The Paper Boat
The Paper Boat
Once upon a time, there was a planet far away - a planet I created when I was in a very happy mood. I decided that this would be a masterpiece – the most beautiful place in the entire universe, so I painted it green and blue and purple and pink – what a colorful, agreeable picture that was! I then sent my most favorite angels to live on that planet. These angels were my own children – my happiest children. I knew that the beautiful planet I had created, needed looking after, and only my happy little angels could do that for me. The little angels agreed to go live on the new land. They decided to call it the Happy Land.
Let me describe Happy Land to you the way I made it – green, lush gardens and forests, bright, blue skies, clear water that took any color, majestic mountains, lilies and roses along every street, serene lakes, rivers and glaciers, birds that chirped and made music – To my children, Happy Land resembled their own home – Heaven.
So they faced no challenge in accepting it and getting comfortable there. Very soon, Happy Land became their new home. They played on the green fields and gardens, climbed up the mountains, ran along the streets and swam in the beautiful waters. They laughed, danced and sang happily during the day. At night they played under the moonlight, they counted stars and stared at the dark, yet shiny sky. They were such a happy bunch – always together, supporting and helping each other, having fun with each other.
My happy little children had not learned how to fight, they did not know anger, and they were completely agnostic of greed, pride, and ego. I had only taught them how to love and be happy. This is also why I carefully decided to place them on my favorite planet – my creation so beautiful!
Years passed and my little angels lived happily on the land that had become their new home. They enjoyed every day to the fullest; however, their most favorite time was when it rained! Whenever it rained, they played harder under the cool showers. They laughed and danced and sang as they bathed under the rain. When the showers stopped, they made paper boats to sail in the standing rainwater. That was their favorite activity of all! Every month, they would eagerly wait for me to send some rain their way so they could set sailing! And I would admiringly look at them as they did so – it always made me smile when I saw them so happy.
One day as my little ones were playing in the gardens, they spotted a disc in the sky. A huge disc that spun around itself - it looked as if the disc was approaching their Happy Land. They all got together and carefully started walking towards the disc. The disc gradually landed. The little angels all gathered around it. In a few moments the disc opened, and out came three creatures. Who were they? – The angels did not know. They looked big and beautiful. They had broad smiles on their pretty faces.
“Hello, children. My name is Rhea. And these are my friends Jack and Rita. We are visiting from a planet far away. We would like to move around on your lovely land and would like to know you all better.” said one of the foreigners in a beautiful, polite voice.
The children giggled together – this creature was so lovely. She was tall, had long hands and legs, long brown hair and was dressed in something so shiny. The three foreigners stared at each other, they were probably wondering if the children were scared.
“My name is Theo and these are all my brothers and sisters - Ali, Saira, Ram, Krishna, Rahim, Meera, Nico, Paula, and Zoe. Welcome to our home. We have never had visitors before. But we hope you will have a good stay. Let us show you around”, said Theo. My other little ones all smiled and held hands together as they bowed pleasantly in front of their guests.
“Umm. Thanks, Theo, and everyone. We would like to meet your parents if possible. Can you tell us where to find them? We would like to meet some adults around here.” replied Rhea.
“Adults? We don’t have any of those” laughed Theo and others. “Dear guests, this is Happy Land. You are welcome to look around, but you will not find adults here. This is our home – we are all children and we never grow up.”
The foreigners were taken aback. They were confused and thought the children were lying. But after looking around for a couple of hours, they realized that the children were, in fact, speaking the truth! Happy Land had no adults – the inhabitants of this land were all children – happy, innocent children who were ignorant of ego, anger, and hatred. And these children, really never grew up! The foreigners were simply astonished at the amount of happiness and harmony that existed on this magical land.
My children were great tourist guides – they took the three foreigners for long walks around the lakes, over the mountains and on the seaside. The beauty of Happy Land was mesmerizing and the foreigners forgot their own homes as they soaked it all in. The little ones were also great hosts – they served the foreigners the best fruit, green leafy vegetable soup and the best milk that could be found on Happy Land.
Later that night they asked their guests if they wanted to play under the moonlight. The foreigners simply smiled back – full of amusement. “No children, we don’t really play. We have lots of work to do. We have to report back what we have seen today to our teams back home! But we will come down with you and watch you play for some time if that is okay?” Rita said.
“Sure, feel free to come and look” Meera smiled back.
I could see that the children were finding the foreigners rather curious! Who would not like to play in the moonlight! Who would not like to count stars in the bright sky! My little ones were probably thinking. I could hear some giggling…
“What exactly do they mean by work?”
“They don’t want to play? They don’t like moonlight?”
“What do they mean by a report back home?”
Curiosity on Happy Land was growing. It made me smile, but it also made me a little nervous.
The next day I decided I would send some rain their way – they deserved to enjoy under the showers after doing such a great job at entertaining three “adult” guests on Happy Land. After sunrise, I sent down the first shower. The little ones all got up excitedly and gathered together to play in the rain. The three foreigners were still asleep – perhaps they were tired.
Ram suggested, “Should we invite our new friends over too? They were smiling last night as we counted stars.”
Saira agreed, “Yes, it would be impolite not to let them know that we have our shower dance. And then we will have our boats too – we should let them join”.
Theo went over and invited Rhea, Rita, and Jack. The three were truly fascinated by all they were experiencing.
“We would love to come and watch you, though not too keen to get wet in the rain.” laughed Jack.
Rita and Rhea agreed – they would stand under a roof and simply watch the children.
Again, the inhabitants of Happy Land were confused – who would not like to play in the rain! These showers come once in a while – wouldn’t you want to make the most of it when they are here? Why getting wet in the showers would be unpleasant to someone – they failed to understand. But then, these were foreigners. Who knows what land they came from – perhaps they were scared of showers!
The three foreigners watched with utter surprise as the children played in the rain – it was as if they had no worries in life, no inhibitions. They laughed and danced without barriers. The foreigners looked at each other and smiled – they were all thinking the same thing: should these children be laughed at, or should they be envied? They did not have words to express their thoughts to each other.
That evening after their moonlight dinner the foreigners told the children that they would have to return back home the following day. As a token of thanks, they gave the children a yellow shiny statue – a statue of a bird. “It is made of gold”, Rhea said. My innocent children had no idea what that meant! But they found it most attractive and amusing. The curiosity in the little minds was mounting – they had questions to which they were hoping to get answers today.
“Rhea, you said you did not play, you worked. Can you tell us what that means? What is work? And why don’t you play?” Krishna dared to ask.
The three foreigners were touched by his innocence.
“Well, you see, we are not children. We are grown-ups. And grow-ups have to work – we work to learn new things, we work to build new things, we work to make things such as this lovely gold bird. We also have to work to get food. I know this is too different from your life here, but that is how things are from where we come”
“Can you show us some of that work you talk about?” Rahim asked
“Hmmm. Let me see. Okay, maybe I can show you some pictures on my phone. Here, look at every one. This is called a phone. We make these phones on our land. And look at these pictures here – do you see these tall structures? They are buildings. We build them, and we live in them. And look at this – these are our offices – we sit in these offices and work on our computers and tablets. Look at this picture, this is an adult working.
You see, on our land, people work. They work to make things and then they sell these things to make money. Then they use that money to buy stuff. They use that stuff to make more money, and buy more and more stuff with that money! Oh, it is really too complicated – I don’t think I can explain it to you. You will understand it all when you grow up!” Rhea replied.
“But, but we will never grow up,” Paula said.
“Oh, that is not such a bad thing Paula. You are happier if you don’t understand!” Rhea laughed.
My little children had learned something new today – something I had kept them away from. They were all silent. There was no staring at the moon-lit sky that night and certainly no star counting. The children were in deep thought – they were trying to digest what these foreign adults had shared with them.
The foreigners left Happy Land and taught my children something new – the concept of making money, the concept of working and building things. With this new knowledge, there came a sense of dullness and dissatisfaction among my happy children. But there came something else – growth! Yes, when you learn, you grow. And my children were no different – they had now learned something new and had grown up just a little!
The following morning had a strange start. “Theo, I have been thinking a lot – we should try to build something new – as those foreigners do. I saw those pictures they showed us. We should have some of those buildings on our Happy Land. I want to do it, friends. Would you agree?” Ram suggested
“No, Ram. Our land is beautiful as it is, let us not change it” Theo responded.
“Ram is right, Theo. I would like to do something new too!” Ali said.
“Yes, for how long will we remain children? I want to grow up too, and be like Rhea” Saira said.
“I don’t think so Saira. I am with Theo. Let us not try to change our Happy Land.” Krishna said.
What was happening here – I had never taught my children how to fight – but today they were having an argument. The united bunch was now divided into two groups – a group that wanted to grow up and live like adults and another that wanted to stay as is. Little did they realize that in the process of developing an argument and entering a fight, they had already developed another trait of adulthood. Yes, they had now grown up just a little bit more!
The following few days were full of arguments – to cheer them up, I also sent some rain their way. However, they were too busy arguing and barely noticed the showers! There were no dances, no songs and certainly no paper boats. It was disheartening to see my little ones grow up – yes, as the days went by, the arguments got serious and the groups became more divisive – my little ones were becoming more and more like adults!
In the next few days the bunch broke up into separate groups – one group started building houses – the other was upset so they started hampering the building work. Arguments were now slowly turning into fights. There were stone throws and sticks… and worse.
Years passed, the little ones were no longer little – they were all grown ups now. Many showers of rain had fallen, but there were no more paper boats. They were all busy working… or fighting! Somehow, all those things I had tried to keep them away from – ego, anger, pride – had all come to them as they grew up. It was disappointing to see my favorite planet turn into something so ugly. I sent them another round of showers with the hope that they would all come out and dance as they used to when they were children. I always hoped for that – though in the past several years that had never happened. My eyes craved to see my little ones sailing paper boats in the standing rainwater.
I sent down the pouring rain, and continued to look down with hopeful eyes – nothing happened. I spotted Theo sitting at the window of his tall office. He looked old and was in some deep thought. I wanted to hear what his mind was trying to say. So I went closer. Theo had a tear in his eye and a smile on his face. He was looking at the rain and was calling me, “Father, Oh Father! What have we done! I don’t want this life of an adult man – I don’t want this yellow, shiny gold, these tall offices, this money, and these riches. All I crave for is that innocence that filled our Happy Land – the times when we could play in this rain and sail our paper boats without thinking of anything else. Bring me back my paper boat – make me a child again Father. Make all of us children again. Let this all be a bad dream – take us back to where we started! Father, please take away this adulthood”
Out across the building was Saira staring outside weeping silently, thinking similar thoughts. Far away sitting at a wooden desk were Ram and Meera, both looking at each other and wondering if they could ever get back their happy days.
All my children were calling me for help – they all wanted to go back to being children. They were tired of adulthood.
I decided to go down there and visit them. As I landed on Happy Land, they all came around me and stood there weeping, looking at each other and at me with their tired eyes.
Theo started to speak “Father, what have we done to ourselves. Take us to the beginning – we want to be children again. Please, Father!”.
“My dear ones, I cannot do that. It is beyond my powers. Once you grow up, there is no moving back. You are adults now, and you will remain, adults, until you live.”
“Oh, Father! This is unbearable, it really is. We are tired, we are fighting, we are unhappy” replied Rahim.
“I cannot give you what you are asking for, my loved ones. I simply cannot! But I cannot bear your pain either. You are still my children and will always be. So here is an offer I shall make you –
While you will not be children again, you will be able to have your own children instead. You will be fathers and mothers of little angels. These little angels will be your bundles of joy. You will play with these children and teach them how to live & how to be happy. These children will be your hope for future happiness.”
Years have passed since. I still watch over my children and grandchildren. I often send some showers their way, as I am doing today.
“Do you know little Theo, when we were little, we made paper boats and sailed them in the standing rainwater”, says Theo to his son Theo Jr.
“Can you teach me how you do that, Father?”
The paper boat is ready and Theo and Theo Jr. are on their way to sail it in the standing water. As they arrive, there are four boats sailing already. Theo leaves his son to play and goes back to his window, watching his child with his companions. Little Ali, Rahim, Ram, Krishna, Paula, Meera, Saira, Zoe, and Theo hold hands as they see their boats sail on the water.