#4: Rapunzel: Reloaded

Once upon a giraffe, there lived a man and his wife who wished for a child, but after many years of trying, their efforts came to nought.

They were obviously disappointed, but there was very little that they could do, given the fact that fertility treatments were not covered by ING, their medical insurance company.[1]

From the window of their house – which was bought a long time ago using company subsidised interest rates – they could see a beautiful garden full of roses and plants and various vegetables. The garden was surrounded by a high wall and equipped with surveillance cameras, and no one dared to enter there, for it belonged to a Witch whom everyone feared.

One day, the woman was looking out of her window and saw a bed of beautiful radishes, which she longed to eat.[2] The longing was so great that as the days passed, she became sick for wanting them.

“Why are you sick?” asked her bemused husband.

“I fear that I shall die if I don’t eat some of those beautiful and delicious looking radishes that I see when I look out of my window,” she replied, sotto voce.

“It’s all a tad over-dramatic,” the poor man thought to himself, “but I guess it could have been worse. She could have had a longing for a brand new Mercedes A 45 AMG, and that would have properly sucked. In any case I don’t want the old cow to die so I guess I should get her what she’s longing for.”

He waited until it was dark,[3] and climbed over the wall into the Witch’s garden. This was in itself no mean feat for a man whose body weight would have easily pre-qualified him for “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show. The garden was quite deserted, and he escaped with a bag full of luscious radishes, the naughty boy.

They were such a lovely flavour that the woman wanted more, so the next evening her husband had to wait until it was dark again.[4] I mean, what else could he have done? It was either going through all the hassle of stealing the delicious radishes or spending the night on the couch with the family dog. As they said, behind every successful man, there is a strong, supportive woman, and behind every thieving man, there is a radish-crazy woman.

The man climbed over the wall into the wicked Witch’s garden, and as he landed on the grass, the Witch was already waiting, standing in front of him.

“Come to steal some more of my radishes, have you? If you think you can get away with half-inching my vegetables, then you’ve got another thing coming, laddie!” said the Witch, clearly incandescent with rage.

“Don’t you know that you’re entering someone else’s property without permission or right to do so, and this is considered an illegal intrusion that interferes with the rights of another person or property?”

The Witch, a retired lawyer and a huge fan of the late Lord Denning, rambled on, “This is criminal trespass under the California Penal Code 602 PC where the laws prohibit (a) entering someone else’s property with the intent to damage that property, (b) entering someone else’s property with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the business activities conducted thereon, (c) entering and occupying another’s property without permission, and (d) refusing to leave private property after you’ve been asked to do so.[5] Now, would rather bugger off, or would you like to be represented by a lawyer?”

“Please have mercy,” begged the man, “I only did this for my wife, for I fear she would die if she did not eat the radishes she saw from her window. And of course, there’s also the whole sleeping-on-the couch thing, if you know what I mean.”

“No, I don’t know what you mean. And personally I don’t care, although I can imagine how sleeping on the couch for a prolonged period can be bad for your back and posture,” said the Witch.

The Witch finally said to the man, “Alright then. Go and help yourself to all the radishes you want, but there will be a rather hefty price to pay. When you have a child you must give it to me. I would take care of the child as a mother would.”

“That’s outrageous and hardly seems fair,” argued the man.

“Of course it’s not fair. At one point, they couldn’t even guarantee the US Presidential Election to be fair, so what did you expect? Do you seriously think that I will give something for nothing?” said the Witch with a calm authority you would expect from a seasoned politician.

The poor man contemplated the legal repercussions of his actions and finally consented. Fast-forward a year later, his radish-eating wife gave birth to a baby girl, which the Witch promptly christened Rapunzel, and took her away

Rapunzel grew up to be the most beautiful child with a fine sense of humour. When she turned 12, the Witch locked her up in a tower to prevent her from watching ‘Akademi Fantasia’ on Astro TV. The tower stood in the middle of a forest, and had no door, and no stairs. It was worse than a DBKL rumah pangsa.

Whenever the Witch wanted to enter the tower, she would call up to the window,[6] “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair.”

When she heard the Witch’s voice, Rapunzel would open the window and let her very long and beautiful hair down, which was as fine as spun gold and must have cost the Witch a fortune in shampoo, conditioner and general maintenance. Her hair would fall down to the ground, and the Witch would climb up the hair to the top.

Many moons and years passed, and one day the King’s son was riding through the forest with no police escorts and outriders. As he came close to the tower, he heard the sound of a beautiful voice singing, and he looked up to see Rapunzel at her window singing.

The Prince – not to be confused with Prince, the entertainer, who at some point was known as ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’ – wanted to reach her, but he saw that the tower had no door. So he went home feeling a little disappointed. He also felt sorry for Rapunzel who was cooped up in the tower like an under-paid foreign maid.

Rapunzel’s singing – which was really more Britney Spears than Mary J. Blige – had so enchanted the Prince that he rode out to the tower every day just to listen to her. Worryingly, the Prince was becoming a bit of a stalker, but no one cared because his Dad happened to be the King and pretty much owned the whole damned place.

One day he saw the Witch come and call “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair.” The Prince thought Rapunzel was a pretty dreadful name for such a hot girl, but he figured it was not a big issue. The name can later be changed to something hot like Jessica or Isobel or something equally hot by a deed poll or Statutory Declaration, he thought.

The Prince watched as Rapunzel’s hair fell to the ground and the Witch climbed up the freakishly strong hair like the ones you often watch on ‘Video Zonkers’, ‘Guinness Book of Records’ or some equally dreadful TV programmes. “So that is how I must reach her tomorrow.

The next day, the Prince rode all the way from Yorkshire and returned to the tower. When Rapunzel finished singing, he called out, “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair.” Her tresses fell down and the Prince duly climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was frightened at the sight of a man, for she had never seen one before, but soon, her fear was washed away by the Prince’s kindness.

After the third date, the Prince was sufficiently confident that he could at least get to second base, so he asked Rapunzel if she would be willing to marry him.[7]

Although the Prince was basically unemployed,[8] he was very handsome and Rapunzel was longing to be set free from the Witch and her miserable, lonely life in the tower.

“I would go with you anywhere but it’s kind of hard to climb down from here. But don’t worry because I have a cunning plan! Each time you come to me, bring me silk to weave into a ladder, so I can escape,” Rapunzel told the Prince.

The Prince noticed a slight flaw in the plan, as it was going to take forever before they had enough silk to make a ladder. But he acquiesced, although actually it would have been much easier to just go to a local DIY and buy a proper ladder.

The Prince continued to visit Rapunzel every evening – despite still no second base in sight – because the Witch always came in during the official visiting hours in the day. For a while, they managed to keep their secret safe from the old woman but inevitably, their evening rendezvous was caught on the surveillance camera. Someone sent a copy of the tape to the Witch in an unmarked envelope, but not before posting it on YouTube.

Needless to say, the witch was furious when she found out. “I thought I had separated you from the world, and now you have deceived me, you wicked child!”

She took a pair of scissors and cut off Rapunzel’s beautiful golden hair, and in the process, gave birth to the phrase ‘child abuse’. She then tied the tresses to the window latch and took poor Rapunzel to a desert where she left her to die.

The Witch returned to the tower later that day and waited for the Prince to come. When he called out, “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair,” she let down the tresses. He climbed up the tower but instead of Rapunzel, he found himself face-to-face with the Witch.

“What happened to you?” asked the Prince, still thinking it was Rapunzel. “Did you forget your Botox injection this morning?

“I am not Rapunzel, you twit! I am an evil Witch who is one the three main characters in this story and my plan is to con you into thinking that the hair is really Rapunzel’s but actually I have cut it off and sent Rapunzel to a desert where I hope she will be eaten alive by dehydrated camels,” retorted the Witch, somewhat lengthily.

“Now your beautiful bird no longer sings in her cage, for the cat has taken her away and will now scratch out your eyes. You will never see Rapunzel again,” she added with apparent glee.

The Prince was so unhappy that he leapt out of the window of the tower. It was a truly dreadful decision, and certainly not one of the Prince’s most inspired moves. It was unclear how this spectacularly daft move was going to resolve anything, but perhaps he was much stupider than we originally thought.

The Prince fell into a bush, which saved him from certain – and certainly comical – death, but the thorns pricked his eyes, and he wandered blind, Kassim Selamat-style, in the forest.

He wandered like this for two years, which was an awfully long time, and it was a surprise that he didn’t fall into a bear trap or get eaten by a sexually frustrated gorilla or get hit by a horse carriage. One day, he heard a voice, which he thought he knew, softly singing. As he approached, Rapunzel recognised him and cried.

Her tears – rather conveniently – washed over the Prince’s eyes and magically, he could see again. No medical explanation was ever offered, but miracles do happen, especially in fairy tales.

Together they travelled back to his kingdom where the King greeted them with much rejoicing, as the Prince had been listed as a missing person and his photo had been an almost permanent feature on milk cartons over the last two years.

They lived long and happy lives in a golden era where there was no threat of swine flu, the diet was generally healthy and not cancer-inducing, school-children were not forced to learn Mathematics and Science in English, and Tony Fernandes was still in the music business.

What became of the old Witch no one ever knew, but rumour has it thay she took up a teaching post in Eastern Europe, eventually retired and became eligible for a free bus pass and a 50 per cent discount to all museums and West End musicals. She was apparently last seen in a cameo in ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ as a gardener at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Of course, no one has ever satisfactorily explained how Rapunzel survived being sent to the desert by the Witch to die, but sometimes, it’s best not to think too much.

[1] In the olden days, apparently there were a lot of things that were not covered by ING. Makes you wonder why they called themselves a medical insurance company. Because they were Dutch?
[2] To be honest, why anyone would even bother to have any kind of longing for this pungent-tasting excuse of a vegetable is beyond me.
[3] It was in the middle of winter, so he didn’t really have to wait for long.
[4] Ah, the things men do for women and get into trouble for.
[5] I know next to nothing about law. I just nicked this off the internet.
[6] An opening in the wall of the tower, not the software operating systems and graphical user interfaces produced by Microsoft Corporation..
[7] Smooth.
[8] At least until his Dad kicks the bucket, in which eventuality he’ll assume the throne.

#4: Rapunzel: Reloaded

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