Living the fairy tale life

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                          “Those were the best days of my life..”

Even Bryan Adams knew that one day everyone will hum this song and think about all things sepia, black and white..

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We love thinking about the past. We enjoy fantasizing about going back to childhood and re-living it with the alertness of an adult, so that no details are missed. There is always this craving to be taken care of. To be protected, no matter how adventurous we are. Immediately with childhood comes back memories of fairy tales heard again and again, night after night. The whispering voice of your favorite “storyteller”, who was usually your grandmother or grandfather, narrating all sorts of exotic tales about evil kings and damsels in distress; talking animals and fire-breathing dragons;magic forests and imprisoned children.. They had it all. Within minutes of hearing them, we would belong to a different realm altogether. A realm, which was enchanting as well as bewildering, filled with the fantasy of a lifetime. All those magnificent palaces, cascading waterfalls hidden amidst emerald forests and the knights in shining armor about to rescue the damsel in distress somehow became a part of growing up. Rather, it became a reason for us to grow up faster. My storytellers were my parents and occasionally, my maternal grandfather. Their stories made me wish upon a falling star, that I grow up fast and explore the enchanting forests that lay waiting to be discovered. Most importantly, I loved being imprisoned. Or rather, the thought of it appealed to me so much that in my parents’ absence, I would wish to be kidnapped and be kept in a tall tower so that I could sing loud and clear enough for some handsome Prince to come rescue me. And I remember my obsession with black horses and all things black. The love for black still remains, just like the childhood to which I revert whenever I’m cornered. Or in need of some magic.

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If only these existed.

 

Or, do they?

 

Ever looked around and wondered where you had seen someone like that person before? Or maybe the way someone talks reminds of someone far away, yet so familiar. Many a times I have met people who seem to be exact reproductions of characters I’ve read about in fairy tales and stories read about in childhood. The witch, the evil mother, the girl with the flowing long hair, the father desperate to protect his children, the children who were orphaned early, the pussy cat that looks cute enough to be dressed, the little chick that looks uglier than its siblings, the dutiful but neglected son, the charming Prince or Princess… And last but not the least, spooky places and even spookier animals. My all-time favorites.

Where are the flying carpets, you might ask…

Look around a little. From magic carpets to wish-granting lamps and magical places… They’re all there…

As for the people, they’re all flesh and blood. They are living, breathing creatures around us. We might not always recognize them, but they’re always surrounding us like those invisible spirits you might expect in a dark cemetery. Or maybe under your bed.

 

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What I’m trying to say is, the stuff of fairy tales that we have read and dream about are actually child-friendly versions of the real world. The wittier kids realize it soon, while the dreamy ones like me just don’t want to come out of it all. Fantasy is an extension of reality, which again, is another relative concept. The characters in books that we know about are all a part of our lives and have more similarities with us, than we care to admit. Now it sounds like we’re living in a “real fairy -tale”. Well, aren’t we? Think about it. Nowadays we can do things that never could have been done, say, 50 years ago. We can have face-to-face communication with people living as far as the other half of the world and indulge in the luxury of reading books on our i-Pads and other hand-held devices. My point is, technology has acted as a kind of magician. It has not only improved our lives, but also helped invent life-saving drugs that are nothing short of magic potions. The stuff that brings people back to life.

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                       “Can we pretend that airplanes

                         in the night sky

                      are like shooting stars?”

 

You don’t have to pretend or even wish for a fairy-tale life. Or something that would take us back to the days of yore and comfort us with its warmth. And it’s not only about fairy-tales or stories from Aesop’s fables. It’s about every book we have read. Somehow, while reading we become the characters and every other thing around us cease to become ordinary.

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We grow up and keep reading. This ensures our connection with the “other-worldly”. This is especially true in case of spooky houses or creaking doors at night. Long before the Winchester Brothers taught us about wendigoes and shtrigas, we have the very fearsome Count Dracula by Bram Stoker. I remember being scared to death every time I saw a tall, fair man wearing a black suit. I also double-checked the windows to make sure that they were secure enough to keep out bats. Even now, for some unknown reason I’m reminded of skeletons and bats every time the sky darkens before a storm. I’ve always loved storms. And cold, dark places. And it was my favorite pastime to scare the neighborhood kid about things hiding under her bed. But, now I make do with made-up facts.

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It’s not about the world we live in. It’s about the one that has been created by us. Nurtured and taken care of since childhood. Thanks to the magic of books and fairy-tales, I know that my story will have a happy ending, in spite of all the inherent tragedies and sadness that it may encounter. It’s when life ceases to become a “problem” and transforms into a “dream”, that we breathe a little easier and wish for it to go on.

Believer. Reader. Brooder.