The little ballerina began dancing again. She twirled round and round gracefully in her pretty pink dress. When the music stopped, she heaved a sigh of relief.
“I’m tired!” she sighed, “I don’t want to dance anymore!”
Just then, the music started playing again. The ballerina lifted her arms in the air, pointed her toes and started dancing once again. Her beautiful face now tainted with a hint of sadness.
The music box stood atop the night table. It was made of rosewood and had intricate carvings along its side. Its lid was encrusted with tiny ruby-red stones. On its right side was a little golden key. When the key was wound, the music box played a quaint melody that sounded like raindrops falling into a glass tumbler. But its real beauty lay inside! When the lid was opened a beautiful toy ballerina was revealed. She sat upon on a miniature red velvet stool. When the music began, she would rise and start dancing until the melody ended. It was a beautiful and rare music box, the only one of its kind in the whole world!
“I hate this stupid music box! It’s like a cage! I want to be a real ballerina! I want to see the world beyond the four cramped up walls of this dumb box!” the little ballerina cried.
But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t break away from the music box. She tugged, she pulled and she wriggled. But she remained glued to the tiny velvet stool.
Every time the key was turned, she had no choice but to stand up and dance. Often she would weep, even while she was dancing. But no one saw her tiny tears. And no one knew the turmoil that raged in her heart.
One day, the music box fell off from the night table. The little girl, who owned it, was placing it on top of the table, when it slipped from her hand and fell to the floor. When she picked it up again, the key had fallen off and the ballerina had become detached from her velvet stool. The little girl tried her best to put the music box back together, but she couldn’t. Sadly, she placed the broken box back on the night table and walked away.
The little ballerina awoke with a start. She was in a deep slumber, when she felt herself falling. Then there was a crash and she found herself being thrown off the velvet stool. When all was quiet, she found that the lid of the music box was open. She stood up and tried to take a step. She stumbled a bit. She was not used to walking. She tiptoed to the centre of the box, climbed on top of the stool and made her way out of the box. She was finally free!
Her eyes widened in awe at the sights around her. She saw things she had never imagined she would ever see. There were exciting toys and colourful books; pretty dresses and dainty shoes; beautiful picture frames and knick-knacks strewn all across the room. To think she had lived in this very same room for so many years and had never seen all this!
The ballerina jumped off the night table, ran out of the room and wandered around the house, gasping as she took in each new sight! But she still longed to see the sky and the trees. So she crept out of the house and into the garden. There she basked in the sunlight under the shade of the mango tree.
After a while, she decided to explore further. She hopped onto the pavement and waited for the cars to pass so that she could cross over to the other side. Just as she stepped onto the road, a car sped past just inches away from her! She jumped in fright and hurriedly crossed the road frantically looking in all directions for any speeding cars.
Across the road, was a little sweetshop. It had all sorts of wonderful candies and sweets displayed in glass jars. The ballerina pressed her nose against the glass and peered inside. Her mouth watered at the sight! The shop was full of little children chattering away, their faces and fingers all sticky from the candy.
The ballerina walked into the shop, trying to decide which candy she wanted. She went up to the man behind the counter.
“One bag of striped fruit rock please!” she said.
There was no answer. She tried again.
“Excuse me Sir. I would like a bag of striped fruit rock please!”
The man paid no notice to her. Another customer came up to the counter almost crushing the little ballerina under her foot!
The ballerina wondered why no one was paying any attention to her.
“Look, mommy! It’s a little ballerina!” said a chirpy voice.
The ballerina looked up into the big watery eyes of a little girl in a pink jumpsuit. She had a big white bow in her dark brown curls. She was crouched down on all fours.
“Come on now dear. This is a sweetshop. There are no ballerinas here!” said her mother firmly, taking her hand and pulling her away.
The little girl resisted and came closer to the ballerina. She took a piece of candy from her bag and gave it to the ballerina.
“Here little ballerina! Have some candy!” she said.
The ballerina took the candy and smiled at the little girl.
“Thank you!” she said.
Then she twirled around and did a little ballet dance for the girl.
The girl clapped her hands and squealed in joy, before she was dragged away by her mother.
“I guess its only children that take any notice of me!” she sighed, munching away at the candy.
When she came out of the shop, she saw across the street, a big poster stuck on a lamp post. On it was a picture of four beautiful ballerinas on a huge stage.
The Belleuse Ballet at the Majestic Theatre, 6:00 pm. Tickets available at the venue.
“How lovely! A ballet show! I must go see it!” the ballerina said.
The ballerina took a little nap for a while. She awoke all excited with the thought of watching the ballet show.
“Who knows, maybe they will offer me a job! I could be one of those lovely ballerinas dancing on the stage. I will travel the world to exotic places and perform in the biggest shows! I will be a famous ballerina one day!” the ballerina cried, her eyes lighting up.
The theatre was filled with people. There was a long queue for the tickets. The ballerina skipped past the line and entered the theatre.
She stood there dumfounded in awe. The theatre was grand! Its walls were covered with majestic carvings. There were rows and rows of seats. Suddenly, a bell rang and everybody hurried to their seats. The ballerina ran up to the very first row and sat down under one of the seats. The show was about to begin!
The red velvet curtain rippled as it was raised. The stage was dark. The orchestra began playing a beautiful symphony. Then a soft light appeared to reveal four beautiful ballerinas. Slowly they lifted their slim arms and began to dance as if the music was bringing them to life!
The little ballerina couldn’t take her eyes of them. She longed to jump up on the stage and dance along with them. She longed to dance freely, of her own accord, rather than being bound by the music box. Her eyes filled with desire!
She didn’t even realise when the show was over. She woke from her dreamlike state as the hustle of people getting up to leave filled her ears.
“Ouch!” she cried, as an old lady bumped her with her gigantic sequined handbag.
The ballerina made her way onto the stage. She crept under the curtain and disappeared down the side of the stage, into the dressing room. There, she saw the four ballerinas sitting and talking to a very sophisticated man in a jet black tuxedo. He was smoking a cigar.
“You did good today, girls!” he said between puffs, “if all goes well, we could very well have another show in Paris.”
“Paris!” thought the ballerina in excitement, “he must be the manager. I must go speak to him!”
She walked up to him. Clearing her throat, she said politely, “Sir, would you be interested in hiring another ballerina for your troupe. I have been dancing all my life and am quite experienced in this regard….”
“Where did this little toy come from?” the man said, bending down and picking up the ballerina while she was still talking.
“How strange!” man’s voice boomed in her ears, “someone must have dropped it here by mistake!”
“It’s so adorable!” cried one of the ballerinas, taking the ballerina from the man.
“Eeeww! It’s all dirty and sticky!” another ballerina said taking the ballerina and throwing her into a corner.
The little ballerina winced as she hit the floor.
“They think I’m a toy!” she cried in dismay. Just then a scuffling by her side made her jump. She screamed as hard as she could when she saw a monstrous black mouse sniffing at her, its long whiskers bobbing up and down. She tried to run, but her dress was stuck under the mouse’s paw. She pulled harder and the hem of her dress tore. But she managed to escape. She ran and ran as fast as she could.
It was already night time. She looked around for some food and shelter but could find none. She shivered and sat down on the pavement and began weeping again.
She missed the warmth and comfort of the music box. She missed the smiling face of the little girl who would open the music box and watch her dance. She missed being the centre of her world!
“What’s wrong, little ballerina?” asked a gentle voice.
The ballerina looked up and saw an old woman with silvery white hair looking down at her.
“I’m-I’m cold, and hungry and scared….wait a minute!” said the ballerina in surprise, “how come you’re talking to me? Only children talk to me!”
The old lady sat down beside the ballerina.
“I’m the one that made you!” the lady said, “I’m a toy-maker. My shop is just down the street. I made the music box that you used to live in. Then I made you. And you were so lovely that I wanted you to have the best home ever!”
The tears fell down the ballerina’s cheeks in big droplets.
“I just wanted to be a real ballerina!” she sniffed.
“But you’re not a real ballerina,” said the old lady, “you were never meant to be!”
The ballerina broke out into sobs again.
The old lady took the little ballerina’s tiny hand in hers and said, “I made you to be a toy. A little toy ballerina that would bring joy to a little girl who would someday own you. I even gave you a wonderful home so you would be comfortable.”
The ballerina stopped crying.
“We each have a purpose in our lives. And yours is to bring happiness to that little girl whom you belong to; who at this very moment is completely devastated on seeing her music box empty!” the lady said.
The ballerina stood up. “Oh, I must get back to her then! The poor dear must be missing me terribly!”
“Wait! First I need to tidy you up a bit. You can’t go back to the music box looking like that!” said the old lady, picking up the ballerina and taking her into her shop.
The ballerina was bathed, mended and dressed in a pretty new dress, before the old lady dropped her off at the home of the little girl.
“My ballerina!” cried the little girl when she saw the little ballerina at her doorstep.
The ballerina was fixed back onto the velvet stool in the music box, where she danced and danced for years to come. After all, there was really no other place else she’d rather be!