Should Wizard Hit Mommy?

Today, during the concluding hours of the soothing weekend, I happened to go through  my cupboard for arranging books.In the process, I found my old English coursebook of high school. I always saved my English books because I loved the stories in them. While I flipped the pages of this paticular book titled ‘Vistas: Supplementary Reader in English’, I stopped at one particular story. ‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy’ by John Updike.

I began to read it with interest, while also reviving some school days memory with it. As I finished reading it, I felt touched by the story. I had never felt like that when I had read it in school. Maybe something has changed  in these 7 years.I felt like sharing this story with everyone. Ask everyone I knew, to read it and talk about it. Do they find it as nice as I found it now? This prompted me to write about it today on my blog.

‘Should Wizard Hit Mommy’ is a beautiful story of a father who tells fanciful bedtime stories to his daughter. But on this particular day, he decides that he will tell her a more realistic story. His daughter must learn the realities of life and should no longer live in the illusory world of rosy tales. He tells her an old story but changes its ending which makes the little girl get restless and revolting. She protests that  his dad should change its ending to what it had been when he had told her on an earlier day, but he refuses. He feels convinced that this may irritate his daughter but what he is conveying is the reality of life, and she must acknowledge it.

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John Updike, known for writing on subjects concerning middle-class people has weaved this interesting short story involving a father, worn out with handling responsibilities of family and a little girl who is young, naive and imagines of an ideal world.

I invite you to read this wonderful tale..You too may like it. Please tell me how you feel about it. I am sure you will find it very nicely narrated.

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In the evenings and for Saturday naps like today’s, Jack told his daughter Jo a story out of his head. This custom, begun when she was two, was itself now nearly two years old, and his head felt empty. Each new story was a slight variation of a basic tale: a small creature, usually named Roger (Roger Fish, Roger Squirrel, Roger Chipmunk), had some problem and went with it to the wise old owl. The owl told him to go to the wizard, and the wizard performed a magic spell that solved the problem, demanding in payment a number of
pennies greater than the number that Roger Creature had, but in the same breath directing the animal to a place where the extra pennies could be found. Then Roger was
so happy he played many games with other creatures, and went home to his mother just in time to hear the train whistle that brought his daddy home from Boston. Jack described their supper, and the story was over. Working his way through this scheme was especially fatiguing on Saturday, because Jo never fell asleep in naps any more, and knowing this made the rite seem futile.
The little girl (not so little any more; the bumps her feet made under the covers were halfway down the bed, their big double bed that they let her be in for naps and when she was sick) had at last arranged herself, and from the way her fat face deep in the pillow shone in the sunlight sifting through the drawn shades, it did not seem fantastic that some magic would occur, and she would take her nap like an infant of two. Her brother, Bobby, was two, and already asleep with his bottle. Jack asked, “Who shall the
story be about today?”
“Roger…” Jo squeezed her eyes shut and smiled to be thinking she was thinking. Her eyes opened, her mother’s blue. “Skunk,” she said firmly. A new animal; they must talk about skunks at nursery school. Having a fresh hero momentarily stirred Jack to creative enthusiasm. “All right,” he said. “Once upon a time, in the deep dark woods, there was a tiny little creature by the name of Roger Skunk. And he smelled very bad.”
“Yes,” Jo said.
“He smelled so bad that none of the other little woodland creatures would play with him.” Jo looked at him solemnly; she hadn’t foreseen this. “Whenever he would go out to play,” Jack continued with zest, remembering certain humiliations of his own childhood, “all of the other tiny animals would cry, “Uh-oh, here comes Roger Stinky Skunk,” and they would run away, and Roger Skunk would stand there all alone, and two little round tears would fall from his eyes.” The corners of Jo’s mouth drooped down and her lower lip bent forward as he traced with a forefinger along the side of her nose the course of
one of Roger Skunk’s tears.
“Won’t he see the owl?” she asked in a high and faintly roughened voice. Sitting on the bed beside her, Jack felt the covers tug as her legs switched tensely. He was pleased with this moment — he was telling her something true, something she must know — and had no wish to hurry on. But downstairs a chair scraped, and he realised he must get
down to help Clare paint the living-room woodwork.
“Well, he walked along very sadly and came to a very big tree, and in the tiptop of the tree was an enormous wise old owl.”
“Good.”
“Mr Owl,” Roger Skunk said, “all the other little animals run away from me because I smell so bad.”

“So you do,” the owl said.

“Very, very bad.”

“What can I do?” Roger Skunk said, and he cried very hard.
“The wizard, the wizard,” Jo shouted, and sat right up, and a Little Golden Book spilled from the bed.
“Now, Jo. Daddy’s telling the story. Do you want to tell Daddy the story?”
“No. You me.”
“Then lie down and be sleepy.”
Her head relapsed onto the pillow and she said, “Out of your head.”
“Well. The owl thought and thought. At last he said, “Why don’t you go see the wizard?”
“Daddy?”
“What?”
“Are magic spells real?” This was a new phase, just this last month, a reality phase. When he told her spiders eat bugs, she turned to her mother and asked, “Do they really?” and when Clare told her God was in the sky and all around them, she turned to her father and insisted, with a sly yet eager smile, “Is He really?”
“They’re real in stories,” Jack answered curtly. She had made him miss a beat in the narrative. “The owl said, “Go through the dark woods, under the apple trees, into the swamp, over the crick —”
“What’s a crick?”
wizardA little river. “Over the crick, and there will be the wizard’s house.” And that’s the way Roger Skunk went, and pretty soon he came to a little white house, and he rapped on the door.”

Jack rapped on the window sill, and under the covers Jo’s tall figure clenched in an infantile thrill.

“And then a tiny little old man came out, with a long white beard and a pointed blue hat, and said, “Eh? Whatzis? Whatcher want? You smell awful.” The wizard’s voice was one of Jack’s own favourite effects; he did it by scrunching up his face and somehow whining through his eyes, which felt for the interval rheumy. He felt being an old man suited him.“I know it,” Roger Skunk said, “and all the little animals run away from me. The enormous wise owl said you could help me.”
“Eh? Well, maybe. Come on in. Don’t get too close.” Now, inside, Jo, there were all these magic things, all jumbled together in a big dusty heap, because the wizard did not have any cleaning lady.”
“Why?”
“Why? Because he was a wizard, and a very old man.”
“Will he die?”
“No. Wizards don’t die. Well, he rummaged around and found an old stick called a magic wand and asked Roger Skunk what he wanted to smell like. Roger thought and thought and said, “Roses.”
“Yes. Good,” Jo said smugly.
Jack fixed her with a trance like gaze and chanted in the wizard’s elderly irritable voice:
“Abracadabry, hocus-poo, Roger Skunk, how do you do, Roses, boses, pull an ear,
Roger Skunk, you never fear: Bingo!”
He paused as a rapt expression widened out from his daughter’s nostrils, forcing her eyebrows up and her lower lip down in a wide noiseless grin, an expression in which
Jack was startled to recognise his wife feigning pleasure at cocktail parties. “And all of a sudden,” he whispered, “the whole inside of the wizard’s house was full of the
smell of — roses! ‘Roses!’ Roger Fish cried. And the wizard said, very cranky, “That’ll be seven pennies.”
“Daddy.”
“What?”
“Roger Skunk. You said Roger Fish.”
“Yes. Skunk.”
“You said Roger Fish. Wasn’t that silly?”
“Very silly of your stupid old daddy. Where was I? Well, you know about the pennies.”
“Say it.”
“O.K. Roger Skunk said, ‘But all I have is four pennies,’ and he began to cry.”

Jo made the crying face again, but this time without a trace of sincerity. This annoyed Jack.
Downstairs some more furniture rumbled. Clare shouldn’t move heavy things; she was six months pregnant. It would be their third.
“So the wizard said, ‘Oh, very well. Go to the end of the lane and turn around three times and look down the magic well and there you will find three pennies. Hurry up.’ So Roger Skunk went to the end of the lane and turned around three times and there in the magic well were three pennies! So he took them back to the wizard and was very happy and ran out into the woods and all the other little animals gathered around him because he smelled so good.And they played tag, baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, and pick-up-sticks.”
“What’s pick-up-sticks?”
“It’s a game you play with sticks.”
“Like the wizard’s magic wand?”
“Kind of. And they played games and laughed all afternoon and then it began to get dark and they all ran home to their mommies.”
Jo was starting to fuss with her hands and look out of the window, at the crack of day that showed under the shade. She thought the story was all over. Jack didn’t like women when they took anything for granted; he liked them apprehensive, hanging on his words. “Now, Jo, are you listening?”
“Yes.”
“Because this is very interesting.
Roger Skunk’s mommy said, ‘What’s that awful smell?’
“Wha-at?”
“And, Roger Skunk said, ‘It’s me, Mommy. I smell like roses.’ And she said, ‘Who made you smell like that?’ And he said, ‘The wizard,’ and she said, ‘Well, of all the nerve. You come with me and we’re going right back to that very awful wizard.”
Jo sat up, her hands dabbling in the air with genuine fright. “But Daddy, then he said about the other little animals run away!” Her hands skittered off, into the underbrush.
“All right. He said, ‘But Mommy, all the other little animals run away,’ and she said, ‘I don’t care. You smelled the way a little skunk should have and I’m going to take you right back to that wizard,’ and she took an umbrella and went back with Roger Skunk and hit that wizard right over the head.”
“No,” Jo said, and put her hand out to touch his lips, yet even in her agitation did not quite dare to stop the source of truth. Inspiration came to her. “Then the wizard
hit her on the head and did not change that little skunk back.”
“No,” he said. “The wizard said ‘O.K.’ and Roger Skunk did not smell of roses any more. He smelled very bad again.”
“But the other little amum — oh! — amum — ”
“Joanne. It’s Daddy’s story. Shall Daddy not tell you any more stories?”

Her broad face looked at him through sifted light, astounded. “This is what happened, then. Roger Skunk and his mommy went home and they heard Woo-oo, woooo-oo and it was the choo-choo train bringing Daddy Skunk home from Boston. And they had lima beans, celery, liver, mashed potatoes, and Pie-Oh-My for dessert. And when Roger Skunk was in bed Mommy Skunk came up and hugged him and said he smelled like her little baby skunk again and she loved him very much. And that’s the end of the story.”
“But Daddy.”
“What?”
“Then did the other little animals run away?”
“No, because eventually they got used to the way he was and did not mind it at all.”
“What’s evenshiladee?”
“In a little while.”
“That was a stupid mommy.”
“It was not,” he said with rare emphasis, and believed, from her expression, that she realised he was defending his own mother to her, or something as odd. “Now I want
you to put your big heavy head in the pillow and have a good long nap.” He adjusted the shade so not even a crack of day showed, and tiptoed to the door, in the pretense that she was already asleep. But when he turned, she was crouching on top of the covers and staring at him. “Hey.Get under the covers and fall faaast asleep. Bobby’s asleep.”
She stood up and bounced gingerly on the springs.
“Daddy.”
“What?”
“Tomorrow, I want you to tell me the story that that wizard took that magic wand and hit that mommy” — her plump arms chopped forcefully — “right over the head.”
“No. That’s not the story. The point is that the little skunk loved his mommy more than he loved all the other little animals and she knew what was right.”
“No. Tomorrow you say he hit that mommy. Do it.” She kicked her legs up and sat down on the bed with a great heave and complaint of springs, as she had done hundreds of times before, except that this time she did not laugh.
“Say it, Daddy.”
“Well, we’ll see. Now at least have a rest. Stay on the bed. You’re a good girl.”
He closed the door and went downstairs. Clare had spread the newspapers and opened the paint can and, wearing an old shirt of his on top of her maternity smock, was stroking the chair rail with a dipped brush. Above him footsteps vibrated and he called, “Joanne! Shall I come up there and scold you?” The footsteps hesitated.
“That was a long story,” Clare said.
“The poor kid,” he answered, and with utter weariness watched his wife labour. The woodwork, a cage of moldings and rails and baseboards all around them, was half old tan
and half new ivory and he felt caught in an ugly middle position, and though he as well felt his wife’s presence in the cage with him, he did not want to speak with her, work
with her, touch her, anything.

(Image Source: xobba eCards )

Word High July : Tinatangi

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The First Sight

O Belle,

You really stole my heart,

That day I should have been alert

Everything proceeded unprecedentedly

When my gaze fell on you accidentally

Your superb beauty had caught

My heart which nearly stopped

Throbbing.And I stood silent and still

Embellish and adorning your beauty until

I asked to myself it can’t be true

Am I really in love with you?

-r prab

(Ok, I wrote this poem many many years ago when I had one of those teenage crushes in school. The ‘Belle’ was one year junior to me and I was captivated at the very first sight of her. It appears such a distant memory now! But I’m glad I could recall this as I was wondering what to share for today’s prompt. More so, because most of the participants are writing about love, I guess that’s why my mind got inspired to recall this! 🙂 I am thankful to Rosema and Maria for hosting this nice event!  )

(Source of the above image: wallcoo)

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Tinatangi

 

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Recycled Book Reading Challenge: The Prophet

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror

But you are eternity and you are the mirror”

The Prophet is a poetic narrative of philosophical thoughts. Author Khalil Gibran is a Lebanese writer and this work is considered to be his masterpiece.He introduces us to an old man, the prophet, a wanderer and a mystic, who is leaving the island of Orphalese to go back to his homeland.

As the ship is seen arriving towards the island after twelve years of wait, people of the island surround the old man to bid him farewell.They are sad that he will leave them soon. In their sadness, they urge the old man to share with them his wisdom before he goes, and the old man is pleased to speak all he knows.

Yet this we ask ere you leave us, that you speak to us and give us your truth.And we will give it unto our children, and they unto their children, and it shall not perish.

Then one by one citizens ask him to tell about the different aspects of life. What the old man responds is all this book is about.

It is a short book with only 96 pages, of which 8 pages have abstract artworks. The thoughts shared in the book are profound and often offers a different perspective of looking at things. It is to be read slowly and the ideas should be let to form an enigmatic painting in the mind. I will share some excerpts, which I readily admired reading.

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

.

Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.

But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.

You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.

.

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts:

And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.

And in much of your talking thinking is half murdered.

For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.

.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

 

I am grateful to Mliae for hosting this wonderful challenge. If you have a stock of old unread books waiting to be read, do become a part of the Recycled Book Reading Challenge.

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Word-High July: Kilig

First time on stage

assembly-clipart-school-assembly

Prepared had he all night
Anxious and stressed while
Trying to remember
One poetry, ‘The Knight’

The poem has he to recite
In the morning assembly of school
Afraid but is he of those
Cluster of eyes

The assembly prayers are sung but
His lips move in silence
Recalling the lines learnt
Fighting his gut

The prayers now will end just
Turn is his next
Sweaty palms, the knees weak
Feels he the chilled gust

-r prab

 

 

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Kilig

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Things Fall Apart

Is transformation good?

Have you experienced a transformation?

Have you been forced to endorse a transformation?

Did it make you feel better or made you regret?

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What is a transformation? A Change; and every change has a cost attached to it. When an individual is faced with a situation which demands him/her to change, the first question is “Is it worth it?” “What is the cost attached to it?”

The fact is we are reluctant to change. The thought of a change makes us get afraid. We get attached to our conventional ways, beliefs, and practices. They become a part of our identity and foregoing those means sacrificing a part of ourselves, which is painful.

Recently I finished reading a book called “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It is a powerful story of a tribesman called Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a self-made man, living his tribe’s principles with deep conviction. His every activity abides by the customs and traditions of the clan. He follows each of the rituals with sincerity- from the simple act of breaking nuts and offering it to the guests who visits his hut, to the harsh obligation of performing a killing as ordained by an ancient custom. He has grown up to be an exemplary character in his community- a powerful fighter, and an able family man with three wives and five children, feeding them all with his farm produce and creating proper shelters for them to live at ease, together. It is a commendable achievement for a man whose childhood was lived in obscurity, where, an irresponsible father had wasted all money and put the family in great debts.

Okonkwo respects his culture, stands strongly for it and makes sure his children learn it and carry forward the teachings of his forefathers. But, “Things start falling apart”

A situation arises which is unthinkable! Okonkwo is faced with a scenario which is challenging his faith. A man of steel, with a concrete belief in his ancestors, has come to a time when he is witnessing an unforeseen change. The circumstance demands that either he changes himself or loses everything.

When I finished reading this tale, I was tongue-tied. I was talking about the story with everyone while I was reading it, but when I finished it, I was speechless. The thought this book wants to drive its readers to is quite profound. I felt tiny, unable to comment on the conclusion. The effect was such that I did not read a book for the next 2-3 days because I just wanted the feeling to stay undiluted for some time.

Chinua Achebe is a fine writer. He writes straightforward. He doesn’t write any redundant sentence. Perhaps he even avoids describing events of happiness and dread with much explanation, leaving it to the imagination of readers to comprehend the degree of the joy or horror of it.

I am thankful to Ebby, who had recommended me this book.

I wrote this in response to Wordepress’  Daily Prompt Transformation.

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Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Three Men In a Boat

There are three young men and their dog-Montmorency.They are all idling, smoking tobacco, except the dog, of course, and discussing how bad they are- “bad” from a medical point of view.So they decide to go on a long boating trip to heal themselves.That’s the plot of this classic novel, broadly.

Jerome K Jerome, the author of this tale, referred to as “J” in the story, is quite an amusing narrator.In the opening chapter of the book,he tells about discovering in a medical journal, a liver ailment, whose one of the symptoms is, ‘a general disinclination to work of any kind’. He gets convinced he has this disease- since childhood.And he gets aggrieved to recall his old times when everyone thrashed him for being lazy while not realizing it was because of the liver!

From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it down to laziness

Similarly, each of them discovers having some or the other obscure ailments and then come up with the notion of going on a weekend boating trip up the river Thames, to ‘restore their mental equilibrium’.

What we want is rest, said Harris.
Rest and a complete change, said George. The overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and absence of the necessity for thought, will restore the mental equilibrium.

Their trip starts from Kingston and continues till Oxford- from where they take a return course.The story was intended to be a travel narrative and J tells elaborately about the places they pass through, as they row their boats.

However, the more interesting aspect is the comic narrative of events. J describes the humor in their planning and preparation of the trip and subsequently how they face the hard and good times later in the journey.Additionally, Jerome shares some charming philosophical thoughts describing the life and the beauty of nature.

We are creatures of the sun, we men and women. We love light and life. That is why we crowd into the towns and cities, and the country grows more and more deserted every year. In the sunlight in the daytime, when Nature is alive and busy all around us, we like the open hill-sides and the deep woods well enough: but in the night, when our Mother Earth has gone to sleep, and left us waking, oh! the world seems so lonesome, and we get frightened, like children in a silent house. Then we sit and sob, and long for the gas-lit streets, and the sound of human voices, and the answering throb of human life. We feel so helpless and so little in the great stillness, when the dark trees rustle in the night-wind. There are so many ghosts about, and their silent sighs make us feel so sad. Let us gather together in the great cities, and light huge bonfires of a million gas-jets, and shout and sing together, and feel brave.

But his mind keeps rambling as he narrates.You must have a friend who is talkative and tells stories starting with-“You know once what happened..” And then gets everyone around him involved in his funny narrative. J is a similar kind of person.By the time you would have finished the book you would have read many amusing incidents which  J recollects from the past.

This book is delightful! A book to be savored!An absolute Classic! The book will keep you smiling all the time.I wanted to read the book since a long time because I had already read parts of the book in following ways-

1.An excerpt from this book was titled as  “Packing for a Picnic” and was included as a chapter in our English Course Book during Middle School.It was an amusing narrative of how packing made J scared because he always forgot to pack his toothbrush.

2.I found another excerpt included in  “The Greatest Literary works of All Time”, a book I had purchased some time ago.This particular excerpt was about J’s uncle Podger, who always boasted that he could do a task without anyone’s help but instead would make the whole house go mad because he will keep messing up the things.

So, I had a fairly nice impression of the book and wanted to read the full of it! Thankfully I read it the last month and was glad to have added it to my “Finished Reading” list.I am grateful to Mliae for hosting this lovely challenge which has ensured that I will be finishing at least one book every month.
If you want to be a part of it, do visit her blog and get acquainted with the challenge.

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Beneath The Apple Tree

I looked up above, as I laid

Beneath the apple tree,

And wondered how nice it’ll be,

To get those apples for free.

But the apples were too high to reach,

So all my hopes got lost

When suddenly in my mind it came

Great Newton’s age old thought.

That when he sat below the tree

As useless as I was,

Without any effort, or initiative,

An apple did really fall.

Newton said that he was the one

Who first actually had found

That earth pulls the apple towards itself

And makes it fall on ground.

Having faith in Mr Newton

I laid there as I was

The noon changed to night,

(The sky flooded with moonlight)

But the apple did not fall!

And then I began to doubt

If really Newton said it true

Or was it for only name and fame

To gain his own fortune!

Just then from above did fall

An apple that made me sicken!

For it emitted a chokin’ smell

And throughout it was worm stricken!

Within a flash I speculated

That no book has ever mentioned

That what Newton actually did

With the apple that had fallen.

Now I know he must have crushed it

And took out his all frustration

Because just like mine, his apple too was

Dead decayed and rotten!

So commit to memory my new theory

And never have it forgotten

That all the apples that hang on tree

Are not pulled by gravitation.

Through the years I have known

That among the apples that hang on tree

The gravity brings down,

On the ground

Only the decayed apples for free!

-r_prab

( Since a young age , scientists and their curious tales have fascinated me. And Newton, is perhaps, one of my favourite figures in that respect. This poem was written when I was in high school.It was an evening when I had got bored solving Physics problems.Next day I had read it aloud to the amusement of my classmates, after which it got out from the closed pages (seven years later), only a few days back! The Literary Club of my University invited poetry contribution and I sent this old poem of mine. Today I was exhilarated seeing my poem posted on their elite blog, LITERATI! This encouraged me to share it on my blog as well! I am glad to share it!)

 

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(Img source:-  http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/496xn/p02mpn0h.jpg)