Tag Archives: original stories

The Malongs

Update: Please note that I’ve used some Filipino words in this story. I’ve created jumplinks to take you to the translations/definitions, and similarly, back to the story.

Melancholia by ~sarahcrystalloveyou via deviantArt

In a far away land, there lived two women, both equal in renown but could not be similar. The first woman, Mayumi, was the tamer spirit of the two. She would giggle when Marilag laughs with jaws that unhinge like a cobra’s. She would only smile coyly after getting a compliment when her friend would raise an eyebrow and ask for more. Despite this subtle impetousness of Marilag, she also had her strong points. She was wise beyond her years that not even Mayumi – given her sharp wit – can outsmart. Marilag was also enchantingly beautiful; while Mayumi would certainly get stares from men, Marilag would hold their gaze and turn their heads until she got hidden by a passing crowd.

They were close friends, or so thinks Mayumi of Marilag. Deep inside, Marilag thought that by keeping the company of a lesser beauty, hers would stand out more. She would pretend to like Mayumi and her charitable actions, but deep inside, Marilag thought that those in need got into dire situations because of their own foolish actions. She would snap at Mayumi to hurry things up whenever she got dragged into helping another person. In a nutshell, she was rather sinister.

One day, while they were walking near a stream, they heard an old lady sobbing. When they looked to see what the old lady’s affliction was, they realized that the laundry that the old lady was washing in the water was swept away by a current.

Immediately, Mayumi took off her bakya and swept her skirt up and around her waist, a preparation to wade into the stream and rescue the old lady’s laundry.

“You must be kidding, right?” Asked Marilag.

With a simple shaking of her head and a smile to say no, Mayumi handed her bakya to Marilag before stepping into the cool water.

With a handful of muddy clothes, Mayumi headed towards the old lady and gave her the clothes. Marilag was already by the side of the old lady, trying her best not to gag as she stroked the elderly woman’s back to give her feigned comforting.

“Here you go, lola,” Mayumi said as she handed the dirty clothes to the old woman.

“Thank you, girls,” the old lady said. “Here, take this as a thank you gift,” she offered while extending two muddy malongs. “Those are special, so treasure them.”

Marilag, wanting to get out of there as soon as possible, took the malongs and said their goodbyes to the old lady. She nearly broke Mayumi’s fingers as she dragged her towards the village.

“Wait a moment, Marilag. I want to make sure that the old lady is alright. She seemed distraught.”

With a slight hint of annoyance, Marilag let go of her hand. “Just make it quick, alright?!?”

Within two minutes, Mayumi was back.

“What happened? I thought you’d take forever to get back,” amazedly and mockingly asked Marilag.

“She isn’t there anymore. It’s like she vanished into thin air.”

“Oh don’t be silly. She must’ve gone home in a hurry.”

“But not a minute ago, she was standing right there. Well anyway, let’s head back to the village,” agreed Mayumi.

When they got to the fork in the road that parted their way, Marilag passed the dirty malongs to Mayumi.

“Here, take them. I don’t want anything to do with those dirty things.”

Mayumi just took one and insisted that Marilag keep the other.

“You know that it’s bad luck to throw a gift away, right?” She smiled with naiveté and walked home.

“Bad luck your face,” mumbled Marilag under her breath but continued to carry the dirty malong home. When she got there, she immediately looked for the trash can and threw it away.

Meanwhile, when Mayumi got home, she took her basin and started washing her malong. It wasn’t an easy task since the mud has dried. Nevertheless, she continued washing it. After a few hundred scrubs, she squinted.

When she opened her eyes, she saw a glimmer of yellow metallic twinkle on the malong. She – thinking that it was just her imagination – just dunked the malong back into the water. When she pulled it back up, something amazing happened. The entire malong shone brightly, revealing that it was made of pure gold threads! When she held it up, all of a sudden, it dried up, crisp and clean with a faint but easily discernible smell of sampaguita.

She was overjoyed and wanted to share the wonderful news to her friend. She also smiled, assuming that her friend is also enjoying the same fantastic fate.

The next day, Mayumi wore the malong on her way to Marilag’s house, thinking that her friend is already wearing a similar piece of precious garb. When she got to Marilag’s house, she got mildly surprised that her friend is still wearing the clothes that she wore yesterday.

“Good morning, Marilag!” greeted Mayumi.

When Marilag saw Mayumi, her brown almond eyes turned into large green watermelons in envy. When she regained her composure, she managed to ask, “Where on earth did you get that?”

“Oh, stop that. This is the malong that the old lady from the stream gave to us. You should have one too, which I think is as lovely as this! All it takes is perseverance since the dirt was really hard to get out!”

Realizing that she has thrown the dirty malong in the trash, Marilag’s heart was consumed by the need to retrive it, so she shooed Mayumi away under the guise that she’ll be busy laundering the malong with the rest of her family’s clothes.

True to her understanding nature, Mayumi bid farewell and gave Marilag her vote of confidence that she’ll be able to clean her own precious malong.

When she was sure that Mayumi has gone, she immediately dove into the trash to get the malong. At first, she thought that she won’t find it, but when she accepted the fact that there’s no other way but to touch the wet leftovers that her mother threw away, she finally found the all-important piece of clothing.

She took it to their wash area and started the arduous task of laundering the malong. It was so dirty that instead of just being muddy brown, it was jet black and slimy. It was also rank after a full night of soaking under spoiled leftovers. When she dunked it into the soapy water, the water turned into muck, so she had to throw the water out and fetch some more. When she finally got to scrubbing, her laundry, which was seemingly like a bad dream became even more nightmarish.

The malong wasn’t getting any cleaner, and she was getting dirtier with each scrub she made. Dirt went under her fingernails, forming black crescents at the edge of her fingers. Fuelled by greed and envy, she continued until the pads of her fingers and knuckles were also black.

In exasperation, she slapped the still dirty malong onto the water, which splashed into her eyes. She was forced to close her eyes, and when she opened them, she was horrified. The dirt from the malong had started crawling up her hands, wrist, and forearm. It turned her skin black and slimy. She also started smelling rotten food, which she realized was coming from her pores and each breath she exhaled.

Desperate for help, she took the malong and put it over her head. Despite the horrid smell, she needed to hide her face and avoid shaming herself. She hurriedly ran towards Mayumi’s house while sobbing.

“Mayumi! Mayumi! I need your help!” screamed Marilag.

With the hysterical voice calling for her, Mayumi ran to open the door, and there, she saw a dark cloth hanging over somebody’s head. “Marilag, is that you?”

“Yes. Please let me in.”

Mayumi took her friend’s hand to help her up the stairs, and she noticed the black skin instead of the glowing, bronze skin of Marilag.

“What happened to you? You smell bad,” Mayumi noticed.

“I think it’s the old lady we met at the river. I think she cursed me.”

“What are you saying? She seemed nice. Well, let me see.”

“No. You can’t! Don’t look at me. I’m ugly.”

“Oh come on, Marilag. Let me see. I couldn’t help you if you have a rag over your head.”

Before she can snap back at Marilag to say that it’s the devilish malong draping over her head, she thought for a moment. She looked hideous and smelled rank. It would embarrass her to be seen and smelt at her worst. On the other hand, she did need help. Mayumi was the only person that she can think of who can help. Eventually, she arrived at a decision and pulled the malong off.

“Oh my! Look at you! Let me see what I can do.”

Mayumi went to get a wet towel. When she returned, she wiped off the blackened face of Marilag.

“Look! It’s washing away!” Mayumi remarked.

Surprised and relieved, Marilag sighed. She felt so mortified, knowing that she wasn’t all that good to Mayumi to deserve such kindness. She cried, and the tears left streaks of clean skin as they fell down her cheeks. More tears fell from her eyes, and they fell like rain to wash away the remaining dirt off of Marilag.

“I’m so sorry, Mayumi.”

“What for?”

“I wasn’t a good friend to you. I only hang out with you because I thought that you are less pretty than I am, and I did that so that I would stand out more. I also snap at you when you do nice things to other people. There’s so much to say sorry for! Would you still be my friend?”

After she asked the question, Marilag belched a black, putrid cloud that reeked.

Mayumi paused, ignoring the awful smell. Then, she smiled. “What kind of a question is that?” She sounded serious. “Of course, I’ll still be your friend.”

With more relief, Marilag sighed, and a gust of wind blew open the doors and windows of Mayumi’s nipa hut. The wind smelled like sampaguita, and it took out the remaining stench from Marilag.

At the open door, a shadow stood. Lit from the back, the two women couldn’t see who it was, but they somehow knew that it was the old lady from the stream. The shadow spoke, “I’m glad that you have learned your lesson. The malong I gave you reflected your true self. Mayumi’s was golden because of her golden heart. Yours became black because that’s what your heart was like. Nevertheless, there’s still hope for you. From now on, treat Mayumi like a real friend and stand by her side no matter what happens.”

“Yes, I will,” Marilag answered. “After today, I wouldn’t exchange her friendship for anything – even if it were a golden malong.”

Another gust of wind blew, and the women closed their eyes. When they opened it, they saw the black malong flying away and out of the window. The two women ran out to see what happened to it, and they saw that it dropped into Mayumi’s wash basin.

They walked to it, and when they looked inside, the black malong is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there was a white malong in the bottom of the basin.

“Look, Marilag! It’s your malong! Let me get it for you.”

Mayumi dipped her hand to get the malong, and out of habit, she gave the malong a quick swirl in the soapy water before picking it up and twisting it to dry. When she unfurled the malong, it shimmered with a milky-white glow of pearls.

The two women smiled to see that the sight, and just like Mayumi’s golden malong, Marilag’s pearly one was already dry and ready to wear. Mayumi put it on Marilag and smiled again.

“You look pretty!”

“Thanks, but you’re wrong,” Marilag answered. “We both are!”

They giggled again, and soon decided to walk to the stream to look for and thank the old lady that gave them the precious gifts.

I’m featuring some Filipino words into this story. To help you understand those words, here are their definitions:

bakya – traditional footwear that looks like a sandal, but is made out of wood. It clicks and clacks when the person wearing it walks. Usually, it’s worn only by women. (back to the story)
lola – grandmother. It is usually used as a term of endearment when used for family members, but can be used for strangers, too, to give respect. (back to the story)
malong – roughly translated, it’s a tube skirt. It’s very similar to the sarong of Malaysia and Indonesia. More information on this can be found in the Malong entry in Wikipedia. (back to the story)
sampaguita – white, sweet-smelling flower from the jasmine family that grows in South and Southeast Asia. (back to the story)


Hua Lei and the Weaver Goddess

Bridge of Wings – The Weaver by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law via http://www.shadowscapes.com

In a distant village, there was a young girl who gained fame for her great skill in weaving. This girl was named Hua Lei. When she walked around her village, she would look for unsuspecting women, busy with weaving, and she’d point out the flaws in their work. Then, she’d bring out her latest creation and wait for them to compliment her. However, she always heard the same words of praise.

“It’s almost seamless like a goddess’ robe!” they all said.

Instead of feeling respected and celebrated, Hua Lei felt like a failure because she equated “almost” to “imperfect” despite the fact that the compliment really meant that others highly regarded her talent.

On her sixteenth birthday, Hua Lei finally got tired of hearing those words, so she resolved to become better. Deeply spiritual, she called out to her favorite goddess, Chih’nu, the daughter of the Jade Emperor and the Celestial Queen Mother and the weaver of the stars and their light. “Oh goddess, please show me the way to your palace so that I might see you and learn from you. I want to become the best weaver in the world!”

Luckily, the goddess heard Hua Lei’s plea, so she decided to unravel a small part of her tapestry and used the silvery thread to fish out Hua Lei from earth.

Not realizing what was happening, Hua Lei panicked and fainted while she was hurtling upwards. When she woke up, she looked around and saw that she was in a palace, clothed in a seamless robe. She realized that she was at the palace of the Goddess Weaver. She looked around and noticed that a woman was standing behind her.

The woman spoke, “Hello Hua Lei! I’m glad that you’re awake now. I didn’t mean to scare you. I felt excited to teach you, so I did what I did.”

“It’s alright, great goddess. I’m glad to meet you face to face,” Hua Lei said as she bowed in respect.

“Hearing that puts my heart at ease,” replied the goddess. “Let’s have some tea first before we go on to your lesson.”

After drinking tea, the two ladies headed for the goddess’s work shop. It was adorned with fantastic tapestries, cloths, and threads. At the center of the room, two looms were set; one was made out of ivory and the other, jade. The goddess motioned for them to sit, pointing at the ivory loom for Hua Lei.

“Show me how you weave,” said the goddess.

Hua Lei nodded and started her weaving process. She took a spindle full of blue thread, and she laid the strands onto the loom. She also took red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet threads to mix into her design. She planned to make a cloth depicting a blue heaven with a rainbow across it.

After finishing one fourth of the cloth, the Goddess Chih’nu asked, “What is that?”

Hua Lei looked at where the goddess’s finger was pointing and saw a stray fiber that didn’t follow the pattern. Embarrassed, she undid the fabric and fixed the kink that she saw. After what felt like a few hours, she finished the cloth that she was weaving.

The Goddess Chih’nu smiled, obviously pleased with Hua Lei’s work. She held the cloth up, and threw it onto the sky where it manifested as a perfect blue sky with a glowing rainbow that made people who saw it ecstatic.

“You have done really well, Hua Lei. I’m glad that you don’t give up when you make mistakes. Now, I will teach you the secret that will turn you into a master.”

With reverence, Hua Lei watched the goddess on the jade loom, and paid close attention even though the motions of weaving were repetitive. Then, she saw something odd. One of the silver meteors on the design seemed crooked. Following the goddess’s lead, she also pointed out the error in a respectful question.

“Oh Goddess, why is that meteor leaning towards the right? The rest are all leaning towards the left.”

Tapping her forehead, the goddess giggled and exclaimed, “Oh dear! I did it again!” Then, she continued weaving.

At that point, Hua Lei was confused. Is the goddess joking by continuing even if there was a mistake? Or is she not as conscientious and meticulous as I am? I can’t believe I revered her for so long, and this is just what she does! Where’s the lesson on being a master? The confusion rumbled and churned inside her head, but she only had the chance to blurt out her observation after the goddess stopped weaving.

“Holly One, why did you continue weaving even when you already know that there’s a mistake in your cloth?”

Again, the goddess smiled. “I wanted to teach you something, Hua Lei,” she said softly. “Look at the finished cloth.”

The goddess spread the cloth in front of Hua Lei, and said, “Look at the pattern. Isn’t it more interesting now that the meteors alternate in direction? It looks as if they’re dancing! Imagine if all of them just leaned to the right. Wouldn’t that be boring? Remember, Hua Lei, everyone makes mistakes. The common artisans would work hard and correct their errors. A truly great master incorporates the mistakes into the design and loves the finished product.”

“I also know that you’re unhappy when you hear that your work is ‘almost like a goddess’s seamless robe.’ That’s a sign of foolishness, Hua Lei. Nobody is perfect. Even I make mistakes, but masters accept errors as learning opportunities and avenues for creativity. While we should not purposefully make errors nor stay mediocre, we should learn to look at them positively. The same goes for compliments. Only a foolish amateur would smirk at a compliment. The polite reply would be a simple ‘thank you,’” she continued.

Humbled, Hua Lei wept and thought herself foolish for having doubted her patron goddess and for wasting time by sulking after receiving compliments. She bowed down and thanked the goddess for the lesson. She tried to take her leave, but the goddess said that she’s welcome to stay another night.

The next day, Hua Lei woke up in her room. She thought that she just dreamt the entire thing, but she kept the lesson she learned in her mind as she weaved that day and the rest of the days that followed. Whenever she made mistakes, she also tried to incorporate them in her designs, and true enough, most of the people who saw her work complimented it with “It’s almost seamless like a goddess’ robe!” With each compliment, she thanked her admirers and replied with “Thank you” each time. As she continued this practice, she became renowned in all the land and became a master weaver.

I Just Want You to be Happy

HP: The Black Brothers by ~ShadowIZ via deviantART

“You’re late – as always,” Jonathan declared.

Smiling, Jonas replied, “Well, there’s the rally, the senate hearing. Had to make sure the people are represented, you know.”

“Why are you wasting your time with your dumb rallies? Why can’t you just work in a bank? You’ve graduated with honors — for heaven’s sake!” The coffee shop grew silent when the elder brother exploded.

“My idea of happiness is not a stuffy box,” Jonas replied while drawing a square in the air. “Don’t stress, bro.”

Jonathan resigned, “I just want you to be happy with your life.”

“Who said that I’m not?”

Man of the House

Bed couple by ~Criswey via deviantART

Colt exhaled when it didn’t fall while Janie was looking at him.

She turned around after hearing Tyler cry. When she returned, she reported, “He can’t sleep. He’s still hungry.”

He breathed deeply and exhaled.

“Are you tired? Let’s just go to bed. I cleaned two houses today, and I had to walk all the way home from the grocers. I’m poofed. ” She turned the lights off, and embraced him.

He returned the embrace but turned away as the tear finally slid down his cheek. He shuddered.

“Tomorrow, I’ll pay for heating so you won’t get cold,” she murmured.

Not What You Want to Hear

Buddhist Monk by =rubberman542 via deviantART

One day, a man stopped a monk in the market. The man wanted to ask the monk for advice.

“Holy One, could you spare a moment? I need to ask you a question,” said the man.

The monk smiled and replied, “Surely, although I must say that I might not have the answer that you are looking for.”

“It’s worth a try,” said the man. “I have a problem. The ministers at the palace did not accept me as a tax collector. They said that I had the smarts, but I didn’t have enough experience. What should I do? I want that job desperately!”

Without changing his expression, the monk tilted his head and said, “Celebrate! Take your family out to dinner. Toast to it.”

“I don’t understand. How can you say that when I got rejected for the job?” asked the man.

The monk seemed to have heard a joke. He giggled a bit, and said, “Let me tell you a story. When I was your age, I also had the same experience. I tried to become a soldier, but the general said that I didn’t have the right constitution for it. Because of that, I went to my grandfather where I got the same advice.”

“What does that have to do with my situation? You’re now a monk, not a soldier,” pointed out the man.

The monk leaned over to the man and answered with a question, “Would you have gotten an answer from me if I became a general?”

The man’s face lit up. He was a smart man after all, and he realized the precious lesson that the monk taught him that day.

This story is inspired by a blog post that I’ve read from Evan Sanders, author of The Better Man Project. You can read his  blog post here.

One Night

Smiling Buddha by ~DubriZona via deviantART

One night, a warrior, a merchant, and a monk traveled a dark forest path. They walked through the woods calmly until they reached a clearing. A strong gust of wind blew out the lantern that guided their feet to find their path.

The warrior tensed. He said, “Stay close. We might be ambushed.”

“My precious goods!” the merchant exclaimed.

The monk just smiled silently while staring up.

“Why are you smiling? It’s dark, and we might be in trouble. We don’t know what’s out there,” the warrior reprimanded.

“So why worry?” the monk replied. With an eloquent finger, he pointed to the sky and smiled some more while saying, “I’m smiling because this, I know and I enjoy. Only in the darkness do stars shine their brightest.”

One Good Reason

So close yet so far by ~0MiNuS1 via deviantART

His arms were spread as if he was about to fly while he stood at the edge of the rooftop. Standing a few steps away from him, Bea was trembling from head to foot. Her hands stretched out to him.

“Why shouldn’t I jump off?” he asked. “Give me one good reason.”

She paused for a minute. She battled with a million glib reasons that almost anyone will say to dissuade someone who’s about to end his life.

Simply and sincerely, she said, “I’ll miss you.” A tear slowly dropped from her eyes.

He turned around and took Bea’s hands.

An Opportunity

Fern by ~Ellerfru via deviantART
This is definitely not Notholaena Sulphurea

In a wealthy land, a sage opened up a school on top of a desolate hill to teach the people a better way of living. The people in that land thought that his lessons will make them even wealthier, so a lot of people tried to get into the school. Despite the large volume of applicants, the school only had a handful of students because the sage wanted to test each aspiring student and see if he or she was ready. As such, getting into the school became a status symbol for the inhabitants of that land.

One day, the only son of the richest family came up to the sage’s school since he was also aspiring for a better life for himself and to boost his family’s reputation. After climbing up the thousand steps, he arrived at the gate of the school, and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Oh great sage, give me an opportunity to study at your school!”

His plea was heard, and soon, the gate opened to reveal the smiling sage followed by a servant who was carrying a jar. Then, the sage said, “Come and walk with me.”

The rich, young man and the servant followed the sage as he wandered all over the hill. The sage gave odd commands like “look up,” “look down,” “squint your eyes,” and “peep through your fingers.” They did these pointless things as they walked. When they reached a stone jutting out from the hill’s face, he said, “That’s your first lesson, and now, I’ll check if you’ve learned. This is an opportunity,” while pointing at a green shoot growing from the stone. “What is this?” the sage asked.

While waiting for his answer, the sage instructed the servant to fetch water further down the hill.

“It’s a plant growing on a rock, Teacher,” said the beaming young man.

The sage turned his back and said, “Try to look again, and come back tomorrow. Tell me the right answer.”

The young man was crushed to hear that he was wrong, but he was determined. He ran back to his father’s extensive collection of books about plants to identify what was growing on the rock. Then, he went back to the sage.

“It’s a Notholaena sulphurea, the fern that’s growing on the rock!” he exclaimed, but the sage gave the same answer, “Please look at it again. Come back tomorrow and tell me the right answer.”

Thinking that he’s closer to the right answer, he went back to his father’s library to identify the rock that’s jutting from the hill. Again, he went back to the sage.

“The Notholaena Sulphurea is growing on a rock made out of gypsum,” he said proudly.

The sage smiled, and said, “Look more closely. Then, come back tomorrow and tell me the right answer.”

This time, he felt frustrated. He threw a temper tantrum because he was still wrong. While he was stomping around, the servant of the sage saw him. Curious to know what he was doing sobbing in the middle of the arid hill, the servant asked, “Why are you crying?”

“I can’t get this stupid test right,” said the young man in an exasperated tone.

“If you think this test is stupid, you might be spitting up in the air. Soon, that spit will land on you,” replied the servant.

“What are you saying – that I’m the stupid one?” the young man growled angrily.

“No,” the servant said. “Do you want to know the answer?”

“Well, of course I do!” the young man snapped.

“What did Teacher say to you when he pointed at the plant?” asked the servant.

Mockingly imitating the sage, the frustrated young man said, “This is an opportunity.”

“Exactly!” smiled the servant.

With a puzzled expression, the young man said, “I don’t get it.”

“Do you want to know the answer?” the servant repeated his question.

“Why do you keep on asking that? You didn’t tell me the first time, so why should I even answer your question? Why are you even talking to me? You’re just a servant!”

“I can see that you won’t get it at all, so being a humble servant, I’ll ignore your rude remark and help you with the answer,” the servant said. Before the young man could protest, the servant pointed at the plant again and started talking, “According to Teacher, everything is opportunity, and if you don’t see life like that, you’d need to change vantage points. More than the scientific name of the plant or the type of stone that it is growing on, which is the obvious way of looking at this test, you needed to look at the plant and the rock differently to see that it’s a metaphor for opportunity. The plant doesn’t have any other place to grow on, so it took the chance to grow in the crack and make the most of it. Look at it now. It already has a second leaf growing. It didn’t give up, much like Teacher. Each day, he took the opportunity to make you change your vantage point and asked you to come back. He didn’t say you failed, did he? He gave you all the clues, but you ignored all the opportunities that he gave you, so now, I’m off to tell him that you gave up. Even now, you have the opportunity to learn, yet you still refuse since the explanation is coming from a servant.”

Off the servant went and the young man was left downtrodden. He went home to his father’s house to tell him of the bad news, but the servant’s words echoed in his head. Everything is opportunity, and if you don’t see life like that, you’d need to change vantage points. Then, he realized something. When he went to see his father, instead of announcing the bad news, he said, “Today, the Teacher taught me to see everything in life as an opportunity. Because I’ve learned that lesson, I was also able to learn a lesson on humility.” With that one lesson, the young man learned a better way of living, which he practiced until the day he died.

The Ungrateful Traveler

Guan-Yin by ~SonnetOfNooby via deviantART

One summer day, a traveler was walking down a country-side road. When he left his house, the sun was shining brightly, but in the middle of his journey, rain drops slowly fell. “Ah!” he shouted into the heavens. Caught unprepared by the capricious weather, he sought shelter under a thin mango tree with dense foliage. Thankful that he didn’t get a single drop of water on him, he sat under the tree and waited out the shower. After an hour of waiting, he was glad to see the sun shining again, and he continued his journey.

A few steps away from the tree, he stubbed his toe on a tree root that stuck out of the ground. Wincing from the pain, he angrily went back to the tree and kicked its trunk that created a thudding sound that seemed to echo into the air. Like ripples on a still pond, vibrations shook the tree and its wet leaves, drenching the traveler with rainwater that was collected by the canopy, which enraged the man even more. It seemed like the traveler was a spring of insults when he turned his back and walked away, but he didn’t get far when he heard the sound of thunder.

When he turned around, the tree shone brightly. Right in front of him was the goddess of mercy, Guanyin, clothed in white, flowing robes with leaf-like trimming. She frowned at the traveler and began to speak, “You should have been thankful, traveler. You forgot that the tree has shown mercy on you. It sheltered you from the rain, but you repaid it with violence, and so, you brought misery upon yourself. Let this be a lesson to you that you must always show gratitude wherever you can.” Then, all went black.

When he awoke, he found himself in his home. After talking to his wife, he learned that he was bed-ridden for a month, burning with fever. He then recalled his encounter with Guanyin, and immediately, he said to his wife, “Thank you for caring for me.” From that point on, he remembered to show his gratitude to every soul that helped him.

Last year, I started a blog (and deserted it almost as quickly) that I intended to use to document events that led me to feel “loud heartbeats.” From my point of view, loud heartbeats are moments when I feel truly happy, extremely aggravated, or some other intense emotion. Since I had a knack of killing blogs, I also killed that blog, but before I did, I was able to write a few stories that were inspired by sudden flashes of inspiration. Also, I was inspired by Art of Zendictive to write these stories, and here’s one of them.