She was six, when she first came to a sleepy neighborhood in a small town in Mysore. And it didn’t take her much time to liven up the town. It wasn’t particularly her wish to change anything- but it was due to the playfulness she seemed to awaken in the people around her. Nobody had taken more than five seconds to say, “So Cute!” to her and pinch her large white cheeks.
Though she had to perennially endure burning red cheeks throughout her childhood, the cuteness had its perks. People would bring her chocolates, cookies, cakes, pastries and all the exotic sweets- as if she was their own daughter. She always seemed to bring out the “Let’s Party!” emotion in the adults around her and almost always parties ensued. She would sing, she would dance, and she would clap, and jump, and fall- all, as requested by the many laughing care-free adults around her. She seemed to absorb this carefree attitude- or was it her own, to begin with? Whatever the case was, it didn’t really matter- at least not when she was six. Soon she’d do more than just sing and dance and laugh and clap and jump and fall- she’d start delivering love letters.
Her name was Sharmila and she was the town’s love messenger. A kid of the conservative 90s, she was part of a town where most boys found it tough to talk with the girls they liked. Asking out for a date was a concept straight out of a sci-fi movie for them.
But boys will be boys. They prayed, requested for knowledge transfer from their helpless seniors and tried imaginary love-potions; they did many brain-storming meetings in the last benches during the class- and found the answer to their prayers- Sharmila. After all, isn’t there a saying- Use poison to break poison? Only a girl could break a girl! Sharmila was cute- and if she ever delivered a love letter to you, even if you were a girl, the least you were supposed to do was to read the letter and give a reply, preferably in another letter. Of course, writing your reply using the scented pen and the pink paper was optional- naturally, both the scented pen and blank Pink paper come with the love letter being delivered to you. And giving a blank pink paper with a scented pen to a girl in those days can be compared to giving a mobile phone with unlimited talk-time to any such girl today. And thus, the combination of love letter, plus a blank pink paper, plus a scented pen, plus the charm of Sharmila always ensured a reply.
Sharmila enjoyed all the attention she got from the boys wanting her to deliver their love-letters. Her services were the best in town- and she guaranteed a reply from the girl. And she did all this, for free. Though the boys did give her sweets and ice creams and all other sorts of bribes they could afford, it was also true, that people gave her far better sweets just for clapping and singing. In that sense she was the richest kid in town- she could play with any toy and get any sweet- and she didn’t have to cry for them like most other kids. She was the darling of the town and she was never, what some boys notoriously call, high-maintenance.
By the time she retired from her first job of delivering love letters at the age of 11, she had delivered 399 love letters- and got 399 replies and started a new field in Modern fortune-telling called Papistry. In that town in Mysore, she’s called the Prophet of Papistry who brought 230 positive replies from the Almighty Girls. Her success was probably better than the town’s marriage bureau.
Though Sharmila cannot be credited with the opening up of this new stream in Fortune-telling- she was no doubt, the cause of this Papistry. The term Papistry was coined by her first customer- Sriram. He said, “Just like the random lines on your palm, written by Destiny, can tell your future- in the same way, the pink paper brought by Sharmila, is written by your Destiny. And this pink letter contains glimpses from your future- and I call the Science of reading such Pink Papers as Papistry!”
When Sharmila first heard this from Sriram she said, “It makes sense. But why does it sound so tasty?”
“Ah, it rhymes with Pastry!” said Sriram.
And thus began the legend of Papistry in a sleepy town in Mysore.