than not, not very far away, a wicked dragon guards a desolate castle. In the topmost chamber of the remotest tower lives a princess, with a walk-in wardrobe and a room full of shoes but no one to share her days with. No, she wasn’t forced into this bleak place. She chose it. Needless to say, she has awful taste.

To understand this story, you must first get into the heels of this princess of the 21st century. She is a beautiful girl who treasures her accessories, and dreams of a love that she has only read of in story books. She isn’t bound to the tower by any chains, gigantic gates or a wicked witch’s spells. She could walk out of there any moment, of course, at the risk of facing a few tantrums by the dragon outside.

The dragon, the pain-in-the-ass always-almost-ex boyfriend, can’t breathe fire. This cold, sadistic creature’s only evil power is the emotional blackmail, which he upgrades to suicide threats when his object of obsession dares to think reason. The princess, apparently out of pity and leftover love, but actually due to a misplaced sense of comfort of having been stuck with the same dragon, never walks out. Instead, she indulges in self-pity and the occasional kick from the smallest sign of emotion shown to her. She wants out, but she would rather not hurt the dragon. She can’t be the villain of this story you see.

One thing, however, stays the same from the original tale. The princess waits. For her prince with a charming smile to save her from the dark dungeons she has inadvertently got herself into. Enter: the prince.

Unfortunately, our hero doesn’t have a charming smile. Nor does he possess a demi-god’s weapon of choice to behead the dragon. But then, he doesn’t need one. The dragon he needs to fight is far too sinister for swords to defeat. Our prince enters the fight with a strong heart and an inexplicably selfless love for the confused heroine. He also possesses a curious optimism about how this will end. He gets cheered on by some, warned against the battle by others. But he is determined to see this through. The princess must be saved!

Except, our hero of today does not get into a death match with the villain. A sword-fight is so medieval-ages, isn’t it? Instead, they get into a tug-of-war with the princess’ heart at stake. The dragon has his own devious mind-games to keep the princess within the confines of his shiny castle. The prince has to navigate a labyrinth of emotions and logic to get the princess to see the obvious. She lets her hair down from the only window of the tower every day, letting the prince into her world, when the dragon is away. He, in turn, tells her tales of a world she has never seen, helps her fight the demons within, and gets her to break her shackles. The battle seems to last for an eternity. In the end, the prince emerges victorious, bloodied and broken, optimism intact. All that keeps him going is the promise of a walk into the sunset with the love of his life. Story ends, and they live happily ever after, right?

Not here. Not today. While the dragon is left to lick his wounds, the long-caged princess has found her wings, thanks to the heroics of the young brave prince. She sees his effort, appreciates it, and shows her gratitude by placing him at the apex of her list of confidants. Huh? You see: Our hero had everything that the princess needed, but nothing which she wanted in her prince. She passes right through the nice guy who doesn’t have a way with words, and has a thing for the dragon who possesses the devil’s charm. Didn’t I tell you about her taste?

And so the beautiful princess embarks on an adventure to find a new dragon with a fresh set of internal demons to torment her. Meanwhile, our knight in dusty armour, who thought the hardest part was over, realizes he fought for a lost cause. He is left to rule his own kingdom- a land that will be talked about in future history books as the dreaded ‘friendzone’. And they all live miserably ever after.

(Wait.. this doesn’t feel like a fairytale. Nobody ends up happy. But then, in the real world, who does?)

————————————————— The End—————————————————-

(Inspired by multiple true stories that defy the fantasy worlds of the fairytales we were fed as kids)