It was a quiet morning for The Prince. Which is not unusual. He is separated away from the clusters of peasant daughters and sons due to the fact that he is of the royal clan. He did not know how special being a royal clan was. Except for the fact that he gets this view- on the gold-laden verandah from where he could see an entire township.
But his eyes were not gazing the kingdom’s spreads, but rather, the terrains beyond, which are also abundantly visible to him. The prince let out a small sigh. He feels small, outnumbered, marginalized, not because of losing friends, but because he is stuck in this small kingdom. He wanted to know more, to discover more. But he was hardly the size of a warrior let alone a prince. The Prince, as the nomadic healers have already professed will suffer reduced growth rates due to his illness while he was still a baby.
“You survived it, Thank God,” The Queen told him countless of time while tucking in a new dress for The Prince to wear. But The Prince’s thoughts were already wondering elsewhere. “Why was I spared?” he asked.
The Queen would stop in her tracks. She had no answer to these appalling questions. The prince seemed to have made a habit out of asking such questions. She wondered to herself, is this his way of mocking her, knowing that she would not answer every time he comes up with those questions? Or is it just his innocent self?
The prince is increasingly taken to the idea that life has much more to offer than what it is currently offering. That the questions he is busy asking now are the very questions that everyone should be asking, rather than the ones that his educators have been asking him. This is life, afterall.
“He’s being immature,” The king would shrug off everytime the queen went to him with her deepest concerns that her son is asking tricky questions. “He will grow up,” he would add. That was their reprieve. He would grow up and finally start asking questions that really matters.
One evening he was sitting on the verandah again, and thought to himself that he needed some action. He felt he saw much more that was the other kids saw in their imaginations when they were at their playgrounds.
He made sounds. He played with himself. He imagined people playing with him. He had an imaginary friend- he had many imaginary friends. The verandah was his sanctuary. From that verandah, he imagined travelling beyond those unknown terrains and subsequently conquering the world at his own whim.
And then he realized what he needed. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the castle, that the time hasn’t come for him to make a journey away from this place, he had to stay no matter what.
He walked towards his father- the king.
“Tired from playing today?” the king asked, in his usual casual manner.
“Tired from playing alone,” he said. He was looking at his father right in the eyes, partly shivering with his nerves. Will he get scolded? Will he be reprimanded? Will he be punished? He did not know, but he knew what he wanted.
“So you want to play with the kids, prince?” The king promptly asked. He was expecting a straightforward yes. The king had given it much thought. Though he wouldn’t blame the peasants for setting the prince aside, the king would personally go and advise his peasants and their children to include the prince in their games, as the prince is feeling lonely. That was how the king was, he was a blunt honest man, who was unafraid to be honest about his own child even to those who were serving under him. He was prepared to show the prince, who is also the future king, as a vulnerable, normal human being to his people. He would do it- how long will the prince have to live a solitary life?
“Father, I want a sword,” the prince asked, seated on a grand chair across the king. The prince’s legs were hardly long enough to extend beyond the large seating canvas. And he was asking for a sword.
“Sword?” The king’s voice went up.
“I want to play with a sword,” he voiced out further.
“Sword is no playing matter,” the voice raised even further.
The prince kept looking at his father, acutely, without flinching. The king was a vulnerable man himself- though stern, he had taken a vow to himself to provide everything the prince would ever ask for, at least when the prince was still a young boy.
“Sword?” the king was softer now.
“I promise I’ll only play with it, just for a while,” he continued blinking at his father.
The next evening, as the sun was setting across the vast sky, what has become the prince’s favorite time of the day, he stood at the verandah, and carried a sword that was a quarter of his weight, and only an inch or two shorter than the prince himself. He carried it aloft. He closed his eyes.
He saw images, he saw warriors, he saw horses, he saw a great battle, he saw evil. He flinged his sword to his right and then to his left.
The queen was walking into the room when she saw her son with a shining silvery wood that he was playing with all alone. She let out a howler at the king.
“How could you? Don’t you event think? Why are you spoiling him? What if something happens? Won’t he hurt himself? Will you give if he asks for it? Isn’t there a limit to what you give?” she asked.
The king tried to open his mouth, but chose against it. He knew he wouldn’t win any argument.
The prince looked disappointed once the queen grabbed the sword away from him. The king thought of a better idea.
“Mare,” he called out to his swordsmith.
“Make a sword like mine, but make it of wood, of precise shape,” he yelled from his verandah.
He turned back and saw the prince smiling at him, and so he smiled back.
He felt his satisfaction as a father. The prince felt his satisfaction.
Silver, gold, platinum or wood doesn’t matter. All it matters it was that tool. That tool that triggers him to dream. And he would dream for every single day for the rest of his life.