The Father’s Will
Narrated by Imahoy Zewditu Wudineh
A father had three children.
“I am now in my old age awaiting death. I’ll tell you something and you will do as I say. You have to fulfil my orders,” he said.
And they agreed.
Then, without their knowledge, he got three boxes. In one of the boxes he put money, and he sealed it. In the second he put soil, and had it sealed. And in the third, he put gold, and he did all this without their knowledge. Then, after sealing the three boxes, he died and the burial service was conducted and the elders got together to discuss his will.
He had written their names on the boxes.
So each one of them got according to their names but they were very surprised when they saw the contents.
“Why did he do this? We can’t object because he told us not to.”
So they went to talk to a wise man.
On their way to the wise man they came to a riverThe nun narrating the story explained that the river, the grassland and the barren land in this story are symbols of the fact that God can do anything and that things are not under mankind’s control. where they saw a crocodile licking drops of water from the grass. And they were surprised.
“What does this mean?”
So they went on.
Then they came to grassland, very green, where a very thin horse was standing, unharnessed, with a free mouth so he could have eaten.
“What does this mean?” they wondered. “Why does this horse become skinny when there is this green grass in front of him?”
So they went on.
On their third adventure they came to a land which was barren and they saw a huge, fat donkey. And they were amazed.
“What could this mean? A crocodile licking the grass, a skinny horse in a green field, a fat donkey in barren land – it’s a puzzle for us.”
So they came to the wise man/soothsayer, who solved problems for people.
“What’s your problem?” the wise man asked.
They told him, “Well, our father gave us a will. One inherits money, one soil and one gold. So we don’t want to quarrel because we promised not to. That’s why we have come.”
The wise man said, “Go and see my older brother.”
They were amazed, because the first wise man was so old. They came to the older brother and told him their problems. He was a middle-aged man. They were surprised. His older brother walked bent and with a stick.
But he said, “I can’t solve this. Go and see my elder brother.”
And so they went.
So the elder brother was very young and he was ploughing.
“This is a miracle!” they said.
They were amazed.
He took them home to his house. Food was served. He ordered his wife to bring food.
Tradition is that you eat the meat at the end. You should eat gravy at the beginning with injeraInjera is a flat, round bread usually made from tef, a grain cultivated in the highlands of Ethiopia.. You eat the bones at the end. But he did the reverse. He chewed the bones, which should have been eaten last, and at the end he ate the gravy.
Then he said, “Thank God!”
“You have seen how I ate?” he asked them.
“Yes,” they replied.
He says again, “I ate all the bones before the gravy, which is not our custom. Did you see?”
They said, “Yes.”
He asked, “Do you know why I did that?”
“No,” they replied.
“It is because you never know when God comes to you, or rather the hour of your death. No one knows this. So I ate the bones first. We live a short time and never know when we will die. Nobody knows how God comes to us and takes us away, so I took the best first, as I was worried in case He came. If He takes my soul, I will not get it. We human beings run here and there and think a lot, but the decision is God’s. However we toil, whatever we do to make our life’s will, at last it’s God’s will.”
He asked them why they came and they told him.
After hearing them saying it again, the wise man said, “Your father gave you a good will. You,” he said to one of them, “are destined to be a farmer. So your father gave you soil (land). You,” he said to the one with the gold, “are destined to be a merchant, so he gave you gold. And you,” to the third one, “are destined to own flocks and herds, so he gave you money to buy cattle. In addition to this, he has suggested for you that all three of you will get money.”
“How?” they asked him.
“Just go back now to your village and you’ll understand.”
And so they went.
They took their portions: one bought cattle, one took land and the last one the gold. The one with the cattle didn’t have grassland to feed his cattle, so he asked his brother.
“No, the land is mine. You have cattle. If you want me to give you land, give me some of your cattle.”
So his brother gave him some cattle and got the land.
The merchant did all his trade and got money, but had no land to build a house, so he went to his brother.
When he saw him he said, “My father gave me land and gave you money. But I don’t have money.”
So the merchant gave him money, and the farmer gave him land and so they agreed.
The most deprived of them was the one who had soil. Cattle you can sell for money. The other had gold, but one had only land, and he was the most deprived. But he got money and cattle from his brothers. Also the three of them lived in peace getting what they needed.
The first of the Ten Commandments is, “Respect your father.” Children in the past were good and listened to their parents and never quarrelled and so they lived happily. These days people disagree with each other and make a world of misery.
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