Bangalore, India

Gandalf, where are we?

Gandalf, where are we?

Parvathy Shaji of 3rd CEB won 2nd place in Fandom Menace in Metonym 2020.

“Gandalf, where are we?”

“I can’t be too sure but I think this ring of yours would know.”, said Gandalf twirling the yellow ring in his hands.

Gandalf was enjoying his afternoon in the Shire after a really long time when he heard a meek voice call out to him asking about her whereabouts.

“Who goes there?” rang out Gandalf’s loud voice. His eyes couldn’t see even a twig that was out of place, but he noticed a slight movement in between the short grasses and the daffodils near his shins.

“I’m– My name is Arrietty and I think I’m lost.” Says a tiny figure who doesn’t look older than a young hobbit but not bigger than Gandalf’s thumb. She’s holding up a yellow circle around herself like a hula-hoop.

She gestures to it before continuing, “I saw this ring in the woods, by the stream really. The humans often come there for picnics. I think one of them may have lost this.”

She pauses to breathe before going on, “I picked it up and I was in this woody forest with many lakes there. I fell into one of them accidentally while leaning over and I ended up here. What is your name?” her eyes were bright with fear on her tiny face. Gandalf felt obliged to pick her up so that he could talk to her better.

“She certainly doesn’t seem wet for a person who just fell into a lake.” Thought Gandalf. But the kind of things that Gandalf had seen in his life made the inexplicable dryness of her clothes as normal as the hair on a hobbit’s feet.

 He smiled at her, “It’s lovely to meet you, Arrietty. My name is Gandalf The Grey and you are in The Shire my dear, in Middle Earth. Where do you come from?”

She got noticeably upset, but the look of fear disappeared before Gandalf could say anything else and it was replaced with a look of determination. Gandalf was already impressed by this tiny person.

“I’m from Japan. You wouldn’t know the way back there would you Gandalf?” her voice sounded louder than before. Gandalf simply smiled apologetically at her, but there were thoughts churning in his old wizard mind. Where did she come from? Where is this Japan that she hails from? How could this yellow ring have anything to do with it at all? All of these were the questions that Gandalf found himself asking. A thought slowly steeled itself in Gandalf’s mind.

“Perhaps it might be time for another adventure then.” He told to himself in a small voice. Gandalf didn’t need much convincing when it came to such things. And with that Gandalf stood up in a swift motion. Arrietty hugged Gandalf’s thumb for support.

“Could I see that ring of yours Arrietty?” said Gandalf while placing her on his broad shoulder. He gingerly took hold of the ring with his fingers after she removed it off of herself.

He was examining the ring when they were suddenly transported into a woody forest. There was plenty of sunshine and a warm haze to the place. The adventures that Gandalf had been through certainly did a number on him as he wasn’t even fazed in the slightest by the startling change of environment. The same, however, couldn’t be said for Arrietty as she was still unused to such jarring occurrences.

“This is the place that I was telling you about Gandalf!” Her sharp voice cutting through the quietness of the Woods. Not even the winds passed through the leaves here.

The “lakes” that Arrietty had mentioned turned out to be pools, if not large puddles of suspiciously clean water. There were pools of this kind all around them, as far as Gandalf could see. He hadn’t seen anything like this before, he walked past a few of these pools before stopping at one. There wasn’t anything special about this pool, but Gandalf decided that if he wanted to know more about any of this, he’d have to start somewhere.

With one step, Gandalf and Arrietty found themselves in a strange land. The sky was purple and there were iridescent cotton candy-like clouds spaced apart on the sky. They couldn’t tell if it was midday or dusk for all they could see was a looming ringed celestial body in the corner of the sky and nothing more.

“Gandalf, where are we?”

“I can’t be too sure but I think this ring of yours would know.”, said Gandalf twirling the yellow ring in his hands.

“We’re certainly not in Japan.” The disappointment in her voice couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.

Gandalf started walking, everything piquing his interest along the way. There were tall and menacing looking palm trees on either sides of the large field that they were walking through.

After a few minutes of walking, they happened to come into another field, the only distinction between the two fields was a low-lying row of leafy bushes that seemed to divide them. The line of bushes seemed to go all around the field, almost like a boundary.

Gandalf decided that he would trespass at risk of coming any closer to solving the mystery that was plaguing the two of them. So, he stepped over the bushes with almost no effort.

“Arrietty, I don’t know if or when I can take you back to Japan or if I can find my own way back to the Shire. But I do know that this is an adventure if I’ve seen any. But I must ask you, do you trust me?” Gandalf craned his neck to look at her on his shoulder.

Arrietty was already looking back at him, she knew that she’d trusted him the second he’d told her his name. Gandalf strangely reminded her of her late grandfather back at home.

“Of course, Gandalf, I trust you.” She smiled up at him.

“Oh!” exclaimed Gandalf as he realized that he was suddenly ankle-deep in mushy water. There were waterlilies next to his large feet that somehow missed being trampled by him. Gandalf quickly told her about what he’d stepped into, but before he could finish, he saw a woman, not taller than his torso huffing and stomping her way towards them. She’d stepped out of a tiny cottage that had materialized out of nowhere. Gandalf had to think fast.

“Quickly now Arrietty! Into my beard you go!” huffed Gandalf as the woman was almost upon them. She was shouting something at them even from a distance. His companion took refuge in his flowing beard. The woman continued abusing them in three languages. Her voice getting clearer as she got closer and closer to them, until she was finally a few feet apart from them with her hands on her hips.

Arrietty couldn’t understand what the woman was talking about, in fact the only reason as to why she was able to understand that three languages were being thrown at them was because her voice kept oscillating between being nasally, throaty and unnaturally whistle-like. She couldn’t see what was happening but she could feel it when Gandalf occasionally nodded his head at the lady.

Gandalf couldn’t understand a word this woman was saying but he realized what Arrietty did. He noticed that the woman kept pointing behind him and shouting at them. he quickly pieced it all together. And Gandalf tried to apologize in every language that he knew to the lady. She only calmed down when Gandalf spoke Elvish. But she wasn’t going to let them go that easily.

About five minutes pass before she feels Gandalf move again but this time, she felt the hair around her move in the wind “We’re moving again!”, she thought to herself. Cautiously she poked her head out of the wiry forest of hair and looked at Gandalf.

“What was that about Gandalf?”, her voice not above a whisper but Gandalf’s ears don’t miss it.

“Well, the watery mush we’d just walked through was apparently her water lily pond.”

Arrietty stares on incredulously at Gandalf before they both simultaneously burst out into hearty laughs of their own. Gandalf continued smiling when he realized that it was another ring that was going to lead him on his new adventure, his fingers still twirling the ring in between them.

Arrietty started feeling safe again when she heard Gandalf humming again. It was time for their adventure to begin.


Arrietty – The Secret World of Arrietty (Studio Ghibli)

Gandalf the Grey – The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings series.

Yellow ring and The Woods – Chronicles of Narnia.

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