The Magic Sieve

Sunset..

Once upon a time, there was a little village by the sea. It was a beautiful village where coconut trees swayed gently to the salty breeze of the ocean, where the green sea regularly rocked the children to bed with its haunting melodies. The golden coast was decorated with shells and the crabs moved in and out of tiny openings in the sand. When the sun rose, at the other end of the ocean, it was as if the world was being lit up by an angel’s torch, flushed and divine.

.This village was made up of gentle people, soft spoken and peace loving. They loved coconut water, baths in the sea, walks on the sands, and most importantly, each other. They were woven together like pieces of a painting. Closely knit, they moved gracefully against the winds of time, like a kite fluttering in the blue skies, amidst the cottony clouds.

The people of this sunlit village had a special gift: they could see their thoughts. Each morning, they woke up, sifted through their thoughts, identified the good ones, and went about their way. Sometimes a bad thought could be found nestled in the crooks of their mind, but they persevered and threw it away. They called it ‘weeding’. Even little children there were adept at this. Of course, they had each other for help. Peace reigned over the blessed village. Many years and eons passed this way. The people of the village only got better with their weeding each day.

Until the day a magician from a far away land visited their land. He brought with him magic wands and magic potions and wanted to entertain them all. Settling down on the vast coast, the one with the long nose spread his ware.

Come one and come all,

let us not this show stall!

I draw things from thin air,

A rose, a pie or even a hare!

The people of the village had never seen a magic show before. Intrigued by this strange man, they gathered around him in a large circle. Some of them laughed, some of them were afraid. Who knows what a stranger might do? Children jumped up and down in glee, attracted by his strange clothes and singsong talk. They settled down on the wet sand, forming an inner circle, while the adults stood around them in a larger one.

Right at the middle stood the magician, pulling up things from nowhere. Lovely bouquets, prancing hares, talking parrots, paper hats- he seemed to have them all up his sleeve. The children started to clap, some of them started to sing. The adults hushed them, asking them to pay attention. The magician tore his scarf and pieced it together, with just a swoosh of his wand. Thus he went on and on, conjuring up unimaginable things. Suddenly, he stopped everything and looked around.

As the ocean here does roar,

Do you want to see some more?

All the children screamed their assent. Behind them, the adults frowned, but they wanted too, for the show to go on. They watched as the magician put his long hands into the pockets of his deep blue gown, and pulled out a round plate. The plate was made of silver, but only along the edges. The core was made of mesh, like the nets they used at night to ward mosquitoes away. The long nosed one peered at them through the mesh.

This sieve that I have with me,

with this I can your thoughts see!

People gasped. Was that true, but how was it possible? They waited for him to go on. What they thought was their special gift, was now too common! With his blue robe threatening to fly away from his form, the magician continued,

Good, bad, give them to me,

And I will let the good ones be!

One by one, child and adult, man and woman, they moved up to the centre, while the magician used his sieve to take away all the bad thoughts. He assured them only the good ones would remain. Wasn’t that so much easier, than weeding everyday? He took away everyone’s bad thoughts and packed them into his magic wand. The entire village watched in horror as he broke his wand and flung it into the sea. They now had only good thoughts! They thanked the magician over and over.They thanked him for coming to their village. They thanked him for bringing his magic sieve. They put coins into his bowl and gave him presents of precious silk. The magician walked away with a beautiful smile,

Noble ones, please do hear,

I shall be here again next year…

With that promise, he traipsed into the sunset, back to the land from where he had come. The people of the village rejoiced. What a wonderful gift the magician had given them! They went to bed with full hearts and singing souls.

Next day dawned, as fresh as ever. They woke and began to sift through their thoughts, out of habit. then they realized: no more sifting! They just had to look at their noble thoughts everyday. They searched hard, but where were all their good thoughts? They searched high and low, through the labyrinths of their minds, alas! They were left with none. First shocked, then sad, the people tried harder. But they could not see their noble thoughts at all. The stupid trickster, they thought. He has taken them all away, leaving us with none! They cursed him and called him names. They did not like each other now. Each believed that they lost out on their good thoughts because of the other. If only he had not pushed me into the middle, thought one. If only he had not praised the magician before me, thought another.

They bickered. They quarrelled. They screamed. They fought.

The once tranquil village was now a veritable ground for bloodshed. All the bad thoughts that they thought they had given away, were now ruling their hearts and minds. They were not able to sift through their thoughts anymore. Each day seemed like a torture, life seemed hard. They only complained about their difficulties now.

Exactly a year later, as the sun went down on the village, wondering about how the people stole his colours, a child saw a blue blob walking along the coast. She was playing alone on the sand, for she had no friends. She saw him and certain memories came back. She ran back to her father to tell him that the magician was back, she was sure of it. Father and daughter searched the coast for him. They found him lying in a corner, sorting out his seashells. The father grabbed him, livid. You stole our thoughts, he said, give them back to us! The magician smiled, I did not take them at all, he said. The father looked on, surprised. The whole village gathered around him once again, like it had one year ago. They saw the magician and started pelting him with rocks. They hit him, called him a cheat. He fell down to the ground in a heap. A child saw something between his fingers. He went forward and snatched the piece of parchment.

Good, bad,

Can you people, good thoughts see

If you did not let the bad ones be?

Fight your bad thoughts,

do not throw them away…

the easy way,

is not always

the best way.

Fight, fight, fight the bad,

for that is how you can see the good.

Before the child could get past the violent adults to sit and ponder over the verse, the magician had already breathed his last.

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