Posts Tagged ‘story’
The Gingerbread Man ©
The old couple knew they had a winner with the second try. They had made a cookie out of gingerbread and it came out perfect from the oven. The mold was in the shape of a boy and this time the form was crisp and fine. It brought smile to their old eyes. ‘No better Gingerbread boy will be found in all the kingdom!’ they exclaimed. The old woman fashioned a chocolate jacket while her man handed the cinnamon seeds that she fixed one after the other on his jacket.
‘What shall we put for his eyes, or for that matter his lips, woman?’ he asked with the solemnity of a surgeon handling a very difficult case. His woman fixed fat raisins for eyes and rose-colored lozenges went where his mouth was. Looking with intent among all the odds and knickknacks they had, the man settled for an orange marshmallow for his cap while the woman shaped out of green marzipan, a pair of shoes was a perfect fit. After they had thus made a gingerbread boy they looked at each other with pride and joy. Their joy was broken only by a gay laughter and to their great astonishment the boy was as much reveling as they at his attire.
Presto! The Gingerbread Boy made a leap and said, ‘The world is my stage. It is time I made a run for it.’
The boy ran out of the door and down the street. He cried without turning his head, ‘Catch up with me if you want to thank for your labors!’ Of course old as they were, they soon stopped when they were out of breath. They leaned on each other and turned to their cottage. Not a glance the boy wasted on them.
He ran past a cow on the roadside, ‘Catch up with me if you have as fine shoes as I have.’
The cow knew she was chasing the impossible. But the sight of Gingerbread Boy running was a marvel. She felt her whole frame heaving. Heading to her stall she knew her udders were bursting with milk, as she never felt before. ‘OK I shall delight my master with a vat full of milk.’ It was what happened that evening and did it not cheer up her master? Yes indeed!
Meanwhile the Gingerbread running smoothly without slackening speed and he was noticed by a horse that on training. He was to run at the Derby that weekend. The trainer saw the Gingerbread Boy and exclaimed, ‘ Like a thoroughbred. Black Magic, can you run like he does? ’ The horse neighed acknowledging that he had indeed inspired him to run faster as never before. The Gingerbread racing with the wind was noticed by threshers and mowers. The Gingerbread Boy hollered without breaking his stride, ‘Catch up with me if you have such gay cap as I have.’
The Gingerbread Boy ran on and on and by sundown he came across a Fox who asked, ‘Oh Gingerbread man, why in a tearing hurry?’
The Gingerbread Boy asked, ‘Gingerbread Boy I am.’
The Fox sidled up to him and said, ‘ Boy you are not. You might say you are’.The Fox was now running neck to neck and asked, ‘ But where is your gay cap? For that matter you have let your fine shoes fall down the road.’
The Fox now ran past him and stopped in front of him. He said that he could overtake him only because he had lost his cap and shoes. The Gingerbread Boy had to agree that the slush and stones along the road had taken their toll. He said still cheerily,’ My jacket is still in good condition. See my buttons are all there.’
The Fox softly said, ‘There is no denying the fact. You are still good enough to eat.’
The Gingerbread Boy asked after a painful silence, ‘Are you sure that I am a Gingerbread Man and not the Gingerbread Boy?’
The Fox smiled sadly, ‘You are no longer the same. A Gingerbread Man I grant you that.’
The gingerbread Boy felt a little put out. The Fox said, ‘It is always difficult to see yourself as you are. ’
Later he assured that it was often the case with those who run on and on and never stop to reflect. He added, ‘Whether Gingerbread Boy or Man you and I have some matter to settle’.
From the tone the Gingerbread Man knew the Fox was never as serious as he was then.
‘Who are you?’
‘I am Death, ’ murmured he in his ears.
But to his surprise the Gingerbread Man laughed loud and said, ‘You are more a rag and bones Man.’
As he felt the breath of the Fox on his neck he dug his heels into the mud of the way and taunted him for the last time. He said, ‘I gave my best to those who deserved more.’
The Gingerbread Man did not say another word.
Before the creation time were many spirits, exhalations from the four elements clarified into shapes, for want of a name I shall call gods. They assembled somewhere between heaven and hell.
The fire felt one moment a quick impulse and was the first one to speak. He said, ‘There must be a chief god. I have at times such a perverse thought to destroy everything to ashes.’
Water leant forward and said,’Don’t you worry, I am at hand to put you out.’
Air sniggered and said,’Oh divine fire, reign supreme I shall fan you so vigorously that water shall not quench you.’ Earth said ‘Water must have help against fire. Since air has taken sides with fire, naturally I shall give water all assistance’.
Thus earth was formed with water to sustain life. Stars appeared in the sky and fire god was sure his majesty was well established.
Still the gods realized that their chief controversy was not yet resolved. Who is the chief god?
Since there was no consensus they decided to ask the man to settle the question.
The fire-god Agni asked, ‘What is man that such a question should be put to him?He is merely Chance, a fluke!’
Man indeed was a result of so many chains of events as the gods themselves exhalations of four elements.
Man who felt in his very being the long simmering controversy among gods was disquieted. He could not say why but his troubled spirit convinced him he needed gods.
When he was asked to choose the chief god he merely answered,’ Get me all the gods you can find’.
The answer didn’t please the gods so they said, ‘let him choose whoever. But chance is going to upset all his calculations.’
Frederick Nietzsche wrote about a superman yet to be born. Even the superman will be undone by chance as Adolf Hitler who mouthed his ideals and tried to prove as one, lost out to Chance. Recently credit rating of the US was downgraded and it is predicted that the nation will not so soon recover. The nation that made wealth as synonymous as success merely proved my point: the very strength that you make out as your god shall prove your weakness.
During the 4th lunar week of Astaroth I fasted and prayed god Ashruth. I was the agent for the king and he had entrusted me to fill his coffers with gold. I wanted the god to send a sign whether my business ventures on behalf of my royal master would prosper. I heard nothing and even while the King’s soldiers rounded up my family for failing to meet his expectations the god held his silence. My wife and son were sold into slavery.
I wanted to marry again but the girl who was pledged to me married another since she did not hear from me for long. To be fair to her she had given an ultimatum to fix a day. But I missed it also as I was frantically waiting for my astrologer to show a sign I was doing the right thing. The astrologer was busy and he sent word that he was entrusted with the king’s horoscope and it was much more serious than mine.
Thereafter a matter very delicate came up for which I had to meet my father who lived very far and one month ride from the capital. But he was to my utter disappointment away urgently as he had taken a vow and was doing penance to ward off some evil. As I returned to the capital I heard the king had spread dragnet to bring me to him. So in panic I sought my close friend to hide me. Oh no my friend who swore eternal friendship had to go and marry and take his bride to some pleasure gardens in the east. As I stood there stunned I only wished out of so many people whom were all my acquaintances and under obligation, I could get one when I really needed hearing. No, no one was there to talk to. It was thus the king’s soldiers found me, a picture of woe. I said,’All my friends and kinsmen are out of reach whenever my soul needs a patient hearing. Can you at least pretend you didn’t find me?’
They stamped their feet in fury and showed in signs they were deaf and dumb by King’s order. Thus it was I hauled before the king. He astounded me by leading by the hand and said,’ The Queen says she was pledged to you before I married her. Will you take her back if I release her? ‘
It made me wonder if it were some kind of a joke. He said,’She is a chatterbox who shall drive me to my early grave. Take her and rid me of this plague.’
Suddenly I pleaded that I was suffering from some curse that the child who is born to me would be the king. I fell prostrate at his feet and said,’I would rather see you on the throne than my son as a threat to you.’
The king felt glad and raised me up. He ordered his treasurer to give me a chest full of silver and live in his realm peacefully. ‘Only condition is that let me know if you ever intend to marry.’ What with the queen sent away in royal displeasure I vowed not to marry ever.
Shortly thereafter my father came to me and he said that he he had been very much worried for my sake. It struck me then why I could not find him when I needed his advice.
One fine morning King of Babylon came with a fine army and mowed down the King and his royal household. He put his adopted son to rule over the kingdom. Only later I realized that he was none other than my own son. While my son and wife were slaves she was picked out and had become the Queen of Babylon. When my bosom friend came back from his travels he came directly to share my good fortune. ‘Yes you might say it is a stroke of good fortune. With the king for a son who cries over the loss of his mother?’
Later I asked the god why he didn’t answer my prayer in the first place. In my dream that night Ashruth the bullhead said,’Had I told you it all beforehand you would have messed it up.’
Next day I took the image of Ashruth and threw it into the river. ‘ If a god has no faith in his devotee why have a god in the first place?’
One summer day an ant was struggling to haul a fat juicy grain into its community store. A grasshopper who came that way saw the ant and watched it with interest. There was a file of ants engaged in the same task. The grasshopper felt genuinely concerned and after the ant had notched up its thousandth grain it approached the ant.’Mr. Ant?’ it asked,’you shall never live long enough to eat thousand grains.’
‘The times are uncertain. The mildew, rot and not to mention flash-floods, a volcanic eruption, or typhoon are all facts of life.’
‘So? ‘ the ant could not figure it out. ‘Am I not supposed to do what my forefathers were content to do all their lives?”
The grasshopper explained that the times had changed. ‘Just because your pop stored grains for the winter isn’t guarantee you will live to enjoy fruits of labor.’
‘I set an example with my work. Don’t I?’
‘What good is an example if there isn’t any to benefit?’
‘My brood of antlets?’
The grasshopper laughed and said,’Do you think they will survive a flash-flood head on?
The ant said, ‘So your conclusion?”
The grasshopper replied,’Work is a four letter word.’
The ant nodded and said,’Duty is also a four letter word. It doesn’t sound bad to me.’ (Con’d)
When Sung Tingpo of Nanyang was a young man, he was walking one night and he came across a ghost. He asked him who he was and he said he was a ghost.
The ghost in turn asked who he was. Tingpo lied that he was also a ghost. The ghost asked him where he was going and he said,’I am going to Wanshih town.”
“Ah I am also going there.” said the ghost and he said ‘Come we shall go together.’ They went along for a while. After covering a mile the ghost said it was stupid of them to both walk when they could carry one another in turn. The ghost carried Tingpo for a mile and he put him down with a racking cough. ‘You are too heavy for a ghost.’ complained the ghost. Tingpo excused himself he was a new ghost so he was bound to weigh heavier. Tingpo offered to carry him next which he could do with ease since he was a ghost. Thus they walked each carrying the other in turn and Tingpo asked what made him most afraid of. The ghost answered,’Human saliva.’ Thus chatting away they went on till they reached a stream. Tingpo let the ghost go ahead and observed he made no noise at all. While he waded across the stream splashing. The ghost asked why he was making all that noise. Tingpo explained that he was a new ghost and he couldn’t quite manage a stream as he could.
They walked on as before carrying each other in turn. In the end they came at the outskirts of a town. The ghost turned himself into a goat. Tingpo spat on the goat and it could not change back into a ghost. Tingpo found a piece of rope to tie the goat. He sold it for fifteen hundred cash and went home.
Since then there is a saying by Shih Ts’ung ‘Tingpo sold a ghost for fifteen hundred cash’.
(From Soushenchi, Fourth Century)
The boy was mentally challenged and his parents left him to die on top of a craggy mountain. The parents thought a child of seven who could not count beyond three would only bring discredit to them. But he was found by a team of lumberjacks loitering in a most piteous state in the wilderness where bears abounded. They all wanted to adopt him but wiser counsel prevailed when the Indian guide pointed to the boy’s features and said,” See those special markings on his head? Extraordinary things he shall do. No authority of human kind can hold him down.” The lumberjacks gave up the idea of adopting him.
The Indian however took the strange boy by his hand and said,” I shall teach you all that you need to know.” The boy left silently with the Indian.
The brave Wolf-by-the tail after taking care of the hungry child gave him a place to sleep. He slept under the starlit sky and at one point he saw the stars clustered at a particular spot in the sky. He saw the middle of that cluster the sky had cleared as if by some divine hand. It struck him as odd. Slowly he could see stars forming strange symbols and it began to make sense! They coalesced and parted and their many combinations were like an exercise for him. The boy stared attentively at the ‘picture show’ but could not keep up with the celestial lesson after a while. He slept.
Next morning when his adopted father took him to the chief he amazed the wizened old man by saying, “ I had a dream. I saw stars forming themselves into some pattern.” He called for some strings and he tied them in an intricate design and said,” This was how the night looked at first.”
The elders looked at each other in wonder. “I shall tell you how it is going to look two weeks form hence.” He folded the design in another fashion and held out, “You may check if I am wrong or not.”
The chief found the boy was accurate.
The boy explained that his parents abandoned him because he couldn’t make two and two into four. “ But because I was adopted by you I was given a new way of adding by that Great Spirit over the blue yonder. It is what you can find use for.”
That extraordinary aspect of life is not wisdom or power apart from one another but connected. Soul of the mentally challenged is unaffected by his physical debilities but connected to Truth. How the boy scanned Soul is unique to himself. Soul taught him arithmetic more in keeping with his needs.
Soul has its own special language and its contour always will be a fit for the individual.
This story is inscribed for my grandchild Ilse who is turning 10 today.
Easy Come, Easy Go ©
Grandma Doris had a cottage by the water’s edge. No water-rat around Harper’s Fork lived in such circumstances as she lived. From ceiling to the floor every inch of space was taken up to house her collection. Obviously she was a water-rat of some means.
All day she seated herself on a rocking chair by the river. Watching the blue skies did not fill her heart with gladness; neither did she care to make small talk with fishes or herons which went about their business all day. She did not care to watch the sun rise or go down. All day long she sat there watching the river. If something caught her eye immediately she would dart a large pole with a hook at the end. Only when she lifted her hand one knew she had found something new. Of course that added to her collection.
Her house was kept by Jamie. He was her grandchild. She loved him as only a grandmother could love. She let him admire all that she possessed. “I love to live surrounded by beautiful things,” she would tell him with a glint in her eye,”but the most beautiful object has a name.”
“What is it, grandma?” Jamie the water-rat would ask. “Oh, the object of my affections has a tail and throws up sparks. Always goes off with a bang!”
“ Ah I know.” Jamie was very clever.
“Tell me what it is?”
“No, silly boy!”Grandma Doris would reply,”it is you.” How often she prided in the fact!
Whenever she sent Jamie on errands she was however careful to warn,”mind your hands, and tail.” She knew Jamie was very lively and full of fun as water-rats of his age. So she never forgot to add, “Don’t bang the door hard as you go out. Thank you!”
Jamie always came home late which she did not mind as much as he often missed half the items on the shopping list. Whenever she thought she would take him to task he always knew how to put it off.
One day Jamie came home and that freshly baked bread she had particularly wanted was soggy and bad. Before she could holler Jamie said,”Grandma Doris I bet no one has a cork as beautiful as the one over there!” Instantly she looked at the object he referred to. She smiled and she waited for him to finish. Jamie said,”It is from a bottle of port. From Portugal, I dare say.”
Laughing broadly Grandma Doris said,”Yes indeed.”She held it out for him to sniff but he had fled. It amazed her that she was talking to empty air. Jamie always knew when to make an exit.
Next day as usual Jamie came to ask if Grandma Doris wanted anything done in town. But she was rooted to the ground peering into the sky. She held out her hand to mouth,’Shh!’. ”Perhaps it may rain.” she said in excitement.
“Showers of pretty pennies,”she added and put on her apron to catch them all if it did come. She saw a puff of cloud appearing at a distance. Immediately she wagged her forefinger and shouted,”Get all the buckets you can find in the shed. Those may come handy.” Jamie knew his grandma too well to argue.
He brought three buckets and placed it by his grandmother’s side. Grandma Doris seemed to have completely forgotten him. So he ran to the backyard and rolled a cask to the front and waited.
The wisp of cloud now bellowed into a monstrous size and went on growing. From black clouds that filled the sky a lightening shot out like a tongue of fire. KRRRAAGHHH! An ear-splitting noise and the massive cloud melted into million drops. A shower such as that Jamie had never seen before.
Pitter-Patter! Pitter-Patter! Drops fell. Non-stop they beat a tattoo on the river.
Before Doris could realise what was happening the river had overshot the banks. “Jamie look out!”she cried loud from water which had come up to her chin. Jamie rushed towards her and said,”Grandma get into this cask!” No sooner had they taken shelter in it than they were tossed high into the air by a wave. The cask fell far with a ‘plop’ sound and they were furiously pushed farther and farther.
Grandma Doris peeked at the spot where her cottage stood. Her cottage was gone! It was broken into so many bits and pieces; so were all her collection. “Grandma Doris,”Jamie tugged at his gradndma and said, “Lucky to be alive eh?”
Grandma Doris could only snort in dismay.
Pipin the Hot (not to be confused for Pipin the Short), the king of Blissfully Ignorant asked his spiritual father to pray earnestly for divine intervention. It was his desire that he taught Pipin, the Short, a lesson. Pipin the Short ruled the kingdom of Hanky-Panky.
Monk Anselmo, the holy one prayed and the angels heard his request.
Archangel Michael presided over the Heavenly host and the commanders held counsel. One said thus:” We can let a war decide the issue. But can Pipin, the Hot survive the consequences?” On checking with Anselmo the archangel decided that the Two Pipins might get their heart’s desire.
The war was short and fierce. The war was in the favor of Pipin, the Hot. Hardly the truce was declared than came four horsemen: Famine, Hunger, Plague and Death. These made the kingdom of Blissfully Ignorant, not even worth a straw.
Pepin the Short had to abdicate his throne and his son ascended to the throne, half of his kingdom totally useless for growing food. After a long reign he had the satisfaction of seeing a description of the War of Two Pepins as a total victory for Pepin the Short. It so happened the land, which was unfit for cultivation was turned over to the foreign investors to build apartment complexes. The kingdom of Hanky Panky exploited the construction boom while Blissfully Ignorant let the opportunities go by.
Tailspin: From what we experience in the present, of economic meltdown one may wonder how long Pepin the Short enjoyed the economic boom. For a period certainly. Now or then such boom is of certain period of time. Time brings changes and in the wheel of fortune none may predict how one hits the bottom or reaches top. Cluster principle is a kind of leveler by which a fool may also have his day. As Andy Warhol observed every one of us may enjoy 15 minutes of fame.