Greed: n, an intense and selfish desire for something esp. wealth, power or food.
Greed is all consuming. I can only imagine how it feels to be greedy, how it is to intensely desire something. In this little story, the reader meets a Rajah consumed by his greed that nothing is enough. His greed is only insatiable. Despite having “the fattest of cows, the roundest of pigs, the juiciest melons, the sweetest sugar, the finest of silk, and the purest of silver and gold” he is not satisfied. He covets the best and he is willing to do anything to have the best.
And so, as his eyes stare into the sky he lays eyes on the whitest of clouds. Since he is the greediest of Rajahs, the reader can only assume he wants the whitest cloud. He presents this problem to the wisest of men and while everyone knew—the wise men and the readers—-that this was an impossible task, we watch as the rajah is presented with a solution. To get the whitest clouds one must build the biggest of kites. Here, I am struck by a simple truth: that greed can make one unreasonable and illogical.
Greed makes us demand the impossible. In the case of the Rajah he demands what he wants and threatens people to get what he wants. He does not see the impossibility of owning a cloud, all he knows is that he wants it. And so we watch him be a victim of his greed.
This little book won the First Prize for Short Story for Children from the Don Carlos Palanca Award, a prestigious award given to Filipino writers. While a simple story, it is a tale reminiscent of the fairy tale like stories I heard and loved in my childhood. Even the artwork is beautiful. The art work and the way the story is presented are reminiscent of Persian carpets and Islamic Art. I especially love the details the artist/illustrator put into the illustrations. I would let the images speak for themselves.