Thumbelina- retold ©
The Feminist moment was at its height when Margaret a woman of thirty and single wanted to have a child. She approached a sperm bank and found a donor for the purpose. As required of her she signed the necessary papers and Life.Inc., agreed to try out a method never tried before. This impersonal technique of choosing a child was new so her doctor monitored her progress and did everything that she could bring the child to the world without subjecting the mother or her baby to any risks whatsoever. In due course Margaret had a baby. The baby was sound as any normal child but so tiny. She was as big as a man’s thumb. So she was called Thumbelina.
Science proved the world wrong and medical Science went on from strength to strength. Only that Thumbelina’s personal battle had just begun.
Growing up with everyday objects at home was as perilous as a walk in the park. A box of chocolates that her mother had always on hand was as risky as a sudden brisk wind. Her mother saw to that she did not get stuck in chocolate by securing in a spool of wool by her work-table. Unfortunately the cat took a fancy to ball of wool and went on playing with it. Poor Thumbelina was carried away against her will as far as the birdbath where the cat was distracted by some house-tits that drank from it.
Thumbelina somehow extricated herself only to stare at a toad that stood in her path.
The toad was so pleased to see a girl as pretty as she was tiny. ‘Why are you gallivanting in this weather?’
‘Oh I just thought I would look for Mr. Handsome.’ Thumbelina was bright and knew how to put words to good use. The scabrous Toad, an oaf that he looked closely at her. ‘My son is Mr. Handsome. I shall take you to meet him’.
He asked her to sit on his back and conversationally he said,’You don’t mind getting wet. Do you?’ He was negotiating his way through a gutter overflowing and she said quietly,’I don’t mind as long as I am not asked to drink it.’
At last he took her to his home where his son was sulking for some reason. Thumblina thought she had never set sights on a more hideous toad. Before her host introduced his son he whispered, ‘He is a toad of few words. You may find it somewhat a redeeming feature in otherwise appalling qualities’. The young toad sure enough stuck his tongue out to pick up Thumbelina. But for Mr. Toad’s insistence to leave her alone he would have hurt her. He put her down and said, ‘Croak, croak.’
Thumbelina was certain Master Toad was not ready for her hand.
‘Why not?’ Mr. Toad could not believe. ‘No one had said no to him’ he said surprised. ‘No one has said ‘yes’ either.’ Mr. Toad thought for awhile and nodded.’You are right.’
A fine drizzle turned into rain and it soon began to fill the drains and somewhere a pipe burst and the ground became filled with water. Mr. Toad dragging his sire by hand said without even looking back, ’You keep the house while we are out.’ Then they were gone.
Thumbelina could not help saying,’ Mr.Toad takes too much for granted.’
‘Life is like that’, she heard some one speak gruffly and there stood Mr. Mole as large as life.
She raised her eyebrows in amazement. Mr. Mole blandly said,’What is a nice girl like you doing in a dump like this?’
Thumbelina could not contain her surprise,’I thought moles are blind.’ Mr. Mole tittered,’You should not judge others by hearsay. ‘I know this is a dump and you are not suited to keep the house of a toad who is neither here or there.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Mr. Toad wants to make a splash as a nabob and waxes eloquent of making the world better. But whenever given an occasion he seeks seamier side of life.’
Thumbelina fell silent. Mr. Mole came closer to say,’ Take me for example, I love low life and I thrive in it.’ Hearing no response he became confidential. He suggested,’You come along. I will show you low life in its worst. I am the purveyor of all things awful.’’
Thumbelina shuddered. She had to keep her distance from Mr. Mole. His very closeness made her uneasy. She mused,‘If only I could fly away on the wings of a swallow!’ But there was none in view. She noticed that the sky had cleared. She knew that she had no chance of coming across a swallow unless she went out in the open. ‘Anyway I shall be get going,’ she said as if to no one and stepped out. Sure enough she saw a swallow a-winging.
She called out, ’Hello Mr. Swallow wait for me’. The bird quickly careened without breaking his flight to get closer. Thumbelina asked, ‘Will you give me a ride, friend?’
The bird said, ’Why not, Get on my back’. He made another turn to fly still lower and said, ‘I cannot stop since the wind is on my back. So you have to take a chance.’
Thumbelina did not mind. She made a run and leaped. Unfortunately she missed and she fell with a thud. It hurt and she let out a cry.
There was her mother wondering why was she crying for. Indulgently she picked up her from the work-table. Putting her back in the basket she said,
‘Thumbelina, you have been dreaming again!’