By-Nayantara Ravichandran, NLSIU, Bangalore.
So I guess you want to start at the very beginning huh? Well you may know bits of it but there is a lot that went on behind the scenes which you have no idea about. I guess it all started with Mr. R Eli. He was one smart man, he was. Married early and married into money. Of course, the wife was a real ice queen and kept him under her thumb but her cash and looks kind of made up for it. And he was delighted when she had a daughter. Cyndi, was what he called her. Unfortunately it was like mother, like daughter and the poor man had quite a miserable time trying to keep both of them happy. She had inherited the Ice Queen’s looks as well and got away with murder. Literally. Rumour has it that the darling daughter was more than a little involved in the Ice Queen’s death. I say, you’re recording all this are you? Scratch the last line out won’t you? You didn’t hear that from me.
With only Cyndi in his life, R Eli spoiled her thoroughly. However, this didn’t stop him from falling in love and marrying again. The second marriage was for love. He married his childhood sweetheart Evila Stephen-Matre who was a lovely lady despite her unfortunate name. She brought her two daughters as well, Vaselina and Iodina. (The Stephen-Matre’s had problems deciding on suitable names) Cyndi didn’t like this one bit. She kicked and screamed and had quite a temper tantrum, refusing to attend the wedding. R Eli turned a blind eye to Cyndi’s antics and was exceedingly happy with Evila. It was unfortunate that he died the next year, leaving his wife and stepchildren at the mercy of his witch of a daughter. He did do his best to protect them, leaving instructions in his will about the four staying together in the house. He left Evila pretty well off too but it was Cyndi who was really loaded. She threw her weight around and made their lives quite miserable. She was horrible to Vaselina and Iodina- hiding Vaselina’s acne cream and Iodina’s retainers. She flirted with the boys who came to see them, made fun of them constantly and contemplated killing them but decided it was more fun to simply torture them.
This had been the state of affairs for quite a while when the Charmings moved into the neighbourhood. They were rich- richer than the Elis and had a handsome young son called Prince. All the girls in town were desperately in love with him and were waiting to get a chance to know the Charmings better. Evila herself was well acquainted with old Mr. Charming. She had been quite a belle in her youth, you know? Eli, Charming and I had been quite infatuated with her. Of course, she picked Stephen-Matre and moved away but none of us ever really forgot her.
Anyway, when the Charmings decided to throw a ball, Evila dropped a discreet hint in Charming’s year that Cyndi may not be precisely the type of guest he had in mind. So while the whole neighbourhood was invited, Cyndi’s invitation was ‘lost’ in the mail. This made her hopping mad and she took it out on the others. I say, has that black limousine been circling the building? I’m quite worried. The Company has an acute interest in the story. What do you mean you don’t know what The Company is? The large corporation with a mouse as its logo? That one. I better hurry up. Don’t want to get on their wrong side do we?
Cyndi pulled herself together real soon and called her publicist Joe Grimm. Now, he was a real smart cookie and knew precisely what Cyndi was like. He organised a meeting and outlined his plan. He knew the only way Cyndi could bag Prince was if he didn’t get the chance to see her true colours. He conceived a rather ingenious plan that included glass slippers, a late entrance and an early exit. Just long enough for him to absorb her beauty and want to propose but not long enough to get to know her real well. As for her name, Cyndi didn’t really stand out. She needed something unique that would make her sound sweet and shy. And that’s how Cyndi R Eli became Cinderella.
What? Why do you sound so surprised? You knew what was going to happen. The next bit is familiar to most of you. Grimm organised some major redecoration at the manor and Cyndi ordered the most expensive gown possible from the best boutique in town- The Fairy Godmother. Grimm went all out on this project. He even bought her glass slippers! Frightful extravagance I must say. But it all worked out for her. She went to the ball late, left before midnight and left her slippers behind. Just long enough for Prince to be smitten and forget all about poor Vaselina who he had been paying attention to till Cyndi came along. Prince resolved to search for her and Cyndi made matters easier by slipping her visiting card into the slippers. He paid her a visit the next day and she spun some pathetic yarn about being made to work for Evila and her step-sisters. Prince was a big old softie and he proposed right away. They were married right away and Grimm made sure that there were plenty of reporters at the wedding who were fed the same story. It was his masterpiece.
He retired soon after and received a fat check from Cyndi for his troubles. Not that she and the Charmings lacked for money after that. She raked in the bucks when she published her life story and signed a contract with The Company who made her story into an animated film. She and Prince live comfortable though there are times when he wonders how much of her history is true. I can’t wait to see his illusions shattered when this story hits the papers tomorrow. It is going to shake western civilisation by it very roots. I say, I’d love to stay and chat but that limousine is still there and it’s making me rather nervous. I better get out of the back door before the Company’s employees catch me. Toodles!