All stories start with a king. This one, however, must begin with a princess. A princess of ‘pure’ royal blood; born out of a marriage between a king and his step sister; a princess with kohl rimmed eyes, long, straight hair, and a heart full of sorrow and longing.
This princess was the eldest daughter of King Thibaw, the last king of Burma, who was exiled by the British in 1885. The royal family – the king, his two queens, and four daughters – were banished to the coastal town of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. Thibaw, or “Thiba Raja”( as the king was known locally) lived here for over three decades. He died in 1916, and was entombed with his junior queen.
By 1919, however, the royal family left for Myanmar, never to turn back. Except Princess Phaya, who pleaded (to British) to be sent back. Eventually, despite the royal family’s opposition, Phaya and her “half-caste” daughter, Tutu, were sent back to Ratnagiri, where the two lived for the rest of their lives. So why is the town having a hard time remembering its princess?