Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Stories are a way of melting the ice

March 10, 2014 Leave a comment

One morning when I was a child, my father came our to the lawn where I was playing with my box of wooden bricks. He picked up one of the smaller bricks, a yellow one, and said, “This brick is the house in which we live”. He picked up another, a larger, a red one. “And this brick is the village out there”. Then he took the actual box in which the bricks had come and placed it on the grass, a long way from the others. “This box is Afghanistan”, he said. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, Baba.”

“Are you quite sure that you understand?”

I nodded.

“Tahir Jan,” he said, “I am showing you this because it’s an important thing. I will explain it to you. If I go into the kitchen and take a dry sponge and put it in a bowl of water, it will suck up a lot of water, won’t it?”

“Yes, Baba.”

“But if I take the same sponge and put it in a bowl of ice, it won’t suck up anything at all. That’s because the sponge isn’t designed to suck up ice. Its structure — lots of little holes — can’t take in ice, only water.”

He sat down beside me, motioning with his hands.

“Ice is water, but just in a different form,” he said. “To make it into water — so we can suck it up easily — we need to change its form. The water is knowledge, Tahir Jan, and the sponge is your mind. When we hear information, a lot of it,” he said, “sometimes it’s too hard for us to suck up. It’s like ice. We hear it in the same way that the sponge touches the bowl of ice, but it doesn’t get inside. But as soon as you melt the ice, the water penetrates deep into the middle of the sponge. And that’s what stories do.”

My father always spoke very carefully to children so that they understood. He would pause and study the feedback, making sure what he said was getting through. I wasn’t quite sure what he was aiming at, and was rather keen to get on playing with my bricks.

“Stories are a way of melting the ice,” he said gently, “turning it into water. They are like repackaging something — changing it’s form — so that the design of the sponge can accept it.”

An excerpt from In Arabian Nights- A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams.


Because Ahmed has the best memory

December 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Five boys were sitting at the far end of the bench. They were dressed in weatherworn clothes, all caked in mud. Their leader said something fast. The others groped through their pockets and pooled their funds: six marbles, four bottle tops, a painted twig, a blunt penknife, and a few coins. The money was separated out. Three of the boys started arguing, shouting at one another. Their argument broke into a scrap. One of the older boys suddenly turned on the smallest. They fell into the dirt, punches flying. The leader pulled them apart. He handled all the coins to the youngest boy, whose shirt had been ripped in the fight, and sent him off toward the cinema.

The others began playing marbles.

I asked why only one of them was going to the cinema. The leader glanced up, his sienna eyes catching the light.

“We only have the money for one to see the matinee, Monsieur”, he said. “So we send Ahmed. We always send Ahmed.”

“Why him?”

The leader flicked a marble into the dirt. “Because Ahmed has the best memory,” he said.

An excerpt from In Arabian Nights- A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams.

The Story of the Pine Tree and the Sparrow

October 20, 2013 2 comments

dsc_3158-2“Do you know the story of the pine tree and the sparrow, T.S.?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head.

“Once…there was a sparrow who was very ill. He could not go south with the rest of his family and so he sent them along, saying that he would find shelter for the winter and meet them in the spring. The sparrow looked his son in the eye and said, ‘I will see you again.’ And the son believed him.”

“The sparrow went to an oak tree and asked if he could hide in his leaves and branches for the winter to keep warm, but the oak refused. My grandmother used to say that the oak trees were cold, hard trees with tiny hearts. My grandmother…”

“Sorry,” he said. “Well, after this the sparrow went to a maple tree and asked the same question. The maple tree was kinder than the oak tree but it also refused to shelter the bird. The sparrow asked every tree he came to if they might house him from the deadly weather: the beech, the aspen, the willow, the elm. The all said no. Can you believe this?”

“Well, the first snow came,” he said. “And the sparrow was deperate. Finally he flew over to the pine tree. ‘Will you house me for the winter?’ the sparrow asked. ‘But I can’t offer you much protection,’the pine said. ‘I only have needles that let in the wind and cold.’ It is all right,’ said the sparrow, shivering. And so the pine agreed. Finally! And do you know what?”dsc_7185-2

“With the tree’s protection, the sparrow survived the long winter. When the spring came and the wildflowers bloomed in the hills, he was rejoined by his family. The son was overjoyed. He never thought he would see his father again. When the Creator heard this story, he was angry with the trees. ‘You did not shelter a tiny sparrow in need,’ He said. ‘We are sorry,’ said the trees. ‘You will never forget this sparrow,’ the Creator said. And after that, He caused all of the trees to lose their leaves each fall…well, almost all of the trees. Because it was kind to the poor bird, the pine got to keep its short little needles all winter long.”

This is an excerpt from the book “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” written by Reif Larsen, which has now also been made into the movie “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet“.

dsc_7094-3With autumn around, it is at a perfect time when I came across this little story. Perhaps it is also one of the native American legend stories, but I’m not sure. I wait the entire year for this season to come. My heart is filled with anticipation for it. Now when it is finally here, I am filled with mixed feelings. On one hand, there is joy and fascination to see nature’s art all around me. On the other hand, there is apprehension of this being a very short lived happiness and the onset of the winters, when trees will loose their leaves and nature it’s colors.



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