DR FRANK JACKSON, 59A, PRINCES ROAD, BRIGHTON, EAST SUSSEX BN2 3RH
TEL. 01273 603766 - EMAIL [email protected] - www.fulltable.com/fj
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The princess who thought nobody liked her
She sat and looked out through her window in the palace. Princess Chao-Li was one of a large family, who ruled the kingdom of Asjan. But to look at her, she did not really seem like a haughty princess. She looked more like a sad, lonely young woman. The truth was, that she felt nobody liked her, and not because she was a princess, but that nobody liked her. She was small, very pretty, with long dark hair and beautiful attractive almond eyes, that lit up whenever she was happy. ‘But I am not happy.’she thought to herself. ‘’Nobody likes me. But I have tried so hard. I don’t know what else to do’.
The princess had tried hard. And she wanted, so much, to be one of the people that her family had governed so well over the last two centuries. But she knew that there were many poor in the country still, and a lot of sickness and hunger. She had gone out and helped those that were ill, and given money to those who had none, to give them relief from their suffering.
She had even rolled up her sleeves and trousers, and worked in the paddy-fields to gather rice alongside them, despite the amazement of her family.
But, despite this, no-one had ever said thank you or even acknowledged her. She felt terribly sad and miserable. ‘Do they hate me or dislike me so much?’ she thought to herself. ‘I want to help. I truly do. Nobody says anything to me. How can I know what they think of me?’ Two tears ran down her face from each eye.
Suddenly there was a tapping at the door, and then opened. It was her nurse, who had looked after her since she was a child. She was a round, cheerful person, with a red face, who waddled rather than walked, but had a wonderful heart, and was always, always cheerful. She was also very direct.
‘What’s the matter, dearest?’ she asked in her usual manner. ‘You’re not yourself today. Anything wrong?’ The princess looked up at her sadly. ‘Nobody likes me’ she said. ‘I’ve tried to everything as best as I can but nobody says anything to me. I don’t know whether I am doing right or wrong. I just wish that someone would tell me if I am good or bad. Whether I am a good person or not. Perhaps I should go out and help clear landmines or something! Or do something else that’s useful! I wish someone would tell me!’
The nurse looked at her silently. Then she said, ‘Why don’t you call a private meeting with the elders of the people and ask them directly? Because then, you will know whether the people like you or not. It’s the only way for you to find out. If they don’t like you, they will tell you. Or otherwise.’ And she paused significantly. ‘I suppose you are right’. Said the princess, with a red nose and weeping eyes. ‘ But what, if, if they tell me they don’t like me, what can I do?’ ‘Tell’em where to get off!’ said the nurse heartily. ‘Now sit down and write a letter summoning them to a private meeting’. So the princess with some fear,did just that.
Two days later, the elders of the people arrived at the palace. They sat down in silence in the grand chamber. Not only had the elders attended, but also some other ordinary people, who the princess recognised when she entered the room. She had helped them to gather in their harvests, and looked after their children when they were ill. The princess was frightened. ‘What might they say’ she thought to herself. She was wearing a very simple kimono, of a plain white pattern, and she had let her hair hang loose, as if she was going to be sacrificed. She sat down, and while tea was being served, she began to be very nervous.
‘ Please, she said. ‘I have asked you here for a very simple reason. I wanted to ask you all whether you like me or not. If you don’t, I will understand. But please believe me, I feel unhappy and sad. I do not know whether you hate me or dislike me but I need to know whether I am worthy of you.’ She went on in a rush. ‘I have tried so hard to make you like me, but I don’t know whether I can! Please believe me! I have done my best!’ And suddenly she fell into a fit of terrible weeping, which she couldn’t control.
The room was silent. The princess kept sobbing. She felt so alone, so alone.
Then one of the elders got up and sat by the princess. ‘My dear’. He said quietly. ‘You have quite misunderstood. Everybody here loves you very dearly, for all the things that you have done for us. All those little acts of kindness, all the care and comfort you have given us, add up to a well of affection and sympathy, which is constantly refilled, by you. But what you do not realise is, that we people recognise this, and we do not need to say this openly. We love you very much for what you have done for us, and we do not need to tell you! That is why we haven’t thanked you. We do not need to. Look at the peoples’s faces. That should tell you what they think. Look at them! Their faces show how much they appreciate you, and how much they care about you’.
The princess looked fearfully about her. But on every face, there were smiles, warmth and gentleness. She suddenly felt a great surge of happiness, that she could bring such warmth to everybody. ‘But’, the elder said quietly, ‘you must not make the mistake of expecting thanks for everything you do. Often you do good with no thanks at all. But what matters is that you have the inner goodness to do your best for others, even though they do not acknowledge that. What is best is to continue to do what you think is right for others, without expecting them to always thank you for it. It is a matter of your own conscience, and what you think is the right thing to do’. And with that, the elder returned to his seat.
The princess looked around her, drying her eyes. “ I thank you’ she said, ‘for showing me how selfish I have been. I expected thanks and got nothing. But I realise now that I do not need thanks. I realise also that one has to try to do good in this world, whatever it costs. But I thank you for all the things that you have said. I understand now how life is and how hard it can be. I shall be whoever, whatever, I am, and I hope I will never change.
And so, the princess left the room, but with new confidence. She left with pride in her people, who had such faith in her, and she vowed never, ever, to let them down.
Frank Jackson (20/11/06)