Do you know of the kind of magic, the words ‘Once Upon A Time’ have on little children? They bring soft surprising adventures on a lowly lit, dark night. Like a sudden wave of cool air, when it’s drab and humid. They bring in those old stories of fascination when Kings fight and Queens lie sulking. Those clichés where the golden potions cure frail, ill dolls in distress or a wicked mother poisons the ‘apple-of-her-eye’; happy fears to a child because what begins with ‘Once Upon A Time’ ends with ‘And They Lived Happily Ever After’!
Needless to say, this is a different story. This is the story of a little girl called ‘Pelli Bianco’- which means white hair. She was a princess, but she lived in no castle. She lived on the banks of the beautiful river Canuto. You may begin to picture her, with rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes. Long white tresses so silken, they could drape the bright yellow sky too! A shining Tiara perfectly poised on her little head with a white gown wrapped around her petite self.
Well, let me interrupt your rose tinted vision. That’s not all of her. She was anything but pretty, with her dark black hair cursed by streaks of silver. Mind you, that wasn’t anything to be taken for wisdom, considering her ‘petite-ness’. In the whole of the land, Pelli was the shadow of misfortune, for they believed her hair was that of an ugly witch’s. Now, if the kid in you has awaken and curiosity has filled your throat to the brim, hold on, for I know you are eager to understand why I called her a princess. Pelli was a cherubic, light hearted and gay spirited girl. She did not know what misfortune was, nor was she familiar with who named her Pelli Bianco. Her hair never bothered her, for most, she hated humans. The sweet round pebbles, each different from another were her friends. The birds, each a different colour and tune were her company. Not to forget, the leaves, all different shapes and the waves dancing each to a tune of their own. She felt one with them. Here she lives, peace in her heart, away from the world of black jacks.
One day, misery befell the Land of Canuto River. It rained so little that year, the river was drying up. Raven lay famished and starved in her little Tepee on the banks of the Canuto, while her dry eyes craved to see her beloved Cigno enter with some news of water. Her stomach swelled with the gift of life inside. Raven struggled for breath in the sun lit Tepee. The wind hooted through the tall grooves. There was no sign of Cigno yet. Raven closed her eyes to the dark of uncertainties that posed before her. The world felt silent.
The shrill cry broke the silence. At the crack of dawn, while Cigno slept, the little baby chirped for attention. Weak from the thirst, Cigno opened his eyes slowly, and stumbled to his feet. He picked up the little baby in his arms and a wry smile spread across his cracked lips. He looked at his Raven, now sleeping forever, and a tear, just the size of a snowflake formed in his eyes.
His snow-white hair glistened in the scorching heat. Jaded, he stepped out of the Tepee, and stared at the once flourishing bank of a river, now just a little rivulet. Just one last time, as his breath heaved and his hunger twisted in his stomach, the starved Cigno looked at his little daughter. Her eyes black as coal, just like Raven’s ,were lit with glee.
It was her hair that reminded him of their love. A blend of raven and silver, magical and enchanting as much as those starry night’s he’d spent in Raven’s little Tepee. He held her up, his hands outstretched to save Canuto. The little silhouette blocked the scorching sun.
There was a sudden burst of light! Cigno collapsed! His head hitting the harmless pebbles, while his little daughter floated in the sunlit sky. Her hair gleamed silver and grew and grew and it grew! It blocked the sun, just letting enough light to stream through. Thunder crackled an angry laugh and the sun hid behind the dark clouds. Tears burst out, from the little girls eyes. Scared, the little child let out muffled cries.
It poured and poured and poured. The rain hit every dead body in Canuto. Drying, dust covered leaves and parched land soaked in the boon.Every pond, every lake filled to the brim! Cigno smiled, drenched in the rain and his tears. His daughter lay beside him on the silt. Before he closed his eyes he touched her little pale face “May you live long my child Pelli...Pelli Bianco”.
There among the pebbles and fruit laden trees she grew, little Pelli. She danced and sang and read the lips of the fish to understand their laments. Celebrated life with her silken long gift the world was blind to. An ugly flaw to their eyes!
The catastrophe struck again and the sun soaked in all the water of Canuto. This time no one knew what to do.Stupid, ugly world, always takes boons for curses! Cigno must have smiled from Eden, flying past hell.
The unusual fairytale ends here. But do you know what Cigno means? Cigno in Italian means ‘swan’ king.