What is age?

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This thoughtful story is by Mashal and his English tutor.  Mashal lives in Afghanistan and his native language is Dari.  He has been studying English for 4 years.  His favorite game is called “Fairy Sails.”  A fairy sail is written by two people writing each other on the Internet. The tutor writes a few words and sends them up to the stars, around the moon, across the night sky and into the computer of the student. The student then writes more words. The story sails back and forth until it is done. 

ONCE there was a boy named Ahmed who wanted to be . . . 

     . . . a good boy, but Ahmed did not have a good friend. The boys in his school did bad things. Ahmed did not want to do those things, but he wanted to have a friend.                                    
     There was a wise, old man in Ahmed's village so he went to the man and said, “Please, can you tell me how to find a good friend?”                                
     The wise man said, “What do you think? Can you be a friend with me?”                          
     Ahmed said, "Of course I can be a friend with you because you are wise and good. But I thought I should have a friend who is my age.”                     
     The old man said, "Why must your friend be your age? Is it important?”              
     Ahmed answered, "Yes, age is very important. We still can be friends, but I need friends my own age!”                 
     The old man replied, "Tell me, what is better—a new coat or an old coat?”               
     Ahmad said, “A new coat is better than an old coat.”               
     The old man looked kindly at Ahmed and answered, "Most people say a new coat is better. But a new coat is not better if the new coat is badly made and the old coat is well made! But now I have another question, What is better, a new book or an old book?”                 
     Ahmad thought a minute and said, “The new book and old book don’t have a difference because we can read both. But I still think a new book is better. We want new books in our school.”  
     The old man answered, "But what if the new book is full of lies? If a new book is full of lies and if an old book is wise and true, then it would be better to read old books, yes?"           
     Ahmed said to the old man, “Yes, you speak true. Really quality is better than new or old age. But, wise man, I would still love a good friend my own age.” 

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com