Once upon a time, there was a prince. Being really gifted, having a golden heart, he also had an impairment: he couldn't see colors. Only black, white and grey. Everyone around was glad when they saw him and they admired him, because – in a peculiar way – he, himself, beamed all the colors and brightened their day when they met him.
The prince, while he was a child, wasn't able to tell the difference. He thought that everyone saw like he saw and what he saw. Growing up, he started perceiving that there was something different around, that everybody could see while he couldn't. He felt it, he knew it, because he heard them talking about “red”, “orange”, “blue”, “yellow”, “green”, “beige”, and using several similar words for the things that surrounded them.
He then asked:
-Why do you say that this armchair is red and the other one there is yellow?
-Because they are!, they answered.
-Aren't they light grey and dark grey?
They smiled condescendingly and they answered, thinking that he didn't know the correct words for the colors:
-Of course not! The color of the first armchair is red and that of the second one is yellow. This is how we call these colors, not grey. Here, for example, your granny's shawl is grey.
The little prince looked at his granny's shawl bewildered, he looked at the armchairs, at the things around him, and the only color he could see was grey in various shades. Everyhing seemed similar. He couldn't understand what exactly the others saw differently.
One day, his granny asked him to bring some red and yellow roses from the garden. Happy that he would give her a hand, he run immediately, cut the roses form the rosebuds and brought them to her. However, he saw her pensive as she was taking the bouquet from his hands and he asked:
-What's the matter, granny?
-Nothing, my child, she answered.
-But your smile blurred a little as soon as you saw the roses.
Granny was spending a lot of hours with the little prince, since his parents had many matters to deal with, and they were absent almost all of the day. They saw him only in the evenings and they usually laughed with his cute comments. But his granny had understood that the little prince was different, and, for some time now, she was observing him attendively. Carefully, so that he wouldn't feel distressed, she decided to discuss it with him:
-Tell me, child, have you cut all the roses you've brought from the same rosebud?
-Of course not! Since you've told me “some yellow and some red”, I cut some roses form a yellow rosebud and some from a red one.
Yet, the roses were red and pink.
-Can you show me something that is yellow and something that is red in here?
-Certainly! Here, this little cushion is red and your cup is yellow.
Granny showed a little sad for an instant, because the things he pointed at had other colors than the ones he had told her; the little cushion was blue, and her cup light blue. She took her glove, which was dark grey, and her jacket, which was dark blue, and she asked him their color.
-Both dark grey! Positively!It is a nice game of questions this one you found, granny!
-Yes, my child, isn't it fun? I got bored making the vases and I thought of playing with you a little.
Deep inside her, she was aching, because she had understood what was the matter with her grandson. But he knew that, instead of just sit and worry, she had to do something to help him.
-Granny, will we go down, at the pond?
-Why not? Since it's sunny, it will do us good to play in the open air for a while.
As they were going downstairs, granny had already made her plans; she would search for the best specialists to examine the prince and then they, altogether, would follow a plan to help him. She was afraid that the kid might not be eventually cured, that he might not see colors in his entire life, but, at least, he would learn how to manage faltlessly in a world of colors. He would be able to avoid the hardships that his color-blindness could cause.
Some time passed since then, the ganny found the specialists, they examined the child, and then said that he would never be able to see colors. He simply would be trained how to discern the other characteristics of the things, and how to ask the other people to tell him the colors when he had no way to figure out. They made an individual schedule of games, which would be followed by the whole family. The prince's parent had been informed, and, although they felt sad at the beginning, they promised to play along with him.
Thus, the prince grew up, he became a lad, and – like every prince – he had to become skillful in martial arts too. This troubled him, because as well as he might have been in managing everyday life, he could see harder requirements in battle. “Human lives are at stake there, it's not a game”, he thought.
Granny, who had also grown up, but continued being his best friend, saw him pensive and asked him what bothered him.
-It's that I have to start exercising at war and this intimidates me, because I don't know if I can manage..., he said doubtfully.
-Why not?, asked granny.
-How do you ask me, you know better than anyone! How am I supposed to go through a battle, either it is a drill or a real one? How will I be able to tell between enemies and allies?
-How have you learned to tell between an apple and a tomato or your clothes from your brothers' clothes? You'll do the same.
-Yes, but I won't have you nor my parents beside me...
-You'll have your siblings and your trainers.
-Yes, but my difference from the others has been kept secret till now. One single mistake will bring it forth and reveal it.
-Your people, who already know, will help you. And, if you find yourself in a difficult moment, where colors will play a significant role, while being all alone, do as we did when we played blindfold: examine other features than the color. And count on your heart.
-Right...I feel stronger now. I hope I'll manage. I believe it.
-That's my boy! As long as you keep focused, everything will go alright.
Indeed, the prince did well and he was excited. One day, their trainer brought some targets, in order for them to exercise in archery. He told them that the blue targets would be their allies and the red ones their enemies. He put the targets in various random spots, and told them to get ready. The prince's heart drowned. What would he do now? Why did their trainer do this? Since he knew his colorblindness, why did he leave him uncovered?
He started sweating and getting stressed. For an instance, he thought of quitting, pretending to be sick, escaping in every possible way. However, this would be a real defeat. He would never forgive himself for having left without even trying. But, if he stayed, and made a mistake, his impairment would be revealed and then who would save him from being bullied by the others? Let alone they would believe he was uncapable to fight!
He gathered his grip, and, while his legs were still trembling, he grabbed his bow, armed the arrow and waited for the trainer's signal. The drill did not last long. When it was over, the prince felt that it had lasted for ages. The results were discouraging for him: he had “killed” many more “allies” than “enemies”. The others looked at him baffled and doubtful. Some hissing laughs, as well as some teasing, had already started sirculating among them. They thought them innocent, but the prince felt hurt. In order to keep his secret, he bent his head down and kept silence.
The trainer was coming to a closure of his evaluation for the drill. He deliberately had left the prince last. Meanwhile, teasing had grown to be annoying, as most of the trainees had made literally no mistakes.
-At this point, I would like to thank our first prince, who collaborated so harmoniously with me in designing and executing this drill.
Stunned, all the trainees turned to the prince and looked at him without being able to understand. They also looked at the trainer, waiting for some explanations.
-You know, the drill included the part of the evaluation, which concludes here, too. In fact, this was the real drill. At archery, you are almost all excellent. The prince did it wrong, so that I could examine your reactions. In this part, most of you failed, while some managed to get a low pass, just because they didn't laugh nor boost, and the prince got the higher grade, since he dealt with you all in sobriety, while keeping his self-control and our secret intact. That's all for now. Dismissed for today. And reflect on what I've told you.
Speechless, everyone gathered their thoughts and headed to the dinning room. The prince stayed behind, because he had some questions and wanted to ask their trainer.
-Thank you very mauch for covering me!, he said. But, why did you leave me uncovered during the drill? How could you be so sure that I would be able to get through towards the evaluation part? I could have quitted from the beginning.
-You know, son, you all haven't been evaluated only today. I study you during the whole time of your training, and I had already come to some conclusions. So, I took the risk to examine my trainees today and put a heavy load on your shoulders, which I knew of course that you'd be able to hold.
-But, if we were in a real battle, I might not have lived towards the part of the evaluation.
-If we were in a real battle, I wouldn't have left you uncovered.
-And what if you came late?
-Then, you'd been saved by the “blindfold”!
The prince didn't answer, but he understood that he had to train himself by playing “blindfold” in every case, so that he could be as ready as possible for the severe battles he had to face.