Short but enduring magic

Short but enduring magic

I was standing in the children’s section of the library, my head bent trying to read the titles of the books, when the friendly assistant came up and said, “Madam, these are books for children.” I nodded and smiled at him. “Ah,” he remarked, “your grandchildren are visiting!” and hurried off. I smiled some more, for in reality I was choosing a book for myself.

I love short stories, including those for children. It is my favourite form of fiction. My partiality for it has its roots perhaps in early childhood. My mother had an enthralling stock of tales to tell and I never tired of hearing them over and over again. A particularly endearing one was that of a Machiavellian sparrow who got the better of a mighty king. This little fellow found a shiny piece of metal that sparkled like gold. He sat on the branch of a tree that stood next to the king’s room and sang, “No one is as rich as I am, no, not even the king!”

It so exhausted the king’s patience that he ordered his soldiers to take away the piece from the sparrow. Now the burden of the sparrow’s song became, “The king is so poor that he took away my treasure!” In exasperation, the king asked his soldiers to restore the bit of metal. This merely made the sparrow sing, “The king is afraid of a mere sparrow!”

Wisdom dawned on the king at last and he ordered his men to drive the pesky creature away. The sparrow flew away, but not without singing, “I out-witted you, I out-witted you!”

So full of wit and wisdom are these little tales that they continue to pass down the years, enchanting generations.

A good short story is without doubt a masterpiece of writing. Most have a definite beginning, middle and an end and so sweep you without ado into a new place of awareness. Since brevity is of utmost importance, the scene, the characters and the action come alive with little waste of time and transport you into a whole new world of experience.

A book of short stories is an ideal companion. Simple to transport, easy to accommodate, it can entertain at the flick of a finger. Here is a voice that makes no demands, asks no questions but provides many answers. In short, the short story gives you so much for so little. It sparkles with a magic that is as endearing as it is enduring.