Royal dilemma of Princess Samara: the fastest horse in the world takes her to a feast in an impoverished village
Four children with unique abilities from different, parts of the world come together to fight powerful, dark forces. Zoozoo, an evil wizard, kidnaps Princess Samara’s parents, the king, and queen of Nonamia. The princess journeys to the far corners of the world to meet and befriend three young people to help her plan and carry out the rescue of her parents. In Wetlands she meets Raja, who can balance a candle on his head while swimming in swirling waters; in Hotlands she meets Nandu, the Fire Boy, who can casually walk through a blazing wind; while in Snowlands she meets Prince, the Snow Boy, who sips ice-cold beverages in freezing temperatures wearing only a T-shirt. With the help of Khabar, a magical bird, and Barado, the fastest horse in the world, the Four undertake the fearsome task of challenging Zoozoo and his army, headed by General Zombo, together with Churail, the evil witch. If they are to defeat Zoozoo, they will need to resort to magic and wizardry of their own. In this story of a battle between good and evil played out in a fantastic world, there are echoes of the world we know.
When the king gave the horse to Samara, he hadn’t realised she wanted to travel the length and breadth of his kingdom – but that is indeed what she wanted to do.
‘We have a large empire, Papa and Mama,’ said Samara, when the subject came up for discussion during breakfast. ‘To know it well I need to visit not only important towns and cities but smaller villages too.’
Her father spooned dalia, a porridge mixture, into his mouth and didn’t say anything.
Samara pressed on. ‘My feeling, Papa, is that people start to feel neglected after a while if they don’t receive important visitors from the capital. Our empire is so large that many parts of it haven’t been visited for years. People in those places will feel honoured by my visit. If they have any problems, they can tell me about them, and I can let you know what they are when I return.’
The king frowned, but he couldn’t deny the truth of his daughter’s argument that there would be political and diplomatic advantages attached to her travels. At the same time, he was reluctant to grant her permission to go, and therefore he raised another spoonful of dalia to his mouth in silence.
‘The other thing, dear Mama,’ said Samara, turning to her mother for support, ‘is that poor Barado needs exercise. All animals need exercise, but Barado needs it more than others, because he is the fastest horse in the world, is he not? He needs to keep running long distances every day if he is to continue to be the fastest horse in the world.’
‘Well, he could keep running in circles round the racetrack,’ said the king, who had finished his breakfast.
‘But Papa!’ protested Samara. ‘That would simply be a waste of running!’
‘You need to be accompanied by armed soldiers on horseback for your safety,’ said the king. ‘My concern is that if you ride on Barado, unless you go slowly, the other horses will not be able to keep up with you. And I need to be sure you are always safe.’ The king cleared his throat. ‘So, will you ask Barado to gallop slowly?’
‘Oh, I’m sure he won’t like that at all,’ said Samara. ‘Firstly, if he gallops slowly, it will not be a gallop at all, and secondly we’ll only be able to visit a few places.’
The king fell silent and thought a lot. His daughter waited patiently for him to come to a conclusion.
‘All right, you can go,’ he said, much to the queen’s surprise and his daughter’s delight. He paused. ‘But before you start to travel you must learn how to whistle for Khabar and how to write long messages on small pieces of parchment.’
Khabar was a falcon trained to keep messages written on parchment safe inside his beak and carry them across vast distances.
Blessed with super vision, when Khabar glided over a town or city he could make out in a flash where each inhabitant stood. And so, even without the princess whistling to let him know where she was, if he knew she was in a particular town or city he could always find her.
If Princess Samara had a weakness, it was her love of food. Her fondness for desserts led her to put on weight, which gave her a cuddly look when she was small but did not suit the young princess as she grew older. Her parents saw this but did not have the heart to tell her to curtail her appetite. But something happened to change her thoughts on the subject of food.
During one of her long-distance trips with Barado, Princess Samara reached a village where the people all looked thin and weak as if they hadn’t eaten for days.
She entered one of the houses in the village to find a lavish spread waiting for her, as people all over the kingdom knew of her fondness for food. The princess suspected something was wrong and marched straight to the kitchen where she found that there was nothing left to eat for anyone else. That year, because of scant rainfall, there had been a failure of crops in that part of Nonamia. The family who lived in the house had decided to go hungry to make sure that the princess could have a fine meal.
‘Why don’t you share your problems with me?’ cried the princess, who now felt unable to eat a thing.
She climbed back on Barado and raced back to the capital to let the king know what had happened. King Manav didn’t hesitate for one second to use the gold in the treasury of his otherwise prosperous kingdom to help the people in that area.
The next time the princess sat down to have a meal, she ate well but decided to keep a little empty space in her stomach to remind her that there were others in the world who didn’t have enough to eat.
When the people learnt of this small sacrifice and saw how she cared for them, their love for the princess grew even greater.
As a result of her new resolution, the fat in the princess’s body started to melt away and a slimmer and stronger princess emerged.
[Excerpted from the chapter 'Samara’s Small Sacrifice']
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