The mild ray of the sun is ruffling her in her sleep. The flimsy curtain is not at all protecting her from the sun. A sleeping beauty awakens from her sleep. She finds her mother working up a mess near her.
“Princess, are you awake?” asked her mother from the middle of the mess.
Instead of replying she slides from the mattress and looks sternly at the sun as if to punish him for waking her up. Her curly hair toppled over her wide forehead. Her eyes shined the color of sea in the middle of the day. Her white robe flew in the breeze. Her imperial sight fixed on something her mother could not decipher.
Her mother stood next to her to watch the object of her sight. It is a white pony her father had just brought from the village last night.
She claps her hand in delight and looks at her mother with an irrevocable smile. The two dimples making an impression in apple like cheeks.
“Ma, it is the unicorn from the stories you told me.”
“Well princess, it’s a …yes the unicorn, dear.” Her mother hesitated, what could a small lie do to a little girl’s dreams.
“Pa brought it for me…” and with that she ran towards the startled little white pony. He looked up forgetting to chew on the grass he was offered. She came close to inspect him. With apprehension she touches his soft wet muzzle. He snuggles up to her touch. She smiles her dimpled smile at him. The princess has found her unicorn.
“You are mine from now on, forever my dearest unicorn.” She claims him with her word as that is all she has got.
“Princess it is time we left” her mother called.
“No mother I will not come today, I want to stay with my unicorn.” She rebels.
She sits promptly on the ground waiting for her mother to serve her breakfast. Her mother, who always had desolate eyes, regards her with sadness. Her mother poured the rice broth in her plate. That will have to do for now. They did not have any rice left for dinner. The makeshift which was their home for now was on a broken decrepit road. At the end of the road there is a small children’s park. Where her mother sometime took her and brought her peanuts to eat. She loved the swing in the park and she could swing for hours. But the watchman would chase them away as if they were some wild animals. Father would hardly have any time to join them. She missed her father’s lap, where she sat and looked up at the sky when he was home. The stars twinkled at her. They told her stories her mother and father failed to tell her.
She finished her broth quiet quickly, she was very excited.
“Mother, did you have yours?” she asked dutifully, as sometimes mother forgets to eat her breakfast.
“Yes princess, long before you were awake.” Her mother lied as always. There was never enough for everybody.
“Common now, let’s go. We will be back soon, I promise.” Her mother coaxed. She was wearing the same gown once they had stumbled upon in a dumpster. Mother had washed it unsuccessfully for hours with water to remove the stains on the linen. Today she did not want to go anywhere with her mother in scorching heat to look through dumpsters, dustbins and garbage to look for things which could be sold. Once they had found a gold necklace which mother allowed her to wear sometimes? They had not sold the necklace though the stars had told her it would fetch them a lot of money. Her mother and she had been selfish enough to let it be their secret.
They found lots of small treasures in the dumpsters; they felt like the pirates who found their hidden treasures. They had found a broken vase with some old letters stashed in them. Neither of them could read the letters or were they treasure maps they had no idea. They also found some of the furniture for their makeshift house in the scavenge hunting. A small broken chair and three legged table, that’s what included in the list of their royal furniture. They gathered all kinds of paper and plastic, metal, wooden stuff, shoes and clothes. They got few Rupees every day out of the loot they collected.
They sold the loot to a merchant who dealt with wasted things and had become rich over a period of time. Her mother told her the story; he had married a rich girl from the neighborhood. The rich girl’s father had died of heart disease soon and the merchant had inherited all the wealth. The rich girl had become from once happy girl to now a deplorable one. The merchant would drink too much and beat the poor rich girl. Once when she was on her fathers lap, she saw the rich girl hide from the merchant and run away from their house. She prayed that day to the shining stars to guide the way for the rich girl in the dark.
Her mother once again instigated her to accompany, to the dumpster. It did not make sense as the there will be no one to watch the princess’s unicorn. Once the idea prevailed and understood by her mother. She went on her own journey of hidden treasures, leaving the princess with her unicorn.
Princess wanted to treat her unicorn but neither did she have sugar cubes nor any sugarcane tubes. She went to the closest dustbin from where she could watch her Unicorn. She hunted through the debris but alas she found a broken head of a spoon. It looked like a silver spoon she might have come across. She quickly went to the corner jewel shop.
“I want to sell this…” she pointed to the spoon.
The jeweler took it and looked at her curiously. He saw her tattered chapal and stitched old gown. Her hair was not combed and all the curls were falling on her face. Her dirty nose with dusty cheeks just completed her.
“Who are you and where did you get this?” he asked her sternly.
He was not the merchant to whom they usually sold all their goods. She could not go alone and leave her unicorn all alone.
“I am princess and I need to sell this.” She said firmly.
The Jeweler laughed cynically, but indeed the spoon head was silver. It was a lucky day for this beggar girl he thought to himself. He gave her some money; she would not know the real value of the spoon. She took it without any hesitance. This was going to be her secret. Then from store next to the jewel shop she bought the big sugar cubes.
She approached her magical unicorn slowly, so she wouldn’t scare him. His ears stood up with her arrival and his nose had guessed he was going to be treated today by this little girl. She stroked his head with her gentle hand. He nudged with a request for more. He had always been carrying woods for humans. But he wanted to carry this little girl on his back and run far away into the woods. In the search of his beautiful mother whom he does not now, quiet remember. She uncurled her palm and there were his treat, the sugar cubes. She incessantly fed them to him. He splurged with all the love and hunger for the cubes and then for the princess. The played for quiet a while until the secret worlds were revealed. Her father came home. And as a wizard waves his wand, she jumped with joy and a smile tugged her father’s lips as he saw his daughter. He scooped her up in his arms and called out loudly,
“My princess, my princess.”
She chuckled when his bearded face brushed her delicate cheeks. He threw her up in the air. She shrieked with joy, knowing he would safely catch her.
Her mother returned, with some vegetables in her hand. Her father nodded, and her mother acknowledged. She took the princess inside and diverted her mind with aimless storied of her hunt today. But princess was watching her father he untied her unicorn and was walking it away from their hut towards the park her mother often took her.
“Pa, where are you taking him?” She asked sweetly.
“Just here, my dearest, taking the mule for an exercise.” He said uncomfortably. Her eyes did not leave the trail of her father and the unicorn. They indeed went to the park; there her father was talking to a couple, a father and his son. Excitedly the son sat on her unicorn. As if they connected from far apart the unicorn looked at her direction. A small tear left her big black eyes as she watched her unicorn trod along the park with the boy on his back. The evening wore on and in the dim of the streetlight she kept watching as children lined to sit on her own dear unicorn. Helplessly he allowed them on his back and gently treads along the way with her father.
In meanwhile her mother watched the whole episode and tried to soothe her daughter. She would not talk or look at her mother nor would she eat. She was angry with the world who took away her beloved unicorn. When her father returned she was awake and waiting.
“My Princess…come sit on your mule and we will walk.” He held his arms wide open, cue for her to come running at the suggestion.
The magic had gone; her unicorn was stolen away from her by her beloved father. She simply looked at him with wrath and her eyes fell on her unicorn. He made some noise and nudged his head. He shivered under the moonlight. Her father moved away, as if instructed by some mystic force.
The unicorn looking milky white in the moonlight slowly came where she stood. He licked away her tears. He looked down and then flapped his white wings and small cone emerged on his head. His eyes were dewy and full of laughter. She hugged him with the innocence known to small princess. He beckoned her to sit on him. She royally mounted him. His wings flapping he started to run on the deserted road with the princess giggling on his back. He flew away with her to the promised woods where he awaited the mystical future.