The Queen of Tarts
“Off with her head”, she screamed for the nth time.
And, yet another innocent soul was unceremoniously discarded from the pack. Her offense? She liked white roses just the way they were. Poor thing, never lived to see another one blossom. And so it had been. You survived if you did not question, rave or rant. It was the unspoken royal decree. That the imperial temper tantrums were reaching dizzying heights was a given. Something had to be done. But what? After all, she was the undisputed Queen of Tarts.
That lone autumn morning saw him saunter into the kingdom gates. Dressed in an olive green robe, he looked pretty nonchalant. He wore a strange pointed hat with bells. His sense of fashion definitely implied that he was a newcomer. For he had, hold your breath, not a trace of red on him. As he headed to the cart to grab a bite to eat, hushed whispers began doing the rounds. Oblivious to the eyebrows he had raised, a mischief of mice circling the food cart had his undivided attention. The strange, green man was not pleased. He took out a pipe and began to play. Lo, and behold, the mice marched in an orderly line and willingly jumped in the canal across the street. That’s when the town knew, their prayers had been answered.
The tea set had been laid in the garden lounge. The crimson kingdom flags were flying high. The entourage had taken extra care to ensure everything was Code Red. The Pipe Shrieker, too, walked in dressed in blood red satin robes, specially designed for the occasion. The Queen of Tarts entered. Sensing familiar territory, she relaxed the frown lines on her forehead and seated herself on the lounge chair.
“So, they tell me you are a great wizard?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” He had been briefed about her terrible, terrible mood swings. So he did not react to the rhetorical question. Although, she seemed very composed and civil, at the moment.
She smiled at the Royal Address. It was so wonderful when people behaved as they did back in the summer of 69.
“And I have been told, you have a cure for my Royal Headache?”
“Why, yes I do. If I have Her Majesty’s permission, may I work on the diagnosis? Just a few questions.”
He was such a polite fellow. Why the rest of her subjects couldn’t be like this, she thought. She nodded her approval. He continued.
“Describe to me the nature of your ailment. Any detail, however small, will be appreciated.”
The Queen let out a deep sigh.
“I like law and order. Everything and everyone, in their place. If I have told you once, I have told you a hundred times already. However, these nincompoops just don’t get it. I have to go repeating myself. And there is only so much I can do.”
He nodded. She was grateful for the look of understanding on his face. Relieved, actually. She continued.
“And I try. Believe me, I do. It is not easy running a kingdom, what with so many new provinces sprouting everywhere. But discipline, law and order is a must. You can’t be running around like a headless chicken, now can you? But they don’t get it. Over and over again, they do the same darn stuff that aggravates me. And then I simply go ‘off with their heads’, and peace is restored.”
“But isn’t that a little too drastic”, he asked. “After all, mutual respect is what defines great dynasties.”
“Of course. They ought to respect me and I respect that.”
“No, no, what I meant, Your Highness, was perhaps they could be persuaded in other ways.”
“Oh, I’ve tried that route. I wasn’t always like this you know. I used to mingle around, smile and indulge in conversations. And I quite enjoyed it too, if I say so myself. Things were simple and non-complicated, but the naive me was taken for granted”, she added wistfully.
“And then Alice happened?”
“Alice? Who the fuck is Alice? She is an imposter. None of these morons know her like I do. Hah, the day she messes with me, I will turn around and say, off with her head.”
“What do you have against her?” He knew it was coming, but it was a risk he had to take.
“Oh I have nothing against her”, she thundered. “She is not even in my league. I am Royal Blood. Commoners can’t match up with that! Not an ounce of gratitude in this generation. They think they can get away with blue murder. I don’t get their words and I certainly don’t get their actions. How dare they question the Queen of Tarts? And that too, when they have nothing, nothing whatsoever to lay claim to fame. And if the people feel they are right, well, off with their heads too! I was never the one for the herd instinct anyway. I know I can and I am not a terrorist! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS I SAY!!!!!”
He knew it was time.
“I will build my kingdom the way I deem fit. It will have red roses and red roses alone. I don’t care for white. They are too pale. I will……………continue to give orders………………and expect them to be followed, in life and death. I…………….er…………………me………………what……………..where………………stop this music…………….it is so soothing. I don’t do happy stuff……leave me be……………I like to crib……it makes me feel better and be in control……….people are ungrateful……….Oh I am feeling light……………………..oh………….I am flying………..oh………….that was a cloud…………ha ha ha ……………………oh this is beautiful………………..I love the world……………I love you all………….ah sunshine……………..ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Last heard, the Queen of Tarts had taken to meditation under the guidance of an Indian guru. She was now Gajini ki behen Sajni. Her memory lapses kept her in a happy place. Her self-published memoirs became second only to Harry Potter, in terms of sales. In her spare time, she baked the most mouth watering tarts you’d ever tasted. The kingdom was in the able hands of the Pipe Shrieker who went on to marry the Jack of Clubs. The people sang and danced, as all colours were given equal importance. And yes, they lived happily, ever after. Or so, I was told.