It was sixteen years ago when the kingdom sprang back to rejuvenating life. A princess was born and her smile brightened all the faces in the kingdom. The king and his queen were very happy. Their prayers had been answered that day. The land celebrated. The land welcomed its princess in joy.
Akansha, yes that’s what she was named. It represented dreams. She was a blessed child. Beautiful in every way possible. Beauty rested in her glowing face, it resided warm in her heart. Soft, polite , kind and talented she was. She made the royalty proud. Her gentle voice, when it sang, it was a pleasure to the ears of the kingdom. Her words reflected courage and served as an inspiration to those who read. At a very young age, she was on the right road to mastering the skills that she picked up along her way. She was getting better and better with each day passing.
The story of my life is incomplete without the story of hers. If the tale calls her the beauty, I was the one destined to bring balance to it. For I was a beast. Hideous the way I was. I never inspired anyone. The goodness of my heart always welcomed the fear in people’s hearts. There were days when I’d lock myself in a lonely deserted tower and wonder if the ugliness lived in me or within the eyes of the world around me. All my thoughts , they just remained thoughts. There was no changing the world. I stood imprisoned by my helplessness in changing myself as well.
It was only a matter of time when I was expelled from my land. I was the perfect imperfection that sullied the purity of my people. I brought them ill-luck, yes, that’s how I was branded. The harbinger of bad omens. They put up with me for as long as they could. Their intolerant hearts could not stay masked forever. A quick gathering by the town hall later, the people had spoken. I was exiled.
I don’t remember the years I spent living alone in the forest. It was a place of peace. Animals, both nature’s intended and the bipeds that I had left behind, did not bother me much. They let me be. This was a strange kind of an acceptance. It didn’t bring me peace. It neither brought me misery. In time, I learnt to enjoy the status quo.
On fateful day, the solitude that surrounded me was disrupted by the sound of roaring drums and blaring trumpets. Curiosity got the better of me. Hidden behind my black tattered blanket, I walked towards the fete. My curiosity did not go in vain. It was a spectacle to behold. The whole place was covered in festoons and music flowed through every crevice of the land. I soon learnt that their princess had turned sixteen. The celebration were in her honour.
I survived the day with a few curious onlookers who struggled to place me in their memory. All the judging eyes of the world couldn’t bother me that day. I let myself enjoy the colours that surrounded me. Towards the evening , the party reached its crescendo. We gathered at the palace garden and the princess was to make a public appearance .
And so she came, dressed in glittering blue. The rumours were true. She was so beautiful that it made me feel terribly ugly. I stood and watched her in awe and admiration. She thanked the humble citizens for making her day a special one. With her address complete, she gracefully walked back and stood by the queen. Lovely, I thought.
The king took the centre stage next. This is a very special day , he announced. A day so special, I’d call upon anyone here to wish my daughter something so special that it had not been wished upon by anyone ever before. The announcement made the crowd buzz. Hesitation grew. The folks stood caught in a daze. What would be so special a blessing that it has never been uttered before, they wondered. Each thought got dismissed faster than the thought germinating itself in their heads.
I raised my hand. I was confident that I’d never get picked. I wouldn’t blame them. I wanted to give myself a fair chance to life. As luck turned out, the king generously welcomed me.
I walked up to the stage. I had never really pondered about the way I walked. With the entire kingdom’s undivided attention upon me, the weight of a million gazes was bearing down on me. I never did really recognize the awkward graceless way I walked. I was everything that the princess was not. While I remained happy that I got to bless the princess, I also subconsciously started lamenting my own cursed existence.
“My you never find success”, I said.
The world around me gasped. Simple words heard by simpler minds left the kingdom shaken.
I was arrested and imprisoned. I had exchanged one prison for another. I quietly accepted my fate.
Strange things happened from that day on. The princess lost her zest for life. She felt cursed. The thought of being cursed , cursed her life. She soon lost interest in all her passion. Poetry stopped. Music died. Age had caught on and soon proved itself to be cruel to her. Gone was her grace and beauty. She endured it and fought it for a whole two years. When all failed, she gave up and slipped into a sleep from which there was no waking her up.
The land tried. Tried real hard. Knights after knights came to rescue her. All their gallant efforts went in vain. The kingdom, once that only knew joy and the goodness of the world, was now left grief stricken. Then one day, the eldest of the eldest dared her breath. A prince is in order, she said. Only a prince’s kiss can awaken our sleeping beauty she claimed. Not just any prince. The one with the purest heart. A heart which beats of love for the sleeping princess , she stated.
And so a search was on. A search that failed. There weren’t many noble men left in the land of nobilities. There wasn’t a love untainted by greed or desire. They scanned and scanned. Not one rose who could fit the bill.
And finally dejected, their desperation had drawn them to me. I now saw a broken father. The aura of his kingship had vanished. He stood frail as a the father of a sleeping daughter. Please dear prince, he said. Please spare us this curse. Awaken the princess of this land, he begged.
Yes, I was the last prince left standing. A prince shunned by his kingdom. A prince, so vile that bred no love in the hearts of his kinsmen. A prince so hideous that the world took comforts to denying his rightful claim. I was no more a prince to the world. I was its hunchback , a crippled beast.
They took me to the princess. All eyes rested on me once again. This time, I had nothing left to lose. I cleared my throat.
I didn’t protest when you served me my sentence. Not an ounce of effort was spent in understanding my words. You marked me guilty , you judged me by the ugliness of the way I look. I only wished that you had spared a glimpse into the beauty of my heart.
I did love her. I loved her at the very first sight. An angel she looked, the angel in blue. I wished upon her a greatness that the world had never seen. I didn’t want her to feel the pampered comforts that success brings. I wanted her to never stop in her quest for expressing herself through her words and art. A gift so precious, yet so callously thrown.
I stand before you today. I’m no longer a beast. I see the beauty in me. The beast rests in a sleep invoked from its insecurities. Good luck with your beast. My heart does not desire such a broken heart. Off with my head. My lips are not for the beast that lies.