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STORY…ARIF, THE STORY TELLER

In a small town of Dreamland, there used to live a little boy named Arif. He was in love with his uncle Khizr, who used to take him to special places.

            One day Uncle Khizr came for a visit and told Arif that he would take him to the third most fascinating place in the world. Arif got excited as he still remembered the first two fascinating places his uncle had taken him.

            The first fascinating place Arif had visited with his uncle was a big garden, far away from their town where he had seen hundreds of flowers. He was amused to see so many flowers with so many colors and shapes and sizes. Uncle Khizr told him that all those flowers had their own names. His uncle liked tulips but Arif fell in love with roses. He could not believe that roses were also of different colors: white and yellow and pink and red. Uncle Khizr told him that rose was the king of flowers and Arif had to be careful to touch roses as they were protected by their bodyguards called thorns. Arif had never touched prickly thorns before.

            While Arif was enjoying looking at the roses he saw a little colorful creature flying. His uncle told him it was a butterfly. Arif had seen sparrows and pigeons and crows before but he had never seen a butterfly. That day when he came home he told his mom all about tulips and roses and butterflies he had seen in the garden. His mom was so happy to see Arif so excited.

            The second fascinating place Uncle Khizr took Arif was a zoo that was in the next town a few miles away from their home. Arif had never seen so many animals before. He spent the whole afternoon looking at monkeys and zebras and elephants. He finally saw a lion. His uncle Khizr told him that the way rose is the king of the flowers; lion is the king of the animals. By the time their visit ended it was getting dark and Arif saw little glowing creatures flying in the air all around them. Arif was intrigued because they would light up on a regular basis. Uncle Khizr told him they were called fire flies. When Arif came home that evening he told his dad all about the animals and fireflies that carried lamps to help lost bids find their way to their homes in the dark. His dad was amused to see him so excited and impressed by his affectionate relationship with his uncle.

            That day uncle Khizr took Arif to the third fascinating place and it was a library. Arif had never seen such a tall building with so many rooms and so many books. Uncle Arif showed him the sections of poetry and fiction and plays. He showed him books which had pictures of all the flowers he had seen in the garden and the pictures of all the animals he had seen in the zoo. Uncle Khizr introduced him to the librarian and made him the member so that he could borrow his favorite books that day. When Arif came home he showed his parents the three books he had borrowed from the library.

            After that day Arif fell in love with story books. He would ask his parents every week to take him to the library so that he could borrow more story books.

            When Arif started school he told his teacher about all the stories he had read and remembered from the story books. His teacher was impressed by his memory and his style of reading. And then one day Arif told his teacher that he had written his own story. The teacher asked him to read it to his class. When Arif shared his story his class-fellows loved it. The next month Arif created another story and his class-fellows loved that one too. When other students found out in the school, Arif was invited by the teachers of other classes to share his stories. They all loved his stories.

            One day Arif told his teacher that he had seen a dream of publishing a book. He had seen his name on the cover of the book. The teacher was touched by his dream and helped him compile his stories in the form of a book. She wrote the introduction that was titled Arif, the storyteller. The teacher contacted a local publisher who loved the stories and decided to publish the book.

            Arif was thrilled when the publisher arranged a book launch and the journalists from local radio, television and newspapers came to interview him. Arif felt honored when his teachers asked him to autograph the book for them. Arif invited his uncle Khizr to be the guest speaker for the occasion. Uncle Khizr shared with everybody their visits to the three fascinating places: the garden, the zoo and the library and Arif’s fascination with flowers and butterflies, animals and fireflies. During his speech uncle Khizr also told the story of a famous Argentinean writer Borges who was a librarian and loved reading and writing books. He became blind at the age of forty when he was in charge of one million books as a head librarian. Borges used to say that his image of paradise was that of a library, rather than a garden. It was the happiest day of his life as he saw his book in the bookshelf of the library next to other books written by other writers.

            That evening uncle Khizr invited Arif, his parents, his friends and teachers for a dinner to celebrate. He wished him well and hoped that he would become a famous story teller one day and people from all over the world would love to read his books.  He saw a great promise in him. Arif was so happy that evening that when he hugged his uncle he had tears in his eyes.