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## Strong or Weak

There was a proud teak tree in the forest. He was tall and strong. There was a small herb next to the tree.

The teak tree said, “I am very handsome and strong. No one can defeat me.” Hearing this, the herb replied, “Dear friend, too much pride is harmful. Even the strong will fall one day.”

The teak ignored the herb’s words. He continued to praise himself.

A strong wind blew. The teak stood firmly. Even when it rained, the teak stood strong by spreading its leaves.

During these times, the herb bowed low. The teak made fun of the herb.

One day, there was a storm in the forest. The herb bowed low. As usual, the teak did not want to bow.

The storm kept growing stronger. The teak could no longer bear it. He felt his strength giving way.

He tried his best to stand upright, but in the end, he fell down. That was the end of the proud tree.

When everything was calm again, the herb stood straight. He looked around. He saw that the proud teak had fallen.

Moral: Pride goes before a fall.

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## Parable of the Pencil

In “Like the Flowing River” by Paulo Coelho, there is a story about a pencil. Below given is the gist of the story.

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box.

“There are 5 things you need to know,” he told the pencil, “before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”

One: “You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.” Two: “You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.”

Three: “You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.”

Four: “The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.”

Five: “On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.”

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

Now replacing the pencil with you, if you remember these lessons and never forget them, you will become the best person you can be.

One: “You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.”

Two: “You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you’ll need it to become a stronger and better person.”

Three: “You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make. So do not be afraid of making mistakes.”

Four: “The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside. What you think and feel is more important than how you look.”

Five: “On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties. Leave your legacy when you leave this world.”

You are special. Only you can fulfill the purpose for which you were born.

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Bunny rabbit lived in the forest. He had many friends. He was proud of his friends.

One day Bunny rabbit heard the loud barking of wild dogs. He was very scared. He decided to ask for help. He quickly went to his friend deer. He said, “Dear friend, some wild dogs are chasing me. Can you chase them away with your sharp antlers?”

The deer said, “That is right, I can. But now I am busy. Why don’t you ask bear for help?”

Bunny rabbit ran to the bear. “My dear friend, you are very strong. Please help me. Some wild dogs are after me. Please chase them away,” he requested to the bear.

The bear replied, “I am sorry. I am hungry and tired. I need to find some food. Please ask the monkey for help.”

Poor Bunny went to the monkey, the elephant, the goat and all his other friends. Bunny felt sad that nobody was ready to help him.

He understood that he had to think of a way out by himself. He hid under a bush. He lay very still. The wild dogs did not find the bunny. They went chasing other animals.

Bunny rabbit learnt that he had to learn to survive by himself, not depending on his unhelpful friends.

Moral: It is better to rely on yourself than depend on others.

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## Fools

It was a cold and silent night. The weather was freezing cold. A group of monkeys were on a tree. They were clinging to its branches. One of the monkeys said, “I wish we could find some fire. It will help us to keep warm.”

Suddenly they noticed a flock of fireflies. One of the young monkeys thought it was fire. He caught a firefly. He put it under a dry leaf and started blowing at it. Some other monkeys also joined in his efforts.

In the meanwhile, a sparrow came flying to its nest which was on the same tree the monkeys were sitting on. She noticed what they were doing. The sparrow laughed. She said, “Hey silly monkeys, that is a firefly, not real fire. I think all of you should take shelter in a cave.”

The monkeys did not listen to the sparrow. They continued to blow at the poor firefly.

After some time, the monkeys became very tired. Now they realized that what the sparrow had said was correct. They set free the firefly and moved to a nearby cave.

## The secret of the fireflies

Scientists have long known what causes the yellow, orange or sometimes even blue flickers of light that fly around our back yard on summer evenings. They are the fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, and they have fascinated scientists and laypeople alike for ages. About 2000 species of fireflies exist today, and they mostly live in warm environments. These insects are actually beetles, and belong to the family Lampyridae.

What causes those flickers? Scientists have known the basics all along – oxygen, magnesium, calcium, and luciferin, a chemical that is naturally occurring –that causes the bioluminescence from the firefly’s abdomen.

However, the actual chemical reactions that cause the firefly’s light have been a mystery. Bruce Branchini at Connecticut College, Yale University, and his colleagues, seem to have solved the mystery. The findings of their study were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and it sheds light on the chemistry that lies behind the bioluminescence.

Branchini’s studies showed that the oxygen responsible for the firefly’s glow is in a special form: a superoxide anion. It is a form of molecular oxygen containing an extra electron. This enables the oxygen to react with luciferin, to produce the glow.

Stephen Miller, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a chemical biologist, said that this phenomenon is important as an area of research because luciferin has potential uses in the medical field. For example, a team of scientists including Miller used luciferin to detect specific enzymes in the brains of living rats, which could lead to identifying a method of looking at the hidden mysteries of the human brain.

Who knew that the humble firefly had so much chemistry in it! And so much promise for science!

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## A Christmas Surprise

It was two days before Christmas. Harry, Cornelius, Monty and I were busy building a snowman when Fritz appeared with his little niece Emily and introduced her.

“Emily is from the South and has never seen snow before,” Fritz told us. “She doesn’t know much about our winters.”

It turned out that Emily didn’t know much about Christmas also. ”Who is Santa Claus, Waldo?” she asked me, shivering in the cold air.

“Santa Claus,” I explained, “brings presents and toys to human children at Christmas time.”

“Does he bring presents to animal children also?” Emily asked.

“Well,” I said, “he hasn’t been around this part of the forest for many years. I guess he is too busy visiting all the human children to have much time left for animals.”

“Do you think he will come if I write to him?” Emily asked.

“I don’t think so,” said Monty. “I’ve never seen him, myself.”

“You see. Santa Claus is only for human children,” Fritz said to Emily. “So forget about the whole idea. Let’s go home now before you catch a cold.”

Early the next morning I saw Emily pulling Fritz toward the mailbox.

“I wrote a letter to Santa Claus,” she said, waving a large envelope, “and I asked him to come and bring me a present!”

“Good luck!” I said. “But don’t get your hopes up too high. I don’t want you to be disappointed if he doesn’t come.”

“He will – you’ll see!” Emily cried.

Poor Emily, I thought. Christmas Day was tomorrow. She was setting herself up for a big disappointment. I was sure.

Suddenly I had an idea. If Emily wanted to see Santa, she would, I decided.

I quickly went to town and bought a few things for a surprise. I was very pleased with my idea and could hardly wait to see Emily’s eyes on Christmas morning!

The next day, I got up very early to get ready. I put on the red Santa Claus suit that I had bought.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I was delighted! Even my own mother wouldn’t have recognized me.

I put on my boots and tried out a few Ho, Ho, Hos. Then off I went, carrying a present for Emily.

When I was near Fritz’s house, I noticed many other tracks in the snow leading to his front door.

I guessed Fritz was having a big Christmas party. It’s strange that I didn’t get an invitation, I thought. But it was Christmas, and Santa was always welcome on a day like that!

Then I knocked.

I could hear little Emily’s footsteps coming to the door.

“Hi, Waldo!” Emily cried as she opened the door. “I’m so happy you could come too. We were expecting you. Please come in.”

Expecting me? Waldo? How did she know it was me? Didn’t I look like Santa Claus?

I didn’t even have the time to try out any of my Ho, Ho, Hos but followed her into the living room.

There were Fritz, Monty, Cornelius, and Harry, sitting on the sofa and having tea. And each one was dressed up as Santa Claus!

“We didn’t want Emily to be disappointed!” Monty explained.

“I know, I know!” I said. “I thought of the same surprise. Merry Christmas to all of you!”

Soon Emily opened all her presents. There was a beautiful jacket from Fritz, a pair of warm winter pants from Monty, a woolen cap from Harry, and mittens from Cornelius.

Then Emily opened my gift. “Oh, red boots – my favorite color!” she said happily. “Let’s all go outside and play in the snow. I won’t be cold now!” she added.

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.

We cautiously went to the door.

But by the time Fritz opened the door, the visitor had already left. We could see the back of his sleigh disappearing behind the snow-covered tops of the fir trees.

“Santa Claus!” called Emily as loud as she could. But all we heard was a faint “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Look, he brought me a present!” Emily said. She pointed to a beautiful red sled. Hanging from it was a label that read FOR EMILY FROM SANTA CLAUS.

“I knew he would come! I knew it!” cried Emily as she danced around her new sled.

This was certainly one of the best Christmas Days we had ever had! And Emily enjoyed riding on her special sled – pulled by five Santa Clauses!

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## A Merchant and his Donkey

One beautiful spring morning, a merchant loaded his donkey with bags of salt to go to the market, in order to sell the salt. The merchant and his donkey were walking along together. They had not walked far when they reached a river on the way.

Unfortunately, the donkey slipped and fell into the river. As it scrambled up the bank of the river, it noticed that the bags of salt loaded on his back had become lighter.

There was nothing the merchant could do except return home, where he loaded his donkey with more bags of salt. As they reached the slippery riverbank again, the donkey fell into the river, this time deliberately. Thus the salt was wasted again.

By now the merchant knew the donkey’s trick. He wanted to teach the animal a lesson. As he returned home the second time with the donkey, the merchant loaded bags of sponges on its back.

The duo set out on their trip to the market a third time. On reaching the river, the donkey very cleverly fell into the water again. But now, instead of the load becoming lighter, it became heavier.

The merchant laughed at the donkey and said, “You foolish donkey, your trick has been discovered. You should know that you cannot fool anyone too many times.”

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## Cocoon and the Butterfly

Many of us know that a beautiful and colourful butterfly comes from an unappealing worm! Here is the story of a butterfly that was never able to live its life as a normal butterfly.

One day, a man saw a cocoon. He loved butterflies and had a craze for its wonderful combination of colours. In fact, he used to spend a lot of time around butterflies. He knew how a butterfly would struggle to transform from an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful one.

He saw the cocoon with a tiny opening. It meant that the butterfly was trying to make its way out to enjoy the world. He decided to watch how the butterfly would come out of the cocoon. He was watching the butterfly struggling to break the shell for several hours. He spent almost more than 10 hours with the cocoon and the butterfly. The butterfly had been struggling very hard for hours to come out through the tiny opening. Unfortunately, even after continuous attempts for several hours, there was no progress. It seemed that the butterfly had tried its best and could not give any more try.

The man, who had a passion and love for butterflies, decided to help the butterfly. He got a pair of scissors and tweaked the cocoon to make larger opening for the butterfly and removed the remaining cocoon. The butterfly emerged without any struggle!

Unfortunately, the butterfly looked no longer beautiful and had a swollen body with small and withered wings.

The man was happy that he had made the butterfly come out of the cocoon without any more struggles. He continued to watch the butterfly and was quite eager to see it fly with its beautiful wings. He thought that at any time, the butterfly might expand its wings, shrink the body and the wings could support the body. Unfortunately, neither did the wings expand nor the swollen body reduce.

Unfortunately, the butterfly just crawled around with withered wings and a huge body. It was never able to fly. Although the man did it with a good intention, he did not know that only by going through struggles the butterfly can emerge to be beautiful, with strong wings.

The continuous effort from the butterfly to come out of its cocoon would let the fluid stored in the body be converted into wings. Thus, the body would become lighter and smaller, and the wings would be beautiful and large.

If we don’t want to undergo any struggle, we won’t be able to fly!

Struggles make us shine!

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## Change Yourself and not The World

Long ago, people lived happily under the rule of a king. The people of the kingdom were very happy as they led a very prosperous life with an abundance of wealth and no misfortunes.

Once, the king decided to go visiting places of historical importance and pilgrim centres at distant places. He decided to travel by foot to interact with his people. People of distant places were very happy to have a conversation with their king. They were proud that their king had a kind heart.

After several weeks of travel, the king returned to the palace. He was quite happy that he had visited many pilgrim centres and witnessed his people leading a prosperous life. However, he had one regret.

He had intolerable pain in his feet as it was his first trip by foot covering a long distance. He complained to his ministers that the roads weren’t comfortable and that they were very stony. He could not tolerate the pain. He said that he was very much worried about the people who had to walk along those roads as it would be painful for them too!

Considering all this, he ordered his servants to cover the roads in the whole country with leather so that the people of his kingdom can walk comfortably.

The king’s ministers were stunned to hear his order as it would mean that thousands of cows would have to be slaughtered in order to get sufficient quantity of leather. And it would cost a huge amount of money also.

Finally, a wise man from the ministry came to the king and said that he had another idea. The king asked what the alternative was. The minister said, “Instead of covering the roads with leather, why don’t you just have a piece of leather cut in appropriate shape to cover your feet?”

The king was very much surprised by his suggestion and applauded the wisdom of the minister. He ordered a pair of leather shoes for himself and requested all his countrymen also to wear shoes.

Moral: Instead of trying to change the world, we should try to change ourselves.

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## The hungry fox who got caught in the tree trunk

Once upon a time, there was a hungry fox that was looking for something to eat. He was very hungry. No matter how hard he tried, the fox could not find food. Finally he went to the edge of the forest and searched there for food. Suddenly he caught sight of a big tree with a hole in it.

Inside the hole was a package. The hungry fox immediately thought that there might be food in it, and became very happy. He jumped into the hole. When he opened the package, he saw slices of bread, meat and fruit in it!

An old woodcutter had placed the food in the tree trunk before he began to cut down trees in the forest. He was going to eat it for his lunch.

The fox happily began to eat. After he finished eating, he felt thirsty and decided to leave the hole and drink some water from a nearby spring. However, no matter how hard he tried, he could not get out of the hole. Do you know why? Yes, the fox had eaten so much food that he became too big to fit through the hole!

The fox was very sad and upset. He told himself, “I wish I had thought a little before jumping into the hole.”

Yes children, this is the result of doing something without thinking about it first.

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## Greedy Boy

Sam and Tom were identical twins. They were so identical that even their mother found it difficult to distinguish one from the other, at least during their initial days on earth.

However, they were very different from each other when it came to everything other than their appearance. Sam had no friends, while Tom was a great friendship maker. Sam loved sweets, but Tom loved spicy food and detested sweets. Sam was mommy’s pet and Tom was daddy’s pet. While Sam was generous and selfless, Tom was greedy and selfish!

As Sam and Tom grew up, their father wanted to share his fortune equally amongst them. However, Tom did not agree and he argued that whoever proved to be more intelligent and strong would have to get a bigger share of the wealth.

Sam agreed. Their father decided to organize a competition between the two. He asked the two sons to walk as long as they could, and return home before sunset. The wealth would be divided in proportion to the distance covered. As a rule of the competition, they were not permitted to carry a watch to keep track of the time.

The following day, Sam and Tom set out to walk. It was a rather sunny day. Sam walked slowly and steadily, while Tom broke into a sprint as he was bent on winning the race and also winning a greater portion of his father’s wealth.

Sam knew that it would be ideal to walk as far as possible till noon and start for home at noon as it would take the same amount of time to walk back home. Knowing this, Sam decided to turn back for home at noon so as reach home on time.

However, Tom, with his greed to earn more wealth, did not attempt to return home even after mid-noon. He walked twice as long as Sam, and thought he would still be able to return home before sunset. He hurried back when he saw the sun turn orange. Unfortunately, he could not even make it half way home as the sun started to set. Slowly darkness engulfed his path and he had to drag his tired feet back home.

He had lost the race. Only because of his greed.