"Long long ago, very long ago, nobody knows how long ago, there lived a King!" was the best opening sentence in my favorite stories as a child. I could immediately visualize the king in all his glory sitting on a beautiful thrown next to his beautiful queen, or on his beautiful horse just about to go out to war, etc.
Then came the day when I became a king! I was nine years old then; studying 5th grade in St. Joseph's convent, Tirunelveli. I was made king for our school play. It was an interesting story how I got the role. It was a co-ed class and of course many boys were tall and strong fit to be a king but they couldn't memorize the long portions of the text the king had to talk and so ultimately they chose me to be the king!
It was an honor I so willingly accepted however, I was very shy about the moustache. When I raised my concern and said I would like to be a king without moustache, it only made the cast members and the staff laugh out loud. They convinced me saying moustache is the second best accessory for a king, only next to his crown. So there I was against my will, a king with moustache!
I had no problem memorizing my texts however I couldn't do the kingly laughter. The staff member who tried her best finally gave up and decided on an alternative solution that she would laugh from behind the scenes and I just had to move my mouth. Well then, that was settled.
Next problem was the king had to put 'his' arms around two 'men' and say something cheerful. I was so embarrassed to put my arms around fellow classmates who were boys. The boys were shy too. But since there was no way around it, we settled for it.
Mom's silk sarees were ordered in to make the royal robe and of course some golden paper, plastic gems and glue produced the impeccable 'crown'. Soon the rehearsals were over and it was the final play.
The entire neighborhood had gathered in our school grounds that night. The king was made ready with the royal diadem and the kingly attire and not to forget the moustache - a thick big moustache that even rolled up in the ends, drawn on the upper lip. Couple of parents who saw me behind the scenes complimented my looks and also my moustache in particular.
The show began. The king played well not forgetting any lines and even helping the soldiers with theirs. The scene for the roaring royal laughter was next. The king began to feel a little nervous and anxiously waited for the timing of the laughter and moved 'his' lips and alas no laughter came. The king tried again and no laughter to be heard. The nervous king looked hither and thither and the whole cast was lost.
Just then the thunderous laughter came over the speakers but this time the king forgot to move the lips. It's just that the director behind the scenes had missed the timing. The audience had a hearty laugh to the dismay of the poor king. It was curtain call!
The king became alright in the dance break in between and got back 'his' courage to go back on stage. All roles played out picture perfect. There was a scene where the king had to order someone to be taken to the gallows. This proud king ordered, "Take ME to the gallows" instead of 'take him to the gallows'. Once again the crowd was thrilled and it took a long time for their laughter to stop. The king absolutely had no clue why everyone was laughing. (got to know only after the show..).
Finally the show ended. Back stage where everyone changed out of their costumes the king refused to erase off 'his' moustache as he had come to like it much. Also he had plans to show it off to family members who had skipped the function altogether.
All the way back home the king was just basking in glory. The first thing 'he' did arriving home was to run to check in the mirror. To his horror the moustache was melting in the sweat and heat and looked nowhere close to what he had imagined. Poor king went to bed sad that night disappointed 'his' moustache was no more. It took a while for the king to finally get over it.
So what was the story when you were the king? Care to share?