Aschee – J. C. Mehta

Aschee - PrinceOnce there was a king named Satyapriya. His queen was called Suhasini. They lived in a lovely palace with a big garden. Their son Sarvapriya was everyone’s darling. The king and queen were very fond of Sarvapriya. They never left him alone. There were servants to look after him.

Prince Sarvapriya had everything he wanted. But he had no friends. He was not allowed to play in the garden. The servant s did not let him run or climb high stairs. They were afraid of being scolded if the prince got hurt. The prince grew up with an illness that made him sneeze the whole day. When he was with his teacher, he sneezed. When he tried to ride a horse, he sneezed, when he picked up a laddu he sneezed. Aschee! Aschee! He could not study or ride a horse or even play. The king and the queen got worried. They called one physician after the other. But no physician could cure the prince.

As the prince grew up, he became irritable and rude. He would not listen to anyone. One day, his sneezing made him restless. He rushed into the garden. He ran around till he was tired. Then he sat under a tree to rest. He saw a butterfly and got up to catch it. But he sneezed, Aschee! And the butterfly flew away.

“Ha, ha! You cannot catch a butterfly if you sneeze.” The prince turned round and saw a boy walking slowly behind the butterfly. Soon he caught it and brought it to the prince. The prince sneezed again and the butterfly flew from his hand.

“Why do you sneeze so much?” the boy asked. “I do not know. But who are you?” “I am sonu . I play here after watering the plants,” the boy replied. “Do you play here every day?” “Yes, will you play with me?” Sonu asked. “Yes, but they do not let me come out. They wanted to stop me today, too. But I managed to escape. “

The prince and Sonu ran behind squirrels and butterflies. But soon the servants came to take away the prince. The next day, the prince came to the garden again. A servant saw him playing happily with Sonu. And the prince had not sneezed at all! Back in the palace, he sneezed again. The servant told the king about it. He called Sonu and said, “Live in the palace with the prince.” “I will not, said Sonu, “I cannot run and catch butterflies here. Then I too would start sneezing.”

The king understood. The physician was present on the spot. He whispered to the king, “Let the prince play in the open air, he will not sneeze. “ The king said, “Sonu, I invite you to play with the prince in the garden every day.” “Yes, my lord! The prince and I are friends. We shall always be friends.” So Sonu and Saryapriya played in the garden every day. The prince did not sneeze again.

∼ J. C. Mehta

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