Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Riddle of Barbie and the Diamond: a story

THE CHILDREN were terribly bored playing with the deer and parrots, climbing tall trees and bringing the ripe mango down with a single arrow.

Forest has its own limitations in offering entertainment. So they started fighting each other, dressed up as Rama and Ravana in the mega-movies.

Then one day, Sita told this story to her children as the poet, old uncle Valmiki, was busy working on his new poem:

Look children, there was this time traveller who came across a diamond in a waste heap in the Indian city of Ayodhya.

He was a curious kind of traveller, who travelled across time and space, flitting from the Mesopotamian mountains to the Chinese walls to the forests of Kilimanjaro to the dream-factories of Los Angeles.

He had seen Cleopatra lying dead in her royal chamber with a little snake on her bosom and Helen abducting with Paris, Alexander crossing over to India and then Americans pounding the Afghans.

Then, wandering in the streets, he came upon this diamond one day, lying abandoned and uncared for in a waste heap and no one seemed to notice how valuable it was. He had seen jewels in their infinite variety in his travels and he knew it was a great original that even Cleopatra would have loved to adorn her bosom.

But those were the days of fakes and in this strange city people thought every original to be a fake and every fake, a great original. It was a confusing and muddled place. Even their dressed gods were moving about in decorated chariots while the ancient idols, lost out in the race, kept themselves locked up in abandoned temples. He also saw painted beauties in the streets looking like painted dolls sold in the shops, and often the girls resembled their own favourite Barbies…

It was then he came upon this diamond, half covered with some old papers. He could not understand how it came there, in such a state, may be its owner threw it away, like the kids kicking out old toys getting tired of them. Possibly falling in love with some fakes as this city was full of fakes of every kind, from every part of the world. He imagined this diamond came as a trust from his mother, who gave it to him lovingly as she passed on to another world, or perhaps it just came to him as he walked aimlessly along…But that is past and he must be cuddled up with his Barbie now, happily forgetting himself in her voluptuous secrets.

So, the lonely traveller took the diamond, polished it and kept it in his pocket. It was a wonderful diamond, radiating a fresh fragrance that made him feel young and happy. Its graceful beauty becoming a kind of fascination for him; he fell in love with it, and often he worshiped it as if it were an idol.

But he was only a traveller given to the life on the streets and he knew he could not keep the diamond in his shabby baggage. It was a queen deserving royal bosoms. And a traveller must renounce everything, for travellers and sanyasins cannot keep valuables.

He must travel light, meet all kinds of people, good bad and indifferent, traversing jungles infested with robbers and oceans brimming with pirates and he could not peril his own life and endanger this beautiful idol, leaving it in the hands of robbers…

Then his travels became a search for locating its truthful owner and one day he found him, a prince with long and curly hair and enchanting eyes, who lived beyond seven seas.

Then it was a problem how to restore it to him. The traveller befriended a great bird whose powerful wings could take it across the seas effortlessly and he trained it to take his charge beyond seven seas, into the land where the prince lived.

One day, he saw it fly off with his beauty, deep into the blue sky, the lustre of his diamond still fresh in his memory…

Then Sita asked her children the following questions:

Children, what do you think the traveller felt as he saw the bird take off with the diamond in its bosom:

a) Happy, that it was going back to its rightful owner?

b) Unhappy that he was losing the diamond he loved more than his life.

c) Relieved that the last temptation in his life was over?

d) None of the above.

Come back to me with your answers tomorrow, my kids, she told them and sent them on to do their homework.


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