Fairy Tale as Coping Mechanism by Ankush Banerjee

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Take 1: You see, it is entirely possible

that in the end, the Emperor

doesn’t really learn shame.

Because that nameless boy, swept by

Pied Piper’s charms, is already living

with Hansel and Gretel in their

chocolate house, too happy to give a f*ck.

Together they roam grassy jungle paths,

sharing a peach, ensuring that the wolf

doesn’t trouble the pigs

or Red Riding Hood. She visits them often

for sleepovers, too lonely from living alone.

Together, she and Gretel bake cookies,

read old Travel brochures and

novels written for women.

Later, all four of them sit around,

in the sweet, silly sunshine,

having tea and cookies, recounting

with glitzy eyes,

Rapunzel’s great escape.         

One should imagine their bliss –

a white ribbon fluttering in the wind,

but for the Pied Piper,

the Pied Piper lurking behind the curtains, waiting

for it to get dark.    

Take 2: It is entirely possible

that the Emperor

doesn’t really learn shame.

Because the Emperor now

wears his new clothes

for State receptions, funerals,

concerts, even Memorial days.

The fashion seems to be catching up.

Most find his style liberating. Others, too libertine. 

But it goes well with the poor

unencumbered now by fabric. He has set them free,

they say. The country is now draped in

the Emperor’s new clothes, draped in dreams,

draped in something that can’t be pulled away

in a thousand years. 

Take 3: In the woods, they find the Pied Piper

dressed in the Emperor’s new clothes,

untying a red ribbon each from

Red Riding Hood and Gretel’s hair.

They stand spellbound, gawk, as if this were a film set,

waiting for someone else to shout,


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