“Yes!” The wicked girl shouted and threw herself into his arms. A stench of blood rising from her skin pierced his bones and sent a chill down his spine. The Prince shook his head vigorously to clear his mind of this horrid sensation. He wiped away his tears with his sleeve and took a deep breath, brushed imaginary dust off his shirt and smothered a sigh of frustration. Then he picked up the girl and set her on his horse. Turning back and glancing around, he saw the slim torange sapling leaning towards the sun. He pulled it out of the ground and tied it to his horse. He mounted and rode back to the city with the wicked girl holding onto him from behind, and the horse also carrying the torange sapling.
Back at the palace, the Prince planted the little tree in a garden patch in front of his library window and a few days later married the imposter girl with all the usual pomp and ceremony. However, he was very unhappy. He thought it was unfair that he had done so much to find the Orange ‘n’ Torange Girl with whom he had fallen in love, only to come back two days later and see she had turned into a whining and cursing white shadow. What made it more unfair was that he had to endure the disapproving gazes of his parents. But he still hoped that his new bride would reclaim her original kind spirit by befriending the wonderful local people, and would regain her golden glow by spending more time in the sun. The Prince could not help himself but to love the torange sapling. He watered it himself faithfully every day. With the Prince’s show of love, saturated sunshine and watchful watering, the sapling grew rapidly into a big beautiful tree. Sometimes one could hear a moaning voice coming out of it, notably when the moon grew dim and the wind blew hard. Soon, the wicked wife realised that the tree had grown from the blood of the murdered Torange. So, she let the Prince know that she wanted to have a new wooden platform for their bed and then she called a carpenter. She ordered the man to pull out the torange tree along with its roots and take it to his workshop to build the platform for the couple’s bed. The carpenter did what he was told. However, when it came time to put his saw to work and make lumber out of the tree, he heard a groaning voice coming from inside it. Apprehensive, he decided to take a break for a little while before finishing the job. Around the same time, I was walking in the city’s bazaar in the form of the Luminous Old Woman on a mission to guide some other mortals. I remembered needing a new drop-spindle. I entered the carpenter’s workshop, cut the head off the tree stalk and took it home where I made a spindle out of it. I already had one, but was concerned that it was gradually wearing out. I put the new drop-spindle aside in my closet until it was needed.
A few days later, I returned home from running errands to find unusual clay figurines and sculptural forms displayed all over my room. I was very surprised. I wondered who had done this, who had found my slabs of clay! Another day when I returned home, I saw more clay works. Sculptures of Deevs and trees, people and pensive paries, were placed on the mantelpiece beside my gathering basket and bags of medicinal herbs. I spotted other sculptures on my wall-to-wall bookshelves and in many corners of my little cottage, even in the front garden between the plants. I wondered if this lovely, earthy and womanly art was done by Spandârmaz, the Guardian Angel of Earth and Love and Women. So, I decided to do some detective work and find out who my new house-mate was.
One morning, I spent a long time getting dressed and combing my hair to show the invisible entity that I was preparing to go out. Then, I busied myself with the main door, pretending to lock it. Instead of leaving the front yard, I hid behind some bushes in the garden. An hour later, I heard a noise from inside the house. Slowly I tiptoed to the corridor, peered into the living-room and noticed a most lively girl working with clay and adobe on the kitchen counter, making intriguing and unique pieces. When the girl saw me, she was startled and shocked. I held her hands and invited her to sit down with me. I offered her tea and listened to her. She said she was the Orange ‘n’ Torange Girl and then she told me her life story up to the point where she woke up from slumber to find herself living inside a spindle. She said she cracked the spindle open, pushed her way out of it like a butterfly out of the cocoon, and spent most of her time between my closet and my clay work table. She finished by voicing her wish to do more clay sculpturing to give expression to her horrific experiences with the Deevs and the murderous girl, to overcome her nightmares and her longing for the Prince.
I liked Torange so much that I took her as my daughter. I felt so happy about it. Torange and I spent a lot of time together, working side by side in silence, listening to the whispers of the Human world behind the windows. I kept spinning fibers of life with my drop-spindle, twisting them into a long, continuous strand of dreams, relying on my hopeful finger-twisting and loving pull by Mother-Earth. Torange kept making clay statues out of the memories of her long captivity by the Deevs and her slaying by a wicked Human, hoping the tightness in her chest would ease and the knife scar on her throat would fast fade away. Once a week, I accompanied her to a craftsman’s workshop to fire her works in its kilns. She sold her sculptures in the main bazaar and thus provided for both of us by means of her skill. Every evening, after supper, we revelled in cosy chats and laughed over jasmine black tea from my samovar. Then I prepared my qalyan (hookah) and puffed on it for an hour, while Torange devoured one of my books of adventures in her bed before falling asleep.
On the other side of the city, in the Prince’s palace, as soon as the torange tree disappeared and the Prince became completely convinced that he would never see a change in his wife, he began feeling sadder and lonelier each day. Ultimately, his sadness was tinged with indignation at a turn of events that he could neither comprehend nor control. He had stopped speaking to his wicked wife, had moved down to the underground sanctuary of his palace where he locked himself in a dark room with only a mattress on the floor and no windows. For weeks on end, under the watchful eyes of discreet servants, he lay in bed in a fetal position, shrunken and twisted, with agonising flames in his veins and a tormented mind. He had begun reciting poems aloud to himself and to the walls as he composed them on the spot. He fondled the words over and over in his mind, not eating and not wishing to see anyone. Devoured by the monster of melancholy, he lived withdrawn in the underground room for six months.
I was beginning to be on pins and needles about the Prince when the Queen showed her impeccable timing by sending for the best healers in town. I shape-shifted into a gypsy healer with a patch on one eye, a medicine woman in billowing skirts, paisley shawl and jingling anklets, and presented myself to the Queen as the famed One-eyed Kowli.
I followed the distressed Queen on a long walk to Mehrbun’s palace and we slowly made our way down to his underground hideout. I knocked on his door, but could not convince him to see me. So, I told his royal mother that the only effective course of action would be to find someone who could make a pure mirror chain for the Prince to wear in order for his soul to heal and to enjoy an empathic participation in life.