Story Time: Spread the light

Published September 23, 2018
Illustration by Sophia Khan
Illustration by Sophia Khan

Long time back, there was a beautiful small country named Marcasia, which was situated very far away to the east of the seven Great Mountains. This country was famous for its vast forests and rich natural bounties.

The country’s setup was an uncommon one. Unlike other countries which encompass states, provinces, capitals and villages, Marcasia was made up of a number of small towns. Each town was different than the other on the basis of population, size and the geographical area. The country was ruled by King George, while each town appointed a mayor to maintain discipline.

One such town had a mayor named Sir Louis. He was very kind, helpful and did justice to his people. Sir Louis had real fondness for light, be it anything — candles, torches, lantern, lamps or decoration lights. He hated darkness and wanted the world to stay illuminated with different spectrums of light.

Due to this fondness, every year he organised a competition for his town’s people. The competition was that people had to decorate the exterior of their houses with lights in any way they liked. The house which was most splendidly decorated and the most illuminated one was gifted a piece of land by the mayor and other expensive presents.

This year also the competition was held, and the town people were given two day’s time for their preparations. A surge of excitement and thrill was seen in the town, plus everybody was curious to know who would be this year’s winner. People from every walk of life were participating according to their capacity and affordability.

Where everybody is so passionate about winning, you are doing a selfless act by becoming the light for others ...

On the night of the competition, the people went inside their houses and the streets became barred. This was to give a clear route for the mayor for visiting each house. That starry night witnessed the most amazing sight of a glowing and luminous town.

Around 9pm, Sir Louis, set out on his carriage with a group of officials. The mayor closely inspected each house, taking notes and giving points. They passed a red brick building which was beautifully decorated with red sparkling lights. Sir Louis admired the work and that building was given high points.

They passed a bungalow which was sophistically decorated with expensive white lights. The house, therefore, gleamed like jewels in the darkness. Sir Louis got lost in the elegance and charm that those white lights were producing. Again that house was awarded with high points.

After a few hours, the carriage entered the next section of the town. It was somewhat a dark street which was probably a poverty-stricken area. The mayor came across a small house, at the corner of the street. The house was completely dark and an old man was sitting outside the house on an old chair. A small flickering lantern was kept on the road beside him. Sir Louis stepped down from his carriage and walked toward the old man.

“Don’t you know the competition rule? You have to decorate your houses, not the street! You should have kept this lantern on the porch or somewhere to abide by the completion guidelines,” the mayor spoke sternly to the old man.

“I am not participating in this competition sir,” the old man answered the mayor politely.

“What! But why not?” Aren’t you interested in winning?” the mayor was amazed.

“Sir, I know that if I pitch in some bucks and make an effort in brightening up my house, I still don’t have a chance of winning, considering how well-decorated the other houses are. I just have this lamp among my few possessions.

“So tonight, as the street lights are off due to the competition, so I thought this lantern would be more helpful if kept on the street than inside the house. A passerby or traveller would not face any difficulty because this street is mostly dark. It will help in lighting the way and preventing accidents from any obstacle on the street.”

Sir Louis was extremely moved and tears started streaming from his eyes.

“You are a real hero … the real winner! I mean just look, where everybody is so passionate about winning, you are doing a selfless act by becoming the light for others ... you have definitely set an example today! I am so happy!” the mayor moved forward and hugged the old man.

The old man speechlessly listened to what the mayor was saying. His eyes become misty too.

“I ... can’t believe it ... sir. What you are saying? I still think I am not eligible for becoming a winner. It would be unfair to those who have actually put in a great effort for this competition. I think you should reconsider your decision.”

“No, not at all! You are the real winner! I am not being biased at all! Now can I request you something?”

“Yes, your highness! Anything for you,” the old man quickly stood up.

“I need this lantern. This simple and significant lantern has won my heart today. This lantern will serve as an example for other people! Please?” Sir Louis smiled at the old man as he requested.

“Oh sure!” with that the old man bend down, picked up his lantern and handed it to the mayor.

The officials of the mayor then handed the trophy to the old man, and the rest of the prizes that were part of the competition. The old man accepted the prizes with shaking hands and thanked the mayor.

After that, the lantern was taken to the Public House where it was kept in a beautiful glass case with gold frame. The lantern stayed there for centuries and the background of that lantern was narrated to people in story-telling sessions to teach people the lesson of thinking about others and helping them out, than just focusing on themselves.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 22nd, 2018

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