29 December 2015

The Mark of Cain - PART I

The story below is nothing new. It is from the Bible. But, as a story teller, I had to regale a group of tweens and I thought I should make it imaginative and visual without really pushing in the didactic angle to it. Feel free to use it to entertain kids as a story telling, but please do give me the courtesy through a simple acknowledgement.


(Anger and After!)

We all know that a star is a five-pointed celestial object. It twinkles. It shines. It can be seen brightly at night, in the backdrop of a clear sky. It is also most commonly used to identify direction by sailors at sea. Our teachers use them to reward us at school for excellence. Now, do you know who gave the first ever star and who first received the very first star in this world? Nooooo!

Have you heard of the Mark of Cain? Nooooo again? Ok... some say the Mark of Cain was not really a physical mark at all. Some others say it was not given on the body, but as accompaniment, to identify. Whatever it is, Cain received it and we can be sure of it. Considering it was given by God, we can be sure it ought to be a STAR... because... God is soooo kind he wouldn't give anything bad. Even just as a mark of identification. For protection. I see you are all getting primed up and curious. So, here goes!

The Story of the first human being that received The First Ever Star! Only, he did not have it pinned on his shirt sleeve. He did not have it drawn on his notebook either, because unfortunately shirts had not been invented, nor notebooks. It was so long and so far back. Unfortunately, also, he did not receive it for doing a good deed either!

Is this getting suspenseful? Are you getting curious?

Have you heard of Cain and Abel? They were the first two children on earth, born to Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve, after they were tempted by the Dark Angel, who took the form of a serpent, and after they were sent out from the beautiful Garden of Eden, lived a normal life like you and I. They had two children: two sons - Cain and Abel.

Cain spent his life farming, and Abel spent his life sheep-rearing. Cain brought home grains and vegetables to eat and Abel brought home milk and meat to eat. It was a perfect combination. Father Adam, Mother Eve, brothers Cain and Abel, their beautiful, fertile, lush farm and the rolling, undulating hills with green, green grassy meadows for sheep to run around; for sheep to eat grass, grow fat and juicy. However, happiness does not last forever.

In our most excited and happy moments, we forget ourselves. In our moments of excessive self-belief and achievements, we forget He who helps us. Cain did too!  After all, he was human, like us. To Err is Human. He erred. To forgive IS divine, but if the error is that of forgetting He who created us, God chooses to remind us. God chose to remind Cain. He punished him. How...?

God sent him away from his parents. Away. Alone. Far Away. However, God is kind. He does not totally let us down. In order to protect Cain, he put a mark on his head. To remind others that Cain should not be touched or hurt. He put a star on his head. Various people say various things, but a STAR sounds a good thing to put. Especially if you want to mark someone outstanding. Only, in this case, as a reminder of his Sin. SO what was the act of sin Cain committed that upset God so much?

It starts thus: like we all do, Cain and Abel grew up playing and having fun when young. As they grew up, one day Adam called them: 'Cain, Abel! Listen up!! You both have grown up. You too are fine young lads now and strong. You will have to start working at our ranch and bring food for the family.'

Cain and Abel listened. When Pa says something, we listen. They must have said, 'Yes, papa. We understand.' But Cain probably did not fully agree or appreciate. He was not disobedient or anything, but was just that bit fiercely proud. Sometimes, as they say, Pride precedes Fall.

Anyway, Cain was asked to be a farmer. He stayed home closer to parents, taking care of the lands and growing wheat for bread, grains and lentils for stew, oats and barley too. He was happy that he did not have to travel and get burnt in the sun. He wasn't very adventurous. Also, he got to keep his parents more. Abel... he went out.

Abel was asked to rear sheep, tend to lambs and ewes. He was the wanderer. No major adventure or anything, but just that he had to travel. It required him to roam about. All over the hills and mountains, greens and glades, wherever grass was to be found. After all, they were the God's special inhabitants of this earth and the entire world that they know was their ranch. Abel must have felt happy to be let to roam, while Cain toiled at home. Only, roaming and shepherding is not always fun. Not when it involves running behind sheep that stray everywhere. Yet, he did what he was told with obedience. So.

Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherd. Cain, who must have felt happy being home... was unhappy. Abel, who must be sulking because he was to chase sheep all day long... was happy. We are what we choose to be!

Why was Cain unhappy? The land he had to grow crop were not exactly completely fertile. It was dry and often sandy. At times, he had to dig out rocks. Rains were scarce too. During summer, when the sun beats down hard on your back, as you work, it is not fun. It just is not fun, out to be working in the sun. Remember, shirts had not been invented!

Abel? oh, he was happy; young, cute eyes, curly locks, legs grown strong due to roaming freely around, smile at the corner of his lips... you get the picture. Every time he came back home, he brouhgt along fat and tender lamb. There would be fire in the open at nights. The family of four got together; fire and stake, juicy and succulent tender meat, to savour and eat. Abel was the apple of Adam's eye, the fav of Eve's heart and in general, the toast of the family. Except...

Cain resented it. Would you not? In his place? He toils hard to make harvest out of a land that boils, is sandy and tough; and here comes Abel... takes away the attention. Thus...

One day, Adam beckoned Cain, 'The harvest must be ready. Go get them. Separate the chaff from the wheat. Make a portion of your best produce as offering to God. Then, bring the rest.' Cain, who never generally spoke against Papa, said, ' But, Papa! Why should we give the best away? Even if it's God! It is a tough soil, I have worked it out all by myself. Don't we deserve the best?'

Adam said, 'We deserve the rest, the best to God we reserve!'

'But... but..."

Adam had turned his back.  'It is He who shines the sun, gives rain, tends to the crops when we're asleep at night. o to him we offer the best. It's thanks giving.'

'But, but, but...'

'NO.'Adam was firm. 'This is getting tiresome.' He turned to Cain. 'Remember, Cain. He is everywhere. He sees everything. He knows everything. And when He's upset, he will get angry. So! When you've reaped the harvest, give HIM the best and bring home the rest.' Roger and out!!

Disappointed, deflated, but not sulking, Cain asked, 'How do I offer him, Papa?'

Adam smiled. He must have put his arm around Cain affectionately, around Cain's strong shoulders, big and rugged as Cain was. All the hard work must have naturally made him a big and strong lad. 'My dear son, Cain, simple. Take a portion - a big one -  of the harvest, place it on the top of the flat part of the big rock that we see over there,' he pointed in the distance and continued, 'and God, seeing our obedience, will accept. After that, you bring home the rest. Brother Abel will be back tonight too. Then, tonight, after he too makes his best offering to God, we'll celebrate.'

It sort of made Cain wince. Abel! Oh!! Oooh!!! So he went, heaviness in his heart, plodding and trudging; when you are low at heart, your energy is down. Cain went. He reaped the harvest. Low in spirits, he couldn't care. There was no song during harvest. So he did not separate the wheat from the chaff and kept a good portion of produce on the flat surface of the rock, came home.

Abel too, close to sun down, came home.

Eve was outside, for some little reason....

Author's Note: It's getting too long, I know. So I am breaking it into two. Part I Ends. Part II...

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