Margarita y Lucía

En la rendija de un muro vivían dos lagartijas, Margarita y Lucía. Lucía estaba todo el día echada en el muro tomando sol. Margarita pasaba la mayoría del tiempo buscando insectos para sí misma y para sus hijos. Cuando veía a Lucía echada en el muro, se enfadaba.
“¡Tú cómo gastas el tiempo! Si fueras lagartija decente, por fin te preocuparías del bienestar de tus hijos. ¿Qué es lo que haces todo el día allí arriba?” Lucía pestañó y dijo: “Recupero energía. De esta manera sí que hago algo para mis hijos.”
“Lo veo diferente”, gruñó Margarita. “Y un día te llevará el águila ratonera o el halcón.”
“Esperemos a ver qué pasa”, opinó Lucía y se desperezó en el sol. Margarita prefiría buscar presa en la sombra de los arbustos bajos. Pasaba mucho tiempo cazando hormigas. A menudo parecía cansada. Su vida estaba cada día más amenazada: Ya no tenía nada que contraponer a la rapidez de los gatos y a la de las comadrejas.
Los hijos de Lucía se volvieron fuertes y despabilados, todo como ella misma. Pronto empezaron cogiendo las arañas más gordas, los cárabos más rápidos y aun grandes libélulas. Pero lo que les gustaba lo más era echarse en el muro al lado de su madre y estirarse a la luz del sol.

Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.

Implication

Granny Annie was celebrating her birthday in a large family circle with all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. “How old are you? 90 years and still healthy?” one of the felicitators asked. “What do you mean by ‘still’?” Granny Annie replied.

Therapy

She complained about the neighbours’ children who were talking too loudly in the corridor between the flats. She complained that the staircase had been cleaned with a three day delay last week. She complained about the garlic smell in the house yesterday. She complained about the neighbours’ guests, who had come back home late and let the door shut loudly. She complained about a dog that had shaken the water out of its fur on a rainy day. This had left brown stains on the wall next to the door.

“I would like to tell you something”, her neighbour said to her one day. “If you continue like this for a while, you will become a hard and bitter old woman who nobody likes, who everyone avoids and to whose funeral no one will go.”

From that day on she was polite to all her neighbours.

Age

“Now I am forty years old. I am an aged man”, he said and nodded his head. He was a man from Kenya, from the area around Mombasa. “But, I beg your pardon, you’re not old!” I replied to him. “Yes, I am old, and don’t you dare claim anything else”, he said. “In Kenya it is good to be old. The older, the better.”

The Storyteller

Many years ago, there lived an old man in our country who knew how to tell so many tales that the people said about him: This man is an inexhaustible source. Yet more notably he had the gift of telling each tale in such a way that it became the story of the listener. Often the storyteller had many listeners, and sometimes, after one of his tales, he could hear them having a dispute, for each person felt deeply that the words had been chosen exclusively for him, while someone else claimed the same for himself.

People came to the storyteller with multifarious concerns. There was a mother who accused her son of being dull and inactive. And her son replied that, since she was always wandering restlessly about, he could not work. There was a woman who complained that she constantly had to admonish her husband not to drink so much. And her husband said, only when he was drinking could he bear her habit of complaining. There were children who ate too much or too little, there were the sick who wished to recover, and those who were suffering and hoped to be freed from pain. There were couples, who wanted to come together, and others who wished to separate, and many other people who addressed him with their needs. He was able to help all of them in one way or another.

One day a young man stepped up towards him saying: “I want to learn this art of yours.” The old man looked in his eyes. Those eyes told him about the desire of this young man, to be able to tell stories to free people from their sufferings. They also spoke of the young man’s fear that his wish could be denied, and that he would never have the opportunity to learn this art from its master. The old man nodded. “You can live with me as long as you are learning, and you can pay later if you are content with what you have learned. The young man was happy to hear this reply, and thus began his apprenticeship.

“First you need to learn to pay reverence to the stories”, the old man said to him. “Only he who can tremble from the power of a story can receive it with its full effect. You need to find within yourself the yearning for the word of release, for the word that frees, for the word which opens the doors and sends your listeners on a voyage. And you need to learn to be silent. The moment when your tale has its greatest force is the moment when it moves your listener and yourself with the greatest speed. This is when it must end, so you gain momentum and are flung on the path that it shows. – This is not true of all the stories”, he added wisely after a pause.

“You need to learn to feel the power of the words” he stated on another occasion. “One sentence does not have the same power as another. For mostly it is like this: Any word that is too much is taking away some of the story’s power. The contrary may be true for people who talk a lot without saying much: Their speech robs their listeners’ strength.”

“There are different powers within words” he once said. “Threatening and strengthening powers, and power that guides you on your search. All three are good. But you must know, which of the powers is contained in the story that you are telling.” All this the young man heard with curiosity and wonder. Yet he felt grieved to find that the old man did not tell him any stories. It even seemed as if his master hid his tales from him, and only told them when he was absent. At first he did not dare ask the old man about this. But with every day that passed by, his disappointment grew, and finally he decided to address this question. He had not yet opened his mouth when his master began to speak:

Ready

“Ready”, called the egg when it was laid. “Now I’m ready!” called the tadpole when it had hatched. “Now I’m completely ready!” called the creature,animal when it had two legs. “Now, finally, I’m absolutely completely ready!” called the creature when it had four legs and a long tail. “Who knows what else might come…”, said the frog, when it was ready.