Tuesday, April 4, 2006

The Moral Of The Story

I had the opportunity to listen to a talk delivered by a writer. She had a popular newspaper column that ran for over 20 years.

I must admit her talk was filled with interesting and inspiring stories. But one got me really confused, one conceived for children. The details and narration below are mine but I did my best to retain the original plot.
Once, there were four angels who wanted to go down to earth for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. For several weeks, the sisters begged permission from the powers that be. When they were finally given the blessing, it didn't come without a few inviolable conditions -- they had to travel to earth during night, they had to leave back for home before the sun rises and most importantly, they had to keep everything a secret.

The angels chose a lake in one of the supposedly uninhabited jungles and set their wings for the journey as soon as the skies turned dark.

They stood silent after they landed, observing, making sure that no man was nearby. After several minutes and a few exchanges of knowing glances and smiles, each of them took off her clothing, pair of wings included, laid them by the shore, and then jumped with excitement into the cold, pristine water!

For several hours, the mere had become their paradise. The sisters laughed, giggled and shouted with glee. Feeling the cold, tickling liquid on their skin for the first time was simply magnificent. They dove in and rose out of the lake, ran around the shore, and splashed water at each other. Shortly however, their delight was not to be celebrated just among themselves.

A man who had been living alone by the woods was soon making his way towards them. He had grown accustomed to the eerie silence of the night except for the occasional sounds made by the nocturnal animals, but his curiosity was aroused by the noise coming from the distant part of the jungle, seemingly amplified by the quiet air. His excitement grew with every step he took and as he drew nearer, found himself exerting increased effort not to make any sudden noise. When he was as close to the angels as he dared, he began watching as they jumped, clapped and danced in ecstasy.

It didn't take long for him to figure out that they weren't from any place he had ever been. He observed that all of them were beautiful, but found himself extremely attracted to the youngest one. He mischievously devised a plan that he thought would change his life forever. So, he kept still, forcing himself to stay awake, waiting for his chance.

When they gathered farther away from him, held hands, formed a circle and then started chanting, the man didn't waste time. He tiptoed his way towards where they had laid their clothings and took off with the smallest pair of wings he could find.

The time had come for them to leave for the sun was almost out. The eldest of the sisters lead the rest in heading for the shore. She picked up her clothes and pair of wings, and wore them. Each of the sisters did exactly the same thing except for the youngest who was surprised not to find her wings were she had laid them!

After a frantic and fruitless search, the angels had no choice but to leave their youngest sister behind.

Without her wings, the angel was simply a mortal. The man's plan came into perfection as he successfully lured her straight into him arms. First he offered her clothing, then food and then shelter. He reserved his grandest offering for last -- promising to love and take care of her for the rest of his life if she agreed to live with him.

Ten years went by swiftly. A boy and a girl completed their family.

In one particular sunny afternoon when the man went away to farm, leaving his wife and children behind, another life-changing event took place.

The mother knew her children were out playing their favorite game of hide-and-seek so she was surprised when they came rushing through the door earlier than usual. Both were shouting with excitement, tugging at her to go with them to take a look at what they had found. As they went their way, both kids were saying they had found the wings of a giant bird under a hidden trap door in their barn.

The mom's tears fell as she saw what she had been yearning to find for so long. As soon as she fitted the pair of wings, she flew up towards the sun, higher and higher until she was out of sight.
What was it that got me confused? The writer said outright that the story was meant to teach kids not to mess around with things that didn't belong to them, further stating that if not for the kids, their mother wouldn't have left them.

I just thought the lesson had to do with deception and where it gets you. [The mother leaving her children just like that is a different topic altogether.] Well, what do you think?