Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One of them Princess Stories

One of them Princess Stories

One upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, a princess decided to live happily ever after. Having been read far too many fairy tales as a child, she thought this meant finding a suitable husband. So strong was her conviction, and her shrill voice, that she managed to wake up both of her royal parents. She demanded that they find her a husband the very next day. Being kind and indulgent parents, and also a little groggy, they agreed.

The very next day, the announcements went out. Suitors from far and wide, assembled at the the royal castle for the chance to win a fair princess' hand. The king, however, being old-fashioned, decided that merely letting the princess choose her husband would be too untraditional. The suitors would have to prove themselves by serving the kingdom in the slaying of some foul beast, or as the king put it, "knocking over something interesting for lunch." Something interesting turned out to be a rather large and noisy dragon, enjoying his daily ravage of the countryside a few miles away.

This announcement managed to reduce the crowd of suitors considerably. In the end, there were only a set of three brothers willing to take on the task. The royal entourage travelled with the brothers to where the dragon has last been spotted.

The eldest brother was the first to challenge the dragon. He wore a suit of shining golden armour. Confident in the speed of his mighty steed, and the strength of his still mightier arm, he charged boldly upon the dragon. It took the dragon two bites to finish him off.

The second brother was a little cleverer. He brought with him a huge crossbow along with a mighty arrow, guaranteed to pierce even the rough hide of a dragon. He charged boldly upon the dragon. When he was within shooting range, he raised his bow at the dragon, but to the horror of the onlookers the bow appeared to have jammed. The dragon offered two words to the knight before eating him up - "safety catch."

The third brother came forward. He wore a suit of simple iron mail. The princess smiled. In all the stories she had read, it was always the youngest brother who succeeded. The youngest brother was clever. Instead of coming forward directly, he sent in his horse who was carrying on him a pouch of some poison strong enough to kill the dragon. The dragon swallowed horse and pouch together. The dragon fell to the ground and began to roll around in agony. The knight came forward to slay the fell beast. Unfortunately the dragon chose to belch rather loudly at that moment, roasting the knight alive. The dragon then swallowed him whole.

The princess was more than a little annoyed at the turn of events. She approached and began shrilly reprimanding the beast. The dragon, being really a kind old soul, offered to disgorge any of the knights she chose. The princess however, was screaming too loudly to listen. The dragon decided that it would be best for him to fall asleep, and the princess to also fall asleep until she learnt better manners.

The princess slept for days and days. The king and queen decided to move her to a quiet forest, with seven suitably dwarved (some operations were necessary) attendants, until she could be awakened by the kiss of her true love. Years passed. One day the princess awoke to the softest, sweetest kiss she had ever received. She sat up in her bed and saw a middle-aged woodsman in front of her. Oh well, she said to herself, maybe he will be kinder and gentler than a young knight. She smiles at him and offered him her hand. "Pardon me miss," he said, embarrassed. "I didn't mean nothing by that kiss. I'd best be running home now, or my Mrs will have my head off." The princess stared after his shuffling departing figure with disappointment.

The princess left the lonely cottage and wandered far and wide through the kingdom. She grew wearier and poorer as she went. At one point she fell prey to a wicked woman and her two daughters, who kept her prisoner and forced all their housework on her. One night, the night of a grand ball, a fairy appeared to her and liberated her. She was given fine clothes, a carriage and two coachmen to wait attendance on her. She reached the ball, charmed and danced her way into the prince's heart, and at the stroke of midnight, left a glass slipper behind as she departed. She waited days for the prince to find her, and find her he did, one unlucky day locked in the rough embrace of one of the coachmen.

The prince felt enraged and humiliated enough to lock her up in a tall tower. She stayed there for years. One day, the prince, still unmarried and finally much mollified, called out to her to let her house down, so that he could climb up and free her. The princess stared with horror at the small pair of scissors she held and with sudden realisation of what the storeroom full of shampoo bottles was for. "What do you mean you cut it off?" were the last words she heard from him.

She eventually freed herself from the tower by climbing down a rusty fire escape. She wandered far and wide in search of a suitor and eventually settled on second hand shoe salesman. The moved to the New England countryside and had kids. The princess wrote several funny warm domestic books about her family life and was promptly sued for plagiarism by Erma Bombeck. Her publisher suggested writing about the early part of her life for a change.

She sat down one day, with a brand new notebook to begin. She wrote, "Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, a princess decided to live happily ever after." And then she paused. She wanted to pen down all the long years of frustration and humiliation she had suffered , but all she could thing of, were these things. Running in between bright leaved trees as a child while her parents chased her, the taste of the tea she had been given after being taken penniless into an old woman's house, the whirl and the music and the thousand awed eyes watching her as she danced in the centre of the ballroom with the prince. She read back what she had written. "Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, a princess decided to live happily ever after." She added, "And she did. And that's all," and she closed her notebook.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

more Pern-iciously inane thoughts

Read a good SF piece by Anne McAffery lately - a pre AI piece about man bonding with machine, only in this case the "machine" was a doomed-to-death human being who had been welded into a machine(spaceship), and who was essentially the ship

anyways, inane thought is as follows, McAffery uses a similar scene in the story and in her Pern stories - a Swayamvar essentially.
In the story a ship gets to "choose" the human pilot that will fly with her on all her missions.
The dragons in her story get to choose their riders in a ceremony.
Although, now that I think of it, the dragon-rider bonding was always male-male and female-female rather than the other way around.
Before anyone yells gay, methinks its more Tango-and-Cash-ish than that.

inane thought, avoid if you're allergic

I haven't been accquiring a taste for crappy music lately, as I thought I had been.
I've just been starved of real music.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rain Poem

It rained in Pune a couple of thursdays ago, and then the next day dissapointingly didn't.
I did however get a hundred liner out...

Rain Poem

Good news, my darling,
It rained today,
I announce loudly, tumbling
Droplets onto a white-tiled floor.

I've been walking, wading
Through so many fresh rivulets.
It took the rain an hour,
To wash off so many months of sweat.

My lungs were breathing cool air
All along the way here. I've been
Hearing a rolling tumbling music
And been bathed in drunken laughter.

Peeling out of my wet clothes I say
I met a man you'd like
He stoutly carried a big black umbrella -
A lonely soldier with a sullen standard.

Tone deaf to the rain, I say. Amused,
She watched me undress and says
With all that music, you could've
Given me a more graceful striptease.

As I shower, she talks to me
Through a closed door, her words
Dripping onto the floor and pulling out
Strange patterns from water and street dirt.

The lights were out while you were gone,
She says. It nearly drowned me,
Drew me up in a soft warm black bag,
Left me screaming in a dark black ink.

I could hear the rain all around me
And the darkness all through the city.
I could see you walking in the darkness,
And stumbling and falling and not getting up.

I stood over you and watched you die,
Drowned you in my own salt tears.
You saw my face framed in lightning,
And thought I was life and death and wisdom.

And then the lights came on, I say,
Opening the door a little. No, she says,
Handing me the forgotten towel,
I just learned how to see in the dark.

She's cold when I hold her,
And her lips speak to me
Of the storm in waiting,
Of the tempest sleeping in skin.

Lightning carves up the sky,
And then rejoins it in a new pattern.
It says her name and mine again and again,
In a hundred whispered voices.

We lie in the heart of the storm,
Skin wrapped in skin.
We drink it in, drowning
In a mingled breath.

And then there is silence wrapped
In the drumming rhythm of rainwater.
She whispers to me that
The lights have gone off again.

I tell her I switched them off
Before we started. And then,
There is only the silence
Wrapped in rain soaked skin.

Her ears are sharper than mine.
The light catches the ear-ring
On a soft lobe, as it turns
To notice the dull sounds of a leaking window.

There's a soft pool at the side of our bed.
In this darkness, I cannot tell
If it it warm blood or clear crystal,
As it is shattered by a new droplet.

And we talk, in her voice and mine,
In the mingled voices of the rain,
And the pool grows larger, its surface
Pulsing between dream and nightmare.

She draws apart long enough
To gather sheets around us.
She hears the hollow beast sounds of the wind
And wraps us in a cloak of warmness.

And we drown together in sleep,
Which is a final drowning.
Drawn apart at last,
As rainwater slips between skin and skin.

The morning cheerily awakens me,
With fists of careless brightness,
Determined to massage a healthy glow
Onto poor rain soaked skin.

The day, rid of the rain,
Wraps itself in the ritual
Of habit. By evening a neat
Erasure of yesterday's events is achieved.

I sit on a large soft arm-chair,
Drinking a comfortable cup of tea,
Trying to discern in the sunlight
Shapes of burnt up dreams and nightmares.

She sings while she puts on
A second cup. Bright spirits
On a bright day, with neither
Space nor time for senseless dreaming.

But there's hope yet. She curses
The dangerous storm soaked days
And praises bright ones, but still
Has left that window carefully unfixed.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Yet another tea poem...

Morning tea meditation

Brewed long, brewed warm,
In the civilised patience of pure porcelain,
Poured out like a household blessing.
Hands clasped round the cup meditate
On the self-satisfied tea pot
Growing brown liquid contentment within itself.
Sip long and slow at this cup,
Wash yourself over with its contentment,
And learn the wisdom of sitting still.