After my encounter with the South Kolkata folks in the pandal the story that kept popping up in my mind is not written by me, sorry, it was written by someone whose name is now lost in time’s waves, but the story has been told to kids as bedtime story for more than a century.
A witch cursed a prince, he was pierced with needles all over his body, including his eyes. His family thought he was dead, so they created a mausoleum for him and kept the young prince’s body there, but the prince was alive.
Accidentally a princess, fugitive from her own lands stumbled upon the mausoleum and discovered that the prince was alive, so, she with utmost care pulled out the needles one at a time and applied herbs on that wound, allowing it to heal.
Months went by, she removed them all, only the ones on his eyelid were left. She went to the nearby river to have a bath, a woman came there, offered her to sell her daughter to do her chores. The princess thought it was a good idea and bought the girl, she asked the girl to go to the mausoleum and bring her something she has forgotten.
The girl went there and saw the prince, she removed the needle from her eyelids and the prince opened his eyes.
He asked her if she was the princess who has been tending him all this time, he was conscious of his condition but could not move till the needle from his eyes were removed.
The girl said yes, she was her. When the princess showed up at the door the girl told the prince that she was her maid.
The princess realized she has been tricked but kept her mouth shut.
The prince returned home, heart filled with gratitude for the woman who save him.
But he just could not understand one thing, how could a princess be so ghastly, and her maid so sophisticated. He could not see the princess but he had been feeling her all this time, her voice, her touch, her movements, they were so graceful.
The woman by him was cantankerous, rude, coarse and unsophisticated.
He started smelling rat, so he asked his minister’s help. The wise old man plotted a plan, he asked both- the maid and the princess to make arrangements of a puja.
He made arrangements so that they stay completely out of sight of each other, so that one does not mimics the other.
When the arrangements were done he announced who was the princess.
The princess knew exactly where each item of the puja will go, what will be done by each of them, the maid on the other hand knew nothing of them, so she made a mess of them.
The prince asked the princess to tell him the truth, she told him, he married her and banished the maid from his kingdom forever.
Well, even though I will thank the people of this society for confirming that my feelings about South Kolkata people and puja were absolutely accurate but honestly they did reminded me of this story!
sorry if you are reading the post… which I think you are! ;p