Once Upon A Time – Chapter 1

The scene is set in the corridors of a college, slash boarding school, a place with lots of young people milling around. A top angle shot of the scene reveals a melee of young adults (YA for future reference, convenience and general taxonomical purposes.) streaming out of a gate, down a garden path, the OST soundtrack is David Bowie’s Golden Years  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yygNdTxoHus).

The YA are dancing, really in tune with the song. Suddenly there is a message or notification tone, YA stop dancing, look at their mobile phones. They all start walking like automatons, left right, left right, in perfect, yet eerie co-ordination, more so since they are not looking at each other or trying to match steps with each other. It’s just one step following the other, head bent, fingers or rather thumbs flicking hard across the screen.

One  of the YA looks directly into camera. He has the glazed look of the undead in his eyes, as if he has just risen from a trance. He looks at the YA around him and speaks. (For the purposes of this chapter, he is the storyteller. The physicality is basically a lean person, who would love to eat a packet of samosas, but would rather cycle to the shop to get them first and then probably start reading a book on his online kindle, since the cycling high is buzzing through him/her/non binary YA.)

Storyteller: Once upon a time…(musing).

YA 1: Once upon a time, in Bollywood!

YA 2 :Once upon a time in Hollywood!

YA 3: Once upon a time in…Dobaara! (To his/her credit, he does search for the missing location).

Storyteller: (Draws a flyswatter from the back of his t-shirt in the manner of the Jedi knight pulling out his sword.) (https://youtu.be/0EWi2DnDoaI). Jaao re! Apne social media mein kho jaao, I am trying to tell a story here.

YA 4: So last century, I’m writing a story with 4 writers from 5 different countries.

Storytellers: How is that working out for you?

YA 4: I can’t talk right now, I may lose track of this conversation I am having with my co writers.

Storyteller: Hmm. So, let me get back to my story. Once upon a time…

YA 1: Are we going to shoot the sequel or the prequel?

Storyteller: No…but, say if we had to, which way would you go about it?

YA 1: I would start at the end, come back to the beginning and continue to the middle. (smiles smugly).

Storyteller presses a button on his phone and the scene changes to him sitting in front of an image of Lord Ganpati. This is a recyclable Ganesh, who is painted onto the wall every year. (https://www.picdove.net/media/BquW4DFg7Ya)

Animation sequence featuring the wall, using shadow puppetry, or stick puppets, or imagery along the lines of the Kadyavarcha Ganpati, or a pantomime by some YA who are dressed in ordinary clothes playing the protagonists.

(I am providing notes for pantomime sequence.) Pretty YA emerges from behind the Ganpati image on the wall.

Storyteller V/O: In an ironic twist, the Goddess of all creation was basically incapable of having any kids.

Pretty YA lifts up pregnancy stick and looks at it. She shakes her head and shrugs, tosses it over her shoulder. She then lifts up a pooch or cuddles a Labrador or golden retriever.

Storyteller V/O: But, then what are pets for, if not to help you have a child for life?  So she was quite happy. But, once, just by chance she was alone. Her significant other was out on a mission, her pet or rather pets had been sent out on various missions, and it was winter. She was freezing her divine butt off, but decided to be proactive and used the free time for a pamper day.

(With appropriate choreography to fit the voiceover.)

Which actually turned into years, really, since she didn’t stop at her face.

Pretty YA is seen swathed in multani mitti pack lying on a recliner. She slips on cucumber slices over her eyelids and switches on some music. (Tanpura app music is ideal).

Storyteller: Anyway, later she created a doll with the pack she used and while she was busy painting

her toenails…

Pretty YA hears a ping as if a microwave has gone off. She turns and finds an adorable little kid there.

They begin to play and she hugs him to her as the music plays and they dance. (https://youtu.be/p8IkOMrxcHs)

The song continues and we see Storyteller in the flesh, placing modaks on a plate while dancing to the same song. He pops one into his mouth. He is hit by a marigold flower, from out of frame and topples over. The camera follows him as he sits up spryly.

Storyteller: Well, rumour has it, when her significant other came back, he got into an argument with the little boy who was quite sassy mouthed. Dad lost his head, and baby boy lost his head too, courtesy dad’s trishul. (Look of mock horror on storyteller’s face.) But, it all worked out and the little baby boy got a big elephantine head, and all the benefits that come from it. He also became the opening act at every pooja or life event and made a lot of friends.

So, that’s my story for today. I know, all of you have taken something away from it, so let’s check out the comments section, shall we?

(Montage of comments sections, vox pop, whatsapp account msg screen shots.)

YA 1: Never use store bought face packs, always make your own!

YA 2: Always have a plan B! Why didn’t she have a replacement head ready to replace the one the baby lost?

YA 3: This story is racist, and filled with brutality to children, YA who had to wear a face pack, and marigold which was hurt during the filming of the story. I protest…

YA enter the frame and there is a general furor. There is sloganeering and incoherent yelling.

Shot of the Storyteller going for his fly swatter menacingly…dissolve to black.


PS: There are many stories floating about in the universe and the netscape. All of them are interesting to the one who wrote them. The best stories are written, celebrated. And some stories just don’t get told, remaining by the wayside, since it seems they are not significant enough  for the world.

This one is for stories that get told and the ones that don’t get told. It’s for stories we believe in and the ones we have forgotten. Most of all, it’s for the most important story of all which we lose track of at times. Our own.

From this year on, I would request anyone who is impressed with anything on this site to translate that appreciation into a deed. Donate to an animal shelter, or feeding programs, educational material and time for activities dedicated to tending to the world at large.