Fairytales. Was there ever one that disturbed your teeny childish mind? Hansel and Gretel has been one for most people. And the Russian folk tales of Baba Yaga. And then there was Peter Pan. I don’t know why the last one bothered me so much. Maybe it was because Peter Pan was essentially a little boy and he seemed to be falling in love with a girl, and had at some point been in love with the girl’s mother as well. Also, Tinkerbell was in love with him too. I mean, in all the other love-fairy-tales, the princess’ and price’s appeared to be grown up’s of marriageable age and therefore allowed to fall in love and exhibit jealousies for their loved ones. Kids didn’t fall in love! they played together and tumbled around without the least thought of trying to impress the opposite sex. Also, I always wondered about him being a boy and being able to fly without really being able to do magic, and his island of Neverland full of orphans. To be honest, I never knew they were orphans, I just thought they were all the lost kids, like the ones that were shown on ‘Gumshuda talash kendra‘ on Doordarshan. I always worried how they all communicated with each other, being from different nationalities and all.
So, when I came across this book at a second-hand Sunday book stall, the other day, I thought why not give it a try and see if it clears up the mystery a little bit. And surprisingly, I was not disappointed. It begins with Peter and his chums from the orphanage being sent abroad a ship to become servants of a King in a far away land. The King has a reputation of running through his young servants pretty quickly and therefore needs a new supply often enough. Again, there is a hint of darkness here, as I have always associated with Peter pan, a subtle hint that maybe the King does not use the little children as mere servants.On the ship he meets a girl named Molly,who is travelling with her governess to join her father. Peter and his friends are stashed in the hold with no windows and given food that is usually alive while Molly lives in a cabin upstairs with her governess. Peter being the leader of his motley crew decides to sneak about the ship and look for better nourishment and witnesses a strange phenomenon that is later explained to him by Molly. This is the real beginning of their adventure and Peter’s journey to becoming ‘the flying boy’, though both Molly and Peter are blissfully unaware of this at the time.
Peter and Molly become allies and then friends as the story progresses and they battle the dangerous and ferocious pirate Black Stache in a bid to save the trunk that contains ‘stardust’. There are strong under-currents of attraction between the two, that are never really acted upon.
The ending is bitter-sweet as is the original fairy-tale of Peter Pan. I loved this book. It definitely cleared a lot of cobwebs surrounding fairy tale in my mind but I still think Peter Pan is a book for teenagers and not little toddlers.