Inspired by the Tittha Sutta
The night was still and fresh, and not a sound was to be heard—a perfect time for the first snowflake to make its appearance, and soon it was followed by many more until the whole village was wrapped up in winter’s soft embrace.
But as the sun rose and the first shutters opened onto the village square, it was not the snow that got the villagers running out of their homes but the curious mystery that had arrived with it that night. For in the middle of the square stood a gigantic, rectangular parcel that towered above every single rooftop. That it was a parcel was clear, for it was enveloped in white silk and long, golden ribbons shimmered down its sides. What was not so clear was how it had landed there—for not a single footprint surrounded it, and yet it must have arrived after the snowfall because its spectacular wrapping remained intact.
A meeting had been called between the village elders as soon as they were alerted of the mystery and it had been unanimously agreed that this was a matter for the armed forces. Unfortunately, despite the urgency of the situation, it would be at least a day before the required forces could be dispatched to the village and so—for the remainder of the day—the parcel stood tall and silent, dominating the square.
Silence, however, was not the way of the villagers who took it upon themselves to find out what the parcel was hiding within its erect walls. Being good villagers they obeyed the strictest orders to keep a ten-meter distance from the object—but this did not detract them from debating what was inside intensely.
“It’s a present from the state,” said an elderly man with a thick beard. “The big shots noticed all the work we put into working the land this year and this is their way of saying thanks.” He raised a clenched fist to the sky as a sign of accomplishment and his tanned, muscled forearm indicated that he was indeed a hard-working man.
This statement grasped the attention of a young idealist who, unlike the former, spent most of his days passively dreaming up new ideas which never came to fruition. “He’s right, it’s probably a statue of some sort!” the man exclaimed and he grinned around the crowd to ensure everyone had heard his brilliant guess.
“What use would a statue be to us?” demanded the school headmistress in the same, shrill voice she used to address her pupils. She shook her head sternly and yet her blunt, straight hair did not move an inch. “No, if it’s a gift from the state it better have an actual purpose”.
“I know, it’s a slide!” shouted a young girl, at which all the children erupted into cheers. The next few minutes was a battle between grown-ups and children and only after a lot of reasoning (and some physical might) were the latter prevented from running up to the object.
As the crowd eventually quietened down, a harsh, confident voice emerged. “Fools, the whole lot of you. Talking about statues, slides, the state… Nonsense! I’ll tell you right now it’s the anarchists who are responsible for this, and this here is a bomb”. A few people gasped and backed away, and all eyes turned on the old lady who had spoken and was so bent over that her cane appeared to be the only thing stopping her nose from touching the ground. She smiled satisfactorily at the response she had provoked.
“What sort of shape is that for a bomb?” asked the leader of a group of teenage students who had been quietly but furiously debating the origin of the parcel amongst themselves. “Nah, this is all just some big joke. In fact, I’ll bet you anything the parcel is empty,” a statement which drowned amongst claims and theories of divine or even alien intervention.
And so the crowd continued all day and into the evening, until finally it was declared that there would be a curfew that night and that everyone should return to their homes until the armed forces arrived the next day. Tired and exasperated by the arguing, one villager after another made their way to their warm homes. As they settled into their beds, each felt reassured in the knowledge that tomorrow the great mystery would be uncovered and they would at long last be proven right.