The Statue, Part II

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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The Statue, Part I

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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Memories, Part II

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.

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Memories, Part I

April 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Memories are indisputably our most precious possessions. A person without memories is like a kite without a flying line. But memories are double-edged swords. They can bring meanings and joys to one’s life; they can also bring sadness and despairs. In the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, there were images of children gathering at a Red Cross facility–hoping for any news of their parents–only to later learn that their loved ones had perished in raging waters. I was so touched by the story that I decided to keep a tap out for any follow-up stories.

A few months later, I found a news report that mentioned how there was an unexpected spike in the number of missing “tsunami” orphans. Apparently, many “tsunami” kids had decided to run away from the orphanages where they had been staying. The news, as depressed as it was, did not take me by surprise. There were obvious reasons for this.

Most of the kids, living in orphanages, are children who were abandoned by their parents at an early age; many do not have any memories of their parents. Consequently, these “orphans” treat the orphanages where they are being raised as homes and other kids at the facilities as part of their family.

On the other hand, orphans whose parents died in accidents and other unexpected events have spent most of their lives in the loving and care of their parents. They are likely to have a hard time making the transition. Every time they hear laughter, they will be reminded of all the good times they shared with their parents. Every time they hear someone crying, they will be reminded of their many tantrums and how their parents pacified them with hugs and kisses. Every time they lie on bed, they will be reminded of the many bedtime stories their parents had told them. Memories can indeed be dreadfully painful.

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Why do Asian players dominate competitive badminton?

April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Competitive badminton is not something you play in your backyard. If you have a chance to watch a real badminton game, you will realize how athletic and skilled a serious player is. But for some reasons, this sport is dominated by Asian players to the level of inequity. The list of the greatest badminton players is populated by shuttlers from China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Why is it the case? Caucasians are tall and strong, and thus don’t have a disadvantage in racquet sports. Tennis is a good example of this. May be it has to do with the fact Caucasians generally don’t play badminton. Still, there should have been at least some top players from Europe and America even with a smaller pool.

Margaret, Part II

April 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

One day, Margaret could no longer control her emotion. Instead of gathering small crumbles of bread on the floor as usual, she seized a piece of bread on one of the tables and ran out of the place as quickly as she could — without looking back. That night, her children got to taste the best food they had eaten since the death of their father. Watching her children consumed the piece of bread with such an appetite, Margaret could not help but to express a joyous smile; this was something she had not done since her husband’s death. Her brief moment of joys, however, quickly extinguished. She knew full well what consequences awaited her.

The next day, the constables came and arrested Margaret; she went with them deferentially. Her five children, however, refused to let her go. They begged, cried, and held tightly onto their mother. Their impassioned showing of love touched even the sternest of the constables. Unfortunately, the responsibility of a constable was to uphold justice. They had no choice but to take Margaret away, despite strong protests from the children and Margaret’s neighbors.

On the day of Margaret’s trial, the courthouse was swarmed by thousands of people who gathered in support of Margaret. Even though they came from all walks of life, they shared a similar bond; their lives mirrored that of Margaret at one time or another. Unfortunately, her guiltiness with regards to stealing the piece of bread was clearly established. The jury had no choice but to convict her. When the verdict was read, a morbid silence infiltrated the air.

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Margaret, Part I

April 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

At the turn of the century, European countries were at war with each other. Many lives were lost, and numerous others succumbed to starvation. As a result of all the fightings, there was a severe shortage of food. Many governments enacted tough and harsh laws with regards to the stealing of food. The penalty for this crime was usually death by hanging.

Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, there was a widow named Margaret. Her husband was killed while fighting valiantly for his country; he left behind five small children for her to take care. To feed her kids, Margaret would go door to door begging a job. Unfortunately, work opportunities were nonexistent. Most shop owners wouldn’t even think of hiring anyone; they already had a hard time taking care of themselves.

In desperation, Margaret had to resort to feeding her children with tiny crumbles of bread she gathered from the dusty floor of a local restaurant. Sadly, the small amount of food was not sufficient to feed even the smallest of her kids. Witnessing her children suffered from malnutrition depressed her heart and brought tears to her eyes. But somehow, she managed to keep her emotions in check — like any good mother would.

One day, Margaret could no longer control her emotions. Instead of gathering small crumbles of bread on the floor as usual, she seized a piece of bread on one of the tables and ran out of the place as quickly as she could — without looking back.

Click the tag “Margaret” for the next entries of this story (if available).

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