Illustrated by Michael Ilkiw
Chronicle of prohibition of extreme emotions
by Fotis Dousos
translation by Ritsa Dritsakou
The princess suffered from a rare illness: she should never laugh or she would die from an instant cardiac arrest. For this reason, the King ordered to slay all jesters in the kingdom. In my opinion, though, he should have executed the medics who came up with this inexplicable diagnosis… He only kept alive one: the court’s fool. Nevertheless, he had him locked into a dungeon to prevent any random encounter with his daughter. Needless to say, during that period any jokes, jester songs, or pranks were banned in the kingdom without discretion. Laughter had become almost illegal, whereas whoever was funny ran the risk of being arrested. In those times, even the writers of chronicles, like us, – with an inclination towards a light and spicy style – minded not to let anything funny creep into our prose. As a result, not only our texts did resemble essays – they were cold, heavy, undigested –, they also made us lose our very few readers.
One day, despite the security measures, while the jester was heading to the master reception hall where the King was having a silent, quiet feast with important foreign guests, in one of the many rambling arcades of the palace, he crossed paths with the princess. As it usually happens in similar circumstances, the two young people fell madly in love. From that moment on, they did not miss a chance to see each other, although always in a secretive and prudent way. And the feeling of love inside them would grow under the weight of prohibition that shadowed their relationship.
To cut a long story short, at some point the jester confessed to the young lady that he had composed a comic sonnet about love; in her turn, not wishing to arrest the creative inspiration of her beloved, she insisted that he recite it. In spite of his firm refusal due to the princess’ health condition, after quite some begging and nagging, he was convinced to interpret the sonnet before her. The first verses revealed the cheerful style of the sonnet and the princess, who was not accustomed to any fun, got really excited. Soon, she started laughing hysterically and, before hearing the end of the poem, she expired.
When the jester realised what he had done he burst into sobbing. As he had never cried before, in his devastation, he thought that crying too reserves a hedonistic aspect. However, before being able to complete his consideration, he passed away. He suffered from a rare illness too: he should not cry because he had a weak heart. That is why his mother, who intended him to be a jester, had raised him amongst jokes and funny faces.