Parilaya was a strange town, situated somewhere near to Jaipur. The town still believed in kingdoms and there was an aesthetically built palace by the name of Suryavanshi Mahal. The king and queen had a prince by the name of Kanha Sesh Rajput who was an epitome of handsomeness. Graduated with a degree from an university in his town, he was highly respected for his educational qualifications. Despite his excellency, he was kind at heart and helped the poor people, much to the chagrin of his socially immoral friends. The entire kingdom rejoiced in lavish chambers, gorging on exquisite delicacies, not giving a damn about the happenings of the urban world. They were ignorant of the existence of other cities, villages and towns. Technology was something that they weren’t even aware of.
They used doves as messengers, rode on horse carriages, bathed in lakes, cooked with wood, wore traditional apparels and antique accessories. They even followed traditions that were abolished a long time ago until one day a messenger named Sahadeva stumbled upon a pathway that led him to the modern city of Jaipur. Leading an urban life for two months, he returned to Parilaya with hordes of information. Thus began the invent of electronic devices and social media in that peculiar town. Life became easier for the people as they began changing their outlook towards things.
There lived a rich merchant in the town who was known for his witty trading knowledge. He had a daughter of unparalleled sweet nature and a dead wife who was goodness personified. He married for the second time, a haughty woman ever. She had two equally haughty daughters by the name of Sangamithra and Pradhayini from her first husband. The woman hated her stepdaughter who according to her was the most horrible creature she had ever seen. She employed her for all the household work and made her a slave.
Even Sangamithra and Pradhayini were harsh on her. They gave her the ugliest rags and cheap accessories to wear. She slept in a straw bed while her stepsisters enjoyed the comfort of cottony soft beds. They enjoyed the luxury of owning smartphones while she was given only a basic feature phone. They chatted with all their friends in WhatsApp, posted status updates on Facebook while she did not even know how to use the SMS feature in her phone. They even had specialized toothbrushes for them while she suffered with a neem stick. Even when she had completed all her work perfectly, she would be ridiculed by the two sisters. As she did not even have a name, she was called as Anamika.
Poor Anamika bore all the tantrums of her stepmother and stepsisters patiently. She did not even complain about them to her father as her stepmother ruled over her father with utmost dominance. But more than her stepsisters, Anamika was the most beautiful in the entire household. That made Sangamithra and Pradhayini burn with jealousy. She was always a piece of gossip for them. There were many times when she had planned to run away from the house. But she loved her father more than anything and she did not want to disrespect him.
It happened that the prince Kanha Sesh Rajput felt the need to get married as he was bored of being alone. He hadn’t loved any girl in his life, pertaining to his studious nature and geeky looks. He posted a status update on Facebook: “Hey beautiful girls of Parilaya, I am conducting a ball on this weekend. Join me and help me find a good bride to marry!” As soon as he posted that, he received 305 likes and 98 comments in ten minutes. All the comments were from girls who drooled over him. But he remained calm and did not even read a single comment. He patiently waited for the weekend to come over so that he can select his bride face-to-face.
“Hey look! Kanha has invited all the girls for a ball. We must go for it!” exclaimed Sangamithra.
“Stupid! I have already liked the post and commented on it,” snapped Pradhayini.
“Anamika! Come here. Take these party wear and iron them properly. We must look the best, okay?” commanded Sangamithra.
“Wow! These dresses are awesome Didi. Where will you be going?” asked Anamika, innocently.
“To our babysitter Lachamma’s house,” mocked Pradhayini and giggled. Anamika turned red.
“Don’t you even have common sense? Where would we go in a party wear? Obviously to a party. And by the way, we forgot to inform you. Prince Kanha has invited all the beautiful girls to a ball this weekend. He wants to select a bride for him. So we will be attending it wearing these wonderful party gowns,” replied Sangamithra hastily, stressing on the word ‘beautiful’.
For a moment, Anamika’s face contorted into a pained expression. How much she wished to be a part of the ball! But she couldn’t as she was uneducated and she wouldn’t be allowed to attend. Her sorrowful face invited more giggles from her cruel stepsisters. But she did not deviate from any work that was assigned to her. Anybody in her place would have ironed those party gowns in an awry way. Instead, she pressed them neatly and handed it over to them on the day of the ball. She even styled their hairs, painted their nails and applied make-up to their faces. As she did all these, they went of lamenting about how they would attract Kanha and how poor Anamika was unable to attend the ball.
As Anamika sat weeping in a corner, her next door neighbor Rajlaxmi noticed her and entered her sparse room.
“What happened Anamika? Why are you crying?” She asked in a caring tone.
“I wish I could attend the ball Rajjo aunty. I know I am uneducated and I am not in par with my stepsisters. But I consider myself as beautiful. And I also like Kanha Sesh Rajput. I wish I could attend the ball!!!!” Anamika started wailing.
Though Rajjo aunty was displeased to see her in that state, she thought to herself, How proud is the girl about her beauty! I will prove that I will be the worst fairy godmother ever.
“Awww! Don’t cry Anamika. I can fix your problem. You know, you are a rich merchant’s daughter and you look so beautiful. You shouldn’t be at home now. I will bring one of my daughter’s beautiful party gown and also some of her accessories.”
Instead of feeling happy, Anamika cried even more.
“Now what?” asked Rajjo aunty in a more stern manner.
“My teeth are yellow. I cannot go to the ball with filthy teeth. The prince would either faint or vow for a life of celibacy!”
“Oh my God! Doesn’t your toothpaste contain salt and lemon in it?”
“Kya? Toothpaste mein nimbu aur namak? No aunty!”
“Then I will get you Colgate Active Salt Healthy White toothpaste. It contains salt and lemon in it which will eradicate your plaque.”
Anamika rolled her eyes as Rajjo aunty spoke all those. It didn’t make any sense to her.
After a few minutes, Rajjo aunty returned with a beautiful silky pink strapless party gown, a pair of glass slippers, some hairdo accessories, an expensive make-up kit, some ethnic ornaments and a toothpaste. Anamika marveled at all those things.
“Here take all these and pamper yourself!” exclaimed Rajjo aunty.
“But aunty, how did you buy all these?”
“Ha! We got all these during the Flipkart Big Billion Day. We were the first customers to purchase from that online retail store on that day.” Rajjo aunty chuntered about it while Anamika feigned ignorance.
“What is Flipkart aunty?” she asked finally. Rajjo aunty threw her a disgusting look and asked her to make herself ready without any cross questions.
Within the next one hour, Anamika coddled herself a lot with the free accessories. As she emerged out from the dressing room, Rajjo aunty couldn’t believe her own eyes. She looked stunning and her appearance equaled to that of a princess.
“Wow! You look like an angel Anamika. You aren’t even recognizable. But mind it. You should stay there only till 10 pm. My daughter would return after that and inquire about her missing clothes and accessories. I don’t want her to have any discomfort. Come back soon!”
“Arey Rajjo aunty, I won’t even stay till 9 pm. My stepmother and stepsisters would return soon.”
Rajjo aunty turned pink with embarrassment. She faked a smile and scurried away to her house.
Stepping out of the house, Anamika realized that she didn’t have any means of transport to take her to Suryavanshi Palace. She hadn’t thought about it. She cursed herself, I am very unlucky! Why don’t fairy godmothers exist in this generation?
“As if they existed during those days!” Anamika looked up and saw an auto rickshaw driver speaking to her. She realized that she had spoken out the words instead of murmuring to herself.
“I think you are in some need. How can I help you?” asked the driver while eyeing her from top to bottom.
“Well, take me to Suryavanshi Palace. If you don’t look at me in that way, I will pay you extra money!” she warned him as she got into it. She was afraid of trusting men after horrendous crimes of rape in Parilaya. But the driver was a good one. He remained silent through the entire journey and humbly accepted Anamika’s money.
As soon as she stepped out of the rickshaw, all heads turned to gaze at her. She was the object of attraction for that moment. She made her way through the crowd, swaying her swanky legs, flipping a tendril of hair that fell on her cheek.
“How gorgeous she is!” “How beautiful she is!” She could hear only those comments as she walked past many people. Even her own stepmother and stepsisters couldn’t recognize her. As the word spread about the beautiful girl, Kanha Sesh Rajput couldn’t resist his curiosity. He reached out to her and grabbed her by her waist. Anamika who wasn’t used to such intimacy, displayed a little resistance. But then she gave up and danced along with him. Such graceful were her moves that nobody could stop gaping at her. A grand meal was arranged after that. But Kanha didn’t eat a morsel as he couldn’t take his eyes off her. What was more surprising was, they didn’t even speak a word about themselves. They were too mesmerized with each other that the dance and food was the only topic which they spoke.
As Anamika passed time with him, she forgot about the condition which Rajjo aunty had said. She glanced at her watch which was nearing to 10 PM. She hurriedly excused herself and made a hastened exit. Kanha was surprised at her behavior. While she alighted from the steps of the palace, one of her glass slippers chipped off at the heel. Leaving it on the steps, she ran away. Hiring an auto rickshaw, she safely reached her home and stealthily entered her room through the back door. Discarding the gown and accessories, she placed a call to Rajjo aunty and returned them to her. She explained about the broken glass slipper, to which Rajjo aunty gasped and exclaimed that it was very expensive. Anamika promised to repair it soon.
After a few minutes, Sangamithra and Pradhayini burst into her room.
“Hey you know, you must have come to the ball. There was a gorgeous girl of unparalleled beauty. She was the cynosure of all the eyes. You must have seen her!” They chorused together while Anamika silently smiled to herself.
Meanwhile, Kanha Sesh Rajput updated his Facebook status: “Oh my God! I missed her! I didn’t even ask her name or her phone number. I don’t even know any common friends of hers. I have searched through my Friends list but she isn’t there. I can’t even remember her face properly now. I think I have lost her forever. Nevertheless, she will be my wife. I have a broken glass slipper that belongs to her. I am posting a picture of it here. If you ever find a girl with a single glass slipper, please contact me through mail immediately.”
Within a few minutes, there were many comments to that post from girls who claimed that the slipper was theirs. One among them was Rajjo aunty’s daughter who begged the prince through her comments. Ignoring them to be fake, he checked his mail. No one had mailed him claiming the slipper to be theirs. He posted another status: “I am not believing anyone. Tomorrow I will be coming around to all the houses. I will make the girls try on the slipper. I know, even if it is chipped off, it will perfectly fit my girl.”
Reading that status, Sangamithra and Pradhayini exclaimed out, “Wow! Then the prince will come to our house too. We will try on the slipper and somehow make it fit anyone of us. He doesn’t remember the girl’s face though.” Overhearing it, Anamika felt happy beyond words.
The next day, Kanha visited all the houses that had daughters and tried on the slipper. But it didn’t fit anyone. Rajjo aunty’s daughter tried it. It fit her perfectly and she had a twinkle in her eye. Looking up at her, he demanded for the other slipper which was actually with Anamika. When she did not produce it, he smirked at her and moved to the next house.
Sangamithra and Pradhayini welcomed him with a warm smile and tried on the slipper. But it didn’t fit either of them. Anamika who was watching the drama silently proposed that she would try on it.
“You??? You didn’t even attend the ball. How can you try it?” mocked her stepmother.
But Kanha shushed her. He moved towards Anamika, gazing intently into her eyes. His glance was passionate. He moved closer to her. There was only a palm length between them. Anamika got the glass slipper and went on to try it. But he stopped her.
“You are my girl!” He exclaimed with joy.
“How can you tell that?” she asked him.
“Oh come on! Can’t I recognize you by looking at you? This isn’t a Cinderella story that you must try the slipper on. I don’t mind if you are dressed in rags. You are my girl!”
“But she didn’t attend the ball. How can she be your girl?” asked a horrified Sangamithra.
In response to that, Anamika brought out the other slipper and placed before her. Astonished by it, the two stepsisters almost fainted.
Kanha Sesh Rajput wrapped his arms around her and asked lovingly, “What’s your name?”
“Anamika,” she replied with the same love in her voice.
During their grand wedding, Rajjo aunty’s daughter kept on weeping for her missed opportunity, Sangamithra and Pradhayini were clicking selfies with their mother and Anamika’s father had tears of joy in his eyes.