(Based on Sakya Lotsawa with teachers, HAR 89148)

Once upon a time in a remote land there lived a very smart boy who grew up to be a wonderful scholar and a translator. He was proud to wear the red hat with flaps: the ‘Pandita’ hat of the teachers. His fame spread out so wide, that it caught the Emperor’s attention and he was summoned to a hearing in His presence.

The Emperor was a very angry man, a despicable creature full of rage. Anything that went against his grain would upset him to such extend that he would kill people right and left with malice. The whole land was plagued with fear and its citizens lived in angst.

The Emperor gave the translator a scroll written in a foreign language and asked him to translate it. He said that he had found the scroll at the Empress chamber, he had questioned her about it but she had refused to give an explanation. That took the best out of the Emperor, and he begun to destroy all the relics in the Empress’ chamber and then proceeded to kill all her dear animals. While he was in the midst of this outburst the Empress managed to cut her tongue with a small dagger she always carried strapped to her left calf. She bowed to her silence…

The translator went home filled with dismay. He was able to read and understand the scroll.

It was written in the language of the Arab Lands. A language used for the sacred texts and the prayers but also a language used in poetry to express emotions and feelings, totalk about passions and desire and love, about flowers and music and wine.

This was a love letter from the Empress Persian lover. The translator was afraid to be punished with death. He didn’t want to infuriate the Emperor with the truth so he didn’t know how to proceed.
He was given three days to come back with the translation of the scroll for the Emperor. Each night he asked in his dreams to his spiritual masters for advice. The first night A Master spoke about Truth. He told him that there was no path to Truth. “Truth

must come to you when your mind and heart are simple, clear and there is love in your heart.” The second night another of his masters spoke about Fear and told him that “he should fear nothing but Fear itself”. And the third night another Master spoke about Trust and following the Path of the Heart.

The translator arrived in the presence of the Emperor, looked directly at his eyes and spoke the Truth. The Emperor began to turn green with anger, but the translator kept reading the beautiful poetry and the metaphors and the passionate words in the Emperor’s own language. Then the Emperor began to marvel at the whole letter, at the words, at the meaning and at the pearls of wisdom…

The Emperor realized how poorly he had treated the Empress, and how difficult for him had been to show love to other human beings. He felt badly.

The Emperor’s spared the Empress’ life, and wished her a happy life in the arms of her Persian lover. The Emperor begged the translator to take him up as his student eager to learn the new language. The translator took his red hat with flaps and placed it on the Emperor’s head and begun his first lesson of Arab language on Love and Compassion



Bedtime story inspired by the art piece:
‘The Diagonal’ by Tyeb Mehta

Once upon a time there was a lumberjack living in the midst of the redwood forest in Orick. He was as tall as a tower but since he lived among redwood it didn’t make any difference. He couldn’t remember his name, but since he lived alone in the middle of nowhere, this seemed of no importance either. He had stooping broad shoulders and it looked like his eyebrows were curved down as a sign of empathy with them. His lips were thin and his teeth impeccable.

He had always worked hard, as far as he could remember, chopping wood, sanding the planks and assembling them in order to build a perfect cube house.

One October morning with the first rays of an orange sun, he woke up and got ready to cut wood diligently. That day his endless dissatisfaction with the final form of his home dissipated slightly when a few raindrops landed softly in his light chestnut thinning hair.

A blow of humid wind slapped his friendly sad face. He glanced at the sky and knew there was going to be a mean thunderstorm. Soon the sky clouded over and turned dark blue.

The storm began as a mild shower and the lumberjack took off his checked black and red shirt, closed his eyes and enjoyed the rain meandering down his face and torso. He sniffed the aroma of the wet wood and the wet earth and felt at ease.

Soon the drizzle became a torrent and then is when a very odd event happened; The drops of rain had turned into drops of glass, and their shape had molded into a perfect rhombus, and these strange drops began to grow bigger and bigger until they turned deadly dangerous.

The lumberjack run to his nearly perfect cube home and shut the door behind him. A deafening roar filled the room. A huge drop had fallen on top of the house slicing it diagonally into two even triangular prisms.

The lumberjack stood motionless, jaw dropped, and a mix of rain and sweat poured down his torso, getting inside his lumberjack boots making his toes wet cold.

“When the drops stopped dropping the storm started stopping”. A ray of sun slipped away between two clouds and shinned in the glass surface. The lumberjack saw his reflection distorted by the tears in his eyes.

He looked like a woman with rosy skin, he looked like a scabby child exhausted and defeated after a harmless fight with a schoolmate. He looked like a mother and like a sister…

And his mind began to remember. He remembered a village with whitewashing houses. He remembered his mother and his three sisters. He remembered a rocky path and deep mossy well filled with streams of tears. He remembered a newborn baby and his sweet cry. He could even remember the smell of a slow cooked calf stew.

He put dry socks on, wore his lumberjack jacket, went out to the woods and climbed up the highest redwood tree. In the distance he could make out smoke coming out of a stack. He stared into the wavy white line dividing the turquoise blue sky into two even parts.

He set foot on a muddy trail and didn’t stop until he found himself.


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Bedtime story inspired by the art piece:
Painting by Biren De

Nathanyu was canny like a freshly sharpened pencil tip, his blueberry black eyes, would jump from pebble to pebble, from stalk to flower, from tadpole to dragonfly, always in the search for the next adventure. His face, coated with freckles, was always chummy, and it was framed by a tangled mess of curly ginger hair.

He was born in the river, and he had been abandoned by his young mother in a carrycot filled with nuts and honey, many, many ,many months ago.

By the time his lean body surpassed the size of his basket-home, he learnt how to swim, helped by the pond skaters.
One summer dusk while he was trying to catch a firefly, he was swallowed by a giant doctor fish.

As days passed by he kept finding intriguing things to play with. He crawled over the intestine and found behind the liver four chocolate brown eggs. Nathanyu was mesmerized by them. They were very shiny, heavy and wobbly. Suddenly his attention shifted to a sound that seemed to be coming from outside the gills.

He wrapped the eggs on the saffron blanket that had been his bundle as a baby, and which he wore around his waist, and walked toward the muffled sound.

Above the doctor fish, on the surface of the river there was a boat and a young couple engaged in a woeful conversation. The young he lover was trying to comfort her with delicate words. She could not bare children and the sorrow was creeping inside her brittle bones.

The young she lover, kept weeping and each tear would make concentric waves that grew bigger and bigger, swaying the water and making the doctor fish sleepy.

Nathanyu started buzzing around the belly, he took the four eggs out of his saffron cloth and began to juggle them. The doctor fish contorted and catched the attention of the young he lover. He saw the magnificent fish dancing in the bottom of the river. Since they were very poor he thought it would be of great value in the village’s market and they could get by through the winter months.

The brave young man immersed himself from the waist down and tried to seize the fish with he’s strong arms. He struggled, he fell into the water and eventually he emerged triumphant with the doctor fish under his right arm. The whole episode had made the young she lover laugh, and she helped him out to shore with the paddle.

She wrapped the big fish with brown paper, tied it with a string and walked towards the town’s main square. On her way she passed near a group a women bringing bright white lotus flowers to Durga, the Divine Mother of Creation. She felt compelled to give the big fish as an offering to the Goddess. She felt torn. She knew how much they were going to need the golden coins in the near future.

But the songs and the prayers of the other women enticed her to the street temple, and she placed the fish next to a stone altar.

In front of her big pale blue eyes the doctor fish started an awkward dance, its mouth slowly opened and the four chocolate brown eggs rolled out followed by Nathanyu. “Hola” he said to the young she lover.

She smiled. The heartiest smile. No other words were uttered. The little boy hooked his tiny hand to hers and they walked slowly home, without being able to take their eyes of each other’s.


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Bedtime story inspired by the artwork:
Artwork by Avinash Chandra

Latta added a log to the bonfire and a blaze lighted her wrinkled face. A branch crackled and hundreds of red dots of light scattered upwards mixed with the smoke. Her ancient eyes followed the dots up to the skies. It was a starry night.

She fidgeted on the rock she was seating, and adjusted her wooden leg. Once she felt comfortable she began to whistle a native song.

She heard a jingle, turned her head and saw coming around the rocky hill a blind young woman guided by a big green eyed, chubby little girl. They approached the bonfire and before Latta could say anything the little girl introduced her plump little hands inside the blind woman’s sac and produced a bag of juicy black cherries.

She left them next to the old woman’s odd-looking leg. And ran back to hug her mother’s leg. Latta smiled showing her uneven teeth filled with gaps. She motioned her hand pointing to her right side as a welcoming sign, then she grabbed a bunch of cherries and crowded her mouth with them. The little girl wondered if she was going to fire at will the pits through the black holes of her teeth. She moved to the side pulling her mothers robe.

The blind’s woman’s face looked familiar to Latta, but she could not make out where she had seen her before. Maybe at the market place of the big town at the West bank of the river? Maybe begging in the streets? She could not remember, but she enjoyed having their company so she started singing. Her voice was amplified in her chest cavity and the unfamiliar words resonated through the whole valley reaching the stars and vibrating inside mother and daughter’s hearts.

A few songs and many cherries later, another shadow walked around the rocky hill. It was a short man. An uncommonly short man. His legs and torso were not taller than the little girl’s height, but he’s face was that of a grown up man, with lots of facial hair, almond like hazel eyes and an oddly broad forehead. It looked as if someone had yanked him out of his mother’s womb by his hear. He greeted the women shyly, then he thought of turning around and leave, but before he finished that thought the little girl tweeted: “Another friend”. Latta admitted him with her warmest crooked smile and he sat with them sharing the light of the fire. The midget man took out a mandolin from a white leather bag and accompanied Latta’s song. Mother and daughter followed the rhythm clapping their hands and stomping their feet, adding the harmony of the jingle bells tied at the mother’s ankles. By dawn, a parade of ‘differently abled’ people had joined the festive group. There was plenty of food, music, songs, old stories, sad accounts, happy ones, jokes, merriment, laughter and companionship…

In many different ways, all these men, women and children had been the offal of society. They had been repudiated, discriminated, laughed at, humiliated, because no one before had been able to see their essence. They could not share their inner talents anywhere else before, and nobody had cared for them as Latta did.

From then on, Latta’s bonfire became the meeting point of the most varied people of the valley and they felt at home.


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