For the many fans of Mummy, What is Love?, I’m sorry to say that I made quite a big change to the story. Hope you will still like it after all that editing! Cheers. 🙂
Mummy, What is Love?
The dressing room was decorated with flowers, pink, red and white. Ribbons hung from walls. On the couch was a beautiful bridal dress, white, simple and plain. But yet the lady whom would be wearing it would bring out its brilliance and complement her beauty.
Charlotte was getting married today. Her bridesmaids were running around the room, gathering stuff that was to be ready for the ceremony later, while she changed into the white gown and put on her makeup. She looked into the mirror as the hairstylist did her hair. She wanted to look like a princess, and she did. Through the mirror, she caught my eye and smiled.
“Mummy, did you feel as nervous as I was on your wedding day too?” Charlotte enquired. I smiled and nodded.
Charlotte had always been an inquisitive girl ever since she was young. She would ask questions about anything at all. She used to love to ask questions on animals and plants, on science and religion. Sometimes, her questions would seem too mature for her age. I used to wonder if it was a fault at exposing her to too many things at such a young age. After all, she did not live the life most other little girls did. I could even remember vividly the day she asked me a question that no four-year-old girl would…
We were sitting at the couch near the fireplace and I was reading her stories while she snuggled up to me, eating marshmallows. As usual, the book of Cinderella was open on my lap. After I finished the story, however, Charlotte clearly wanted more.
“Mummy, what is love?” she asked, her eyes wide and sparkling with curiosity. I could see the firelight reflecting in her huge, brown eyes. She had her father’s eyes.
“Well, sweetie, love is when you want to make your loved ones happy,” I told her simply, knowing it would be difficult for her to understand. She did not. Her eyes narrowed as she took my words in and shook her head.
“Tell me a story on that and I’ll understand,” she demanded playfully, snuggling closer to me.
“Ok. Here goes,” I began. “Once upon a time, there was a peasant girl. She was really hardworking but poor. She lived in a village with her parents and worked in the fields for they had no money to send her to school. When she was eighteen, she would sneak off to the village school to listen the lessons secretly from outside the classroom. This went on for a few months.
One day, as she was sneaking outside a classroom, she walked into another boy. He was tall and well-dressed. The peasant girl thought that he was going to get angry, but he didn’t.
‘I’ve seen you listening to the lessons outside for quite some time now. Why don’t you go to school?’ he asked.
‘I’ve no money,’ the girl replied him.
The boy thought for a moment, then took her hand and led her to one of the benches near the fields. There, he taught her everything he learnt in school.
Since then, they would meet there every afternoon. The peasant girl liked him very much, but did not dare to tell him. A few months after they met, she decided to repay his kindness. She did not know what she could do, for she had no money to buy him gifts, nor did she have any talent. She was not like the princesses, who could sing and dance for him. So she ran to the market, got some flour, eggs and butter and started baking some cookies for him.
He loved the cookies, Charlotte, and even told her to teach him how to make them. From then on, they met up quite a lot, the peasant girl to learn the things in school from him, and the boy to learn how to make cookies. This went on for a long, long while. Occasionally, he would bring her out to picnic in the gardens, teach her how to fly kites and bring her fishing. She enjoyed the days with him and wanted them to go on forever, but she knew it could not be, for when the boy turned nineteen, he was to go join the army. He had to become a knight to fight for the land, to defend his country and to protect the king. She was not allowed to see him for a long, long time, not at least until he had completed his training.
The peasant girl was really sad when he was gone. She could not sleep at night. Sometimes she cried herself to sleep. She was in so much pain that she hardly ever smiled anymore. While she was gone, she decided to go work in the village bakery instead of farming at the fields with her parents. She wanted to learn how to bake different kinds of cookies so when he came back, she could bake them for him.
That day finally came when the peasant girl turned twenty-one. A boy, tall and fit stepped into the bakery. No, Charlotte, he wasn’t dressed in an armor, but he rode a horse. He walked into the kitchens, gave the peasant girl a hug and whipped out the sunflowers he had been hiding behind his back.
‘I missed you,’ he told her.
She missed him too. She was so happy to see him that tears came into her eyes. They went back to the old days when they were baking, fishing and having picnics at the garden. Every day, she brought different cookies and cakes to the picnics. He loved eating them very much.
One day, he brought her to a street just round the corner of the marketplace. There, he led her to a small shop.
‘I bought this shop. We could set up our own bakery here. You could be the baker and I could help with the customers!’ he said excitedly.
The peasant girl was so happy. She could make money and do what she liked! The business in the bakery was good, Charlotte. They made lots of money. Within a year, she could buy a little cottage and she asked her parents to move in with her. Their lives changed for the better.
And there came Christmas night, when the boy brought her to one of the gardens they used to go for picnics. There, he had decorated the place with little lights and candles. He took her hand and led her to one of the benches. ‘Will you marry me?’ he asked her, pulling out a ring from his pocket. The peasant girl could not believe it, but pulled him into a hug as she said yes. Fireworks shot up high into the sky. It was the best night she ever had.
But the story was not over, sweetie. You see, there was a terrible, terrible day when the boy met with an accident. He died. The peasant girl was upset. She cried every day and night. She could no longer bake good cookies. She would sit in the garden where he proposed to her and sit there, crying. But one night, she thought she heard his voice.
‘Stay happy, my love,’ the voice said. ‘I wish to see you happy.’
She pulled herself together and started baking again. With the help of her parents, the shop was back to business. Every day she baked, even though her heart was filled with sorrow, because she knew that wherever he was, he would be looking at her and he would be happy to see that she had gone back to doing something she liked again.
So, Charlotte dear, this is love. No matter what happened to the peasant girl or the boy, they would try to keep each other happy, even when the boy wasn’t around anymore.” I finished with the story, but Charlotte was not satisfied. She lay in my arms, tears coursing down her cheeks.
“Mummy, there is no happy ending,” she sobbed. I picked her up and gave her a tight hug.
“Of course there is a happy ending, my dear. You see, when he left the girl, he gave her a present she could keep forever. Not the bakery, no. He gave her a little girl, their baby, and her name was Charlotte.”
*** *** ***
I watched as my daughter walked along the aisle in the church towards her handsome groom waiting before the podium. She was beautiful in her white dress; her hair was tastefully done, with a tiara sitting on top of her head. She looked exactly like a princess. The room was filled with our relatives, and his, of course. I looked around the room and there she was, standing at the front bench, her eyes closed and her hands clasped together in a prayer. I could hear her speak, amongst the loud chime of wedding bells.
“My dear, if you were here, you’ll be proud,” she was whispering as tears flowed down her cheeks.
I am, my love, I am.