By Mehreen Ahmed. Based on an orally told plot by Vahid Husen Sayyad
Daisy was held under a dark, mystifying spell. Nestled by the cozy fires of her drawing room, she sat this evening on a rugged floor in her palace. She moped about an incident which occurred in her laboratory last night. She looked lazily out of the tall French windows and viewed a full moon, a flying saucer of gold. The enigma touched her. She became distracted. Her five year old daughter Chevon, ran around the large drawing-room, braiding in and out of aged furniture. Chevon stopped short and looked at her mother. She stepped forward. A doll lay on the rugged floor by a varnished wooden table. She picked it up and looked at her mother again.
Daisy wore a white tee shirt and black shorts. She lived in this palace with her daughter, and their Nanny. The Nanny raised them both over two generations. She raised Daisy, now twenty-six, the Nanny was fifty-five. But the Nanny never got a respite. As soon as Daisy grew up, Chevon was born. Her duties as Nanny resumed.
This morning, at an unearthly hour, Daisy woke up in a gilded bed. She heard a beak knocking on the window pane. A black crow sat on its ledge. Heavy curtains separated the two earthly creatures. She asked, what was up? In coarse words, which only she understood crowed, ‘messed up’ ‘messed up’.
A knock on her bedroom door, her soft voice coated thinly in drowsiness.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me,” a female said. “I brought you breakfast, Miss Daisy. May I enter?”
The ornate palace door was made of solid old oak. It hinges creaked, when it opened. The door tunnelled. A dark tunnel. Daisy squinted her eyes. Nanny came flying through. She flew in and landed gently on her two feet at the footrest.
‘How’re you this morning, Your Royal Highness?”
“Hmm. Tired. Say, what’s for breakfast?”
“The usual, porridge and orange juice,” the Nanny replied.
Daisy, looked at her and then at the food.
She blurted out.”Who prepared breakfast?”
“I did. Why?”
“No, just asking,” Daisy replied.
“Now, eat up, dear. Slow and easy. Relish it.”
“I still feel faint, Nanny,” Daisy said.
“Are you tired from last night’s experiments?”
“Maybe, I’m not sure,” Daisy said.
She took the first scoop of porridge from the bowl. The spoon melted into the porridge. She saw it; she felt nauseous. She pulled her bed clothes over in a heap, climbed down the bed and ran into the toilet. Nanny looked concerned and she ran after her. Daisy bent over a gaping hole and threw up. She looked down to see what exactly she vomited. She saw green phlegm floating down in a dark pit.
“Are you okay?” Nanny asked, hovering over her head.
“I’m good,” she answered.
“What’s wrong?” Nanny asked.
“I don’t know. But, I’m going to find out soon,” she answered. “Say, is Rupert at home?”
“Yes, he is. He was asleep, when I woke up to prepare your porridge.”
“Hmm, has Chevon eaten yet?”
“No, I am about to take a bowl of porridge to her too.”
“Look, never mind her porridge. I’ll prepare it myself. Can you ask Rupert to see me in the lab, please?”
“Okay, if you say, so. I have been raising the two of you over two generations, you know.”
“I know, Nanny,” she smiled. I love you, too.”
The Nanny left. She grumbled and wondered, what was Miss Daisy up to. Daisy, however, walked up and down the room in her tee and shorts trying to find the cause of her nausea. She had fallen asleep by the fire with Chevon last night. She had no idea who brought them upstairs. It must have been Nanny and Rupert. She drew the curtains apart. Spring blooms in her garden. An ocean of pomegranate stretched across the rolling, lush lawn. She stood on its edge. She saw pomegranate seeds dribble out of a broken shell; fallen through; the lawn turned red.
She was engrossed in thoughts. What had happened in the palace laboratory last night? She was trying out one of her inventions. The metal war suit in red. She was playing around with its settings, trying to get its speed right. It must work. She must be able to fly in it, go places, time travel, at the touch of a button on the inbuilt supercomputer suit. She must be able to land back safely in her laboratory too. It was a giant suit. She began to feel faint in it. She came out and fell down. She was out for a few hours, until she came around by herself. How could that have happened? She thought she was invincible, a superhero in that suit. That she stood now at her garden’s edge after she threw up again this morning. The seedy red lawn at her feet lay to the far end.
Oh! That porridge! That porridge must have caused all this. She must not forget Chevon’s porridge. She must make it herself. She didn’t know anymore what was going on in the palace kitchen. She must also let Nanny and Rupert take an early retirement. They must be relieved from their duties. No matter, there was much love between them, Nanny and Daisy. After all Nanny raised Daisy. Without her, Daisy wouldn’t be King today.
Back in the day. 1788. The battle of Northumberland, a decisive battle took place which had mapped her Kingdom of Northumberland. Rashtra had annexed it, this neighbouring state. Now the proud rebellious nation was in the grips of its much hated King __ King Corrom. Daisy seized the opportunity. She had her red war suit ready. She and her brother, the King of this annexed state decided to fight back.
They garnered strength by gathering a large army. They approached another vassal state, Cobra. The King of Cobra agreed to assist. King Cobra was in possession of a large and a mighty army. Two states combined forces. They rose against the common ruling lord. A brutal battle ensued. It was a rain drenched day, on the outskirts of the state of Rashtra. The field was camped with royal tents over by the horizon. Daisy appeared in her metal red suit to fight yet another war. Her brother, the King by her side, except he was not in any suit. The war was bloody. The field couldn’t soak up enough blood that day. Her brother fought valiantly. However, a sudden sword thrust cut through his heart. The King fell. Daisy, in all her efficient armour tried to get him off the battlefield as fast as she could. But she realised, she too was hurt.
No. Wait. She recovered in fifteen minutes. In fifteen minutes her near fatal wound cleared. She made an attempt to rescue her brother, but when it came to pass, he had gone. The thrust, too deep, he had lost far too much blood by the time, Daisy brought him back to the camp.
The battle was a win. Long live the King. She crowned herself King.
The battle! Ah! It was all but terrific and terrifying at once. There was a banquet to celebrate the win. The spoils of war were many. The loot was deposited into the royal coffers, the plunder, the torched villages. She saw them. Daisy saw how it had all burnt. She had overheard the brutal rape cries; the slaughter of children on long spikes. But she turned a blind eye. Grave war crimes were committed. Murders took place. They were committed in the name of the state, but were pardoned. Because, the war was a necessary evil.
Daisy shed tears. Today, she cried for her noble brother, which no King should do. Show tears. But her sorrow took a dive into the abysmal pool of depression. It was beyond reprieve. She saw the moral demise of all the King’s men. Most deplorable, murders, cuckoldry, and coquetry filled up the shady palace halls. She dared not to find out about the martyred King, who had too succumbed to it once when he was King. God Knew and legend had it. God knew, the dead King had illegitimate children littered across her Kingdom which she now ruled.
After all these years, at twenty-six, Daisy stood in her palace kitchen making porridge for her daughter Chevon. The King, long gone many centuries, too short. The battle was well-documented in the preserved pages of history. She mourned. Did she mourn for the corruption in the palace? Perhaps, not, she was too used to it. Her own uncle and cousin tried to dethrone her.
Yes, they did. They planted Rupert as a spy as Nanny’s husband. They thought, no Kingdom was large or small enough for them. They felt that only they had the anointed rights over the kingdom. Back in the laboratory. 2020. Daisy, at twenty-six, sat in front of the computer, trying to tweak her red super suit. Make it perfect.
In it, she reached for the cosmos. She viewed the stars and floated through the galaxy’s space-time at a speed of light. She travelled the skies. She fainted. Someone called her mummy, mummy. She heard a distant call. ‘Wake up, I’m hungry’. She struggled to open her eyelids in a dark room. She lay on a farm bed in tee and shorts. She looked at her. It was Chevon. Chevon clutched her little doll and stood by her bedside. There was a door in this room too. But they were plain white, not ornate, nor old oak. Her windows were not heavily curtained and no crow beaked at the pane. Bunches of rhododendrons spread over the white picket fence of her hilltop cottage, not strewn with pomegranate red seeds. This day; another moment; yet, another time loop would soon lap her up.
Vahid Husen Sayyad is from India. He is an educator and a writer. He mainly writes poems in Hindi-Urdu. He also writes short stories and dramas. Vahid has won a literary prize in poetry writing competition in India at The Taluka Youth Festival in 2012.