Thursday, December 31, 2009

Short Story for the New Year: The Mystery Child

Child with a Dove is one of the classic oil paintings
of Picasso painted in 1901. The painting is now loaned
to the National Gallery, London.

Abe V Rotor

In a workshop for adult leaders, the instructor asked the participants to draw on the blackboard a beautiful house, ones dream house ideal to raise a family.

It was of course, an exercise, which in the minds of the participants was as easy as copying a model, or recalling experience and memory. Besides it is a universal dream to own such a house, and its concept allows free interplay of both reason and imagination.

The participants formed a queue to allow everyone to contribute his own idea on the blackboard.

The first in the queue drew the posts of the house, on which the succeeding members made the roof and floor. The rest proceeded in making the walls and windows.

In the second round the participants added garage, porch, veranda, staircase, gate, fence, swimming pool, TV antennae, and other amenities.

Finally the drawing was completed and the participants returned to their seats to discuss, What make a dream house, an ideal house? A lively “sharing session” followed and everyone was happy with the outcome, and none was happier than the teacher who learned this exercise in an international forum. Now it works on the village level.

Just then a child was passing by and peeped through the open door. He saw the drawing of the house on the blackboard. He entered the classroom and went close to the drawing and stood staring at it for a long time. The teacher approached him and the participants turned to see the unexpected visitor.

The child pointed at the drawing and exclaimed, “But there are no neighbors!”

In the same village there was a similar workshop exercise, but this time the participants were to draw a community. The participants made a queue towards the blackboard and after an hour of working together, they came up with a beautiful drawing of a community.

In the drawing there are houses. There is a plaza, around it are a church, a school, a village hall. A network of roads and bridges shows the sections of the village. People are busy doing their chores, especially in the market area. Indeed it is a typical village.

The participants discussed, “What constitute a community.” It was a lively discussion and everyone was so delighted with their “masterpiece” that the teacher even wrote at the corner of the blackboard “Save.”

Just then a child was passing by. When he saw the drawing on the backboard through the open door, he entered the classroom. He went close to the drawing and looked at it for a long time. The teacher and participants fell silent looking at their very young unexpected guest.

The child exclaimed, “But there are no trees, no birds; there are no mountains, no fields, no river!”

Some days had passed since the graduation of the participants in the two workshops. Because it was not unusual to see a child in the village, no one really bothered finding out who the child was or where he lived.

Then one day, the whole village woke up and began to search for the child, but they never found him – not in the village, not in the neighboring village, not in the capital, and not in any known place.

Who was the child? Everyone who saw him in the workshops never forgot his kind and innocent face. They pondered on his words which became the greatest lessons in life:

• But there are no neighbors!
• But there are no trees, no birds; there are no mountains, no fields, no river!”

x x x

The Mystery Child, Living with Nature 3, AVR

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