Written for and posted in unboxedwriters.com
(And pasted below as well)
Once upon a time, in a sleepy little kingdom in the Deccan plateau, lived a tall, dark and average looking King, his dusky Queen and 365 concubines (one for each day of the year). This arrangement worked rather well because the Deccan Queen complained of headaches every night and claimed that her European doctor had advised complete single-bed rest. So the King and Queen happily went their own way, till disaster struck one day. The Queen was pregnant.
Now let’s establish some vitally important facts. The Queen wasn’t tall. Nor was she fair. Or even homely. And the less said about her tea-making and sitar-playing skills, the better. But she was ‘convent educated’. And it was this education that helped her to convince the King that it was Immaculate Conception. Since the King himself had gone to a Catholic day school instead of a posh boarding school for Indian princes, he bought the argument. And invited three wise men from the Vatican and the press from the Western world to witness the Second Coming.
The day dawned bright and clear. The King and Queen huffed and puffed out their natural birth lessons. When suddenly, a shrill cry rent the air. It was the King, who, thanks to his vantage point, first saw the baby’s head emerging from the womb. It was covered with tight blonde curls. And its eyes were emerald green.
Admittedly, the King had failed his Chartered Accountancy exams seven years in a row. But he could put two and two together: The European doctor had abruptly left the country nine months ago + he had tight blonde curls and emerald green eyes = Adultery.
The Queen was beheaded. And the baby was called Fair & Lovely. The King couldn’t bear to look at the Queen’s love child and packed her off to boarding school before she could say Papa. The courtiers tut-tutted and said that if the baby had been a boy, perhaps, but well, in his place they’d probably do the same thing.
The King remarried a fair skinned Anglo-Indian with English, Portuguese and Dutch blood flowing in her veins. Of course, she also had her fair share of Tamilian blood, but she kept that a dark secret.
She bore him a son and made him very happy. She was reasonably happy too, till Fair & Lovely returned at sweet 16 from boarding school. The cold mountain air had whipped up a gentle blush in her cheeks. Her blonde curls glittered in the sun. And her green eyes made the Step Queen turn green with envy. What really got to her, however, was the fact that it was whispered that her skin was at least three shades darker than Fair & Lovely’s.
‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,’ she screeched, ‘Who’s the fairest of them all?’ The mirror gulped and stuttered a reply. ‘I cannot tell a lie, it’s Fair & Lovely.’ The Step Queen turned purple with rage. She called Chota Elaichi in Dubai and agreed to pay him a king’s ransom (well, actually, the princess’s dowry) to do away with Fair & Lovely.
One dark evening, Chota Elaichi’s hoods arrived at the palace gardens and kidnapped Fair & Lovely. Unfortunately for the Step Queen, there was a shoot out with a rival mafia gang in the concrete jungle outside the palace and Fair & Lovely managed to escape. While fleeing, she sought refuge in the house of seven Sherpas who willingly took her in because their last maid hadn’t yet returned from a day’s leave six month’s ago. So she cleaned and cooked fancy meals for them and in return got a pittance as salary and free accomodation.
Meanwhile, the Step Queen had got a new consignment of Jolen bleach, sun screen with 50 SPF and a range of skin lightening creams from her smuggler sources. After taking the prescribed seven-day fairness course, she decided to consult her mirror for the latest beauty update. Once again, the answer was Fair & Lovely. She turned purple with rage yet again. And jetted her way to Dubai to confront Chota Elaichi. After getting her money back (with interest), she hatched a plot to get rid of Fair & Lovely herself.
She filled a vacuum cleaner with pest control spray, disguised herself as a door to door salesman and knocked at Fair & Lovely’s door. ‘Try this, Meddem,’ she said, ‘It sure takes the aches and pains out of a broom.’ Saying thus, she switched it on and accidentally knocked off her false spectacles, nose and moustache. Fair & Lovely exclaimed, “Why Step Mama…” but she was cut short by the noxious pest control spray. The Step Queen watched with glee as Fair & Lovely writhed on the floor convulsively, coughing and choking. And when, after a final twitch she lay prone, the Step Queen cackled and let herself out.
To say that the Sherpas were dismayed when they saw her lying on the floor would be the understatement of the century. She was a model maid. No salary. No leave. No demands. She even cleaned the ceiling fans without being asked. The best part was, she didn’t pinch their razors to shave her legs.
Sadly, they placed her body in a glass casket and put it in the garden as a lawn decoration piece. They stood back to admire it and were fairly pleased with the effect. Indeed, it looked far better than hedges shaped like giraffes and lions. They wrote to Better Homes & Gardens and a photographer, Raj Kumar, was sent forthwith to cover their new garden ornament for the magazine’s next issue.
The photographer instantly fell in love with Fair & Lovely’s high cheek bones. He opened the casket to take a closer peek, when a whiff of his strong cinnamon scented after-shave jolted Fair & Lovely awake. She opened her emerald eyes, thought she was in heaven and he was god. Needless to say, they got married and she worshipped him till she discovered that he spent quality time surfing the net for porn. After that, she treated him like an equal, which worked out much better for both of them.
As for the King and the Step Queen, they lost all their money at the races and put the palace up for sale. Fair & Lovely and Raj Kumar bought it with a housing loan and turned it into a 3 star hotel with hot and cold running water. They hired the 7 Sherpas as hotel staff and they all lived happily ever after.
Moral: Don’t bother to fret over the colour of skin- remember it’s the dark horses who always win!