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Old Morg Ghidahl

Old Morg Ghidahl was a story teller.

The type of storyteller that blew words like smoke rings into the air in front of you where they played on his breath and danced and weaved. I can never remember listening to his stories, rather it’s the feelings I remember. The pain of lost love, the loneliness of old age, fear, joy. I remember sitting on the floor by his log fire, patting his cat when he first told me the story about The Boy with no Head.

The Boy with no Head was a one of a kind. When he was born the doctor said he should be sent to an institution but his parents would not agree, determined to love him as if he was like any other child

At home life was fine for the boy with no head. His parents happily shared heads, each taking turns to lend their own to their little boy, their hearts filling with joy when the boy eagerly put on the head and
talked for hours on end, kissing them repeatedly, eating, tasting, licking. But outside their little house, like was harder.

Just going to the store was bad enough, the stares and whispers. It was easy enough for the boy to ignore this, carries high in his dads arms, but school was a different matter. He was not that good at his studies, never able to retain anything he was taught, and he was absolutely terrible at sports, catching a ball becoming more a case of dumb luck than coordination. The other boys ridiculed him, the teachers had no patience for him, and there were none he could call a friend.

As he grew the boy realised he needed to carve his own path in life if he was to ever be content and with that he farewelled his tearful parents and went traveling.

Having no head he had to learn new ways of dealing with people and he did this through his hands. In fact it got to the point where he could convey more meaning and feeling through his hands than most normal people could with their words and expressions.

As he continued to travel so did the stories of the boy. It was said that he had saved a wealthy landowner’s daughter from a crazed horse with the touch of his hand, and that he had healed an old mans life long pain after massaging his temples.

Eventually word of the boys feats reached the ears of the emperor of India.

The young emperor was grieving the loss of his bride and had not eaten, drank or slept for days, in fact he had sent the whole country into a state of mourning.

When he heard of the boy with no head he thought at least those healing hands may ease the sadness in his heart and he sent a message for the boy to visit him at once.

Upon arrival, the boy was led to the emperor’s chamber and as he massaged he could feel the depth of the pain contained within the poor fellow.

Within minutes, the emperor raced from his room with a determined look in his eyes.

“I will build the greatest shrine ever conceived as a tribute to my lost love”, he exclaimed. Which he did, and he named it the Taj Mahal, named after his love Mumtaz Mahal.

When Morg finished a story he would sit quietly waiting for me to see through the words of smoke back to the present. To see the effect his stories had on others gave Morg his greatest joy, then with a small twist the head was off and plopped onto my lap.

When I put my head back on I would always be wearing his smile.

Old Morg Ghidahl

Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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