Remember Aesop’s fables – those short stories we used to read as children, with the little morals at the end? Yeah, this’ll go something like that, though slightly longer.
Here goes nuthin’!
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a certain King Phillip and his new bride, Queen Rosabelle. The couple were a magnanimous pair, often sharing their fortune and giving to the poor and this earned them the awe and respect of everyone across the land. Before long, Queen Rosabelle was found to be with child and, farmers and milkmaids alike cheered and celebrated excitedly as they anticipated the birth of the royal child.
The months flew by and soon the day for Queen Rosabelle to deliver drew on apace. And true enough, on the seventh hour of the seventh day of the fourth month before the harvest, the pangs of childbirth sent the queen into labour. But after three long hours, something unexpected took place; much to the excitement of the royals and their people, the couple was blessed with not one but three baby girls. In the week that followed, it was declared that the three princesses be named Venus, after the goddess of beauty, Minerva, after that of music, and Joy, well for obvious reasons.
Years passed and the princesses grew true to their names. Venus, with her beautiful golden locks of hair and large blue eyes, often took the idiomatic title of ‘The Fairest of Them All’ and the kingdom’s young longed to own the pretty dresses and beads of pearl that she often donned. Minerva was a stunner with her melodious voice. It was said that she put even the sweetest song birds to shame. And Joy.. Well, she was joyful. However, she often did feel that she was inferior to her sisters since it appeared that she wasn’t quite as talented or as beautiful as either of them. But her face did light up when she told one of her lame jokes. So the three princesses lived a life of comfort, often doted on, but not spoilt by the tender loving care of the king and queen.
Now the princesses often played together on the edge of a thick forest – the ‘Ferocious Forest’ as some called it, for no one who had entered it had ever come out alive, yet no one knew what exactly lurked beyond the tall oaks that guarded it. But the threesome had their fun there nonetheless, sometimes playing tag and other times picking from the berry bushes not too far off.
One fine day, amidst a usual game of tag, Joy accidentally tripped over the vine of a berry bush and she grabbed the edge of Venus’ dress as the fell to the ground. Joy’s face fell almost instantly as she heard the loud ‘RRRRRIP’ that followed and she realised what she had done.
“I’m soooo sorry, Venus! It was an accident! Honest!” she cried out in desperation. But she was not spared Venus’ wrath as her sister shot back, “Just because you’re not as pretty as me, doesn’t mean you have to spoil my image. THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE DRESS!” By that time, Minerva had scurried over and begun examining the tatters of the torn dress.
Shivering with both guilt and anger, Joy felt tears well up in her eyes and in a moment of overwhelming emotion, she darted forth into the Ferocious Forest and before her sisters could stop her, she had sprinted out of their sight.
Venus and Minerva glanced at each other as if in acknowledgment of similar thoughts and then, clutching tight to each others’ hands they crept forward into the mysterious beyond.
“Joy? Are you there?”
With each step they took, the forest seemed to grow darker and darker and with each minute that passed, Venus and Minerva grew more and more worried.
All of a sudden, a loud CRRRACKK resonated through the air and the cacophony of screeching birds sent shivers down the spines of the two princesses. Venus and Minerva held each other tightly as they tiptoed round the branch to continue their search when suddenly-
“Hello my sweets,” a soft, eerie voice came from the distance, leaving the pair rooted to the ground. Just then, they saw a tall, hooded figure emerge from a clearing, holding Joy captive with its bare hands. Venus and Minerva watched helplessly as the figure, now revealed to be an evil-looking old lady with a whart-infested face, brandished what she claimed to be a magic wand and threatened to turn all three of them into apples.
“W-what do you want from us?” Venus finally found the courage to say.
“What do I want from you?!” she began before continuing viciously, “REVENGE! Your father was a curse to this land! After he married that pretty peach, he has made everyone so happy that they haven’t any time for a sad old lady like me, leaving me abandoned, alone, banished to this faraway forest forever!” The old lady then began to sob.
Still bound by the sheer strength of the old lady, Joy took a quick glance at her sisters before beginning, “You mean to say no one has ever made you happy? You’ve never laughed or smiled before?”
“Never!” said the old lady with renewed vengeance, “And that’s why you three are going to pay for the dreadful deeds of your parents! Hahahahahah!” And amidst her evil laughter, the old lady lifted her magic wand to the sky, threatening to strike the princesses.
But just before she could lower her arm, Joy cried out, “Waaaaait! What was Beethoven’s favourite fruit?”
“What?” A look of pure confusion came across the face of the old lady.
“What was Beethoven’s favourite fruit?” Joy repeated.
“What does it matter? In a few moments, the only fruits you’re going to know are apples! Hahahahaha!”
But just before she could go on, Joy interjected, “BA-NA-NA-NAAAAA!”
It only took a moment for the old lady to realise Joy had been trying to tell her a joke and before long, the old lady went into a hysterical laughing fit and she laughed and she laughed and as she laughed, she lifted her grip from Joy, allowing her to go free.
And because Joy taught her the value of happiness, she decided to repay her by helping the princesses find their way out of the Ferocious Forest and back to the castle, where she personally thanked the king and queen for the bliss they had brought upon the kingdom.
As for Joy, she realised that it didn’t matter if she wasn’t as beautiful as Venus or as talented as Minerva, for she had been given the most valuable gift of them all – her namesake, joy.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24
Alex would like to think of herself as eternally happy. And she often is cheerful, especially in the company of good friends, a linguistic riddle or a nice, hot cup of English Breakfast Tea. She also lights up at the occasional tune God sneaks into her mind. But sometimes, she wishes she heard him speak to her more.