Are you sure of what you want? (3)


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ONCE there lived a Father with four children: three sons and a daughter.  One day, the sons came to their Father and said, “Father, give us each a gift!  Give us whatever we want.” 

    The Father said, “As you wish.  Tell me what it is you want so much.” 

giftscarf

       The shawl.  InterestEng.photo

     The oldest son said quickly, “I want to be the strongest man in all our land.  As strong as the mountains!”  Then he looked at his brothers and laughed, thinking that he asked for the best gift. The next son said, “I want to be the most powerful man in all the land. More powerful than any ruler who has ever lived.” And he looked at his brothers and laughed, thinking that they would be afraid of him.  The youngest son said, “I want to be the most intelligent man in all the land so that even the smartest men on earth must come to me for answers.” And he looked at his brothers and laughed, thinking that they would be jealous of him.

     The Father answered, “My sons, are you sure you want these things?  And all his sons answered, “Yes, we are very sure.”  And so, the Father answered, “As you wish.”  

     Then he called his daughter and said, “My daughter, is there anything you want?”  The daughter said, “Please, Father, give me something so that I will never be made to forget to be kind.”  The Father nodded  his head [moved his head up and down] and said, “As you wish. Is there nothing else you want?”  She quickly answered “No,” and then he gave her a white shawl. 


     Within a short time, all the land was as afraid of the oldest son’s strength, as if he was a wild bear. No one would go near him. Only the mountains were not afraid of him, and so he lived in the mountains all alone. As for the middle son, he became so powerful that everyone was afraid of him, too. No one spoke to him, for fear of making him angry. Only the desert [a place where there is only sun and sand] was not afraid of him, and so he lived in the desert all alone. The youngest son was so smart that no one wanted to talk to him for fear of looking stupid in front of others. And so he lived alone on an island, talking with the wind.

     One day the daughter put on her shawl and went to the mountains. There she found her brother and said, “My dear brother, I fear you are very cold here. Come put my shawl around you and be warmed and come home. Be content [happy, satisfied, peaceful, pleased] with the strength of love.” When her brother heard the kindness of her words and felt the warmth of her shawl, he gladly returned. Next, the daughter went to her middle brother and said, “My dear brother, I fear you have become very weak in the hot desert. Take my shawl and cover your head from the hot sun. Come home, please, and be content with the power of love.” When the brother felt the sincerity of her words [that she really meant what she said] and felt the comfort of her shawl, he also gladly returned. Finally, the daughter found a boy to take her in a boat to her brother on the island. She said, “My dear brother, I fear you must be very lonely here. Come, put my shawl around you and feel loved. Come home, please, and be content with the wisdom of love.” 

     But the brother said, “I am too intelligent to believe in love! Bah! How foolish you are! Love is for silly, old women and crazy people! It hasn’t saved our world from war, hunger or sorrow!” And he refused to return. The daughter went sadly home and for many days stayed in her room all alone. One day her Father came to her and said, “The gift I gave you is a good gift.” That is all he said. 

     And so, year after year, the daughter returned to her brother on the island and said, “I fear you must be so lonely here all alone. Come, put my shawl around you and feel loved. Come home, please, and be content with the wisdom of love.”  But year after year he refused to come.  

     Finally, one year, the sister arrived on the island and before she could even speak, her brother said, “All these years I have been unkind to you.  I have laughed at your love. I have refused to believe that it has any meaning . . . and still you come.  You have finally won me over. I believe in this love of yours.” And her brother returned home a wise man. 

     Soon after, the Father called all his children together and said, “Tell me, my children, what you have learned from your lives.”  The oldest son said, “To yield to love is to be truly strong.” The middle son said, “To be governed by love is the meaning of power.”  And the youngest son said, “To believe in love is wisdom.” 

     Finally, he turned to his daughter.  She said, “Father, I have learned that even when it is impossible to love, even when your love is refused, it is still possible to be kind. . . .  But, Father, if you please, there is something else I would like.” 

     “What is it that you want,” asked the Father.

      “Please, Father, I want that everyone in the world be given something so that they will never be made to forget to be kind.”

     And the Father answered, “As you wish.” 

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - July 2021 §  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 photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com