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The sorry tale of the house of two princesses

  • Published at 06:06 pm February 3rd, 2015

Once there were two princesses. They were daughters of great men. Or perhaps they were the sisters of the great men. Or wives. But the men were great. The great men were intelligent and courageous. They lived in bad times, but fought bravely and with courage and vision to make their lives, all their lives, better.

They fought the enemy who lived a little further down the road, they suffered, but in the end they prevailed. And everybody in the house was grateful to the two great men and loved them.

The two princesses also loved the great men, and they loved the fact that the great men were great and they basked in the glory.

Back then, the two princesses lived together in that big house with the great men. Back then, the princesses were friends and spoke together. Well, perhaps not friends, but close enough to share private jokes. One joke was the name of the house. They called the house “Patrimony,” for it was a beautiful house and they both liked the sound of such a name.

The joke was that the house belonged to someone else, someone called “the pipal.” Because the great men had said so. But the only pipal they knew was the tree at the bottom of the garden and everybody knows that trees cannot own houses!

The princesses did not remember who told them about the tree owning the house, it was just something someone had told them once, perhaps even as a joke not meant for them. But whenever they were asked about who owned the house, they would say: “It belongs to the pipal!” With a straight face! Oh my goodness, what a terrific joke! And they would laugh and laugh!

Then the men died. Or perhaps they were shot and killed. Or they went away or some such thing. The princesses continued to live in the house. It was a beautiful house and they lived there, surrounded by servants and relatives and many others.

One room in particular was very grand. It was at the centre of the house, with doors in all directions to other rooms and more rooms beyond. In the grand room were many chairs and places to sit and be, but one chair was particularly beautiful and all the other chairs and sitting places sort of faced this particular chair. The great men used to sit in this chair.

But after the great men died, there was this bad man. He came from one of the other rooms. And he sat himself in the beautiful chair. And the two princesses were very upset, as you can imagine. So they told him: “Please do not use that chair.” But he ignored them and said: “Go away little princesses, you are just children.” And they hated him for that.

So they talked to the others in the house and many agreed, because this bad man was not that well liked. And in the end, there were so many who thought he should leave the chair that he felt shamed and left the chair. The two princesses were jubilant, and the bad man had to go live in the basement for a while.

Now the two princesses themselves wanted to sit in the chair, and most of the servants and relatives and the others living in the house thought that, very well, if they wish it so much, so let them. But even if the chair was beautiful, it was not very big. It could seat one, but only one, and you could easily fall down from it if you were not careful.

And so, from then on began a competition between the two princesses. They competed every day for the right to sit in the chair. And once in the chair, they would not leave it and the other one would grow all sullen and sulky and hover around saying things like: “It is my turn now! Why are you in the chair? You had the chair yesterday, today I should have it!”

And then, one would try to push the other off the chair. But whoever had the chair would not move and would not listen and instead shouted back: “No, it is my chair! You go away! Why are you still here? I will never give it back!”

Every day this went on the whole day. The quarrelling and the shouting got so bad that it affected everyone in the house. Even as they tried to go about their daily chores, the servants and the relatives and the others living in the house felt edgy and unsettled and talked about it with one another. Some sided with one and the rest with the other, but most were just upset.

Fortunately, in the evening, one of the adults in the house would come and say: “Little princesses, now it is time for bed.” And the princesses were, by then, a little tired and it was bedtime and anyway they had to listen to the elders. And so finally, the quarreling and the shouting would cease for the day.

But in the morning they resumed, and day by day their rivalry over the chair intensified. And every day, each thought out new ways of outwitting the other. One day, one of the princesses sitting in the chair would say: “Yes, I am going to bed now,” but wouldn’t! She would just sit in the chair and try to sit out until the next day.

The other put up such tantrums of course that the adults would have to come and lift the princess in the chair up and put her to bed. Another day one of the princesses would lock the door that the other one normally used, so that she herself could win the race to the chair.

They devised many such ways. They were very clever in this way. But they came to spend more and more of their time quarrelling and fighting over the chair. Finally, some of the elders of the house said: “Enough is enough! Out, out! Out into the garden, go play there!”

And the elders tried to make the princesses forget about the chair. But it was impossible, the princesses could talk of nothing else. And were very upset at the thought of not getting to the chair and sit in it. And they hated anyone who told them otherwise, or anyone, God forbid, who tried to sit in the chair.

And so the elders in the end gave up and the princesses resumed their fight over the chair. “It is mine!” one would say. “No, it is mine!” said the other. And they would call to anyone who would listen: “She is lying!”

And they would call each other names and accuse one another of being false and using ugly tricks. It was very unsettling for everybody else in the house. Some even fell very ill from the stress.

As we zoom out from this house of misfortune, the house which once held such beautiful promise, you can still hear them from a distance, shouting from the room that once held the great men, shouting mutual accusations and recriminations.

It is mine! No, it is not. It is mine! I am ill! Hah, you’re just faking it! You cheated! No, I did not. You just didn’t pay attention.

Woe the house that houses two princesses. 

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