When I was little, I used to help my mother around, with various household chores. Sometimes, I would just tag along, watching her take care of all the work by herself, since the tasks would have been too difficult for a child, to carry on. So, all I did was keep her company and listen to her tales.
One day, while we were out in the garden, and the birds were chirping happily above our heads, I came across a tiny little delicate white flower, which majestically raised her head through the blades of greenery. I almost stepped on it, since, in my rush to keep close to my mother, I did not pay much attention to where my steps left prints.
My mother, on the other hand, saw it, and stopped me just in time. “You almost stained the Swallow’s dress.” She told me. With a raised eyebrow, I waited for a longer explanation. Kneeling in front of the small flower, my mother continued. “You see, this used to be a really fancy dress. The wedding dress of an amazing princess.”
From there, the story picked up the trail to my heart. We sat down, on the fresh grass, my mother talking, I—listening. Wide-eyed, curious, and happy to learn another of my mother’s wonderful stories.
Once upon a time, as legend has it, a child whose beauty surpassed many, was born into a royal family. Her delicacy and fairness was known to all the kingdom, and everyone adored her, my mother added, pinching my cheeks. With every passing day, the princess grew more and more beautiful, and her parents worried more and more that she would be swept away, into a cruel, harsh world, which they could not bear, due to her frailness, and so, they decided to lock her up on the castle grounds.
As she grew up, she was never allowed to leave the castle, and all of her knowledge came from books. However, the princess wished she could explore the world, and learn things in a different manner. Everyday, curiosity aroused in her, sadness and heartache slowly grasping her heart. She was alone inside a cold, lonesome world. She longed for the woods, the mountains, and the seas, and she so desired to see them that every night she would dream of herself flying over woods and plains, mountains and seas, meeting the creatures outside the castle’s walls. Within the dream—overjoyed with wonders, awaken—she was sad, in tears.
One day, her father came to see her. The news he had to share with her, however, upset her even more. He told the girl she was to marry soon, which scared her loads. All of her father’s wishes went against hers. Her desire to travel the world and see it, slowly crumbled under her father’s words. How could she tie her fate so hastily to another’s? All the more so, when she knew him not.
She cried herself to sleep every single night thenceforth, but her father’s wish swayed not. And every single night, she prayed. She prayed she would disappear. She prayed for freedom. She prayed she turned into a bird to fly away.
But every day, her beautiful white dress awaited in a corner, reminding her of the torment that swallowed her heart whole.
One day, as the princess laid her head on the large cold window sill, praying and weeping for a miracle, for freedom, her father went inside. The wedding day arrived. But at that point, besides the opened window, there was a bird. Her feathers black and white reminded the king of his beautiful daughter’s lovely dark hair and pale skin. Her prayers heard, she turned into a bird.
The king, enraged, darted at her, and just as the bird prepared to fly, he caught a part of her fan and pulled. The girl, determined to fly away, flapped her wings in desperation and eventually, she slipped away. The king, upset, remained there, with a couple of feathers in his hands.
The dress itself, within a moment’s transience, transformed into a flower, so delicate and pure that with just one touch it would have died. The king, then, preserved the flower, in regret. That was all he was left with by his beloved daughter, princess Swallow.