Monday, March 10, 2014

The Little Mermaid

Deep in the big blue ocean, there lived Meena, a Little Mermaid.  Meena loved listening to her Grandma's  stories of the world beyond the ocean, where humans live.  She spent hours in the public library, reading about humans, and looked forward to turning eighteen, when she'd be allowed to swim up to the surface of the ocean and see a little of that world herself.

On her eighteenth birthday, even as she was dashing around in excitement, raring to set off on the adventure she'd been waiting for all her life, Grandma called Meena to her, and started affixing oyster shells to her tail, in honour of her becoming an adult.

"Ouch!  It hurts!" said Meena.

"One has to suffer to be beautiful," said Grandma.

"Beautiful?  And who said oysters on tails are beautiful?  And I want to be happy, not beautiful!"  said Meena with a laugh, and wriggled away from her surprised Grandma's grasp.  She swam to the surface, sat on the rocks and spent all day looking at the vast, blue sky, the fluffy white clouds and the ships sailing by.  She was particularly fascinated by the seagulls, and wished she had wings like them, so that she could fly in the sky and see what her beloved ocean looked like from above.

Towards evening, the clouds darkened, and a storm gathered.  A passing ship lurched in the gale, and a man fell off it.  Nobody on the ship seemed to notice.  Meena swam up to him.  He was unconscious.  She held his head above water, knowing that humans cannot breathe underwater, and steered him to the nearest island.  She waited to make sure he was fine, and tried hard not to stare at his legs.  She noticed that there was something in his jacket pocket - it was a book. 

"Hmmm," she thought, picking it up.  "He's a reader.  Must be an interesting man.  I'd like to be friends with him!"  

But there was a merpeople rule – humans and merpeople weren't allowed to be friends!  Meena sighed.  Just as the man regained consciousness, Meena plopped into the ocean. 

After she got back, she realized that she'd brought the book with her.   She opened it, and  found the man's name - Manav, and his address in it.  Her eyes gleamed.  She'd go to return the book - what an excellent pretext to explore the human world! To hell with rules!

But how would she walk on land?  She went to The Witch who lived in the dark depths of the ocean.  She knew several spells.

"I'll make you legs to walk with," said The Witch, "only if you lend me your beautiful voice for as long as you're away."

It didn't seem like Meena had much of a choice.  She parted with her voice, lost her tail, and got two legs in return.  

She surfaced at the beach nearest to the address in Manav's book.

It wasn't easy.  Walking hurt.  She felt heavy.  Besides, she couldn't talk, and she noted with disappointment that humans weren't so kind to fellow-humans who were a little different.  But Meena was a determined, resilient young merlady.  With the help of pencil and paper, and with a little sign language, she asked for directions.  It took her a few days, but she finally found Manav.  She gave him his book, and explained how she had come by it.  He was quite sceptical at first, naturally, and then intrigued.  And thankful to her, of course for having saved his life.  They hung out for a bit, and really enjoyed each others' company.

But Meena missed home.  Her feet hurt.  And she'd had enough of stealing food (tasteless at that – hardly anybody used sea salt) to fill her stomach.  And she was tired of spending the nights in chlorinated swimming pools. Besides, the course in reef biology she'd enrolled in was due to start in a week.

She left, with an understanding with Manav that they'd meet frequently.   She retrieved her lovely tail and her voice from The Witch.

So, every weekend, when she can get away from her coursework, she and Manav meet  at the beach and talk, she in the water, and he on a rock.  Though she's not exactly head over fishtail in love with him, she likes him.  Manav is learning scuba-diving.

And we leave them here.  Whether Meena marries Manav or not, she's the kind who'll ensure that she'll live happily ever after.


This story is written as part of the Twist-A-Tale contest on Tell-A-Tale – reading and writing stories for this age.


Anonymous said...

What a nice twist! Loved it.


Madhu said...

Loved it!! Beautifully written with an earthly twist. I love all the attention to details.

Radhika said...

Beautiful imagination Shruthi! Loved it.

Manish'sMom said...

What a lovely story Shruthi! Loved the twist to the tale! You go girl!

parijata said...

Wow, wow and wow. Loved your story.

After I had a daughter and started telling her stories, I realized how sexist so many of the fairy tales are. I want none of the fairy tale heroines to be a role model for my little one. So far, she does not know a single fairy tale. Now this one, I can make her read.

PS: Sent an email to you. Need your opinion about something.

Praveen Saanker said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, It is awesome.

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