Short Stories

With all one’s heart

Update: 16/04/2012
 
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The blaze heat of this summer April did not discourage\r\npermanent readers at the Buddhist library. Instead, they silently sat and\r\nattentively focused on each of the pages they were studying. From time to time,\r\nin order to reduce stresses and strains, they raised their eyes looking at the\r\nfront ornamental garden of the pagoda, or thinking of unsolved difficult\r\nmatters. Sometimes they even rose and paced up and down so that they might\r\nrelax themselves and then walked back to their seats and went on with their\r\nstudies. Although the sun was burning hot, a breeze was continually infused\r\ninto the library, bringing the heat together with the sweet perfume from the\r\nflowers of a white frangipani grown next to the bell-tower.

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A twentyish maid with an oval and bright face and a greyish\r\ncomplexion in her short-sleeved shirt with a pair of blue, sun-faded jeans rose\r\nand walked out into the yard. While leisurely walking step by step, she\r\nsuddenly stopped and hopped onto the grass when she saw a couple of sparrow\r\nstaggering at the foot of an ornamental areca tree. Seeing a human reaching\r\nthem, the sparrows were in panic and repeatedly beat their wings but were not\r\nable to fly away. Ultimately, they sat neatly in the girl’s hands. They also\r\nbreathed tiredly with their glassy eyes and great fear. Guessing what should be\r\ndone in this dangerous and pressing situation, the girl quickly stepped out of\r\nthe grass and reached a small pool where there was some water left by a broken\r\nplant-water hose. At that sight, I realized that the exhausted birds were just\r\nset free after some time of imprisonment. Then the girl sat down by the pool\r\nand put one of the birds on the ground. Next, she held the other with her left\r\nhand and dipped her right hand in the pool and then gave the bird’s face an\r\naffectionate stroke, so gently that it looked like that of a meek mother who\r\nwas taking care of her beloved seriously sick baby. The girl slowly opened the\r\nbird’s beak and fell in drops of water - the animal seemed to regain\r\nconsciousness by both swallowing and shaking its head. After each movement, she\r\nfondled the bird’s body to comfort it; now and then, she held the bird close to\r\nher mouth and whispered into its ears some words that seemed very friendly.\r\nThough her back was so soaked with sweat, she still sat there, attentively took\r\ncare of the birds, regardless of the broiling sun of the summer.

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High above, the sky was deep blue with some white clouds\r\nhanging now and then. A sudden wind gently stirred the tree branches. A white\r\nprangipani flower felt down just by the girl’s side but she calmly sat there as\r\nif nothing had happened to her.

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 A moment later, the girl stood up with the two birds\r\nin her hands and moved toward the library. At the door, she hesitantly looked\r\nat my place, observing discretely. I quickly turned away, making believe that I\r\nhad not paid any attention to her previous actions. I realized that I should be\r\nvery delicate in handling the situation at such a moment to prevent dissipating\r\nher goodness for the fact I was the librarian. She tiptoed into the corner of\r\nroom, laid the two birds down on the patterned tile floor and then returned to\r\nher seat, continuing her reading. In fact, she just sat there for a rest and\r\nkept track of the health situation of the birds.

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 When the clock of the library stroke eleven for the\r\nservice hours ended, the girl took the birds outside.  At the foot of\r\nthe ornamental areca she laid one of them down on the grass. Then she tossed up\r\nthe other into the air; it staggered for a moment and then sat on a branch.\r\nThen she picked up the dead body of the other bird, took it toward the edge of\r\na wall, dug a hole in the ground and buried it there.

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 Having finished everything, the girl took her bicycle\r\nand left the library. Before being out of the library, she still looked back at\r\nthe place where the dead bird had been buried - this action seemed to secretly\r\nmourn over the unfortunate fate of the bird.

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 Another white prangipani flower left its branch and\r\nfell down on the ground next to the girl. She picked it up, gazed it for a\r\nmoment and tossed it up. She seemed to recognize something from the flower, and\r\nfinally she threw it to the grave of the bird. Then she started pedaling her\r\nbicycle away.

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The girl slowly disappeared behind the three-door temple\r\ngate of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, leaving in my heart a great number of good\r\nimpressions. Now, inside the library only myself was left with full of\r\nemotions. Really, in human life, there are extremely normal things appearing to\r\nbe performed very easily but not everybody can do them.

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 It is hoped that in our life, all of us can do good\r\ndeeds, even small ones but with our own heart and completely.

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Translated into English by Mr.  Hoang Huan.

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