Monday, October 6, 2008

Cycle of Evil

Cycle of Evil

There was once a king who was so cruel and unjust that his subjects yearned for his death or dethronement.
However, one day he surprised them all by announcing that he had decided to turn over a new leaf.
“No more cruelty, no more injustice,” he promised, and he was as good as his word. He became known as the ‘Gentle Monarch’.
Months after his transformation one of his ministers plucked up enough courage to ask him what had brought about his change of heart, and the king answered:
“As I was galloping through my forests I caught sight of a fox being chased by a hound. The fox escaped into his hole but not before the hound had bitten into its leg and lamed it for life. Later I rode into a village and saw the same hound there. It was barking at a man. Even as I watched, the man picked up a huge stone and flung it at the dog, breaking its leg. The man had not gone far when he was kicked by a horse. His knee was shattered and he fell to the ground, disabled for life. The horse began to run but it fell into a hole and broke its leg. Reflecting on all that had happened, I thought: ‘Evil begets evil. If I continue in my evil ways, I will surely be overtaken by evil’. So I decided to change”.
The minister went away convinced that the time was ripe to overthrow the king and seize the throne. Immersed in thought, he did not see the steps in front of him and fell, breaking his neck.

— Based on a story in the ‘Tales of Bidpai’, an Arabic version of the Panchatantra.

The Monkey's Paw...

The Monkey's Paw

Mr. White held his front door open. "Morris! Come in, come in." Mr. White's old friend, Sergeant Major Morris, stepped inside. Mr. White led him into the parlor.

Mrs. White and their grown son, Herbert, sat before a crackling fire. Morris settled into a chair. Mrs. White poured tea.

"So good of you to come," said Mrs. White.

"Thank you for inviting me." Morris looked around the parlor. "It's so warm here. So safe. I can almost forget that the mysterious jungles of India lurk right outside this house. I can almost believe life has returned to normal."

Sergeant Morris and Mr. White
Sergeant Morris warned his friend about the monkey's paw.

"Normal?" Mr. White studied his old friend's face. He looked worried. Or did he look scared?

"Has something happened to you, Morris?" asked Mr. White.

Morris rubbed his hand across his chin. "My life has nearly been destroyed by a monkey's paw."

"A monkey's paw?" Mr. White frowned. "I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean."

Morris reached into his pocket and pulled out a dark object. It was a tiny, shriveled hand, covered in fur.

Mr. White peered down at the tiny hand. "Morris, this is the cause of all your troubles? The withered paw of one small monkey?"

"It's small and withered, yes," said Morris. "But it's powerful. It has a spell on it. This paw grants three wishes to anyone who owns it."

"Three wishes!" Mrs. White looked at the paw. "It's magic then."

"You may call it magic," Morris said. "I call it cursed."

"Cursed?" said Mrs. White. "But that's silly. How can a wish be cursed?"

"Very easily," said Morris, shaking his head. "Whenever we make a wish, greed clouds our judgment."

"I wouldn't let greed cloud my judgment," said Herbert. "I would think the whole thing through. I would know exactly what I was wishing for."

"I thought I was smarter than the monkey's paw and its magic," Morris said. "I was wrong."

"Then you've made your three wishes?" asked Mr. White.

"I have," said Morris. "And if I had a fourth wish, I'd use it now. I'd wish with all my heart I'd never seen this paw. It's terrible, I tell you."

Morris flung the monkey's paw into the fireplace.

"No!" Herbert said. He grabbed a fire iron. Then he fished the monkey's paw from the flames and flipped it onto the parlor floor.

"I can't watch you ruin your happy home." Morris rose to his feet. "You have a fine family and a good life," he told Mr. White. "If you want to keep them safe, you'll toss that cursed paw back into the flames."

Mr. White walked Morris to the door.

When Mr. White returned, Herbert said, "What should we wish for first?"

"Nothing," said his father. "Morris was right. I live in a fine house with a family I love. I have nothing to wish for."

"But this fine house isn't completely ours," said Mrs. White. "We still owe two hundred dollars to the bank. Wouldn't our good life and fine family be that much better without debt hanging over our heads?"

"Think how happy you'd be to hand two hundred dollars to the banker, Papa," said Herbert.

"I don't know," Mr. White said. "It would be nice to own this house." Mr. White stared at the monkey's paw. Then he took a deep breath. "I wish for two hundred dollars."

"Oh!" said Mrs. White. "I saw it move. The monkey's paw moved!"

"It heard your wish, Papa," said Herbert. "Now the wish will come true."

"Nonsense," said his father. "The wind moved it. This monkey's paw is no more magic than I am." He scooped up the paw. Then he put it into his desk drawer. "Let's forget about this withered paw and go to bed."

The next morning, though, Herbert had not forgotten.

"The two hundred dollars may come today while I'm at work," he said, as he left for his job at the factory. "Don't spend it all before I get back."

That evening, Herbert did not come home from work. Mrs. White was very worried. Then a knock sounded at the door. Mrs. White opened the door. A man from Herbert's factory stepped into the hall.

"There's been an accident," the man told Mr. and Mrs. White. "Herbert was caught in the machinery at the factory. We couldn't save him."

Mr. White stared at the man. "Herbert is...dead?"

Mr. and Mrs. White
Mrs. White flung the envelope to the floor when she saw what was inside.
The man nodded. "We hope this will help ease your suffering a bit." He handed Mrs. White an envelope.

Mrs. White's hand trembled as she opened it. "Oh! Oh, no!" She flung the envelope to the floor.

The packet from Herbert's factory contained two hundred dollars.

"Where is the paw?" Mrs. White ran into the parlor.

"I've put it away," Mr. White said, "where it can do no more harm."

"But we have two more wishes," said Mrs. White. "We can wish him back. We can have our sweet Herbert back."

"Do you really think that's wise?" said Mr. White. "After what just happened? Do you believe anything good can come from our wishes?"

"Don't you want your son back?" asked Mrs. White.

"Of course I do," said Mr. White. He unlocked his desk drawer and pulled out the monkey's paw. He closed his eyes. "I wish for my son," he said. "I wish my son Herbert would come back."

Thunder cracked outside the window.

"It heard you," whispered Mrs. White. "Our Herbert will come home."

Mr. and Mrs. White heard footsteps outside.

"Herbert," said Mrs. White. "I'd know the sound of his walk anywhere."

She raced through the hall and flung open the front door.

A tall figure stumbled towards her down the road.

"Herbert!" she said.

Mrs. White and Herbert
Mrs. White's son had returned, but was not as he had been before.
Lightning flashed. Mrs. White saw her son clearly.

"No!" Mrs. White screamed. "Oh, no! It can't be." She stared at the figure in the road. It was Herbert, but not Herbert as he had been that morning.

Mrs. White slammed the door.

Mr. and Mrs. White heard Herbert's uneven steps. They heard his knocks on the door.


"What have we done?" Mrs. White slumped to the floor.


"We have one wish left," said Mr. White. "I wish..."


"I wish my son was dead," said Mr. White.

The banging stopped. Mrs. White crept to the window and looked out.

"He's gone," she whispered. "Our son is gone."

"And so are our wishes." Mr. White stared at the shriveled paw in his hands. "Along with our happy life."

He staggered into the parlor and threw the monkey's paw into the fire. And this time Herbert was not there to pull it out.

Forgive and Forget...

Forgive and Forget

- By Unknown

An old man once had an argument with his only son. He tried to apologize many times but the young man would not listen. The father never gave up because he loved his son with all his heart, but the son would not give in, because he was too blinded by his pride.

Years passed and as the man lay in his deathbed, he made a final attempt to reconcile with his son, but still he would not listen and so the father died with a heart full of grief.

During this time the son too had a child who had now grown up into a young adult. To this child he never mentioned his father and when the young man asked about his grandfather he would tell him never to mention him again.

One day, they too were both involved in a hot argument and his son fled away as his father did many years before. The man was extremely saddened and this time he had no pride, but felt completely isolated.

He was afraid that he had lost his son forever and for the first time after many years he turned to God in prayer. At that moment something filled his heart and he realized how his father must have felt many years back.

He remembered how he had hurt his old man and only at that point he realized the extent of the hurt he had caused. The more he thought the more he understood how unjust he was with his old father, the man who gave him everything through out his life.

With these sad thoughts he felt asleep on the couch. Next morning when he opened his eyes he found himself tucked in his bed and in front of him stood his son. The man could not believe his eyes, and the two hugged each other while they cried together.

After lots of apologies, the young man explained that up till the day before he felt lots of hatred towards his father, but during the night he had a strange dream that touched his heart. He dreamt that an old man was hugging him, and as he embraced him, all his hatred turned into love. The old man then told him to forgive and forget. He then explained that as soon as he woke up he came running to his father's house.

At this point the man told his son that on the same night, he learnt an important lesson, and how he had let his father down when he was younger. The son wanted to know more about his grandfather who he never met or even saw, and this was the most appropriate time.

The man went to an old bookshelf and fetched an old family album. He then picked an old photograph of his father and when the son saw it, he remained dumb-founded. The son then explained that the man in the photograph was the same one he dreamt of the night before.