Saturday, May 20, 2006

Post No. 67: A Quartet of Very Short Stories

What follows below are 4 interesting & very short stories: 3 of which I got from the “Lingo” section of 3 different issues of “zbW” (otherwise known as “早报周刊” in Mandarin) and as for the last one, believe it or not, I gleaned from the pages of Kishore Mahbubani’s (he is the current dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and was Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the UN, for those who aren’t aware) “Can Asians Think?”.

The Fall of A Legend (zbW, 8/1/2006)

For a thousand years the mighty redwood grew into a majestic beauty, surviving earthquakes, fires and drought. Outlasted only by the mountains on which it lived. A thousand years untouched. A thousand years unconquered.

How long till you drop it?”, shouted the foreman.

“Couple hours tops”, spats the burly logger.

“Let’s get it over with.”

I say: Ironic, isn’t it? That what takes nature decades, maybe even centuries, to create & grow, we humans take less than a day, perhaps even only taking a few hours at maximum, to bring down & destroy? Now, the more important question is: with all the environmental problems looming around & ahead of us, do we have the luxury of time to wait for nature to replenish itself & recuperate from the damage we done to it?

Distressed (zbW, 22/1/2006)

They say evil wears no face. Indeed, there was no emotion on his face. No flicker of empathy as he inflicted still more pain. Couldn’t he see the terror in my eyes or the panic on my face?

He calmly, even professionally continued his dirty work, and then glibly spoke: “Rinse, please.”

I say: I don’t really understand the fear that some people have towards visiting the dentist. Perhaps instead of it being a fear of the dentist or the pain he/she may inflict, it is more of a fear of the dentist telling us, without mincing any words, how there are cavities in some of our teeth, that there is quite a large amount of plaque on our teeth and, in the worst case, that some of our teeth have decayed and will need to be plucked out. In a way, perhaps this is somewhat akin to us not liking having people point out to us, face to face, our flaws and imperfections. We prefer to pretend that we have no flaws or imperfections. Yet, if we never face our flaws & imperfections and try to overcome them, perhaps they will become worse, just like how an untreated tooth cavity may lead to tooth decay and eventually, having to have that decayed tooth plucked out.

Undying Love (zbW, 2/4/2006)

Vacationing on their fiftieth anniversary, Frank and Helen stood with friends above the rushing river with its boiling rapids.

Helen slipped, fell and was swept into the waters. Without hesitation, Frank plunged in after her. Both perished.

“He should have known he couldn’t save her.”

They watched the river roar.

“He knew.”

I say: I suppose most of us would like the one person that we love to mean it when he or she says: “I cannot live without you. My life will have no more meaning if you die. If you die before me, I will follow you.” Yet, if we really love that person, would we want he/she to follow us when we die or would we want he/she to continue living happily? Perhaps that is why marriage vows only go to the extent of “till death parts you two”. People die but, hopefully, Love doesn’t.

The Price of Integrity (“Can Asians Think?”, Kishore Mahbubani)

A man meets with a woman and asks her whether she would sleep with him for a million dollars.

She replies: “For a million dollars, sure!

He says: “How about five dollars?”

She replies indignantly: “What do you think I am?”

He replies coolly: “We have already established what you are. We are now only negotiating the price.”

I say: Is there a price to integrity? If there is indeed a price, how much would you consider selling yours for? Yet, after selling your integrity and spending what you have received for it, what do you have left?

Hopefully, you all enjoyed the stories above as much as I have when I first read them.

P.S. To make things more interesting and considering how “The Da Vinci Code” is the hottest movie at the moment (of course, I must admit that I was influenced after reading books such as “The Da Vinci Code”, “The Digital Fortress” and “The Rule of Four”), I have included a hidden & enciphered message in this post of mine. The message should be easy to find, that is if you all are bold enough. And as for the cipher, perhaps you all can try Googling for “Caesar Box” (that’s “Caesar Box”, not “Caesar Salad”) or refer to “Digital Fortress”. If you all think you all have broken the cipher, do leave a comment to inform me. Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy!

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