Solid Fame ©
I wanted to try my hand at sea fishing like the way Hemingway did; so when I had a chance I chartered a boat for a day. Suppose I tell you the name of the boat was Harry Morgan. Wouldn’t you think I was far gone into it? I mean the Hemingway thing?
Call it a beginner’s luck I caught the strangest looking fish as soon as I learned to cast a line. The captain of the boat said, ‘It is a flounder. No doubt of that.’
It was not a Marlin that I had hoped for but a flounder. A monster of a flounder!
I said that it was a flounder but with the most peculiar habit of weeping. Captain Bill looked at my catch and gave a cry. He had never seen such luck as I had. The fish began to beat its tail, ‘Give my life back and I shall fulfill your wildest dream.’
The captain was standing next to me and I asked, ‘What shall I ask him, Bill?’
‘Fame! Fame!’ the captain hissed in my ear. So I told the flounder, ‘Make me famous.’
The fish wanted to know ‘famous for what?’
I couldn’t give the specifics so I said, ‘Fame, it is not all that difficult?’
The fish said my wish was granted.
At the end of the day I headed to the nearest bar. I knew what fame meant. ‘I shall be on every one’s lips.’ I said to myself.
The bar where fishermen frequented was choking full. But as soon as I stepped in those who hung out made way for me. I knew I was famous. They were all looking at me and in their envy I knew the flounder was a genius.
While ordered for a shot of whiskey I heard one comment, ‘He is very famous!’
‘Famous for what?’
A pause. The first voice spoke, ‘I dunno.’
It was greeted with a guffaw. I saw red and I went back to the end of the wharf. I was alone, and called out, ‘Flounder, flounder.’
The flounder surfaced and asked, ‘what will you be now?’
‘I want to hunt and kill a lion.’ The flounder said, ‘Go and you shall indeed kill one.’
I went to Africa for big game hunting. I shot my first lion and I went home. I was on every one’s lips. But no single one spoke in my favor and they all damned for having killed one of the last two remaining lions.
I was upset. And I had no use for such fame.
So I went to my flounder. I said, ‘Flounder make me famous. This time make it certain it is for solid reasons.’
The flounder said, ‘There is now only one way you can secure your fame. Are you ready for desperate measures?’
I answered, ‘yes.’
He whispered into my ears and I directly went back to Africa and killed the last lion.
Next day the papers were full of it. I was the cynosure of all eyes. People paid money to be photographed in my company. They wanted my autograph. Celebrities vied with one another to dine with me. They even followed me everywhere, cheering me all the way. In fact they never had enough of me.
‘Whoever heard of a flounder riding our streets? Or bagging a lion!’ So sang they all.
There is even a proverb, ‘getting a load of Flounder Fred’ meaning one is famous in whichever way you looked.( reprinted from Elves Bells)
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Posted in short story, tagged art, Benny Thomas, cultural standstill, imitation woodcuts, Japan, KFC. Pizza Hut, MacDonalds, Multinationals, sameness on March 15, 2012 |
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Two Frogs ©
Mr. Frog from Osaka thought sixty years was enough to know his city inside out. He lived by a ditch but made it a point to catch up with hustle and bustle of the city.
Daily he walked up to Bay View from where he had the best view of the sea. On his way home he was sure to stop in front of the shop where his grocer always had something fresh and allowed him credit. Grocers like everywhere are proud of their wares. The grocer in Osaka was no exception. Urging him to sample his wares all fresh produce he would proudly announce that they were brought from Kyoto. Later he would call on the Mayor and when asked for news, the Mayor was sure he was neck deep in civic affairs.
Mr. Frog was sure the Mayor ought to do something about it. The Mayor said with a touch of regret that he wished he could take a holiday. It invariably brought him to ask politely, ‘Hon’ble Mayor if you had a chance where you would spend your holidays?’ Mayor was certain, ‘Kyoto, of course! I would like to go around the gardens attached to the palace of the Mikado’ Mr. Frog was impressed. Everyday he heard something or other about Kyoto. ‘Kyoto must be the most famous city,’ he concluded.
One morning he announced, ‘I shall visit Kyoto.’ By evening he was on the road. He hopped along and wondering all the strange sights and sounds that he would sample there. He was excited and was ready to write down all that were totally new and he hoped perhaps on return he might write an account of his adventures in Kyoto.
Meanwhile another frog much younger and eager to experience new sensations was heading from Kyoto. His destination was Osaka. He heard Osaka was a Port where ships touched from all over the world. He heard of the clubs that catered to sailors who had money to spend. ‘Dancing and drinking went on into the wee hours’ he was told.
Seeing one from Osaka Mr. Frog from Kyoto bowed and asked the elder frog where he was heading. Older Frog returned his salutations and said he could not let another day go without sampling the delights available in Kyoto.
‘Delights?’ Mr. Frog from Kyoto croaked.
‘Yes! Kyoto is first on my list of twenty things to do before I die’.
Mr. Frog could not believe. ‘Kyoto I have left behind for it isn’t where I want to end my days.’
The older frog was sure that he was mistaken. The younger frog insisted that he knew what he was talking out. ‘There is nothing in Kyoto that is as good as Osaka.’
The older frog was sure ‘Kyoto has everything Osaka didn’t have’. The younger of the two said Kyoto was a dump compared to Osaka. Thus they argued till they stopped short. ‘This speaks ill of us to argue with words. Let us have facts’ said the frog from Kyoto. The older frog pointed to a hillock and said ‘We shall stand over there and see the landmarks of our own city.’ The frog from Kyoto agreed.
They hopped and they stood at the top. Holding on to each other ‘You see Osaka by the sea?’ asked the elder Frog.
The younger frog similarly said, ‘My hon’able elder do you not see Kyoto?’
Yes they were thankful the sky was clear. The elder frog picked out the landmarks of his city, ‘There, you see Pizza hut. Don’t you? The red roof and the logo is unmistakable in whole Osaka.’ The frog from Kyoto pointed in the direction he came from and said,’ Kyoto also has one.’
The older frog in his turn pointed out to the giant billboard and said, ’There is McDonalds and across the street do you see KFC?’
The frog from Kyoto had to agree that his city also had all these. They bravely went on pointing out various novelties that had sprung up in their cities.
Abruptly they stopped. Looking rather silly the frog from Osaka,’ I am braving my catarrh and sciatica to see in Kyoto, what stares at me in my backyard.’
The frog from Kyoto felt ashamed, ‘Everyday as I go to work I get my eyeballs full of billboards. How I had wished that some typhoon would clear these ugly sores from my path.’
‘Imagine taking all the trouble to get a load of these in Osaka.’
‘Ditto!’ the elder frog said with feeling, ‘I’d rather keep some illusions left.’ Two frogs politely took leave of one another and returned to their own cities.(Reprinted from Elves Bells)
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Long ago a traveler on arriving in El Dorado went to the king to pay his respects. The king was pleased and asked if he could help increase his revenues. He promised a share of it.
The stranger said he knew a way.
The king asked,’ How?’
The traveler said,” Taxes”.
The king liked the idea so much that he made him straightaway his finance minister. The man settled down in that land and amassed in course of time so much wealth.
The king died and a new king who came in found tax a convenient way to make money. The new king was very particular of doing everything strictly within the law. Thus he made it a law that all ministers who were till then exempted from paying taxes to pay up.
“ My ministers ought to set an example and serve the tax paying public.” The king insisted.
The ministers were given great many titles but their wealth were confiscated by way of tax, ‘Tax on titles’ it was called; The king had made a law of modernizing laws of the kingdom. It meant more taxes that left none.
Here we see the inversion principle.
* How keen are parents to see their infant walk for the first time! They take pride that their offspring can stand on its own and is normal like every other. That very moment also marks the beginning that child shall go its own way. It is only a matter of time.
Inversion Principle states that “ energy used by man in following a course of action will make its own motion,- that notwithstanding whatever success he may have had in making its impact on others, its backdraft will strike at the interests he represent.”
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Thought and Memory©
It was twilight. Hugin and Munin as usual perched on the broad shoulders of Odin to recite the day’s events. The raven that represented Thought said: “What I said to you in the strictest confidence should remain so, within your godhead. Not even Memory has the right to hear it.”
Odin laughed and said: “I know. This is just what Memory told me. He also insisted that you had no right to hear what news he passed on in strictest confidence.”
When Memory was confronted with stealing his thunder Munin flapped his wings and said: “Your thunder! I merely spoke my mind.”
*There is nothing new under the sun.
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Young Midas even as the heir apparent loved wealth. The idea of making wealth make more wealth appealed to his rational mind. Anticipating all that wealth coming to him one day he made all the vassals of his father give him unlimited credit. They willingly obliged him and waited for the young prince come to the throne. Meanwhile Prince Midas made every servant in the palace work round the clock. His rational mind taught him a crust of bread chewed is better than a goblet of wine promised tomorrow. But hope gave the promise more appealing than bread that once eaten was nothing more than dung. Whenever they approached him for back wages he was sure to hint that he as a king would spread his hand out,’My liberality shall know no bounds. You want to enjoy my largesse?’ Of course he did not pay them for long.
One day Silenus called on him. He was a Satyr. He had come through a wild tempestuous cold night. He was so beat and he shivered as he sought his aid. Prince Midas looked at the ugly mug and said,’Hello, Paragon of Beauty, warm yourself by the fire. You look almost on your last legs.’ There was a blazing fire and the prince sent for viands and warm wine, of course on credit, and he set it before him. He said, ‘Eat and take ease.’ The Satyr a friend of god Dionysus ate and drank and was fortified. He asked why the prince was lost in thoughts. The host said,’fire is free but think how much firewood need for it? The royal forests are almost cut to keep the hearth warm.’ The guest cackled giving a toothless smile. Puckering his hideous face the Satyr suggested,’I could be of help.’
Suddenly he hit upon a happy thought. ‘Please give me this boon: whatever I touch must be turned to gold.’
Silenus clapped his hands in joy, ‘Done!’ As soon as I stand on the road to Olympus you shall receive the boon you have asked.’
Having taken ease Silenus went off.
Prince Midas felt a cold coming and he took to bed. He told his wife to sleep in the baby room.
Next morning he sat up with a sever sneeze and took his kerchief to wipe the snot. To his horror the kerchief was shining! And the snot was all gold! Such gobs of gold was pure and it came from within! With a laugh he stared at the kerchief and deposited his snot in the treasury. His rational mind knew it was for anyone to lay hand hands on. Was it not 24 kt gold? He was hawk-eyed to prevent anyone stealing it. Nothing of his was to be thrown away.
By the time he was cured of cold His treasury was burst to full.
A fortnight later the King died and the servants whispered it was due to some kind of flu that came with the arrival of the Satyr. Prince Midas exulted when he was told he should be crowned without delay. Soon after his private coronation his first royal order was to give a state funeral to the dead king. Before the priests and the council he made a show of sorrow and kissed his dead father. He stared at the corpse. It was 24 carat gold, every ounce of his sire’s lifeless body.
He ordered it to be placed in his treasury room. He excused,’I intend to worship him each day before I hold the council. His presence shall lead us to good governance.
Rest of the day was the hardest. He dared not accept the hand of his Queen. She cried a little and accused he had already found a mistress whose bed warmed him more than their marriage bed.
A month later’ when he was stretched in his bed his Queen brought the baby daughter and laid by his side. Shedding tears she murmured that she was going to make a hole in the Aegean Sea.
The King didn’t hear her leave.
Later King Midas got up,- and he was still drowsy, took the baby in order to put her back in the crib. To his horror saw her turning into a lump of gold!
Midas frantically sought out Dionysus and begged him to remove the spell. Dionysus told Midas how he could get rid of the gift. Midas washed his ‘golden touch’ away in the river Pactolus. Even now the soil along the riverbank has a golden gleam.
When he went back to his palace he knew he was cured off his gold fever. He walked with a happy tune to his chamber and he shrieked. The treasury was stinking!Wading through putrid rags stuffed in pigeon holes was was horrible. He glanced at his dead baby and father! Oh horror of horrors the cadavers rotted and oozed some horrible green bile that was corroding the iron stand on which the bier stood. Standing there unable to move and overcome with the pestilential air about him he knew the gold had left its deadly touch on him. He took to bed and died a horrible death, silently and unattended.
There is a statue erected by his subjects to perpetuate his memory. Only what is not known is the one ton of gold released from the royal treasury to make the statue went into the pocket of the Royal Chamberlain who paid out of it a handful of drachma to the sculptor. He was formerly an ironmonger who from the slag-heap laying in his yard cobbled up a life-statue of his royal master. It is coated with with fools gold to fool the eye. So far no one has found the difference.
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I am not what I seem. I am some three thousand years old. Let it not hold up the story.
When I reached the age of 987 and having suffered my wife constantly harping of the dowry she brought into our marriage I looked some way of escaping it all. I could have shrugged it off had I tried harder but she made everyone in the neighborhood know of the fact. To top it all she would rub in her private grievances whenever I wanted a little loving. I knew from the first time we lay in our marriage bed how she was mistaken to my ability to keep her in a lifestyle she was used to. Of course I gritted my teeth and suffered her to speak her mind. Of course I did what made me feel complete. Sex made me feel good but still, the bed was the coldest place on the earth. The day after I turned 987 I was all dressed for day. I went to my wife and laughed and say,’I shall be out for a while. Don’t wait for me for lunch.’
I was an astronaut and I took off with a laugh and even as I sped faster than light and travelled into farthest reaches where no man had ever before me touched the ground. I was deliriously happy. After dawdling over the fiasco of marrying my wife when I had future, I told myself to take firm grip of my future. When I landed on the earth I knew the world had changed. The earth was totally in peace and from that moment I knew that my wife is a thing of the past. My neighborhood was different and I looked no older than some thirty years. My premonition was correct. ‘My wife was dead and gone. Nothing that reminded of her remained. I shall take my future and I lead my life’ said I.
No wonder when the whole neighborhood was gunning for me in the next two years I could shrug it off. I told them that I didn’t intend to marry. ‘But you are in flower of your youth.’ Many said earnestly. ‘You will make some woman deliriously happy’ said one who had become my shadow of sorts. ‘Oh no,’ I said carelessly,’ I am used to a lifestyle no woman is worth considering for.’ in the end I brought a bitch home and said,’ Nothing like a dog. Man’s best companion.’
In the end I was left to myself. I was so happy with the dog who fawned on me. How many ways she delighted me! she was ultimate in playfulness. Every time I threw a bone she ran and ran with it. She improvised on it with so many complex gimmicks and every time she came she had some twenty to twenty-five mutts at her heels sniffing her all over. The delight of her fetching the bone was lost in the voracious appetite of those stray dogs that never quite left the place. So one day I chided my dog that the very sight of a bone made me sick for the mutts that she brought home. The dog wagged her tail and said,’I am used to a lifestyle that you cannot give either in my previous or this present life.’
It made me shot up as though someone had lit a firecracker in my behind. The tone was very familiar through her whelping, and the toss of her head was distinctively of my wife.’
I could only sigh.
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When the merchant prince al- Marauf thought he would cross the Arabian desert he asked his friends if they felt inclined to accompany him. None wanted to make the journey. Disheartened at the polite refusal the merchant asked Mulla Nasruddin who out of the blue had dropped in. He asked if he felt up to make a journey. ‘ I must warn you, Mulla it might kill you.’ Mulla asked,’Are we going on camel’s back or take donkeys all the way?’
‘What has it got to do with crossing a desert?’ it was the turn of the merchant to be amazed. Mulla said,’ if we are taking camels I am your man. ‘ Mulla Nasruddin explained that he was an expert of camels. Merchant prince immediately set about his train of camels and baggage.
Soon after on an evening they set off. Everything was so quiet and by nights they would camp in some clearing and after a meal by campfire they would tell stories to entertain the company.One night it fell to the lot of Mulla Nasruddin to tell a story.
Mulla asked if they ever wondered why deserts came about. None knew. ‘ What you are crossing this great desert without knowing why?’
Mulla continued,’The First Man Adam, blessed be his name, was fashioned by Allah and He also made animals to amuse him. He told the four legged beasts,’ My beautiful creatures, show this Man how wonderful you are!’ On hearing the horses galloped while elephants showed how clever they were. Only camels remained unimpressed;and they stood there as if they were bored stiff. Adam felt sorry for their lot. He asked if they cared to accompany him and Eve. The animals shook their heads and it was awful! Never had they felt so awful with camels making them all the more downcast. The camels bore upon man and other animals as well. The dispirit of camels was spreading all through the creation of the Lord. Adam asked ‘ Who can bear this!’ almost pulling his hair by the roots. He asked the beasts,’Perhaps you will be pleased to see a great conflagration of fire?’ No response. Adam set fire to the garden and the camels merely turned their heads away in disgust. It made the First Man try harder. He did all to get some response from camels. To none effect.
One noon the camels made such a ruckus and Adam and Eve were awakened from their siesta. The camels were gamboling and kicking up heels in joy, unconfined! There was desert stretched out as far as eye could see. The garden was completely gone!
Camels at last found what pleased them most. The Lord of three worlds asked if Adam liked what he saw.
Adam shrugged his shoulders to say,’ That beautiful garden is gone for ever. But considering the awful look of camels that made our spirits squirm it is no big loss.’
Looking at the company who heard him in total silence, Mulla Nasruddin ended by saying, ‘Camels got what they wanted. And of course we lost gardens of the earth.’
Next morning as the caravan continued, the camel let out a such foul smelling fart. The merchant asked,’ I thought you were an expert on camels? Because of your story it is certain the camel took offense and I,- get his full blast!’
Mulla Nasruddin replied, I did not say I can anticipate what he will do on any given situation.’
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Jai Paramartha, the mystic was once the guest of a rich zamindar who was a favorite of the king. One day an old man in shabby clothes and with strange manners boldly entered the quarters of JP, disregarding the servants who mistook him for a mad man. The servants wanted to know if he needed help.
Gampa Guru shook his head. For he knew the stranger indeed.
He would have recognized Mahirshi Shunya in shabby clothes or not. There was he out of the blue and he without any preamble tugged the mystic by shoulder and said, “I am onto Cosmic matters!”
Maharshi wanted to know his views about reality of the matter.
The younger man began. “ Brahma once went visiting. At some place he stopped over. He tied his elephant to a tree but when he thought he would continue his journey he could not find what tree it was. He called for Shiva. The god of destruction produced a seed and said that it was from the tree to which the animal was tied. Brahma was incredulous but Shiva assured that he would soon find it. Shiva held the seed out. In a trice it was swallowed up. There was his elephant!
Something of that seed disagreed with the animal and he broke wind. A Big Bang it was. The seed came out in cataclysmic force. In its wake came energy making every form visible! Not only that of elephant, but also many universes! The animal was still tied to the tree from which stars pulsated with energy.
Old Maharshi shook his head and violently and barked,’Impossible!’
JP queried,’Why not?’
The old man snapped,’I never break wind and the elephant of Brahma would neither.’
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