Growing up, my mum used to read out stories to me. My father? Not so much. So he should be forgiven for not knowing the reference in this story.
I live in a one bedroom apartment with my parents, well mother now that dad passed away. They slept in the bedroom, and I slept on a mattress in the living room. The two single beds in the bedroom are each made of a sturdy wooden base, and a stack of thin mattresses. They are pushed together, and give off the appearance of a bigger bed. My grandparents had so arranged it because in their time there was a steady flow of visitors, and that’s how they accommodated them. Also, in their time, the beds lined either walls. [I think it is a miracle they ever got any with that arrangement.]
So, every night, I peeled off a mattress, and lugged it to the living room for myself. Since my father’s bed was closest, his side of the bed usually yielded my mattress. Not that he minded.
During one winter, we had bought cotton quilts from Jaipur, and were using them regularly. For ease of storage, my mom put the quilts on top of the mattresses, and then covered everything with a coverlet.
One afternoon, I think it was a Sunday, my father went into the bedroom for a nap. He lay on my mum’s side of the bed because, “This is my day bed. That’s my night bed.” Basically he was an infant trapped in a 60-year old body.
While he was lying down, my mom walked past him, and saw him poking her bed with a frown on his face. “What happened?” she asked, coming to a standstill next to him. “Why is your bed so soft, while,” he stopped poking her bed, and started poking his own, “mine isn’t? I want my bed to be this soft too!”
At the sound of her exclamation, I rushed into the room to see my mother had doubled up laughing, and my disgruntled father looking at her in complete disgust.
I waited for her paroxysms to subside, and she wheezed out the story. But the cream of the jest was that she called him a ‘real princess’, referencing the Princess and the Pea.
My father, who didn’t know the story, was not amused. I cried with laughter, and he was called The Real Princess thereafter.