‘I am not romantic, you know.’
—Charlotte to Elizabeth, Pride and Prejudice (Vol I, Chapter xxii)
ONE DAY, a young woman, who had read a great many books, said to her friend, “It would be nice if I had a little romance in my life.”
“You could marry a prince or a king,” her friend offered.
“That wouldn’t be romance. That would be snobbery!” the young woman replied.
“Well, a frog prince then?” her friend suggested.
“What if the frog remained a frog?”
“Oh, the frog would change,” her friend told her.
“Not overnight!” the young woman snorted. “That’s the stuff of fairytales!”
“Well, yes,” her friend agreed. “Perhaps if you believed that the frog was really a prince, it wouldn’t matter much?”
“What? And tell myself lies?”
“You’re very hard to please,” her friend complained. “What’s the good of all those books that you’ve been reading?”
The young woman didn’t know what to say. In her heart, she loved the books of poetry and the tales of high romance and even the fairytales that had been her diet. At last, she said carefully, “I think those books might help me recognise the real thing when at last I encounter it. I’m going in search of it.”
Her friend wished her well and the young woman set off. A year and a day later, she returned.
“Did you find romance?” her friend asked eagerly.
“Yes and no,” the young woman replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you see,” said the young woman. “I’m still looking.”
SUNITI NAMJOSHI’s books include Feminist Fables, Sycorax and the Aditi series. Her forth coming books include The Monkey and the Crocodiles: A Suniti Namjoshi Reader and The Unloved Queen and Other Stories.