Already enchanted by the chatter of the sea triggered by the joy of its curls being ruffled by a caressing breeze, Edgar, an old man with millions of memories with which to muse over the mysteries of nature, gazed with both rapture and some mystification at the tulip in his hand.
How beautiful an object, how generous of nature, he said to himself, even as he was more than keenly aware that the tulip he held was made of glass. He pondered further; how could he perceive a scent seemingly emanating from a manufactured object? Had the wings of a scented fairy known to frequent the foothills of the mountains of Bhutan been crushed and infused into the glass being blown? How terrible, he said silently to himself.
Even as he felt deep sorrow for that fairy (for he was certain of the origin of that wonderful scent), he thought that he glimpsed the improbable – a slight movement within the centre of the glass tulip. In his confused mind, wherein consternation was mingled with delight, he felt that he could see a tiny figure. Peering deeply into the tulip, he did discern a perfectly shaped female figure. He was gratified to see that she had wings, and that they were intact, folded demurely as only a fairy can, close to her body. Obviously, his first unthinking concern was for the safety of her wings.
So great was his joy at having his very own scented fairy cocooned securely in glass, that he did not become aware immediately that she was waving frantically at him. Unthinking, he waved back. That seemed to annoy her. She stamped her feet, obviously in anger. That made him more confused than he had ever been through the effects of what he chose to refer to as galloping middle age. His children thought him a doddering old fool pre-occupied with the failures of his life, including fighting in other peoples’ wars, which always ended in defeat.
That is, he had a conscience. Yet, the worrying prospect of a rare scented fairy being imprisoned unfairly, unethically, in a glass tomb on his bookshelf was overtaken by the pleasure of possession of something ever so rare and so beautiful. Greed overtook conscience, until the fairy decided to act.
She pulled up her skirt and displayed her shapely little bottom, then waggled it, while simultaneously looking back at him with despair underlined with anger. The waggle did not bother Edgar, for he had forgotten its implications. The despair, however, touched his soul.
That was too much for Edgar. He knew all about suffering. With tears in his eyes, he broke the tulip most carefully. The fairy came out, did a little dance on his hand, and flew away briskly, leaving a scented trail. How Edgar wished he could retain that scent for posterity.
Sighting her departure, the sea now turned ebullient with joy for the fairy, its waves clapping clamorously to speed her flight. Edgar, however, continued to weep silently in a confusion of an undeniable Christian charity, and deep sorrow for that which was lost.
(Raja Arasa Ratnam – unpublished)