Once upon a time, in a far away land, lived a young girl called Cinderella. Her father had died when she was quite young. She lived with her step mother and two step-sisters, who weren‚t particularly fond of her. Her step-mother wasn‚t motherly and she had more of a kinship with strangers she passed on the road than with her step-sisters.
Cinderella was not mistreated, or made to undergo any torture, but she would have been happier if this had been the case. She would have been comforted by the fact that her existence had at least excited hatred or even resentment in her near (and definitely not dear) ones. But she wasn‚t even given this satisfaction .She lived in benign neglect, alternately day-dreaming about being beaten or caressed by her step-mother, tormented or loved by her step-sisters, treated with respect or disrespect by the servants. All the options were equally tantalizing; it was the indifference which was unbearable.
Cinderella could have been pretty or ugly, nobody could really decipher if her looks were stunningly good or shockingly bad. It could have been either. Her demeanor could have been pleasing or repulsive, her speech mellow or stuttering, her last name illustrious or common. Nobody knew. As far as the world was concerned, Cinderella was a nonentity.
But suddenly, the world changed. News came from the neighboring kingdom that their prince, the most eligible bachelor across the seven seas, was looking for his soul-mate, his bride. All maidens, from all corners of the world, were invited. There were no restrictions on entry- all who considered themselves eligible were eligible.
The news created the expected furore and excitement. Cinderella‚ step-sisters and step-mother started preparations for the trip and the ball with great gusto. Nothing was said to Cinderella- she wasn‚t stopped from coming with them, but she wasn‚t asked to come either. Her decision to stay back and help the cook with the dishes evoked the same unruffled response that an intention of going to the ball in full glory would have called forth.
Cinderella, on the other hand, became even more despondent after her relatives left for the ball. She went to sit in the moonlit courtyard, and there- a miracle happened. A celestial being descended from the heaven- an angel by the name of Common Sense. Cinderella realized, as she gazed at the stars, that the even sky could not be her limit, but only if she wanted to break that barrier. There was no glass ceiling over her- no indifference, no discrimination against her gender, mind or class could hold ground unless she wanted it to.
The self realization was like a boon from Cinderella‚s fairy godmother. She collected her wits and brushed the intelligence and aesthetic senses that had been withering away. She fashioned herself a new gown from her old dresses and the new cloth her step-sisters had left behind as waste. Her shoes were made from fresh flowers from the garden. Cinderella also came up with a new form of transport- a common chariot with special shafts and wheels her father had invented and no one had used. Her foot-men and steward were common field hands, who were exceptionally good at the job because of their loyalty, prowess and agility, and who never got the job because they were from the lower classes.
So, did Cinderella reach the ball? Well, no, she didn‚t. Because reach is not the word for the entry she made and the impact her appearance had. She looked beautiful, almost ethereal, because her beauty was made of self-confidence and an innocent joy for life.
It didn‚t surprise anyone that the Prince was immediately enamored by Cinderella and asked her for all her dances in the ball. Cinderella acquiesced, and as she was dancing, she suddenly realized that she wasn‚t prepared for the proposal the Prince seemed ready to make. She broke away from him as the realization dawned on her, half-stumbled, half-ran out of the ball-room, and vanished into the night.
The Prince was shocked, but he recovered quickly. The illustrious maiden, he declared, had seemed to have lost the track of time as she was dancing with him, and ran away as soon as she realized that it was going to be (He stole a quick glance at the wall-clock) twelve. He also declared his intention of looking for her. (After all, she had slighted his imperial dignity and had to be punished for it)
Cinderella was found quickly enough, because of the tremendous change wrought in her form due to her new insight into life. Her family‚s neglect had ceased to bother her and she had started looking like the talented and pretty girl she could have always been. The soldiers were almost guided to the home of what had been a non-descript girl.
The prince met her again, to see her for the last time before he declared her sentence. But he was so struck by Cinderella‚s beauty that on the spur of the moment he asked her to marry him. Cinderella quickly realized that her life depended on her answer, so she said a yes almost spontaneously.
Cinderella and the Prince Charming were married with great pomp and show. They were married for a year, after which Cinderella filed a case for separation. The judge granted her the divorce and alimony of millions and Cinderella lived happily ever after.