Few things in this world are as fascinating as the idea of manipulating the world with supernatural powers (By the way, the last Harry Potter movie is phenomenal. Definitely check it out if you haven’t)
On a more serious note, our Chinese team pulled off an English translation of a traditional Chinese folktale. Focused around a young man who gets hold of a magic paintbrush, the story holds a profound moral lesson.
Although this short story primarily targets children as its audience, it serves as a great reminder in this morally unscrupulous world.
Enjoy! <The story is provided in three other languages( French, Spanish, and Korean) in case you need it>
Sorry. One more. This story’s going to be published in the popular children’s magazine The Skipping Stones in September. This is a premiere, if you will 🙂 so feel privileged.
Now really enjoy!
The Magic Paintbrush
Once upon a time, a young man named Ma Liang lived in a small village in China. Ma was a hard worker, but he still could not make much money. Everyday, he had to help a rich man named Deng Ding tend his cattle just to get enough to feed his family.
Ma often got bored while watching over the cows. To entertain himself, he would take out his paper and start drawing. He spent his time drawing beautiful pictures of the mountains, the valleys, and the country. With his amazing art, Ma could live with having a boring job.
Once, after another long day of work, Ma walked slowly back to his home after an unusually hard day of work. He went straight to his bed and immediately fell asleep. Soon, however, he had a dream.
In the dream, an old man walked toward Ma on the field where the poor man watched the cattle. He seemed familiar, but Ma was not sure. Looking at Ma, the old man handed him an old paintbrush. He told him, “This is a magic paintbrush. Although it looks old, it can bring whatever you draw to life! I have seen your hard work and your kind heart, so I want you to use this to help your poor neighbors.” Surprised, Ma took the paintbrush from the wise old man. After that, the old man faded away, and Ma woke up with a start. Unsure of what to believe, Ma looked around. On top of his desk, Ma found the same paintbrush the old man gave to him in his dream.
From that day on, he used the paintbrush wherever people needed help. When he saw that the poor farmers had no water to water the fields, he drew a river, and it came to life. The people could now bring water from the river to the field saving them time and energy. When he saw that it was difficult for people to till the hard land, he drew a cow for them, and it also came to life. With the cow, the poor people did not have to tire themselves out so much to till the soil. True to his promise, Ma used his magic paintbrush to help.
Soon, many people in his village found out about the magic paintbrush. When Deng Ding, the rich man for whom Ma tended the cattle, heard about the magic paint brush that turns everything into life, Deng became very curious. Deng was a greedy man, and he wanted to steal the paint brush from the young man. Deng knew that he could make much more money by using the paintbrush’s power, so he sent his servants to Ma’s home and arrested him. After locking Ma up, Deng went to his house and took the paintbrush.
After getting the paintbrush, Deng invited many of his closest friends to come to his home. He wanted to flaunt the power of the paintbrush before them. After standing up in front of the curious crowd, Deng began painting pictures. After he drew a picture of a dog, though, it did not come to life. Surprised, Deng drew a bird. Again, the picture did not come to life. Angry, and a little embarrassed, Deng sent his servants to get Ma and force him to draw with the magic paintbrush.
When the servants came back, they took Ma and threw him in front of Deng. Deng said to him, “I know about the magic of your paintbrush. I have found out that only you can use its powers. If you draw some pictures for me and turn them to life, I will set you free.”
Having worked for Deng for many years, Ma knew that he was a selfish man. He did not want to help him until he came up with an idea. He said to the bad man, “I can help you, but you must keep your part of the deal to set me free. Now, tell me what you want me to draw.”
When Ma said this, Deng became excited and said, “I want a golden mountain. I want to go there to gather gold and get even richer. If you do this, I promise that I will set you free!”
After being untied, Ma walked outside. Instead of drawing a gold mountain, however, the young man drew a sea. Deng became furious and yelled, “Why did you draw a sea? I do not want this. I want a golden mountain. Draw it now or I will arrest you again!”
Faced with this threat, Ma drew the golden mountain in the very middle of the sea. Deng saw this and became very excited. He said, “Draw a ship quickly! I want to go there right now!” Ma quietly drew a big ship. Deng jumped into the ship and called for his friends and family to join him. Together, the bad group sailed onto the island of gold.
When Ma saw that the selfish people had reached the island, he began to draw gigantic waves. He drew them so that they destroyed the ship, leaving Deng and his friends stuck on the island with no way back. Although he knew they couldn’t hear him, he called out, “You caused this to happen! If you had only helped us rather than kidnap me and force me to do what you want, I would have gladly given you some gold. Now, you have been punished to live on that island alone, with more gold than you could ever spend!”
After that, Ma returned to his home, where he continued to help the people of his village whenever they needed it. When he grew old, he passed the paintbrush onto his son, and he passed it to his son. Along with this heirloom, they passed down the legend of the magic paintbrush, keeping it alive and spreading it to the rest of China and beyond.
Click here for the Spanish Translation.
Click here for the original story in Chinese.
Click here for the Korean Translation.
Click here for the French Translation.