Archive for October 17th, 2008

Creation Spirit©

As soon as God created Day and Night, the host of angels came to God and asked, “O Lord there is division among us. Which of the two, Day or Night is better?” God chose not to reply. The day He separated the Heaven from the Earth the angels came and asked,” Which is better, heaven or the earth?”Again God remained silent. He went on creating and after he had created man the angels in so many groups asked,” We are going to pieces with contrary opinions. Tell us God, Are we not better than the man you created?”
God fell silent. Archangel prodded,” O Lord of hosts! If man were better you would have set him here in heavenly places. Now we see your face all the time and we are definitely superior.”
Instead of replying God breathed in to Adam and asked” Which is better- I being among you or my spirit in him? Answer me and I shall answer those questions you asked me earlier.”

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These two chapters are taken from the Parable of the Prodigal Son set in another time and place. Title of the book is The Son Who Came In From The Cold.
Adonai has two sons. On
reaching 18 Josh the younger son takes for the first time a trip all by himself outside his palace and is shocked. He is overwhelmed by what he sees. He knows his father is hiding some vital facts he ought to know. He leaves his father’s home and the sheltered life of Sans-Souci.
He arrives at a city that is curiously similar to New York. With his share of the untold wealth he intends to understand why misery is only outside his father’s home. He suspects there is some mystery. He intends to find it out for himself. Now I will leave you to the selected chapters.

Sowing Wild Oats

The City had a strange name. Master Joshua vaguely understood what it meant in Armenian. When translated it went thus: ’Anything Goes’ City. It stood by a river and promenades that led along its banks were full of people. What strange dresses they wore! Stranger still was their dialect, peculiar to those who lived long in a city, and who lived especially without any known occupation. Obviously they lived by their wits, Joshua thought.
As he drove through the city in a handsome carriage drawn by four horses he knew he had never set foot in a city as strange as Anything Goes City. While passing through the commercial part of the city the people were out in the open. Like ants in groups and seeking out others and invariably they enquired ‘Morat! Morat!’ “Darn Morat, my ears have been a-tingling with it!” He tapped the driver to inquire. He stopped and gave a sheepish smile to run to a kiosk. The board read thus: “Buying on margin- Ensure your piece of happiness!” The newcomer didn’t fully grasp the meaning but something clicked. It sold something. The driver waved his sheaf of papers in air in exultation; he kissed the bunch as it was his talisman. Having pocketed it he settled himself once again on driver’s seat. Before he took his whip to goad his animals he said, ”Morat, master! Buy, Buy! Buy!” The out-of-towner could catch his excitement. Buying was a way of life. Those who couldn’t pay in full put down an initial payment on stocks as the driver did. At every corner he saw similar kiosks in red and green and similar crowds who jostled one another. Each thought nothing but his or her piece of happiness.
Only when he stopped at the City Hall to register his particulars and receive his permit for residence he realized the full gravity of the situation. The motto which was inscribed under the seal of the City was a superscription, ‘Everybody ought to be rich!” Perhaps City elders thought Latin and Greek gave money grubbing the adequate gravitas it was also repeated in these languages. Thinking it over he smiled for the first time since he took leave of his father.
He was in the right place.
Even as he resumed his drive he could only thank himself he had at last found the right place. A city that gave a piece of happiness. To rich and poor alike.
Sans-Souci stifled him. And now he was among real people he thought.
He was happy.
Hardly he had moved into a villa that was fully furnished with rich tapestries, bric-à- brac, paintings by old masters, he received invitations from the 400 who were the shakers and movers of the city. So naturally he had to throw a party to show them the house he chose to live in. It was sumptuous but compared to his father’s mansion it was merely adequate. He was not for letting his wealth speak for him. All that he required was a human touch. It seemed to have touched the guests without exception that they instantly were on first name basis. “Josh let me know if there is anything I can do.” ”Another put it eloquently, ”we are at your service.” They knew he made the City by the river famous by his presence.
Soon after two or three fellows who claimed themselves to be the leading lights of The Smart Set dropped in to enquire. They were well received. So often thereafter they called on him. Matt, Mike and Jan were well groomed and knew all the right people whose names they were sure to drop every now and then. They had a bagful of jokes to amuse him on any occasion. It was very often. Before Josh could gather his wits about they had settled themselves under his roof. Josh had no idea how to handle them. He had his own life to lead. But to cut them dead with a snub wasn’t his style. So smiled politely at their jokes. He left them to fend for themselves whenever he went out. They didn’t mind.
Matt arranged his entertainments and hired musicians and theatre people. Jan provided exotic items that he averred no man of taste could do without. Mike was the one who carried tales and prompted whom to cultivate in order to get things done. Josh wasn’t sure he was well into entertainment. ‘Doing good to those in need is good enough’, he said. How they laughed at that!
The trio proved themselves in so many ways how useful they were. They ran with alacrity all his errands and did various services short of polishing his shoes.( He had his own valet, cook and major-domo not to mention gardeners and a porter who carried a brace of pistols and sported a fierce moustache that was waxed stiff for effect.) Had someone said his household was beginning to look more like a miniature version of Sans-Souci he would have been surprised. It was not what he intended but the unlimited credit he carried in his person needed an outlet. That was all.
At any given day he had some twenty guests to dine and Matt, Mike and Jan stayed on. The trio also gave company whenever he was alone. On such occasions they took to educate the master of the house to the ways of the world. Josh was certain he was only concerned with the ways of his establishment. “The world can take care of itself,”he had said.
One day the mayor, who had in the meantime become very friendly to him, asked him in strict confidence why he had those good-for-nothings around. He said those three were nothing but parasites. Josh could understand. He had something of a suspicion about them, which he had stifled as soon as it peeked. He thought he was being unfair and callous. Now the worshipful Mayor also observed the same. ‘There must be then something to it,’ he was convinced. Checking into their circumstances he found even the clothes they wore were hired from a shop that catered to the Smart set. As for the financial status it was almost nil. To his dismay he found they were daily one step ahead of the bailiff. As the worshipful mayor had hinted they lived indeed desperately. They avoided creditors all around by hiding in his villa.
“This is a sad business!” Josh felt they were more sinned against than sinning. They were poor and naturally they had latched onto him for succour. His tender heart melted. He called the three and gave each a sizable sum to spend for their own good. “Get a job, or live as simple as you can,” his kindly heart prompted these words. Before sending them off he didn’t forget to admonish,“Do some good so you haven’t lived in vain.’
They were loath to depart but Master Josh was adamant. They finally went off.

The Bottom Falls Out

Josh viewed Anything Goes City as his own. He was on nodding acquaintances with all. The mayor made much of him, so did the common man. The shoeshine boy who plied his trade around the corner daily waited for him to appear. He could see him as he stepped out of his villa. Every morning dressed to the nines by his own valet, Master Josh stopped by to get his shoes polished. He did it to give custom. It was obvious. “May you prosper with my thaler.” he said always at the end. The boy as smart as they come, living by his wits knew how to make some easy money. It was so common.
Just the same. The denizens were in awe of Master Josh: he was the only one who did not dabble in stocks.
Banks, which nursed the fiscal health of the nation sent their experts to remind Master Josh: invest in common stocks while the prices were low. Or regret.” “It is a bullish market!” they all said. Banker ‘Blunder’ Buss brought sheafs of papers with a lot of statistics to prove his point. He was certain, as some 857 pundits who also shared his opinion, that the stock prices clearly showed the fiscal health of a nation. Master Josh shook his head. The banker couldn’t believe he could be so naïve. “The nation is marching permanently on a plateau of prosperity!” he said a little exasperated at his transigence,”Join up or go bust!” Master Josh still held his ground.
He wasn’t there to make a fast buck but face ‘the evil of the age’ in his own way. It was his article of faith. He would never let Sans- Souci cripple his common touch he had vowed on the day he turned fourteen. He had never departed from it. Before he took any action he asked himself: “Do I really benefit from it? Secondly: ‘does it further quality of life around me? Thirdly: ‘ does my action give disproportionate value to things than to man? If so I ought to revise my actions till a balance is achieved. Lastly: am I, with my actions, justifying my place among mankind?” It was his set of rules and it had given him no little trouble to put it down on paper. On their final leave taking he had shown it to his dear father who read it. (There were tears in his eyes. He wanted to believe it were the tears of joy. Didn’t he bless him and hug him fervently therafter?) City Anything Goes certainly tempted him. But he couldn’t go against his own beliefs. On looking at their craze for making a killing at stocks he thought he was looking at so many billionaires who existed only on paper. No substance to them, he had intuitively guessed.
Applying his own rules he saw he stood to benefit by making profits but for what? To keep a foolish charade longer? He had listened to those who sponged on him. While they ate off his plates and drank his wine they said things that made him sit up and notice. He saw all too clearly what was to follow. Inflated stock prices! Insubstantial billionaires! With a sinking heart he saw the curl of a tsunami growing so high before it broke.
Master Josh felt the shudder. One day it came. A rumble it was. A few investors dumped their shares. Stock prices swung wildly. “Oh such hiccups are natural,” said the banker who was certain the problem would correct itself. The mayor rallied some merchant princes to keep the prices under control. That helped for the time being.
Hardly six years since he had made the city by the river his home. Prior to the morning he had for days shut himself in his library fearful of the news that he knew would come. He heard it again. Loud and clear.
It was a Tuesday. Six months later to the day since the first hiccup struck its ominous warning. The bottom gave out. Everywhere people cried,”Sell! Sell!” On one day alone so many stocks were dumped and in the process they discovered they lost even shirts on their backs. In short some 50 billion thalers disappeared. With it went the sanity of the city.
Not a kopek he had invested or lost. But just the same. How could he sit there happy when people outside were doing unspeakable things to themselves? It was sheer madness romping the streets! It entered from broad avenues into the warren of homes. First a wave of suicides: it had its effect. People read the news and shuddered over the headlines: shocking yes! I knew so-and so. Tragic yes. What these didn’t spell out were: Families destroyed, children orphaned and so many dreams snuffed out in their swirling gaiety.
He had not lost his wealth. Yet for all that he was chained to a corpse! Against his will. He had bought his villa dirt cheap because it had no takers for long. The city thought investing in real estate was a dead investment. Especially when so much money each day could be made playing stocks. Now with so many houses being put on the market for paying off debts Master Josh thought he lived in the midst of a charnel house! So dismal he felt.
It was how he viewed the Black Tuesday even after a week: Dismal and horrible!
In the days to come the full horror of what happened was brought home clearer. While Master Josh had fasted and let out all his sorrow till he felt clean and strong to face the world life went on outside. Its mad frenzy outside his villa unstoppable it was. He didn’t have to go out. But he heard of terrible stories just the same. Many of his household had their loved ones come to ruin. In their tragedy he felt wounded again and again.
‘Life must go on’, as the wise men have often said made him now take matters into his hand. Two weeks later he got back into his daily routine.
He enquired after many whom he knew from that part of the city. Those tradespeople and craftsmen who always gave him special consideration lived in the vicinity. He never had to attend to the needs of his household so he hardly knew them. ( Hajmal the butcher had always sent his best cuts; so did the grocer. In their service he could sense their kindness, an impression almost palpable. He felt reassured always in their service.) He trudged along the lanes to look them up. But they were gone. So was the tailor who had his shop in another part. Next to the furrier. They all had mysteriously vanished!
One day he went to the place where he had his shoe polished. By force of habit, I guess. The boy was long gone and yet someone had taken his place. Upon closer inspection he shuddered. Instead of the regular, sat there ‘Blunder’ Buss, the banker with a foolish smile. In his baby pink and pudgy hands he held a brush awkwardly. He was now to polish his shoes! Master Josh burst into tears while the banker blinked on as if he had completely lost his marbles. ”Then came the bears,” he went on mumbling.
Josh ran inside and instructed his personal secretary to see that the banker was immediately attended to. He did as was told. He reported that evening to explain how things fared with the hapless banker. He aso made a note of instructions that his master gave and promised to attend them first thing in the morning.
Before he turned in Master Josh reviewed his actions: he knew his altruism didn’t benefit himself but all the other rules were met. If the banker was well again he would cease to be a problem for his family; and a banker, he thus reasoned, could get back into swim of things once more. Perhaps having learnt his lesson he would be more useful to the nation. So he didn’t regret in the least for what he had to spend.
The city was no longer the same. A regular war zone it was. No wrecks or smouldering ruins of buildings stood there but the people looked shell-shocked and the air he breathed had the stench of a serious malaise. He could feel it. It reeked of disappointment and misery.
One morning Josh was getting ready for stepping out. To his consternation there were two strangers coming in. Matt and Jan looked so different. His face showed a touch of irritation. He thought he had seen the last of them for good.
Matt and Jan were dressed in uniforms of civil guards and they greeted with a sombre look and explained they bought their commission with part of the funds he gave them. One was a colonel and the other was a rank immediately below.
“Why civil guards?” he asked as he led them into the house. Having settled themselves they accepted coffee while they took out cigars to smoke. Master Josh motioned his servant to open the window. Sheepishly apologizing they put their cigars away unlit. They talked about this and that till Mike came in. Mike came all flustered and he silently passed a few slips of notes to the other two. They looked at each other and the host knew there was something serious afoot.
In the end Jan took up the thread, ”Why civil guards? I ought to go back in time a little.” He spoke of racial tensions that had plagued the city for a long time. It went merely underground while people made money. With the last economic crisis, he explained the ugly tensions were out with a vengeance. With thousand tongues of drawn swords. Looking steadily at Master Josh said,”The people want to blame some one for the Depression. They have found whom to blame. You, my friend and benefactor, you are in deep trouble.”
“Preposterous! I am completely innocent.”
“Certainly!” they all said with their hands on their hearts,”but still you are an outsider and a foreigner.” Josh stood up and faced them,” Now are you going to tell me that I also belong to the wrong race?”
They nodded. They spoke of the benefits they got from their contacts. “Being a colonel in the Civil Guards I can help you to some extent. But from the reports our Interior Minister expects the worst. A blood bath is in the cards.” Jan asked Master Josh to look at the reports he held in his hands.” I had to use all my persuasive skills to get hold of them. The second is a list of names on the hit list: your name stands somewhere in the first five I believe.” Master Josh studied the list and the notes written by the Interior Minister himself. If he was sure of a blood bath it had to be true. His face went white.
They urged him to save himself. He knew he merely stayed home soul searching while the racial hatred was having a free run. He had thereby overlooked his own interests! Master Josh knew they were serious and they did put their neck out to do him a good turn. But ‘to pack up and go’ was a bit over the top.
His villa with all its appurtenances stood for something. It showed to all who lived in. A villa where every name in the List of 400 vied each other to get in. His style and immense wealth were proverbial. The movers and shakers of the city sought him out before the City Council took any important decision. They had flattered him and they showerd presents and sent invitations to honor them with his presence. So young! Yet noteworthy he had become in a matter of six years. He was inexperienced he thought yet they sought him out for advice.
After the threesome had left he turned to the 400 for advice. He sent his personal secretary to each and the door was, everytime, shut in his face.
It didn’t take much for him to understand why. Before the fury of Xenophobia finally burst and could come in his direction he fled. Matt, Jan and Mike were there to arrange his escape. Seeing him out of harm’s way Mike said, ”Providence took a hand to save you. We were only Its instrument.” Master Josh nodded…

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