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Waltz into Paheli Kingdom and take delight in a modern-day fairytale whose characters: the wicked King Jafar; the egotistical, ‘super-cool’ Prince Zaydan; and the charismatic, naïve Latifah are oh so real!
Once upon a time, in a beautiful castle high on a rugged mountain lived a wicked king with a handsome young son. The peasants of Paheli Valley suffered terrible injustices under King Jafar’s rule, with a very many traded on the slave-market, while the aristocrats enjoyed preferential treatment: endless invitations to grand balls and tea parties.
At age 71, King Jafar had a failing heart but pleaded with Almighty God to spare his life just until his only son, Prince Zaydan, was wed. Tall, dark and handsome, Zaydan was extremely popular with the ladies! So much so that princesses from the neighbouring kingdoms of Dhamaka and Rhoda would have their fathers plead with King Jafar for his son’s hand in marriage.
Despite being born into royalty, Zaydan paid little attention to his princely duties, and shied away from the prospect of committing to a long-term relationship. The 26-year-old heartthrob was bent on completing his doctorate in Literature and the Arts at Paheli University before he consented to marriage. A profound Arab saying he had stumbled upon while looking through some dated manuscripts in the castle’s attic guided his ambition in life: “Nothing is more honourable than knowledge. While Kings rule over people, the learned rule over Kings” (Ibn Aswad). It is no wonder then that Prince Zaydan devoted the past six years of his life totally submerged in academia: tutoring and presently lecturing the Human Sciences students of Paheli University.
Zaydan was renowned on campus for his egotistical nature. Yet, his charm ensured that crowds of students eager to buy into his ‘super-cool’ ambience always surrounded him. Latifah, the newly-appointed editor of The Candle, a campus newspaper, however, being the naïve lass that she was, knew nothing of Zaydan and his runaway ego.
It all began when Latifah scheduled an interview with the young prince on his remarkable achievement: Zaydan had just been awarded the prestigious Golden Leaf Award for his paper entitled “The Mind of a Genius”. Latifah was really the daughter of a peasant, but her charisma, flawless beauty and impeccable wit allowed her to safely guard this secret from the rest of her class fellows. True to her name, Latifah’s esprit and righteous upbringing made her a well-loved personality among both the students and lecturers of Paheli University.
Latifah admired Zaydan’s frank and confident nature and began to serenade him with beautifully composed sonnets. For you, I would tear down the sky… For you, I would steal the moon… Latifah, a prolific writer, decided to add Prince Zaydan’s name to her “Inner-Circle” mailing list (consisting of peasants and aristocrats she regarded as friends). Soon her intellectual discussions with Zaydan were circulated through Paheliwise email and all Circle members were encouraged to have their say. Latifah’s email blog was fairly well-received during its initial stages, but soon a heated diatribe ensued, resulting in a string of personality clashes between the peasants and the aristocrats.
Zaydan’s true colours became apparent: Latifah had unwittingly pricked his ego-bubble and bruised it a tad. No matter how forward-thinking and non-judgemental he may have seemed, Prince Zaydan still prized his noble origins above all else. Latifah felt hurt by Zaydan’s wrangling with the peasants and shook off her aristocrat masquerade in their defence. Zaydan and Latifah avoided any form of communication for a whole month before they realised how much they truly needed one another.
Zaydan needed to be humbled and Latifah, in standing up to him, brought him back to earth from Planet Vain. Latifah needed to stop pretending to be someone she was not, and to be more confident of her person. The result: a perfect match!
Did the two lovebirds have King Jafar’s blessings on their wedding day? Well, King Jafar was so pleased to see his handsome prince mellow and graduate from having young women propose to him, to being the one doing the actual proposing, that he welcomed his son’s bride with open arms! Was the wicked king laid to rest that very day? Not a chance. Latifah brought so much of love and colour to the cheerless kingdom that every heart was transformed by her magic! Perhaps then, Latifah, the peasant turned princess, deserves credit for her part in ensuring that the story does have a fairytale ending: for they all lived happily ever after!
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Last Updated (Monday, 14 February 2011 15:33)