Umpteen poetry and oodles of lyrics have been woven around it. Gazillions of songs have been sung about it. In every language known and unknown, to you and I. It has never failed to kindle the romance of the old sonnets and symphonies, the ageless classics and of course the magic spells!
Sidra was seated on the faded blue couch slotted into the bay window. She was facing skywards, besotted by it and it returned the gaze, equally enamoured by her. The idyllic countryside surrounding her cottage, looked exceptionally breath-taking in this full moon night. In the distance, she could hear the waves of the foamy rough sea crashing against the steep rock face. With a soft instrumental playing in the background, she was sipping a mug of hot cocoa, her palms drawing in the warmth when inadvertently her thoughts raced back a few years.
Back in the day when lasses were muses for lustrous complexion and faces radiating the glow of the moon, Sidra had started breaking out like the craters on it.Diagnosed as a benign ‘isolated chromosomal disorder’ with no possible cure or remedy, she had braced it all, exuding a rare charisma nevertheless. A top-notch achiever in academics, she had the Midas touch at everything she attempted. Much to the chagrin of the enviers, Sidra had earned the trophies as well as the popularity with the tutors and the instructors. In effect, spiteful jibes and barbs were not far behind, which were thrown in for good measure by a duo—the ringleader and her notorious accomplice of the catty thugs at school.
“Psssst! Sidra, when are the aliens coming to fetch you? You look so much alike.”Chuckles from the ruthless pack tore through the deafening silence.
“Maybe she was too hideous for their own kind. They have exiled her here for good.”Onlookers shuffled their feet in discomfort or feigned indifference, too subdued to stick up for a peer.
Brutally bullied by them and their sniggering coterie to an audience of mute spectators in the school yard or in the hallways, they were like aphids who fed off her for their power fix. Sidra had maintained an unusually composed demeanour in the face of it all. Little known was the fact that these ‘queens’ with their veneer of full-blown raging hormones were themselves the cowering, sitting ducks at the hands of their own vicious or dysfunctional family, starved of the love they craved. Their contempt and animosity was a disguised cry for help. Sidra couldn’t help but pity them. She was a misfit, but she was as wise as she was different and gifted.
The traumatising echoes from the past had slowly faded away. There was no point in it entirely when the malicious duo had long since disappeared from her life. Mysteriously!
A few months into the hostility and snide comments, one rode her bicycle accidentally off the edge of the cliff and was found on the sharp rocks below in a mangled mess. Shortly before, the other perpetrator had succumbed to a drawn out incurable disease which had left her gasping for her breath until the very end and wishing for her own death to escape the misery. The herd,without its masterminds, had lost all steam despite their bravado and had steered clear off her, panic mounting in their eyes.
“What if the aliens did have her back and were in fact looking out for her!”
“Well, you never know. Somebody out there, did!”
“Looks like witchcraft to me…!”
They whispered to each other endlessly,eyeing her suspiciously.
Then on, the rest of her schooling years had streamed on without a hitch.
Whenever the moon was not visible on cloudless nights, Sidra had turned to the stars, searching for her father’s face in one of them, questioning him of the only time he had failed her miserably—for the marriage arranged by convenience and tradition which had disappointingly turned out to be a snow-balling wreck. She seemed to be ill-luck’s favourite child who always attracted twisted and warped minds into her light.She failed to understand why.
A strange case of opposites attract, perhaps? He was as unhinged as they came. There were his fists of fury thumping on tables and overturning them, whirlwinds of tumultuous outbursts and venomous slew of expletives. But no, there wasn’t the slightest physical bruise or scar on her. Never! All the purple welts were etched somewhere deep within. Buried to be hidden, longing to emerge to be healed. With his constant reminders of—‘how the house and the money belonged to him, since he was the one feeding her…! And where did she think she could possibly go to, or how did she even hope to survive at all out there, if not for him’, Sidra, not one for confrontations, had taken it all in her stride with an amazing stoicism.This unusual passiveness had unnerved him exceedingly. The realisation had struck home that she had utterly refused to drip-feed his ego and could remain unaffected in the face of turmoil and his chaotic drama.
A month back, Coonie the cat had run away…rather, was chased out by him in a fit of volatile rage. It was the only sentient being in the house which had kept her sane and comforted in moments of self-doubt and turmoil. It never returned. Neither did he, after storming out deliriously that same night, slamming the door behind him. But not before smashing her apple-pie deep dish into smithereens,which was the final gift from her mother. Splinters and shapeless, jagged chips of ceramic lay scattered on the kitchen floor. Each shard was like a broken fragment of her mother’s heart.
It took devastating moments to clear it all up and to finally gather the pieces of her dignity as well.It was only a matter of time before her goodwill had run out and her resilience had broken her back. His wedding ring remained on the very spot on the floor where he had thrown it at her. Sidra had called it quits and couldn’t be bothered so much as to touch it, much less pick it up, always walking around it, if it lay in her path.
A month later, as of this day when he hadn’t turned up anywhere, he was declared “missing; probably dead”.She had rejoiced at his riddance inwardly, not missing him for one micro second, glad for the solitude and peace.
As Sidra continued to swirl and sip the last dregs of her hot cocoa, she stared into the vast nothingness. Wisps of mists slowly rolled out of the hillside beyond. As the moon rose higher, the deep dark woods looked magical with the moon rays casting a silver glow on the coniferous treetops. They looked like they had all been adorned with shimmering spangles. Sidra looked on dreamily with glazed eyes.She had no one to turn to except to another loner-the moon. It listened to her, beaming at her silently with its soft glow, recharging her with a magnetic allure and energy.
The calming music and the warm drink slowly lulled Sidra to sleep.Setting the mug down, she made her way to retire for the night.Owls hooted somewhere in the woods.The moonlight streaming in through the windows dispelled her loneliness.
Hugging her quilt close, her last thought as she drifted off into a tranquil oblivion was--“Is anybody up there at all?”
There was nothing to beat the rejuvenating walk on her frequented trail uphill. She could watch the birds closely here, encounter scampering woodland critters and smell fresh, fragrant pine. A brook wound its way near the edge of the woods. Sidra made her way up and sat on the banks with her feet skimming over the soft ripples, soaking up the morning sun. It allayed every glum thought.She watched the vast expanse of the green undulating hills beyond which were dotted with grazing herds of sheep and horses. Something sounded on the slick dew fresh grass. She felt a warm breath and a cold, velvety muzzle on the nape of her neck. When she turned to look, a horse standing at close quarters behind her, twitched. He trotted away playfully to stop and glance back at her from a few feet away. This exceptionally huge stallion looked like a billowing cloud—pristine white, whiter than fresh snow! He shone with an aura that dulled a diamond’s dazzle. His unusually long, shaggy fluffy tail swept the daisy-freckled meadow. His luxuriant silver locks and mane which cascaded down to his hooves, blew and danced in the breeze. Something was outlandish about this horse! Out of the blue, like a mystery unravelling, with the grace and manoeuvre of a ballerina, he reared on his hind legs like a tall tower and spread out…two magnificent feathery wings!!!
They were a holographic majestic span of twenty feet and more from shoulder to tip. Sidra felt her jaws drop.
A Pegasus!? Did they really exist!
Sidra, in all scepticism, walked up to him curiously and…cautiously, all the while trying to keep calm and making an effort to talk to him in a soothing tone. She had a considerable rapport with animals. She hesitatingly brought her hands towards him. The stallion didn’t flinch when she touched him.
He was real, alright!
As the Pegasus lowered his head,her gaze met a pair of noble, ethereal Arctic blue eyes. She stood rooted to the spot, mesmerised. As she stroked the stallion’s neck, she felt an ornamented collar beneath the thick ruffles of mane.Dangling from the band was a heavy medallion with his name inscribed on it—Prince Charming!
A child-like burst of giggle escaped her. Her lively laughter rang through the woods.
She would always find Prince Charming waiting for her at the edge of the woods during her morning hikes. She had found a new friend in…a Pegasus.Months passed by and one fine day, Prince Charming in all familiarity, decided to follow her home.They walked along, she with a spring in her step and Prince Charming, cantering gaily. She froze mid-step, a few feet away from the cottage and drew in her breath in a gasp.
Her garden was in quite a state. Vandalised was an understatement!!! The Purple Wisteria blooms which trailed down lushly from its arbour—the pride of the entrance to the cottage was vindictively torn away and shredded apart! The tender, pendulous vines were on the ground in limp,tangled bits and pieces. She was not over the initial shock yet when she saw him!He was back?!!
He was fuming!Pacing up and down, he was just outside the front door—red-faced and his jaws clenched, waiting for her. Flower pots which lined the either side of the path to the porch were kicked over and were lying on their side, soil spilling out in mounds and the plants, badly damaged. As she hesitatingly approached him, she noticed that her flower beds of Hydrangeas of various pastel hues were stomped upon and uprooted.The dainty powder blue, lilac and pink petals–squashed into the damp mud. The blooms of Hyacinths and Foxgloves were ripped apart and some of the thicker stems were haphazardly hacked.The ruin was appalling! Beads of perspiration formed on her forehead as she felt a flush of heat upon her pale face. Her shoulders sagged and she felt drained.
After months of toiling at her passion and nurturing for her garden,it was heart-wrenching to witness this sabotage!
Rage was written all over his face as he spotted Sidra. He charged at her and Prince Charming, seething, gardening shears in hand.Pointing it at her accusingly, he bellowed “Where on earth had you wandered off to! No sooner am I gone for a few days than you think you can shirk your chores. Not only that, you go and get yourself a horse! A deformed looking klutz at that! Isn’t it enough that I feed you, now you expect me to feed this monstrosity too? This is my house and what I say, goes! I got rid of your dratted cat, that’s the end of your rotten garden today and as for this infernal glutton, you had better drive him away before I send him to the leather factory! Shoo! Scram!” He flailed the shears dangerously at Prince Charming.
Prince Charming snorted uneasily, kicking gravel with one foot, upset at the raucous scene in front of him. Sidra laid a hand on his mane, trying to calm him down.
But the maniac standing in front of them was not done yet. Squinting his bloodshot eyes at Sidra, he continued to rave mad, “And you! Get back inside immediately and sign some papers.I’m here to sell my house and throw you out for good, you ugly warty toad!” He waved the shears threateningly at Sidra.
Enough was enough! Prince Charming had reached the end of his rope. He grunted and bared his teeth! She instantly withdrew her hand off Prince Charming as if singed and stepped back a few feet from him. He was searing hot and was shaking his head violently. His aura was sparked with electricity, turning from white into an ultramarine to lapis to a cobalt blue fire in quick succession and in sporadic bursts.He rose up on his hind legs like a colossal citadel, trashed his forelegs wildly in the air,letting out a thunderous neigh and fanned open his wings of fire in a wrath!
The Pegasus was riled!As his heavy hooves lowered down to the ground in a thud, he glared at the cottage, his aura now a deep violet. His ire was intensifying in waves.
Before anyone could even comprehend or react to the scene unfolding before their eyes,‘my house’ was ablaze as they watched and it crumbled to the ground in a charred heap in a matter of seconds.
“My house!!!” With eyes bulging out, he was shaking convulsively and spluttering incoherently. He was going downright batshit crazy! Sidra! What kind of sorcery is this! Do you think you can scare me? Get rid of me? Do you really…
He had barely finished what he had to say when, the second glare was directed at him. All that remained of ‘my house and my money’ was a petrified statue with a face cast in stone in a demonic contortion, gardening shears in hand. Sidra gaped open-mouthed and stood transfixed.
Prince Charming regaining his mildness and stability in no time, got down on his knees and nudged Sidra with his muzzle, prompting her to get on and ride away. Sidra who had never tried horseback riding before was reluctant to at first, but was astride it when Prince Charming continued prodding her. He galloped away with her at a thumping momentum through the grassy knolls and seas of green fields which were a riot of wild flowers in season and entered the woods. Sidra hadn’t ventured this far, inside.She had no clue what dangers lurked here. Even the light failed to penetrate the thick canopy of leaves overhead. He came to a halt at a circular clearing in the middle of the deep forest…a pool of liquid-gold sunlight surrounded by the tallest of dense trees which in contrast, seemed to be immersed in twilight. The air here was several degrees cooler which calmed her nerves to a great extent.
Prince Charming stood in the centre of the clearing where the treetops separated in a perfect circle above. He looked up as if awaiting a signal, unfurled his wings and soared along with Sidra through the opening. She shrieked and clung on to him for dear life looking down in terror. With a whoosh, the boughs drew in and the portal closed as soon as they were through.
I’m flying! On a Pegasus! This was unbelievable! It can’t be!
“Your Highness, ever wondered what’s on the other side of the moon?”
Sidra was dumbstruck! Was that Prince Charming?! A talking Pegasus!??
“Did you just talk? You can talk?! Why didn’t you before? And what’s with ‘Your Highness?’”
“I didn’t feel the need to before. And you are the Emperor’s heir to the throne, Your Highness.”
“I’ma…princess?! Of…?” Sidra made a disbelieving face.
“You’ll see, Your Highness. Now for the question that you didn’t answer-Ever wondered what’s on the other side of the moon?
“Yes. What is-?”
“Shambhala, Your Highness.”
“And what might that be?”
“It’s the land of your guardians–the Titans and the Magi, pasture of the Pegasi and your castle in the clouds. We are going there now.”
“My Castle?! Is that where you’re from and I’m a princess of?”
“Yes, Your Highness. They know you very well. We are all your subjects.”
“My…What? I rule the moon…? Shambhala…?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. You do. You gaze at the moon and stars every night, unfailingly.
“Prince Charming, who are you… really? Don’t tell me you are a shape shifter and not really a horse?”
“Pegasus…Your Highness. And I will remain just that. No shape shifting business for me.”
“Pegasus…er mmm…Prince Charming, you know there is no air there to breathe, don’t you?”
“We’ll see about that, Your Highness. You will remember everything…and everyone else too.”
“I’ve got nothing to lose, eh Charming? Onward, then.”
“Moon Ahoy!, Charming! We land over there! You’re headed in the wrong direction…”
“Ah, Princess, that’s the Earth’s moon.Not the one of our destination… not for today,at least. Listen, Princess, why don’t you have a wee bit of a shut-eye and I’ll give you a slight tap when we get there?”No sooner had Prince Charming uttered these words than Sidra fell into a deep trance. Prince Charming shot up through the blue dome of the Earthly skies, glided past galaxies and star systems, passing comets and celestial bodies until he reached a Star Gate…
A sprinkle of rain revived her and Sidra woke up to the palest of lilac and pink skies. She was in a valley of blue tinged woodland and vast gardens with untold flora. Nestled at the foot of the mountains, the peaks of which pierced through and were shrouded in glimmering clouds,were several crystal clear lakes with gilded bridges across them. Bronze structures, monuments, buildings and houses of other-worldly architecture glinted off light from their domes and off their façade. It was a spectacular and spell-binding sight! Sidra gaped around in ecstasy.
“Welcome back to Sirius, your majesty. Your very own moon in this mighty star system. Shambhala, your kingdom here, awaits your Enthronement Ceremony today.The Emperor and your mother, the Empress are rejoicing in the anticipation to meeting you!” Prince Charming was by her side, a friend for life.
As if roused from a deep slumber, Sidra began shedding her veil of amnesia in layers, revelling in the sprinkle of the healing rain,remembering how she had chosen a life on Earth with harsh soul lessons to speed up her evolution—to rule and lead a spiritually awakened race on Sirius. She was finally home! She felt at home and at peace here. Her House!-Her Castle in the Clouds, no less!
They did come to fetch her after all!