Posts Tagged ‘story’


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baby bruno series-2

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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.

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A merchant who exported exotic flowers to the Far East in the Eighties became very rich but a volcano in one part of the globe suddenly erupted. The ash from a volcano in Iceland ruined the merchant in Aleppo.
Al Ahmedia had three daughters. They were Razia and Nafeeza and Ayesha was the youngest.
Ayesha was also called Beauty.
The two elder sisters were counting on marrying some one who was rich and famous. Of course one thought Sultan of Borneo would be her ideal choice. The other wanted one from Saudi royal family. But their father’s sudden misfortune came in a most inconvenient time.
The world and hopes of Ayesha the youngest didn’t go beyond the four walls of her home. Her father was laid low by his reversal of fortunes and he needed all her attention.
Razia and Nafeeza the elder daughters set the trends in fashion and were the darlings of the society. At home they found Ayesha an easy target. So every day they sniped and made her look silly.
They showed her natural beauty at disadvantage, which was taken up by the press. Luckily Beauty had no time for anything else than keeping a home for her father and her sisters.
She was Beauty in looks and in deeds.
One fine morning word reached Hajji Al Ahmedia that he could get compensation from FEIECF (Far East Importer and Exporter Compensatory Funds) for losses he had incurred. He had to go to Malaysia. Before he left he asked his children what they wanted from Penang. Razia wanted a bird of paradise and Nafeeza, an urang utang. Beauty wanted just a rose. Al Ahmedia took the first plane and reached the office in Penang. He met the right people and they assured they would settle the matter. But the matter dragged on over some lacunae in the law of the land.
After days of fruitless discussion it was clear he was wasting his time. So one day he decided to return home. That evening he set out to his hotel. He took a short cut and lost his way.
While walking through winding pathways hedged by lush greenery of some tropical paradise he was straying farther into a wild part of the town. By night he came in front of a decrepit villa that was evidently the mad folly of rubber and tin baron. It was shuttered for some hundred years.
To his utter amazement as soon as he climbed the steps the villa came to life. The shutters opened by itself. The macaques and marmots that ran through the rotting timbers became men. As the tired merchant reached the top of the steps there were men to receive him.
It was as they had orders from high and they fell to their tasks
Instantly. The servants in their sarongs and with headbands entertained the guest with food and music. Silently they brought salvers of fruits and food steaming hot and they served him on banana leaves. While in the background musicians played musical intstruments to rest the weary soul of the merchant. Al Ahmedia thanked Allah for his beneficence and ate. He slept on a cot carved out of rosewood inlaid with mother of pearl and ivory.
Next morning he woke up and as he climbed down the steps he found his magnificent villa reverting to its former state.
He knew he had slept the night in an enchanted villa.
Thanking the most merciful Allah for preserving him from all danger he walked on. At the gate he saw a perfect rose peeping out from a nearby rosebush. He plucked it. Ah the flower started bleeding. From somewhere he heard a whisper angry and piteous. It soon became a low moan and steadily it grew in volume to become a shriek.
The rose went on dripping blood, human blood.
Suddenly the cry stopped and instead a voice asking,’ For my hospitality is this how you pay back?’
The merchant looked around. There was no one. He was still holding on to the rose and it dripped blood. The voice from nowhere said,’ Why kill me when there were millions of rose bushes nearby?’
The merchant stood up and saw it was indeed so.
The unknown host was right. He furiously wondered in what way he could make amends. But how with a dying rose in his hands? Blood was making a trickle along his hands and along the red dust.
‘If I die the curse will be on you and your descendents.’ The voice went on and the merchant heard footsteps coming closer. The Voice spoke, ’You did evil and you must make amends.’
He asked what he wanted him to do. ‘Your life!’
The merchant hesitated.
He heard the voice ask, ‘Do you have people at home?’
‘I have three daughters at home.’
The Voice asked if any one of them would in his stead come to his rescue. The merchant said perhaps his youngest daughter might take his place.
‘What is her name?’
The blood of the merchant went cold to hear to disembodied laughter. It was pure fear that hit him.
‘I am the Beast.’ said the Voice. He added, ‘Go in peace but bring Beauty to me.’
The merchant promised to try. Before he left the Voice said that he would be dying inch by inch and if he delayed beyond two weeks his curse would begin to work. The merchant quaked in his shoes.
Al Ahmedia went home and told his daughters of his fearful encounter with the Beast.
Beauty was willing to save her father and also the Beast. Within ten days the merchant took Beauty to the enchanted villa.
The Voice sounded relieved and permitted him to leave. The merchant was glad to have got out of the villa in one piece.
Beauty remained alone in the hall, and she heard footsteps. She turned and saw a man instead of a beast.
He sighed and said she was deceived to think he was normal like others, ‘I am the Beast’ While Beauty stood speechless he said,’ I am damned unless you can love me on your own free will.’
Beauty could not believe. She somehow felt right at home and in control of the situation. She felt pity and as she came closer.
It was the Beast who was in panic. He said, ‘don’t come near me. I am the Beast.’
She saw his eyes were in pain and in tears she felt as though he were a creature as she.
‘Oh Beast, you are crying.’
‘Shall not a beast cry?’
‘But your tears are like mine.’ She was surprised.
She heard him gasp.
‘Oh, you are in pain!’
The Beast nodded.
She asked him to repeat after her. ‘If I can feel pain I can also feel happiness.’ He did as was told. She said many things that they had in common and he obliged her repeating. In the end she said, ‘I am a woman.’
To this the Beast answered,’ And I am the Beast.’
She went closer to the beast. She felt his broad shoulders and saw that everything which, a man was expected to have was there. ‘You are a paragon of manhood’ she said very much relieved.

The Beast suddenly slouched over his seat and wept. He said, ‘Beauty you don’t understand. I have no heart. I am a beast.’
Beauty said, ‘Beast? I don’t understand what you mean. And I have a heart for the two of us.’
‘How do you know?’
I grew up, Love, among those had no hearts either. They were not called beasts’. She was sure that as far as she could see he was in no way worse than her sisters and other people with whom she had to live.
She drew him to her side and kissed his hand in reverence.
‘What is your name?’
‘The Beast.’
‘No it is not!’ she was emphatic.
He replied’ Sultan Razak al Bashir.’
Something snapped then and there.
Lo the whole enchanted villa became a mansion on stilts. The rot and rack of two hundred years of neglect had been erased. In its place stood a mansion meant to be made a home. Ayesha said,’Razak, you and I are going to live here and give a try to raise our children. In this very spot.’
Razak the Beast had a glint in his eye, ‘You make it sound as though it is possible.’
‘You don’t?’
‘Beauty, you make me also believe it is possible.’
They settled down to make a home straightaway.

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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.

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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?’

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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.’
‘Why not?’
‘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)

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