Once upon a time in a fairy kingdom of silver dust and perpetually arriving carriages, there lived a little fairy named Dorothy. She had most beautiful wings, made of crystals, unlike her cousins who had wings made of paper and cloth. However, when Dorothy was only two-year-old, she punctured her wings in a crushing accident. Her wings had gotten stuck in a bicycle wheel while his chaperon Tiny-hands Mustapha was cycling her to see the fireworks of the Moon Kingdom. Ever since, Little Dorothy could not fly.
“Oh, dear! Look at those wings. I feel pathetic,” Suzanne’s sharp forefingers smothering a laugh, pointing at her cousin’s torn glittering pink crystals.
“My, my… aren’t these pretty crystals useless,” Patricia arched frame joined in the conversation, making her way into the huddle from Dorothy’s rear.
Unable to respond, Dorothy stifled a sob under the brightly lit dome of her cousin’s wedding aisle. Downfaced, she was on a retreat when Patricia called out, “We are sorry, cousin. We did not mean to make light of your sorrow. But sometimes ordinary wings like ours are lighter to the winds.”
Little Dorothy had no friends to bat for her. Because she could not fly, Dorothy made no flying partners. Because she was pretty, fairies who were less so would not befriend Dorothy. And because she was her mother’s only daughter, Dorothy had no siblings. This made Little Dorothy befriend books instead.
Dorothy was an early reader. She would spend her time reading old classics of knights and screaming gargoyles, fairy dust and tinker bells, devouring tomes handed out by her grandfather, and sometimes treasures she would discover at unsuspecting nooks of her dilapidating school library. Nobody read in the Fairy Kingdom for hundred years now, where books were thought to be lowly human endeavor. In fairy-imagination, magic was thought to be superior to books.
However, Dorothy was different from other fairies who flew. She believed that books have every answer to ills plaguing the Fairy Land. There was a book to read when one was in fever, books to read when one broke up with an old friend, books to read when one failed at an exam, books to gift to people who never returned one’s books, books to read when one was in doubt about decision to be made, books to read before one was setting out for travel, books to be read with coffee and books to be read with tea, and her list of books never ended. But Dorothy could never find a book that could cure her broken wings.
“Mama get me the book that will tell me how to fix my wings,” Dorothy would often repeat to her motherly Mother Hilda. With big face, big palms, and a flying wisp of a bun stuck to the back of her neck, Hilda was a soft cocoon.
“Dorothy,” Mother Hilda would repeat to her. “You do not need a book to cure your wings. You need a Fairy doctor, and a good pair of hands. We need to be patient and do our prayers to find one.”
“But, Mama, books have magic too. You only have to believe.”
“Then why haven’t they shown their powers yet. You read them all day long,” puff came the reply.
“That is because I haven’t read the right book yet. Get me more books, Mama… Get me more books,” Dorothy spluttered on the verge of nerves.
“Read all the books of this Kingdom and the Kingdom next door, too, but do not cry. My brave daughter should not know how to cry,” Hilda wrapped Dorothy around her chest, now drenched in her daughter’s spluttering sobs.
And so, the days went with Dorothy crossing her mindful boundaries with every read, and her Mother Fairy Hilda watching over her voracious pink fairy in helpless agony.
On one cloudy day, when the mist was just about gathering in the air, Dorothy sat squatting and staring outside her window, her book flat open on her lap. Without warning a big pair of eyes blinked back at her.
“Hello, hello,” the pair of eyes laughed into her.
“Who are you?” Dorothy found herself staggering backwards on her bed.
“I am a witch, sent on an errand by the Wizard of Oz. He sent me to help you.”
“And how can you be of help to me? And why would the Wizard of Oz help someone helpless as I?”
“When the cloud goes burst,
And the mist is heavy…
a fairy yearns for the wings to be ready,” the witch chimed.
“But the fairy has been yearning for the wings to be alive. Reading all the books of Oz and finding them to be lies.”
“No, No, my dear … books don’t lie… they are full of magic and they certainly can fly.”
“If books can fly, then why can’t I.”
“Because you are yet to believe on a power of a book written by someone like me and you.”
“I read books of humans and fairies alike and doubting none… what else do I need to do to prove I believe in one.”
“Why do you not you write a book of your own, and sprinkle on them the dust of your crystals. And then, attach the bind to your spine, I am sure your crystals would not one-bit mind. Then fly high, my dear. Fly like you have never done. With your first book, your journey will surely begin.” The eyes whizzed off with a dropping chime.
Dorothy kept staring at the receding coat of black. And after the witch had disappeared into a dot, she picked up a sheaf of paper, a bottle of ink and a feathered pen. That night when she slept, her journey had surely begun.
Dorothy dreamt she was being cycled to the Moon Kingdom to see the fireworks.
“Dorothy do not bend,” Tiny-hands Mustapha warned as he peddled the wheels through the white mist of Moon space.
“I will not, Tiny-hands Mustapha. I am only reading a book on fireworks so that I know all about them when I see them tonight,” said Dorothy, bent on her book.
In the face of fast accumulating cold, sodden air and dipping visibility, the bicycle screeched a halt, narrowly missing the lamppost by the Polaris. Tiny-hands Mustapha left the peddle for control and the book went flying out of Dorothy’s, sticking between the cycle wheel spokes, and bringing the vehicle to a halt. Dorothy’s wings were saved and so was Tiny-hands Mustapha, and his co-passenger.
Dorothy woke up to a bright sun outside her window. Between her yawn and wink, she knew the dream had spoken to her, and so did the book that stuck between the bicycle spokes. A book can save her. Her book can save her.
Dorothy began to write, and she wrote of the farthest nook
She burnt the nights oil and wrote as-long-as the plot simmered, spluttered, cooked.
Dorothy wrote of the moon, the bicycle and wings it took.
She wrote what came to be known as Dorothy’s Little Book
She printed ink on paper, and sew it with her own little hands
She stacked it together, blew crystal dust with a wand.
She bound it hard cover, and the book stuck to her spine
The crystals giving way to a layered paper of rhymes
Atop the cascade of white water, and amid the silver dust
Dorothy flew with the book, fastened behind her bust
“Ah! Your wings are uglier than mine!” Suzanne shone green when she finally swished in to see.
“Your wings have a musty crust!” Patricia, with an arched brow, agreed.
“Your wings are a simple single spread, while mine are layered in print!” Little Dorothy in turn decreed.
“And light to the winds they are, light to the winds they are,”
Dorothy sang her song for every fairy to hear, in a vault of a mid-air sphere.
The Fairy kingdom stood gushing to her beautiful song and swing.
“Sky is the limit for the wisdom of printed hymns,” sang a flying Dorothy for anyone who cared to think.
And Mother Hilda opened a library, by the farthest of ice rings.
Wherein Dorothy taught words to every fairy who lost wings
Fairies flocked from far, goblins, too, came for a look
The library was named Dorothy’s Little Book.
Curious fairy scientists from far studied Dorothy’s collection for the cure it held
Believing in Dorothy’s magic that books can be one’s best ale!
From then on, on warm nights of open windows and deep blue sky, one could see fairy mothers reading to li’l ones nestled by their side
They would read them wide awake, and they would read as they slept
The li’l ones would dream of vaulting off the hook
As their fairy mothers introduced them to the magic waiting in a book.