April 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
The following evening started surprisingly calm. Many villagers went to sleep unguarded thinking the worst had passed. At roughly past midnight, the whole village was abruptly awakened by thunderous noises. Before they could realize what was happening, the walls around them collapsed.
The villagers quickly evacuated from their homes. Unfortunately, they were greeted outside by numerous rampant elephants. The monstrous creatures showed the defenseless villagers absolutely no mercy. Some villagers fell victims to the elephants’ indiscriminate tusks. Others were trampled to death. There were total chaos and bloodshed; cries of agony could be heard miles away.
By morning, the whole village was found to be totally annihilated. Most of the homes were destroyed and farmlands were flattened. Odors of dead bodies consumed the air. The sun’s blazing heat added even more misery to what had already been a grim travesty. For a village of several hundreds, only a few dozens survived. The clear victims were the children of the village. Many of them vanished in the stampede. Those survived will have to spend the rest of their lives as orphans without homes.
Mankind and Nature used to coexist peacefully. What has become of our world?
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April 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
Years of human exploration have driven the elephants out of their natural habitat-the jungles of Southeast Asia. Some of the elephants ended up living near a farming village. At nighttime when no villagers were around, a few of them would sneak into the farm and make a nice feast out of the crops there. Since the elephants were so big in size, their unwanted visits left behind lots of damages.
The villagers were clearly not happy about the intrusion. They hired a couple of professional elephant hunters to track down the culprits. The hunt was successful; the two elephants responsible for the damaged crops were killed.
For several days after the killing, the villagers enjoyed some tranquil time. They would, however, start to hear the sound of elephants mournfully trumpeting-coming from where the two elephants were killed. The sound would get louder and become more depressing in the days after. As one would expect, the villagers were quite concerned about this. They sent several elephant hunters to where the sound originated from to investigate the matter.
Two days after the hunters were sent, there was still no sight of them coming back. The noise, on the other hand, was growing louder and louder. Alarmed by the situation, the villagers decided to put a barrier around the village just in case something bad might happen.
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April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
The next night, L was taken once again from his cell. But the destination had changed; a torture chamber and not an interrogation room awaited him. Inside the chamber was a group of six men–wearing military uniforms. The men greeted him with devilish laughter and took turn beating him. One guy appeared to really enjoy kicking his head. He did it repeatedly and with great force. L lost consciousness many times during the beating, only to be awakened by improvised “cold showers”. L’s ears were bleeding profusely; his whole body was soaked with blood. After almost two hours of severe beatings, the torturers had had enough. L was carried back to his cell.
L awoke the next morning from the terrible “nightmare” he hoped to forget. It was a beautiful day outside; the majestic sunrays that were peeking through the window provided undeniable proof. But there was something missing from his world. Everything was so calm, dead silent in fact. Have the crickets stopped making sound? What happens to traffic noise from the nearby highway? Is it Sunday already? It was not until five minutes later when he finally realized the cause of this silence. He had lost his hearing. He had become deaf.
~Fifteen years later
Autumn once again reigned over a peaceful California neighborhood. A special package was delivered to one of the houses in the neighborhood. What was inside the package? A glorious sculpture and the following words:
“A true artist always stays true to his art and to himself. L, thanks for everything.”
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April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Two days later, the artist was taken from his cell to a small and dimly lit room where an interrogation session was scheduled. He was greeted by two interrogators — one veteran and one rookie. After a few rounds of trivial questioning, the inevitable question finally popped up. L was asked if he was the author of the famous (or infamous) statue that was perceived to be glorifying the old regime.
This question had been on his mind the last two days. L had been constantly debating within himself how to answer it. But when the question came up, he wasted no time to answer and did it in the simplest way possible.
The firmness in which the artist answered the question surprised the interrogators, the veteran officer especially. The guy asked the same question again several times as if wanting to hear a different response, but L remained unyielding in his answer. Confounded by the artist’s resolve, the veteran officer walked toward L and looked directly into his eyes.
“You may return to your cell. Life will be rough on you from now on.”
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April 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
When L requested the camp commander to allow the young soldier he met the other day to work as the model for his project, the commander was very surprised. There was nothing “ideal” about the young soldier. He was not the tall, youthful, proud-looking soldier seen on propaganda posters and in patriotic movies. The guy was just a regular soldier—nothing more and nothing less. The camp commander recommended other soldiers whom he believed more resembled the ideal soldier. The artist, however, insisted the young soldier was his only choice.
After three long months, the statue was finally completed and revealed to the world. Reactions to the work ranged from “amazing” to “magnificent”. The soldiers themselves loved it. Finally, there was something they can truly relate to.
The war came to an end. As in any war, there were winners and losers. L and many of his colleagues were detained for their affiliation with the old regime. One of the officers in charge of where L was held happened to be an admirer of the artist. He counseled him to deny any involvement with the famous statue and pledged to take care of everything else. You will be freed in no time, the officer promised.
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April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
L was an internationally acclaimed sculptor, and a beloved figure in a country torn by an enduring civil war. Although he had done all he could to avoid setting foot into the political fray, becoming part of the conflict was inevitable. L was commissioned by the central government to craft a soldier statue–one that was to be the centerpiece of the newly built memorial. As an artist, L found it very difficult to decline such an offer.
In preparation for this work, the famed artist spent many months visiting battle frontlines, military camps and hospitals; he hoped to find inspirations for the statue from these visits. But despite all the traveling and numerous sleepless nights, he was still unable to capture the desired inspirations.
Just when his effort appeared futile and he might have to settle for something less, a memorable encounter at a military barrack bred new life to the project. During a brief visit to a military facility, L stopped by mess hall for lunch. There was a big commotion inside the hall. A group of soldiers were busy consoling a young comrade, who was mourning the death of a fellow soldier. Witnessing the incident, the artist’s eyes immediately lit up; he had just discovered what he had been looking for.
“Soldiers are not fighting machines; they are human beings. That’s the most beautiful of all.”
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April 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
From time to time, some guests would visit the orphanages. These guests would hear about the orphans’ stories and cast a sympathetic eye upon them. Unknown to the guests is the fact that these orphans absolutely despise their petty pity. They just want to be treated like everyone else. All they want to do is to run away from the painful memories, start a new life and be free. In due course, some of them would do just that.
By day, these kids would wander the streets begging for money. By night, they would become “night phantoms” preying on bystanders’ wallets. On occasion, they would lurk outside the local ice-cream store stalking a family of three sharing a big glass of ice cream together. For a brief moment, they would recall the good times they shared with their deceased parents. But the experience is brief, lasting only seconds; they are soon on their way.
At the end of the day, they would seek refuge under a bridge somewhere. There aren’t any beds or pillows for them to lie on, but it is just what they have always wanted. All the activities, during the day, have made their legs sore and their backs ache. Within minutes, they are soundly asleep. May be in their dreams, these poor orphans will finally escape the memories that have been haunting them. Sweet dreams…..little ones.
Click the tag “Memories” to read the previous entry of this story.