Saturday, March 08, 2008


"Nothing's for real
It's all dust
What lures today
'Morrow shall rust"

preached a wise old sage along the green western slopes of the Trendelburg hills. He seemed to have attained his enlightenment thru' a gruesome process of earthly woes and tortures.

Atop the hill stood a tall tower with no doors nor stairs. There was only a small window at the very top. Legend was that the tower was under an evil spell and that it was the den of the wicked sorceress, Dame Gothel. No one knew for sure, but no one dared to find out. Who'd play with fire?

A handsome young man, with strong built and blue eyes secretly visited this tower everyday.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel
Let down your hair
That I may scale
The golden stair"

yelled he upon reaching it. A beautiful long braid of golden hair then reached down from the window. It was 20 ells long! He scaled it to reach his lady love everyday. Rapunzel had magnificent long hair that had never been cut. It grew fast as summer vines and seemed as gold sunlight trailing behind her as she walked. Curious wisps of golden hair fell across her forehead to peek into the coffee-brown mystery of her lively eyes.

These visits continued for days and their love blossomed. All was fine and dream-like till that fateful day when Rapunzel observed that her man was all covered with dust when he arrived. "Have you been at war, my Lord?", she inquired. "No!", he replied. "Then what's all this dust resting over you?", she asked. "Err... Pollution" he replied, avoidingly. This word was new to the vocabulary of Rapunzel, who from her window, had only seen the greenest of hill-slopes, the yellowest of fields and the sparkling blueness of the river Diemel. She hadn't seen a speck of pollution in this quiet little country-side.

Next day was the same story. "Oh, I was caught in a steed stampede" was his excuse. Explanations got designer till the day Rapunzel got suspicious. "I won't let down my hair anymore if ya won't tell me the mystery of this dust all over you", she yelled at him. "Ok ok... it's not all that important", he said as he gave her a sheepish glance. Hands on her hips she kept looking sternly at him with intent and wouldn't budge without hearing. "It's dandruff" he admitted. She stepped ahead to inspect his curly brown hair, but he stepped back and remarked "Yours".

Rapunzel was all shaken up. She had the finest of hair in town and would not tolerate any damage to them. She pulled up her braid to inspect & it was indeed infested with soft grayish-white flakes of dandruff. "Look, split ends too!", she yelled. "But they are 20 ells away from u", trivialized the man. She looked up and gave him a nasty look. Fearing that split-ends might split their relationship, he quickly changed the topic. "Oh, don't you worry my lady-love. Morrow, I shall get ya a cure", he assured.

The next day he visited the local therapist and picked a hair-cleanser made from the finest of green apples and walnut bark. It seemed to work but was not very effective against dandruff. "Get me the one made from the natural sap of the Margosa tree", demanded Rapunzel. "And where will I find that?", quizzed her lover. "50 yards to the south of the water-hole in the forest is a thick growth of Margosa trees", she directed him. That afternoon the love-slave ventured into the scary dense forest for Margosa.

"U think these cleansers are making my hair too dry?", inquired Rapunzel after applying the Margosa sap. "Oh, they're just fine and lustrous again", assured the guy in a desperate attempt to avoid any more trips to the forest. "Oil from the Flame-of-the-forest & Hibiscus is very good for hair", she said as she looked longingly at him. These ever-increasing demands had started to irk him. Nevertheless he loved Rapunzel too much to say, "No".

Oil made her hair shine but also made it greasy. "I need to wash it off with egg-yolk", she said. "Oh, that's easy" said the man as he jumped up to fetch eggs from the poultry-farm just round the corner. "But the eggs need to belong to the weaver-birds. That makes the hair fine and full as their nests", corrected Rapunzel. Now that was a tall order! He knew that the weaver-birds were the picky kind who almost always built their nests over branches of acacia trees spread over water bodies.

On his way down from the tower, he slipped over Rapunzel's greasy braid like a bead over the line of an abacus and had a bad fall. He dusted himself and limped his way to the water-hole again. The soles of his feet were now blistered from the pebbles and the thorns along the forest-path.

"Weaver, weaver
Let down your nest
That I may pick
Few golden eggs"

he sang to the weaver-birds. A flock of agitated tiny weaver-birds attacked him and pecked him all over. Their eggs weren't meant for charity and they fiercely guarded them. He braved their attack as he climbed up the acacia tree. His clothes were all tattered by the thorns as he stretched over the branches to reach the nest. He did manage to pick an egg, but slipped and fell into the pool of water.

"Did ya get the eggs, my Lord?", asked Rapunzel excitedly as a tired, wet, tattered, blistered, pecked lover put his scratched hand into his pocket. A croaking frog leaped out of it. "Oops, wrong pocket", he said as he fetched a tiny-round dotted egg from his other pocket. Rapunzel lovingly hugged him.

"Tell me something, Rapunzel... How do u know so much about hair-products?" asked the agitated man who had by now become frail from his frequent forced visits to the remotest of places in the forests and hills. Rapunzel felt flattered. "Oh, Dame Gothel tells me" she answered as she cracked the egg. "What???" quizzed the shell-shocked guy. "U mean, she knows all about my 'secret' visits?" he gasped. "Oh yes, and she likes it. She gets to use all the left-over hair-products from me. U see... U are only the second man in her life. The first one was her lover. He used to fetch facial-products for her from the hills. He did so for several months till one day he did not return. He had gone to fetch her mud-pack when news reached that he had perished after being stuck in quick-sand along the western slopes of the Trendelburg hills". Women blabber too much, when flattered.

"You know darling, Mountain-ebony is very good for hair-regrowth", Rapunzel added.

"Most certainly, my lady" said her man with a smile. Rapunzel had seen a smile upon his face after such a long time!

Rapunzel kept waiting for her Mountain-ebony, but the guy never returned back to the tower. News was that he was mauled by a hungry pack of wolves in the forest.

"Nothing's for real
It's all dust
What lures today
'Morrow shall rust"

preached a handsome young man, with a frail built, blistered soles, tattered clothes and blue eyes along the green eastern slopes of the Trendelburg hills.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Paul's pens

Seven pens lay neatly next to each other in a wooden box that was handed over to Isabelle as per the will of her grandpa, Paul, who had recently expired. Young Isabelle was studying law then and was amused to receive this gift. It was an old heavy decorative box of wood that contained these old fountain pens. They looked shabby and she did inspect a few. However their broken nibs and dried up ink rendered them useless. They weren't of much use to her anyway as with the advent of computers, hardly anyone used fountain pens anymore! Nevertheless, she kept the gift, thinking it was a token of encouragement from her grandpa for her pursuit of studies. Her sister Sophie, an aspiring model, had on the other hand received a decent amount of cash as per Paul's will.

Years passed by, Isabelle graduated, got married and had a son. She served for years as a lawyer at the local court in this crime-stricken city of Marseille. She was known to be honest, shrewd and just. She also pursued further studies and later rose to the ranks of a judge in the very same court that long back Paul had presided upon. Soon, it was her first case as a judge and all rose as she entered the court-room. It was a moment of honour for Isabelle and she was sure that grandpa Paul would have been very proud of her to see her seated in the very same seat as his.

A little nod from her and everyone seated themselves. The proceedings began. It was a case of rape and murder of a seventeen year old girl from the neighbourhood. Caroline's body was found badly mutilated and tortured beyond recognition. The perpetrators had shown no signs of guilt, mercy or remorse while committing the act. The accused was a 23 year old yuppie, Sam and his friend Petit of the same age. Isabelle was no newbie to such cases, but the ghastly acts still disturbed her from deep within.

The trial went on for days and the prosecution as well as the defence played all tricks in the game that she was so familiar with. Over days she learnt that the victim was the only daughter of the Garcia couple and that Sam had a troubled childhood and was raised by his grandparents. He was their only support. This did not belittle his crime though and Isabelle made every effort to hear the proceedings clinically. What disturbed her was that Sam was nearly the same age as her son and wondered if she would have been this strong emotionally if it were to be her son in place of Sam.

Soon forensic evidence was made available by the labs and the DNA analysis besides the circumstantial evidence proved beyond doubt that Sam and Petit were indeed the perpetrators of the ghastly act. The defence had run out of all means to save these two lads and pleaded for mercy. They now played the emotional cards claiming that Sam was the only support for his ailing grandparents.

The judgement was scheduled for the next day and Isabelle sat very disturbed in her study. She was going thru' all the case papers and setting them in place for the next day's procedures. Somehow she just couldn't lay her eyes off the file-photos of Sam and Caroline in their happier times. "Why?" yelled out Isabelle's soul at Sam's photo without uttering a word. Just then a security guard knocked at her door and informed her that an elderly man wanted to see her urgently. "Let him in", she said and saw a very old man enter her room. The lenses of his eyes had clouded and he trembled with age. She was just gonna rise to provide him support when he fell on his knees wailing. With his head touching the ground he cried "Let him live, let him live" with words choked with age and grief. "Let him suffer his crime, but let him live. He's all I've got", he kept wailing.

Isabelle was overwhelmed by this unexpected incident. She learnt that he was Sam's grandpa as she rushed towards him. She ran her hand over the back of the wailing man as she said, "Sir, I understand your pain. But I'm not allowed to meet you. It's against the law". She nodded at the security who held his hand and guided him out. "Drop him home", she instructed the security as she rushed back to her study, visibly shaken. She rubbed her chest in pain as she frantically searched for Paul's box of pens. Some scattered pieces from her life-long riddle had all-of-a-sudden fallen in place. She held the box close to her heart as she whispered "Gimme strength. Guide me. Gimme strength".

The next day saw a poised and a composed Isabelle go over the final procedures. The defence wished in hope. "Death by guillotine" she pronounced as she wrote her judgement over the file papers and broke the nib of her pen as was customary.

That evening eight pens lay neatly next to each other in Paul's wooden box.