Once upon a time in a small, quiet village, there lived a girl. She was obsessed with blue. Her room was blue, every dress she had was blue – even her eyes were the prettiest sapphires.
And she loved books. As soon as she turned two, she began to read, and read, and read. She loved it. Her village life was a simple one, basic and constricted, and for this little girl – it wasn’t enough. She fell in love with the escape from reality while reading, and she learned so many deeds while she read – like where to hit a guy if they try to mob you, or how to fight and kill a dragon if it descends upon your house, or how to find fairies and unicorns hidden in hollow trees.
And so, this blue-eyed book-girl grew up. She lived with her father as her mother left him to live with the moon. Her father explained that the moon was what she left for, and she was one of the stars in the night sky. The blue-eyed girl’s face titled towards the stars when she heard that.
She played with her friends, it’s true, but she was always the outsider of the group. More often, you’d find her on the meadows or the fields, book lying forgotten in the grass, gazing longingly out into the horizon…
She dreamed of leaving the sturdy and constant village life. Her books taught her to dream, to never accept any limits ,and that’s what she did.
But alas…she herself wasn’t a fairytale book character. She wanted to explore.
So one fine summer day, when our blue-eyed girl was in the fields, reading a book, she glimpsed a swallowtail. Now, swallows are more of an autumn bird, so her eyes were drawn to it. It was singing in a tree from its nest. And our blue-eyed girl was hooked. It had sung its final note about ten minutes later, but the girl was so enchanted by its singing. So sweet, so melodious, so…
She raced home and told her father, as all young children wish to share their moments of childhood joy. And she returned the next day, and the next, and the next week, to hear the song of the pretty swallowtail sitting in that nest, She spent her other moments reading, and gazing out onto the horizon, dreaming of a world much bigger.
Then one day, she waited for the bird’s sweet song – but it did not come. She read and wished, but the bird did not sing. Nearing sunset, the mystified and upset girl climbed up a neighboring tree and saw….
She saw bird eggs. No pretty birdsong singer, but real bird eggs.
Overjoyed, our blue-eyed girl raced home again , to tell her father. She skipped school the next day to wait for the bird to return home. She dared not read, lest she missed it. So she watched the nest and waited.
You must have heard, as I have, that swallowtail birds leave their eggs as soon as they know that they are ready to hatch.? I have, and you have, but this sweet little blue-eyed girl hadn’t. She wept and ran home, not happily, but seeking her father’s comfort.
That night as she lay in the bed, she clasped her hands and made a promise to the full moon. She promised that she would never leave people who needed her. She saw the bird eggs, and imagined the bird just flying away.
The next day her father took ill.
The blue-eyed girl was devastated. She waited by him, as the local doctor tended to him. She brought forward hot cups of water, and towels and the medicine from the doctor’s bag. All this wondering, “How will I leave the town now? I promised to take care of those that needed me!”
So she grew up with a staple life, in that little town. Ten years later, she still loved books and still dreamed of more in her life, but her father was ill – desperately. But he was ‘stable’, in the doctor’s terms, so she wasn’t constantly worried about him.
Well, you’ve heard the rest. Her name was Belle and her father’s was Maurice. And she met a beast.
Isha Mahipal is a 12 year old from Gurugram. She studies in Shiv Nadar School and is the 2nd Prize winner of ‘Story Camps: Pen Your Story’ story-writing competition – 10-13 yrs’ category.