31 May, 2012

The Trick

Johnny Jones was a nice, popular boy, who everyone loved. He was so much fun, so good, and so kind with everyone that they treated him wonderfully, always giving him presents and looking out for him. And as everything he needed was given to him without asking, Johnny became weak. He was so spoiled by everyone that he couldn't endure any hardship, nor did he have any strength of will.
You would think that him having a little stone in his shoe was almost killing him. If he felt cold he would put so many clothes on that you would think he was at the North Pole. If it was hot, he couldn't keep his top on for even a minute. And if he were to fall and hurt himself... well, that was a nightmare. Someone would have to call an ambulance.

He became so well known for being weak that one day Johnny heard a mother saying to her son "Come on, my boy, get up and stop crying. You're behaving like Johnny Jones". That made Johnny feel so ashamed that he didn't know what to do. But he was sure that he would prefer to be known as a good boy rather than a softie. For several days he tried to see how much he could put up with hardship. It was true: he couldn't endure anything. Any little pain made him cry like a tap.

Worried, he spoke to his father about all this, though he was afraid maybe he would be laughed at for having such worries. His father, far from laughing at Johnny, told him that the same had happened to him when he was a boy, but that a teacher had taught him a secret trick to turn him into the toughest boy of all.
-"And what is the trick?"
-"Eat a candy less, study a minute more, and count to five before crying".
Johnny could not believe it.
- "Just that?"
- "Yes, just that." - said his father, -"It's very simple, but I warn you that it won't be easy."

Johnny went off happy as a lark, ready to follow that advice to the letter. He went to see his mother, and she noticed how happy he was when she offered him two candies. "One candy less", thought Johnny, so he only took one. It wasn't easy, though, and he realised his father and been right. To leave one candy sitting in his mother's hand really took it out of him! That same afternoon he had another chance to put the trick into practice, by studying for one minute more. The outcome was that he missed the first minute of his favourite program! But having achieved this gave him a great feeling of satisfaction. The same happened when he bumped into the corner of the kitchen table. He only managed to count to four before crying, but his mother was well impressed at that.

Over the following days Johnny kept applying the motto to his life. Eat one candy less, study one minute more, and count to five before crying. And the more he put this into practice, the easier it got. Before long he realised that not only could he eat fewer candies, study more minutes, and cry fewer times, but he could also do things that before would have seemed impossible, like eating vegetables or running for a good while.
Happy, he took some paper and wrote down the trick. He kept this in a wooden chest. The chest had a sign on it, saying "Important Things I'll Be Telling My Kids".

Strength of will can be developed through small but consistent efforts.

The Warm Whale

Gail the Whale lived in a small salty lake. She was the only whale in that territory, and she led a very comfortable life. In fact, this easy life made her a bit fussy. But, one year, there was such an incredibly hot summer that the lake's water really warmed up. Gail, used to such an ideal existence, could hardly stand the hot water. A little fish, which had spent some time in a child's goldfish bowl, told Gail that humans used fans to cool themselves down in summer. From then on, Gail the Whale couldn't think of anything else apart from how to build her very own fan.

Everyone told her that she was overreacting, and that the hot weather would soon pass, but Gail got to work, constructing her enormous fan. When it was finally finished, she started fanning away at herself.
Unlucky for the fish!

The giant fan beat the little lake's waters so strongly that huge waves rolled right across it. The waves crashed onto the lakeshore, leaving the lake half empty, and Gail stranded in only a few inches of water.
"You couldn't just hang on for while. You had to empty the lake," some unhappy-looking fish berated her.
"So impatient! So selfish!" others shouted. But the worst of it for Gail was not the insults, but the fact that with so little water around her, the heat was becoming unbearable. Preparing herself to die of heatstroke, she said her goodbyes to all her friends, and they asked for her forgiveness. She assured them all that if she were to live again she would be stronger and learn to put up with life's discomforts.

Yet, once again, Gail the Whale was overreacting. She managed to survive those hot days without dying, although, of course, she suffered. When the next rains arrived, the lake filled up again, and the weather improved. Naturally, Gail had to keep her promise, and show everyone that she had learned not to be so dependent on comfort, so impatient, and so fussy.
Lack of fortitude leads to senseless, disproportionate consequence.


There was once a bat for whom having to go out and hunt insects was just a terrible amount of effort. He was such a lover of comfort that, one day, when he happened to look through a window and saw a bird in its cage, and that it was given all its food and water without having to do anything at all, the bat decided to become a child’s pet.

The bat changed his whole routine. He got up at dawn to fly to parks so he could be spotted by some child who might adopt him as a pet. However, as bats aren’t particularly attractive, the children paid him little attention. So the bat decided to improve his appearance. He made a beak, stuck a load of feathers to his body, and learned how to whistle so that his bat calls weren’t quite as horrible as before. And so it was, that with great good fortune, he met a little boy who hardly every wore his glasses and was so short-sighted that this strange-looking black little bird’s ridiculous appearance didn’t really matter.

The bat was happy in his cage, in a warm and comfortable house. There he felt like the best of all bats, and certainly the cleverest. But that feeling lasted only up to the time he started feeling hungry. When he wanted to eat there were no flies or insects there for him, only a load of birdseed and cereal for which the bat felt the height of disgust... So much so, that he was determined to die of hunger rather than sample that bird food. However, his new owner, noticing the bat getting thinner, decided he wasn’t going to let his little bird starve to death. Using a syringe and a spoon, he made sure that this was the first bat ever to become intimately acquainted with birdseed...

Some days later, the batbird managed to escape the cage and return home. He was so ashamed and embarrassed that he made sure he told no one what had happened. However, he couldn’t stop the other bats commenting on how much effort he now made when they were out hunting flies, how strong and tough he had become, and how he no longer seemed to worry about the inconveniences and discomforts of living in freedom.

Everything in life has its unpleasant or uncomfortable side. These aspects cannot be removed from life.

Searching for Stars (A tender, happy story with a positive approach to the deaths of loved ones)

Charlie could not remember how many times he had heard his grandpa tell this story:
"Everyone's soul," said Grandpa, "is like a fidgety bug. It is always looking about, trying to be happier; more content. Have you noticed that? All this wanting to laugh, to have a good time, to be happy... These things are a sure sign that the soul is forever searching. Souls don't have legs, but they need a way to get from one place to another so that they can keep looking. That's why they live in a body, like yours or mine."
"Do they ever escape?" Charlie would always ask.

"Yes, of course!" said Grandpa, "Souls spend very little time in the body after they realise that the best place to be is heaven. So, right from the time when we're very small, our souls only think of going to heaven, of how to get there."

"And how do they get to heaven?" Charlie would ask, "Do they fly there?"
"Well of course!" Grandpa would say, smiling. "That's why they have to change vehicles. When a star comes by on its way to heaven, the soul makes a great leap right onto it, leaving the body here on Earth, discarded."

"Discarded? So it doesn't move any more?" asked Charlie.
"Exactly, not even a wiggle," said Grandpa. "Here we say someone has died, and it makes us sad, because our souls are what give life to our bodies, and they are what make us love other people. But remember I said they are like fidgety bugs, and that's why, when they see their star shooting off to heaven, they leave without the slightest worry or hesitation. Now, many souls take a long time to find their star. I mean, look at me, and how old I am! My soul has been searching for its star for so many years, and still hasn't had any luck. But some souls, like those of the best children or the best parents, know better how to find their star. And that's why they find it, leap onto it, and leave us so soon."

"And do I have a soul too?" asked Charlie, "Is it searching for its star?"
"Sure, Charlie," said Grandpa. "You are your soul. And the day you find your star you'll forget all about us here. You'll be on your way to heaven to have a great time with all the souls who are already there."
Satisfied with these words, Charlie always left his grandpa alone and went happily down to the river. There he used to sit looking up at the sky, searching for some little star.

And on the day his grandpa died, thanks to this explanation, Charlie cried only a little bit. He was sad that he wouldn't see his grandpa again, nor hear his stories, but he was happy that finally Grandpa’s soul had been lucky enough to find its star after such a long time. And Charlie smiled at the fact that his grandpa had found his star precisely while walking down by the river; the exact place where Charlie had gone so many times to look for his own.

An Unexpected Arrival (An emotional and positive story to help in dealing with the loss of a mother during childhood)

There was a bit of a stir in heaven when Tatiana turned up. No one expected her; she was still young and, what's more, she was the mother of two small children. Saint Peter looked at her, very seriously.
"And what are you doing here? Surely it's not your time yet".

Even so, after checking the ledger, he indeed found her name, but still found it hard to believe. It was true. She had done all the things that allow one to enter into heaven, including leaving her children with everything they would need, and she had managed it all in so little time! On seeing his surprise, Tatiana smiled and said,
"I've always done things quickly. Ever since Adrian and Andrea were babies I gave them everything I had, and I kept it in the form of a treasure which only they could access".

Everyone in heaven knew what Tatiana was referring to. From day one mothers set to work, filling the hearts of their children with love and virtues. And the rule is that mothers can only go to heaven once they have completely filled their children's hearts. This was amazing news. It was very unusual to hear of children having their hearts filled so soon, and everyone in heaven wanted to investigate.

Looking at children's hearts is the favourite pastime of the angels. At night, when children are sleeping, their hearts shine intensely with a purplish light that only angels can see. The angels certainly come to see; they sit around the children, softly singing songs of beauty. And so it was that, that night, in the bedroom of Adrian and Andrea, thousands of angels gathered. Neither of the children had overcome their grief at their mother's passing, but they were managing to sleep. On falling asleep, their hearts started to light up, as always. Gradually the light became more intense until their hearts shone brilliantly and with unmatched beauty.

Without any doubt, Tatiana had left their hearts brimming with such love and such virtue that they could have shared these with thousands of other children. The angels gave thanks for a spectacle of such beauty, they sang hymns of praise, and resolved to return each night. On waking, neither Adrian nor Andrea noticed anything strange, but they did feel filled with a strength to meet the new the day with enthusiasm; ready to grow and learn in the way their mother had always wanted.

So, without ever failing to miss their mother, Adrian and Andrea developed into a pair of wonderful children, overflowing with goodness. Every day they took inspiration from hearts filled with love and virtue, left to them by their mother, and from the nightly presence of thousands of angels who came to see them shine.

The Little Forest by the Sea

There was once a little village separated from the sea and its great cliffs by a forest. That forest was the village’s best defence against the storms and furies of the sea, that were so ferocious throughout the region that it was only possible to live where the village was. Yet the forest was constantly in danger, because a small group of wicked beings came every night to cut down some of the trees. The villagers could do nothing to stop the felling, so they were forced to constantly plant new trees to replace the fallen ones.
And for generations, such was life for the tree planters. Parents taught their children how to plant, and the children, from a very early age, spent all their free time planting new trees. Each family was responsible for replanting a particular area, and had been since time immemorial. Failure of any family to do this would have brought the community to ruin.

Of course, most of the planted trees were lost due to a thousand varying reasons, and only a small percentage reached full growth. But so many were planted that the protective forest managed to maintain its size, despite the great storms and the cruel felling of the evil beings.
But then, there was a great misfortune. One of the families died out due to lack of descendents, and their area of the forest began losing more trees. There was nothing to be done, the tragedy was inevitable, and in the village the people prepared to emigrate after so many centuries.

Even so, one of the young men refused to abandon the village.
-“I won’t go,”
he said,
-“if needed, I will start a new family that will look after that area, and I myself will go to work on it from day one.”

Everyone knew that no one was capable of looking after a replanting area all on their own and, as the forest would take some time to thin out, they accepted the young man’s proposal. Yet, by doing so, they had accepted the greatest revolution ever seen in the village.

That young man, loved by all, had no trouble in finding people to help him replant. But those helping hands all came from other areas, and soon his own area wasn’t the only one in need of extra help and more trees. These new areas were helped by other families and soon no one knew whether they should look after their own area or someone else’s: so to simplify things they just planted trees wherever they were needed. But they were needed in so many areas that the villagers began planting even during the night, despite their ancestral fear of the wicked tree cutters.

Those nocturnal plantings meant the planters came across some of the fellers, only to discover that those “wicked” beings were nothing more than the frightened members of a tribe that hid themselves in the labyrinthine cliff caves during the day. They would surface at night to get some wood and food, so they could survive. As soon as these “beings” got to see how good it was living in a village on the surface, having food and water, and knowing how to plant trees, they begged to be accepted into the village.

With each new night, the village gained more hands to help with the planting, and there were fewer cave-dwellers cutting down the trees. Soon, the village filled with grateful “night-beings” who mixed happily among the old families until they became indistinguishable. And so great was their influence, that the forest began to expand. Day after day, year after year, almost imperceptibly, the forest got bigger and bigger, and it provided more and more protection, until finally the descendants from that village could live anywhere they liked in the region.

And they never would have known that, a long time ago, they had their origin in a village protected by a few trees that were on the point of disappearing.

An allegory about how doing good and helping others is an attitude that spreads.

Robot with a Virus

Ricky lived in a lovely, futuristic house, which had everything you could ever want. Though he didn't help much around the house, Ricky was still as pleased as punch when his parents bought him the latest model of butler robot. As soon as it arrived, off it went; cooking, cleaning, ironing, and - most importantly - gathering up old clothes from Ricky's bedroom floor, which Ricky didn't like having to walk on. On that first day, when Ricky went to sleep, he had left his bedroom in a truly disastrous state. When he woke up the next morning, everything was perfectly clean and tidy.

In fact, it was actually "too" clean; now Ricky couldn't find his favourite t-shirt, nor his favourite toy. However much he searched, the two items did not reappear, and the same was starting to happen with other things. Ricky cast a suspicious eye on the gleaming butler robot. He hatched a plan to spy on the robot, and began following it around the house. Finally he caught it red-handed, picking up one of Ricky's toys to hide it.

Off he went, running to his parents, to tell them that the butler was broken and badly programmed. Ricky asked them to have it changed. But his parents told him absolutely not; it was impossible, they were delighted with the new butler, and it cooked like a dream. So Ricky needed to get some kind of proof; maybe take some hidden photos.

He kept on at his parents, about how much good stuff the robot was hiding. This outweighed however good a cook it was, Ricky argued.

One day, the robot was whirring past, and heard the boy's complaints. The robot returned with one of the boy's toys, and some clothes for him.

"Here, sir. I did not know it was bothering you," said the butler, with its metallic voice.
"How could it not, you thief?! You've been nicking my stuff for weeks!" the boy answered, furiously.
"The objects were left on the floor. I therefore calculated that you did not like them. I am programmed to collect all that is not wanted, and at night I send it to places other humans can use it. I am a maximum efficiency machine. Were you unaware?" the robot said, with a certain pride.

Ricky started feeling ashamed. He had spent all his life treating things as though they were useless. He looked after nothing. Yet it was true that many other people would be delighted to treat those things with all the care in the world. And he understood that the robot was neither broken nor misprogrammed, rather, it had been programmed extremely well!

Since then, Ricky decided to become a 'Maximum Efficiency Boy', and he put real care into how he treated his things. He kept them tidy, and made sure he didn't have more than was necessary. And, often, he would buy things, and take them along with his good friend, the robot, to help out those other people who needed them.

Treating things well, with care, is also a sign of respect to those who cannot enjoy such things, and who –given the chance – would surely treat them well.

The Tidy Toys (A story using a fun device to explain to children the importance of tidying away their things and treating them with respect)

Once upon a time, a boy moved houses. On entering his new bedroom he saw that it was full of toys, storybooks, pens, pencils... and all of it was perfectly tidy.

That day he played all he liked, but went to bed without having tidied up.
Mysteriously, the next morning all the toys had been put back in their proper place. He was sure that no one had entered his bedroom, but the boy didn't pay it much mind. The exact same thing happened that day, and the next, but when the fourth day arrived and he went to get his first toy of the day, the toy jumped out of his hands and said, "I don't want to play with you!"

The boy thought he was seeing things, but the same happened with every toy he touched. Finally, an old teddy bear said to him: "Why are you surprised that we don't want to play with you? You always leave us so far from our proper place, the place we feel most comfortable and happy. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the books to climb back up onto their shelves, or for the pens to jump into their tin? You haven't a clue how uncomfortable and cold the floor is! We won't play with you any more until you promise to leave us in our little houses before you go off to bed."

The boy remembered how comfy and content he felt in his bed, and how bad he felt when he had once slept in a chair. He realised how badly he had treated his friends, the toys. He asked their forgiveness, and from that day he always put his toys nicely in their special places before he got into bed.

The Birth of the Turtles (A story in praise of families, and how much we receive from them without realizing)

Tulika was really excited. They had waited many days, but finally, that night, the baby turtles would hatch out on the beach. And her Daddy was going to take her to see them!
So, Tulika and her father got up when it was still dark, took their torches, and carefully made their way to the beach. Her father made her promise to respect the baby turtles, not to make any noise, and to do what he told her.

Well, Tulika was willing to do almost anything if it meant that she could go and see the turtles hatch. She didn't really know what it would be like, but her older brother had told her that the turtles are born on the beach just a few metres from the water's edge.
After hatching they quickly scuttle towards the sea. All that sounded very exciting to her.
Crouching quietly, by the light of only one of the torches on a low setting, Tulika and her Daddy waited. She looked all over, hoping to see Mother Turtle, and she almost missed the appearance of the first baby turtle.
It was so tiny!

It moved very clumsily, like most babies; and without waiting for either its brothers or sisters or mother, it started to scuttle towards the sea. Gradually, more and more baby turtles appeared, and all ran towards the water. Tulika and her Daddy stayed hidden and quiet, watching the wonderful spectacle of that crazy race to the sea.

But then something happened which, to Tulika, seemed horrible. Some seagulls and other birds arrived, and they started eating some of the little turtles. She kept looking everywhere to see whether Daddy Turtle would turn up to give those birds a good hiding. But he never came.

Tulika was watching all this with tears in her eyes, and when the first group of baby turtles finally reached the water and were safe from the birds, she gave out a little cry of happiness.
Even with the birds eating quite a few little turtles, in the end many more reached the sea, and Tulika was very pleased that they had managed to do so.

On their way home, her father, who had noticed the tears in Tulika's eyes, explained to her that turtles were born that way. Mother Turtle lays many eggs, hides them in the sand, and off she goes. When the baby turtles hatch out, they have to try to reach the sea on their own. That's why so many are born, because lots of them get eaten by other animals, and not only on the sand, also in the water. He explained to her that the few turtles who manage to become adults live for many, many years.

Tulika was really glad to have learned so much about the turtles that night, but as they continued home all she could think of was how happy she was to have a family; happy that her parents and her brothers and sisters had helped her and cared for her so much right from the day she was born.

30 May, 2012


Not only was Longhands a young pirate boy, he was also the son of a pirate, the grandson of a pirate, and the great grandson of a pirate. Actually, he hadn't yet stolen anything, nor attacked any ship; but his whole family were sure that he'd turn out to be a first class pirate.

Even so, the idea of spending his life robbing people certainly didn't appeal to young Longhands. He knew this because when he was a toddler, one of his cousins had pinched one of his favourite toys, which made Longhands really suffer.

While he was growing up, Longhands' good nature meant that he worried terribly that some day his real pirate personality would suddenly emerge, and send him down the path of robbing, raiding, and pillaging. Every morning, when he woke up, he looked in the mirror to see if the horrible transformation had yet occurred. But every morning he had the same pleasant sort of face he had had the day before.

As time went on, it became obvious to everyone that Longhands wasn't a pirate; but the family tradition was so long and so wonderfully infamous that no one was bold enough to come out and say it.

"It's just that he's a good pirate," they would say. And they would have kept saying it even if Longhands had studied medicine and dedicated his life to caring for the sick. However, Longhands was still worried about turning into a pirate, and he continued consulting the mirror each morning.

One day, though, seeing that he was now an old man, and having seen his children and grandchildren - none of whom had become pirates - he realised that neither himself, nor anyone, was ever forced to be a pirate, whether from natural forces or from duty. Everyone could do whatever they chose with their lives!

And, having chosen his own life and his own path, Longhands felt deeply happy that he never chose to be a pirate.

No one is predestined to do anything. It’s in our own hands to change our lives, from day to day

29 May, 2012

The Photographic Elephant

 There was once an elephant who wanted to be a photographer. How his friends would laugh when they heard him talk about it!

- "How silly," said some, "there aren't any cameras for elephants!"
- "What a waste of time," others would say, "there's nothing to photograph here anyway..."
But the elephant kept following his dream, and, piece by piece, he managed to cobble together some old bits of junk and some spare parts, and ended up with a camera of sorts. With this camera, the elephant had to design practically everything himself, from a button he pressed with the end of his trunk, to a lens made to fit an elephant's eye, to a load of wrought iron used to make a frame so the elephant could attach the camera to his head.

When it was all finished, he could finally get to taking his first photos. However, the elephant camera was so enormous and strange-looking that it seemed like some huge ridiculous mask. So many people laughed as he went by that the elephant began to think of abandoning his dream... Even worse, it was beginning to look like those who had said there was nothing to photograph there had been right...
But things worked out differently. The sight of the elephant walking about with the camera on his head was so funny that no one could help but laugh when they saw him. And, using a great deal of good humour, the elephant managed to take some really amusing, incredible pictures of all the animals. In his photos they always looked joyful; even the moody rhino! So the elephant managed to become the official savannah photographer, and animals would come from every direction to have some nice photos taken for their passport to the zoo.

In overcoming adversity can lie the seeds of our success.

28 May, 2012

The Life-Wasting Potion

Many, many years ago everyone was strong and healthy. They ate a very varied diet, and especially loved fruit, vegetables, and fish. Everyone took daily exercise, and they enjoyed themselves playing and leaping about. The Earth was the healthiest place you could imagine, and it was clear that both adults and children were full of joy and good moods.

All that made the dark witches furious. They only ever wanted to do harm and make problems for people. The worst of all of these witches was Sour face; she was evil, and could be relied on to come up with the nastiest ideas. She suggested that all the witches combine their energies to invent a potion which would take away people's desire to live happily. So, one night, all the witches gathered down in the swampy forest and worked together on that evil spell. The spell was so powerful, and would need so much energy to cast, that when one of the witches got one of the words wrong, there was a huge explosion. So big was the explosion, that it completely destroyed the forest.

It turned all those evil witches into tiny little creatures, like germs, and left them trapped in a green liquid inside a small glass bottle, which lay lost in the swamp. There they were trapped for centuries, until one day a little boy found the bottle. Thinking it contained some kind of soft drink, he drank the lot. The evil, microscopic witches took advantage of this situation, and even though they were tiny and couldn't hurt anyone, they soon learned to change the little boy's likes and dislikes in order to get him to do what they wanted.

In a few days, a funny feeling in his mouth and tongue meant the boy no longer wanted to eat vegetables, fruit, or fish. All he wanted to do was eat ice cream, pizza, burgers, and candy. Then a nibbling feeling all over his body meant he no longer enjoyed playing and running about with his friends. All that stuff tired him out; he now just wanted to stay in the house, sitting or lying about. So, his life got more and more boring, he started feeling ill, and before long he had no desire to do anything. The evil potion had worked! And the worst thing of all was that the witches learned to jump from one person to another, like a virus. They managed to turn the influence of the potion into the most contagious of diseases: the disease of wasting your life.

It was a long while before, with the help of his microscope, Doctor Fitton-Helthie discovered that the little witches were causing all this disease. There was no vaccine or cough mixture to get rid of them, but the good doctor discovered that the witches could not stand joy and good humour. It turned out that the best cure was to make a strong effort to live a healthy, joyful, and happy life. When a person became healthy, the little witches would leave that body as soon as they could, riding off on a sneeze.

From then on, the best remedy was not pills or injections, but just a little bit of effort to eat some fruit, vegetables, and fish, and to do some exercise. And whoever came to see Doctor Fitton-Helthie, and took his advice, ended up totally well, being cured of the waste-of-life disease.

Although you have to make some effort to live a healthy and happy life, it pays to eat a little of everything, and do some exercise.

The Trees Testimony

King Akbar walks on the ways of his kingdom with few fellows. He notices too many crows on the way and says that the number of crows has increased a lot in the kingdom. One man talking with him agrees with the king, and adds that they add to much noise also.

King says that the number of crows in the kingdom is impossible to find out. Birbal responds that nothing is impossible. Akbar asks him that if that was possible could he tell him the number of crows in the kingdom. Birbal agrees and asks for few days for the same.

As always Kind Akbar agrees and says that he will be keenly waiting for his answer.

A man knocks on the door of Birbals home and asks if he could talk with king Birbal. He apologies for taking the valuable time of him, to which Birbal responds with politeness and asks him, how he can he helpful to the man.

The man says that he is a poor peasant and would be ruined, if he does not get help from him. Birbal assures him, and asks him to tell is tale. The peasant says that he used to save the money that cold be helpful in his old age and used to hide it in a vessel, which he use to bury, beneath a tree in his house compound.

The peasant continues his story that three months ago he decided to go on pilgrimage and decided to out his savings with his friend Kishorilal. 'Kishorilal is wealthy man'' he continued, 'but a vey good friend of mine, thinking this I reached his home.

On reaching he tells his friend that he had decided to go to pilgrimage and decided to meet him. The friend encourages him and asks him to remember him at the holy places. The poor man says he will, and asks him if he would take care of his savings, till he returned from the pilgrimage. Kishorilal, the wealthy man accepts it. The peasant leaves with gratitude.

The peasant completes his pilgrimage and returns to village. He goes to Kishorilal's home, the next day in hope to recover his hard earned savings. He gives prasad to him, the wealthy man accepts it and says that since he was busy with work, the peasant should leave and not disturb him. The poor peasant replies meekly that he also had come to get back his hard earned, life long savings.

The wealthy man responds with harsh coolness, what savings and further asks the peasant if he was in his senses. The poor man meekly tells that it is hard earned savings,that took his life time. The wealthy man responds with anger that did he not had enough wealth that he would asks for money from a poor peasant? And drives him away with anger.The poor man leaves with his head bend down.

He spent a night in agony, thinking of recovering the lost money, and thought of meeting Birbal on this subject came to his mind, and thus he was here. Birbal, thinks for a moment and asks him if there was any witness of giving the money to Kishorilal. The peasant denies, and continues that, when he was giving the money to him there was none present there. Birbal asks him not to panic with respect. He continues that if had given money to Kishorilal he will surely get the money, and tells him to be present at the kings court, next day along with Kishorilal.

The man leaves with gratitude.

In the king's court, Birbal tells Akbar, that a man wanted justice, he had visited him at is home the previous day, and if the king agrees he would like to present his case. The king agrees, both the kishorilal and Nekiram the peasant are called in the court, where they bow to the king.

The king asks who the complainer was, Nekiram, the poor peasant presents his case to the king. The king asks the accused if that was true. The man denies the charges saying that his good behavior with the peasant was his mistake and due to that he consider himself as his friend and now wants to dishonor him. He did not have anything to do with such a poor man.

The king turns to Birbal, He tells that Nekiram will have to get a witness, Nekiram is scared at this and said there was none. Birbal continues that there must be someone present when he gave money, a child, plants, trees. He orders Nekiram to go and not to return without a witness.

The scared Nekiram tries to tell something to the king, to which the king does not allow him to speak and tells him to leave the court and not to return without something or someone, who could prove that he was true.

Nekiram leaves disheartened, and Kishorilal feels happiness on sensing his victory.

The king asks about the number of crows in the kingdom, which Birbal was suppose to answer. He responds that according to him there were ten thousand nine hundred and five crows in the kingdom, to the amazement of everyone present in the court.

The king asks him if he was sure, and what, if he was wrong. Birbal says that he was sure, and if there were more or less than that number, it would be because either crows from neighboring kingdom are visiting this kingdom or the crows of the kingdom are visiting the neighboring kingdom.

The king congratulates him at the witty answer.

Than Birbal wonders why Nekiram was taking so long to bring anything or anyone as witness. Kishorilal mocks that Nekiram would be finding it difficult to bring the huge peepal tree in the court. Birbal instantly asks the king to penalize Kishorilal. He said how come Kishorilal tell about the peepal tree, surely he must have taken the money neat the peepal tree, that made him respond in such manner.

The Magic Coins

There was once a rich and kindly old man who, reaching the end of his days, decided to leave his possessions to some honest and intelligent young man. Speaking of this decision, he told a good friend that he wanted to choose wisely. The friend advised him,“The next time you sell something, and are giving the customer their change, make sure you give them too much. The customer who returns the extra money to you, you will know that they are honest”.

The rich man thanked his friend for the advice, and thinking it a good idea, and easy to carry out, he decided to try it.

What he did not know was this. One of those present during the conversation – a neighbour who pretended to be his friend, but was really very envious of the rich old man – hired the services of a wizard. He paid the wizard to cast a spell on the rich old man’s coins. The spell would mean that anyone who saw coins touched by the old man, rather than seeing them as coins, would see them as that which the customer wanted most in the world.

With this plan, the envious neighbour believed that no customer would return the old man’s change, and, having no one to leave his money to, the old man would leave it all to the neighbour’s young nephew.
Indeed, everything went according to plan for the greedy neighbour, and not a single customer was able to return the enchanted coins. Some saw in these coins the biggest diamond or precious stone, others saw a work of art, some saw a relic, and some saw a miraculous healing potion. When the old man had almost given up trying to find an honest person, the greedy neighbour sent his nephew to the old man’s business, taking great care to instruct the boy to return the old man’s money. The nephew was determined to do so, but on receiving the enchanted coins he saw in them all the possessions and honours of his own uncle. Believing that what his uncle had told him was a trick, he left with his useless coins and his greed, to no end, since when his uncle learned of this betrayal, he made his nephew banish forever.

The rich old man, sick and depressed, decided to call his servants before he died. He gave them some possessions so that they could live freely when he was no longer with them. Among these servants was a youth, who received some portion of this money by mistake. The youth, raised in the house of the wise and just old man, who he loved like a father, saw, in place of the money, a powerful medicine which would cure the old man, since this was truly what he most wanted in the world. On seeing this, the youth offered the money back to the old man, saying “Take this, Sir, it’s for you; it will make you feel better.”

And the return of that simple coin indeed acted like the most miraculous of cures. The old man leapt with joy at having finally found an honest person, and it filled him with joy to find that this honest person had always been in his very own house.

And so, the young servant went on to manage, with great justice, generosity and honesty, all the old man’s possessions and business concerns. And the old man went on to accompany and advise him like a son for many more years.

The best way to encourage honesty is to create an environment of honesty and generosity, since he who wants nothing for himself is farthest from falling into greed and envy.

02 May, 2012

There was once a boy who was very rich and clever. He had practically everything a boy could ever want, so he was only interested in the most rare and curious of objects. This happened to him in relation to a very old mirror, and he convinced his parents to buy it from a mysterious old man. When the mirror arrived home, the boy went to see his reflection in it. His face looked very sad indeed. He tried smiling and making funny faces, but his reflection continued with its sad expression.

Surprised, the boy went off to buy sweets. He came home as happy as can be, to look in the mirror, but his image was still sad-looking. He bought all kinds of toys and old junk, but forever looked sad in that mirror. Fed up, the boy stuck the mirror off in a corner.

"Crikey, what a terrible mirror! It's the first time I've seen a mirror that didn't work properly!"

That same afternoon he went into the street to play and to buy a few toys, but on his way to the park he saw a little boy who was crying his heart out. The boy was crying so much, and looked so lonely, that the rich boy went over to help him and to see what had happened. The little one told him that he had lost his parents.
Together the two boys set off in search of them. As the little boy wouldn't stop crying, our boy spent his money on buying him sweets to cheer him up. Finally, after much walking, they found his parents who were out looking for him, very worried.

The rich boy said goodbye, and walked off towards the park. But, seeing the time, he decided to turn round and head for home, without having been able to play, without toys, and without money. At home, he went to his room, and noticed a shining light in the corner; the same corner he had left the mirror in. Seeing this, he went over to the mirror, and realised that the light was coming from his own body, so radiant with happiness he had become.

And so he understood the mystery of that mirror, the only mirror which could faithfully reflect the true joy of its owner. He realised it was true; he felt genuinely happy at having helped that little boy.
And since then, each morning when he looked in that mirror and failed to see a special shine, he already knew what he had to do to bring it back.

Helping others brings the greatest happiness.

Fear is soft and smooth

Marina was extremely afraid of the dark. When the lights went out, everything and every shadow appeared to her as the most terrible of monsters. Her parents explained to her, everyday and with great patience, that these things were not monsters. Marina understood her parents, but she could not stop feeling an awful fear whenever it was dark.

One day her Aunt Valerie came to visit. Valerie was an incredible woman. She was famous for her courage, and for having gone on many journeys of adventure, some of which had been made into books and movies. Marina wanted to conquer her fear of the dark, so she asked her Aunt how she became so brave, and whether she had ever been frightened.

"A great many times, Marina," answered her Aunt, "I remember when I was small and I was terribly afraid of the dark. I couldn't stay in the dark for even a moment".
Marina became very excited. How was it possible that someone so courageous could have been afraid of the dark?

"I'll tell you a secret, Marina. It was some blind children who taught me how to be brave. They can't see, so if they had never discovered the secret of how not to be afraid of the dark, they would have been forever frightened".

"It's true!" said Marina, intrigued, "Can you tell me that secret?"

"Of course! The secret is to change your eyes. Since blind children can't see, their hands are their eyes. All you have to do to conquer your fear is what they do. Shut the eyes of your face and open the eyes of your hands. Let's make a deal: tonight, when you go to bed and put out the light, if anything makes you afraid, close your eyes, carefully get out of bed, and try to see what it is that's making you scared. But do it using your hands as eyes... and tomorrow tell me how you're getting on with the fear".

Marina accepted, but she was rather worried. She knew she would need to be brave to close her eyes and go and touch whatever it was that was frightening her; but she was willing to try because she was already too old for this. When her parents took her to bed, she herself put out the light. After a little while, she felt afraid of one of the shadows in the bedroom. Following the advice of Aunt Valerie, she closed the eyes of her face and opened the eyes of her hands. And, summoning up all her courage, she went over to touch that mysterious shadow...

The next morning Marina came running into the kitchen, a big smile on her face, and a song on her lips. "The monster is so soft and smooth!..." she cried,
"It's my teddy bear!"

A way to overcome fear of darkness in children, through imagination and creativity.