On a one sunny day, in a luscious mountain far away from the city, an old town prosper continuously. In one old creaking house, a wrinkly old lady sits by her rocking chair perched on her wooden porch. She looks at the sky with a twinkle in her eye, a knowing glint hidden in between. Her eyes were the shade of golden brown, her hair silver like the moonlight and curly as the grapes vine. She looks ahead as if longing to belong to the nothingness of the blue sky. And for the nth time of the day, she whispers Saudade.
Many seconds passed, minutes and hours and yet she remains still in her rocking chair with a gaze held up by the blue sky.
As time ticks by, homes started to do its daily business, men and women pacing and passing up and about, children running, squealing, chasing, and goofing around.
A busy day for the townsfolk indeed. But still she remained, unwavering in the busy chatter of the town – a portrait of a still life.
Then as if by some magic, all children turned their heads in her direction and abruptly stopped their businesses. Each of them looking at one another before they smiled and broke into a run towards the old lady. One child, a young lad covered in grass and dirt came to stand by her side pulling on her sleeves relentlessly.
Misty Granny, Misty Granny! Tell us of your story! That story of once upon a time!
All children expectant of the old lady held their breaths as they wait for Misty Granny’s consent of a story telling. Finally, the old wrinkly lady looked upon them, her eyes crinkling in the corners as her lips pulled into a warm smile.
Come little ones, she says. I’ll tell you that one of the maiden’s heart.
Then the children gathered around her – some by her feet, the others by the railing of her porch, and a couple by the armrest of her rocking chair. The old lady smiled a little more while seconds ticked by and with a gentle demeanor, proceeded with her story while she looks up into the sky.
Once upon a time, in a far away land, there existed a thousand year old land floating in the sky. It was ruled by a maiden with a golden heart. And for hundreds of years, she lived alone – ruling the sky, the stars, and the land where she lays her feet. Winged creatures of mythical times fly by over her head always greeting her with a language of their own. She would smile and wave as if those mere gestures are understood by the lots of them creatures.
One day, in a whim of the moment, she walked up to the edge of the island and looked down the land before her where soft music sounds in the air. As if sensing her curiosity, a winged creature the size of a giant lizard and the scales of a dragon swooshed pass her, up and again as if dancing in thin air. The creature flapping its wings looked at her, curiosity painted in it’s face.
The maiden smiled her usual smile, waved, and walked back to where she came from, the winged creature flapping its wings farther from her, too.
Days passed by, weeks, and months. The maiden who once looked to the edge did it another time the day after the first until it became part of her daily routine. Then one day, when she looked down, she heard of festivities, of soft music flowing through the air, of dances choreographed, of laughter, and of unending banters.
Curiosity got the better of her for that day she remained by the edge of her land watching with unwavering focus. Cloths and linen with many colors strung to a central post, men and women milling around with a goal in mind, and many a children running past by tents after tents.
Days passed and nights waned on. Then on one night she just stood up, gathered the hem of her dress and decided to visit the land below hers. And so she ventured into the night life of the town, gathering peculiar things, peering into odd views, and carving precious moments into her memories.
People gaze at her in awe, her mystic glow different from theirs, her eyes shining brightly like the stars watching over them, her hair – golden in the moonlight reaches her back, while her dress – a mix of ethereal blue, green, and white captures her very essence in the dark festivities of the night.
People made way for her, men and women alike smile at her like she had always been someone they respected; young ones would run to her squealing to their hearts desire while she would laugh at their antics. It was a fateful night – that one night she went for a stroll at the land beneath her fortress.
Once a month, she would go down and mingle with the elders, play with the young ones, or simply stroll by the market – a place she finds comfort in for it was a place full of life, of laughter, of banters, of voices devoid of stillness like her place above.
Stories of her golden heart, of her mystified beauty, of the stillness in her, spread out through the country and in her stead, people of the land below her threw her a festivity for her presence of once a month. Then people from all over the country will visit her – to chance upon her rumored beauty, mystic aura, and stillness as they have heard.
An enchantress, some of them would say. Nevertheless, people adored her, young and old, men and women. For years, the maiden and her people lived happily and satisfactorily. Then one night, as the town was sleeping and the maiden was counting the stars shining in the night, a great fire rose east of the town. The fire spread like the wildfire it is, while screams and cries filled the silence of the night.
In her horror, the maiden watched the town burn down, ruins of what used to be homes of her people painted the town. Ashes, broken furniture, dolls, and hallow bodies littered the ground. People from the old town sat by what used to be their homes, weeping and comforting the young ones.
For days and nights, the maiden and her people grieved for the loss while she remained in her island – weeping against the breeze of the cold night. She cried to the stars and pleaded with the moon. Yet both seem oblivious to her pleas.
Then one afternoon, as the sun was about to set, she watched her beloved town and the few people who survived go up and about the remains of the town. Her heart ached at the loneliness – the laughter and squealing of children gone, the festivities and colorful lights of the night rejected, etc.
Then she sung a one song, one song that sent people to look at her from below, one song that pleaded for another chance for her people, a song that utterly changed the view of the cosmos towards her. A song that she knew will never be ignored by the heavens.
And so, the loneliness of that night seeped through the soil. Where the houses once stood, now grew luscious trees, fertile soil, and a new life.
The maiden. She sacrificed her land for a new beginning, her own life for the birth of a new one, her voice for the new smiles, laughter, squealing, and bantering of children – a new hope, a new beginning.
Stories says that she vanish like golden dust into the night while her land found decay and crumbled silently through the waning night.
And so, with the sacrifice of the maiden, the new town by the mountain prospered, eternally protected and guided by her soul, her kindness, her golden heart.
With that, the old lady finished her story leaving the children in awe of the maiden from her once upon a time. Then one child, a young girl with big doe eyes, hair black as the night asked, Misty Granny, did she really die and left the town? Tears threatening to fall from her eyes as she sniffed silently and held on to her ragged doll.
Misty Granny smiled a warm smile and said, No, my dear child. She never really died. Stories says that once every hundred years, the young maiden is reincarnated as a new human being. Born to the people residing in the town and grows to be an old wrinkly lady.
Really Misty Granny? the young lass asks, hope clearly stated in her eyes. Yes, my child. Truly. And what they say is that, when she reincarnates, she brings her memories with her. Only, she is reborn every hundred years or so, says the old lady – a glow of happiness reflected in her eyes.
The children mesmerized with the old lady’s story as felt their hearts flutter as their eyes shine brighter. Smiles crossed their faces as laughter slowly filled the air.
Now, run along children. Your mothers must be looking for you.
And off they went back to their homes with Misty Granny’s story of once upon a time.