Princess Jocy’s story – in a napkin
By Jocy B Medina
All the way from the Planet of Cuba
Because “essential things are invisible to the eye” – according to Exupery!
We all start out little, like the Baobabs. I was 5 years old when my Prince left my planet. He was then a young dreamer surrounded by stars. He needed to conquer the world to maybe then understand that his only possession, a rose, was special. He could have said then:
I know that somewhere far, there a rose, my rose, different from all of the roses of this planet, whose tenderness and innocence lightens the pain in my soul. I wonder in four needles are really enough to win over beasts. I left, she cried but coughed so I would not realize it. I left.
I existed, surrounded by multicolor Ampoules, Frambojans and sometimes by fully-grown Baobabs capable of damaging any planet. I filtered beauty and pain through my eyes sometime open, sometime watery, sometime closed. I grew a few more needles than four. My planet was small, but big enough to accommodate the kind that demanded obedience and tried for me to unwillingly stay in his planet forever, a conceited man who wanted me to clap and salute him and cried for my admiration, a drunk that laid on the streets to forget he was ashamed of drinking, a businessman who did nothing but count stars, claiming he owned all of them, the dictator that brainwashed us from birth, a geographer that was so brain-washed that he was unable to say anything about his own planet and a lamp lighter. Thank god for the lamp lighter in my planet. My grandma, whose job it was to light the street lamp. I always knew her job had a meaning, yet, never understood why she did it. It was due to something I could not see. I could only feel it. However, she was exhausted. She claimed before what all called revolution her job used to be much better, easier and had better returns. She lit the street lamp, the only lamp in my planet, at night, every night and put it out in the morning. She had the rest of the rest of the day off, and she could sleep all night. But after the revolution, when the started turning faster and faster, her days only lasted only one minute, so she was constantly lighting the lamp and putting it out again, making her mood faint in exhaustion. I had to leave my own planet, running from brain washing dictators and exhausted grandmother. However, ever since I left the short days of that planet I have never gotten used to the feeling of not having so many sunsets.
My planet was also full of unnamed narrators fixing broken airplanes in the Sahara dessert and hardly ever entertaining the thought of drawing a sheep for the sake of it.
I soon understood I was not going to get many sheep, that the planet although small and full of sunsets would not allow me to watch the sunsets whenever I wanted, just by turning around. I knew I needed the sheep to eat the small Baobabs that would soon grow into monsters. It does not matter if cheeps eat flowers as well, I needed them to get rid of the monsters . Now you see how the monsters never left and got their way with my childhood.
In the meantime my dad kept on walking and walking. I know eventually came upon a rose garden. He actually sent me pictures of them. I don’t know what he thought but that always failed of making me feel special. A particular rose dressed of a ballerina once broke my heart. A particular rose swimming in his home swimming pool did it as well. He probably just realized that I, who he thought was completely unique, was only a common rose like the rest in that garden. And years passed, and maybe he was right. But I had once given my love. I once had not known any better as not to give him the love the way he wanted to be loved. That’s maybe the reason he left. The 5 year old I was could not see away from it all been her fault. I maybe even deserved it.
Some are lucky, but my Prince did not meet a fox who explained the meaning of taming. Therefore my Prince never knew that my love had tamed him one day and that our bond was unique to each other. My prince never realized he needed to come home to take care of his rose. So he stayed over in the same place where he left when he should have said then:
I know that somewhere far, there’s a rose, my rose, different from all of the roses of this planet, whose tenderness and innocence lightens the pain in my soul. She tamed me. I know her four needles are not really enough to win over beasts. I left her, she cried but coughed so I would not realize it. I left but I need to go back to make her feel special.
He never did say it. I grew into this though beautiful and sweet-smelling smelling flower who was vain and demanding, naively fearless of tigers, believing my thorns would protect me from them. I demanded too much from the Princes of my life, sometimes asked to put up a screen to shield me from winds of the night, other times for glass globes at night to protect me from cold. But never gave back. Yet cried every time each one grew tired of bearing my claims and demands. They loved me, but one after the other, they left. I understood to live without shields and glass globes one minute too late after they left.
Maybe one repeats all the patters learned from one’s first Prince of one’s life. I traveled to learn the meanings of loving someone. I certainly did. I encountered foxes that tamed me, grumpy narrators and all kind of strange characters to realize how important each of our roses are even though when she might not be perfect.
I have tried all along for the child in me not to die sometimes with no successful results. But I still believe in what is invisible to the eye and only known to our souls. I have come to understand that although love may break our hearts at times, it is worth the pain. I have finally understood that the essential things in my life, are all the invisible one. And those that I worried the most are those that never really happened.
I would be cheating if I didn’t tell you that I learned it all from a book. A book, born from a napkin drawing at a New York restaurant. A replica of my life, which was born from drawing made to a napkin of a Havana bar. Figure the odds! The book saved my life through years of missing, not knowing, wondering and even rejection. Its Spanish copy aged in my night table and carries with me as a Bible that one day I will read to my son. Enchanting my every day life with the mystery of a fable that has touched, I presume, many of us. I know other grown children out there in their Amazing and Xhosa languages understand what I ‘m saying from reading their own versions. Even in Canada and Japan they understand.
Today, I will retake been an artist. A career I left when I was 5 years old to become the scientist and the business woman I owe my adult home and beautiful car to. I am an artist. I always was. Dammed! Why did somebody had to decide that I had attitudes in science and prohibited studying art? I don’t remember the point where adults took my crayons away and replaced them with a microscope. Today, I’ll go back to crayons and pretty paints and draw my own napkin. I now understand not to care if other adults don’t understand my paintings or even this writing. I will paint the Sahara desert and promise to draw a sheep to one and every child wondering the universe seeking advise and compassion for what is important to them: Not a sick one, not and old one, one in a box that they can feed through the hole. I promise to read this book to my child. I promise to understand my grandma’s short orbited planet and even help her sometimes light the only street light she’s grown to know, so that she can get time to rest.
I have traveled and seen people on trains passing by, I have seen people die in the streets of a sick sick sick planet, I have seen children walk the pornographic street of adults just for coins. And a piece of me has died every time. And sometimes as a way of relief for the soul, I have looked away. I had met the pilots-like people that have ended the flashback of my story. They have either been dying of thirst, or hunger, or attention, or AIDS, or love. Before they all finishing fixing their planes, and by sheer faith, thank god!, they have found a well of water, or a bucket of food, or companion. Some never found an antidote to their pain or disease and died but that’s the law of this life. Or that’s my version of it. They all made who I am today, even the poisonous snakes that beat me when I thought they were friends. As I died every time, I imagined my journey back home, and my body vanishes in the story after I left. I beg you, my reader, to tell me if I have ever returned from that death, if I have somehow touched your life while wanting to comeback from it. If not, I do apologize for ever been vain, for making silly demands, for if I ever was so selfish as to hurt your feelings and make you not stand the life in my planet. I know for each time that happened, I am dead.
Thirty years after, and 60 years after the book, I want to write but I don’t for fear of not making it justice. I am an artist and I think just will. I don’t have it, I wont. So, I want you to dedicate all these feelings, in no particular order, to a war pilot refugee that escaped France from Natzi repression during the II World War and who later disappeared in Africa, to a dictator that crippled an island in the Caribbean with chains of Communism, to a free frozen land that rests on the top of the world awaiting for me, to my grandma who loved me as if the princess was me and to this book that ages in my drawer.
In the meantime, my reader, just know that when I miss each Prince that went through my life, I also look up at the stars and can see them.
One after thought
Hmmm…We always new about snakes but keep trusting them as if there were friends.