Sorrow Ages Man
Narrated by Worku Alemu
Once upon a time there was a man who had a dog. The dog was pregnant. One day when he was going out of his house, the dog was sleeping. When the man passed by her, he heard a sound from the foetus and was astounded.
“How can the foetus make such a sound? What a miracle it is. There is a well-known philosopher. I should go to him and ask him about this miracle,” he thought.
And he went.
When he reached a certain village he met a man who was very old and bent down almost on all fours.
“Are you the philosopher?” he asked him. “I have come to consult you with my problem. A weird thing happened to me.”
“No, I’m only a young man. My father is tilling the land and ploughing." (Ploughing needs great strength). "You can go to my father. He is living in a certain place. He can solve the mystery. Go and consult him.”
“How can you say you are a young man? You look not less than one hundred. If he is your father he must be more than one hundred years old.”
But off he went.
Then he met a middle-aged man.
“Are you the philosopher who solves problems? I went to a very old man and he told me in mockery that you are his father.”
“No, he didn’t mock. He’s right. I’m not a philosopher. I can’t solve your problem. Go over yonder mountains to a certain village and you will meet my father who will solve the mystery. Go to him. You will find him training horses.”
And he went there. He was even more surprised. He went on to the third man and he sees a young man, training horses and riding them in full strength.
“Are you the philosopher?”
“Yes,” he said.
“When I met the first man he said he was your grandson, and the man ploughing was your son. How could you be their father or grandfather since you are so young?”
“Yes, it is true. The one who ploughs is my son and the old man is my grandson.”
“How can this be true?” the man asked.
“Come, I will show you,” he said and he took him home to serve him coffee.
“Bring the philosopher’s chair,” he ordered his wife when they arrived.
She brought it.
“I didn’t mean this one. Bring the other one,” he said.
She took it to the next room and brought a chair, but it was the same chair.
“No, it’s not this one. Bring the other one,” he says again.
She goes in and brings the same chair.
He sits on it. He tells his wife to bring cheese. She brings it.
“I don’t mean the cheese of the black cow, but of the red cow.”
She brings the same cheese.
“Bring the cheese of the white cow,” he orders again.
She brings the same cheese.
They ate lunch. He explains then.
“I told her to bring my chair three times and she did. I told her to bring my cheese three times and she did. They take my orders. And because she takes my orders, I live at peace with my wife. We don’t argue and antagonise each other.
Now let me tell you why my son is older and my grandson is very much older than me. When I order my son he brings everything and does everything as I tell him. When I tell my horse, “Come,” he comes. When I say, “Stop,” he stops. Everyone obeys my orders. My ploughing ox comes when I call him and I do my farming perfectly and live with peace of mind. I get good harvests. Even the cows give milk by their own will. So everything becomes successful, year in and year out.
My son is older than I am. When he calls his horse, his horse runs away, but somehow he manages to ride it. His ploughing ox doesn’t want to do his job, but somehow he gets him and ploughs his land the hard way. His wife doesn’t take orders, but he makes her angry by some argument. He always struggles to get something done. He can do nothing confidently, only the hard way. Things don’t run smoothly, but he manages it somehow. That’s why he’s older than me.
My grandson is so unfortunate in catching his horse that it comes and kicks him. The ploughing ox doesn’t do his work peacefully, and butts him with his horns. His wife doesn’t give him food and drink when he wants, and she doesn’t let him sleep in peace. She nags him. She “burns his stomach” with a torrent of words and makes him angry, so he sleeps without supper. He suffers a lot. He’s afraid to ask her for coffee. She serves him only when she wants to. He worries, thinking of his bad kicking horse, who might kick someone so he will go to jail. He’s worried to bring a friend home to have coffee with him because she will be angry. And he has to pay a fine when his horse breaks people’s legs. He lives in great unhappiness. That’s why he’s so old and weak, though he is my grandson. That’s why things have happened in a reverse way. (And that’s an answer to your question. Things can be young when they are old.)
So the interpretation is that this foetus will be very wise, and his grandchildren will be wise. A puppy will be born who is wiser than his father. While the mother is asleep she should be barking, but the foetus cried out and will be wiser than his father. (Mother and puppy are symbols of life in general.)”
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