Life in these strange times: observations

Cleaning and reorganizing have never been favorite activities for me. But, now, as I get rid of the excess and the junk, I am finding little treasures. Things that I had forgotten about. A large coin from the Philippines worth ten piso, which, apparently, is the equivalent of twenty cents U.S. A two-dollar coin from Australia. Not spendable here, but treasures.

Speaking about treasures, there are those that exist that can’t be touched, measured, or quantified. But you know that they are treasures. Giggles and gasps of oohs and ahs and hugs. These are all treasures. Especially the hugs. The pandemic keeps us from touching one another. It really is to protect us from a disease that takes our breath away. I know a man, diagnosed with COVID-19, who had to go to the hospital because he got sicker, not better. He has now been diagnosed with pneumonia, but he is recuperating at home. He is fighting this disease.

Being sick is hard, but being sick with something that takes your breath away is frightening. When I had pneumonia back in late 2007, I was scared and I believed that I was about to die. My mother sat up with me at night and she read folk tales and fairy tales to me to take away the fear.

So today, I will share a story to take away the fear. The story originates in Tajikistan, in the Pamir Mountains. In my imaginary adventure, the train that I am riding is heading west, toward the Pamir Mountains. I sit on the train, watching the scenery in western India. I’m eating methi thelpa, which is a type of flatbread, with quick mango chudna. And I’m listening to a digital recording of a storyteller, who tells this story from the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan:

Once upon a time, there was an old woman, who lived with her
very lazy son in a village in Tajikistan. The old woman was very poor, having
no cattle and just a single hen. Every day, the woman collected the eggs and
placed them in a basket.
The lazy son, on the other hand, liked to sleep better than
anything else. He spent as ,much time as possible sprawled on his bed, snoring.
Even if there was hail and thunder and lighting, the young man didn’t wake up.
He was a champion sleeper. He figured that, if there were a contest for the
Best Sleeper of Tajikistan, he would win it handily and would then move on to
the international competition.
But, in reality, he slept, while his elderly mother woke up
early to collect the eggs that her one and only chicken lay.
The old woman was beginning to tire of her son’s laziness. One
day, she poked her son as he slept happily on the bed. He did not wake up so she poured
cold water on his wrinkled shirt, and he was so startled that he woke up.
“Son,” she said. “I am old and weary. I must work hard every
day, but my bones don’t want to, anymore. They need rest. You are grown now,
and it is time for you to decide how you shall earn your living. You need to
learn a profession, like the other young men. They grow cotton and they plant
gardens and they trade things or do handcrafts. All of the other men have
learned a profession, and it is your turn now to do some work. My dear son. I
love you so much, but it is time for you to help. I want you to go to the
market and sell the eggs in this basket. You could earn some coins.
“Go now. Right away. We need some money,” the old woman
said. Her young son stretched and then got off of the bed and stood. She handed
him the basket, containing the eggs. He started off walking to the market. He
kept walking and walking and, oh! What a long walk it was to the market! The
young man had become so tired that he could barely take another step. He
thought that he would do a bad job at selling the eggs if he were too tired to
bargain a good price. Just then, he saw a very tall plane tree. It was a lovely
shade tree, he thought, and a good place for a nice nap. He set the basket on
the grass and lay down underneath the plane tree.
“This will just be a short nap,” thought the young man, who
let his natural laziness take over. He closed his eyes and fell asleep
immediately. He was very talented at sleeping. He began to dream about how he
would become very rich at the egg selling business. It wouldn’t be long before
he became the king of eggs. He guessed that there were about fifty eggs in the
basket. His first plan would be to sell all of the eggs in the basket and buy a
rooster and a pair of hens. With two hens, he could have twice as many eggs as
with one. His two hens would give him one hundred eggs. And the eggs would hatch
and become one hundred chickens
In the young man’s dream, he kept counting his chickens. Their
population growth was exponential! Once the one hundred chickens grew up, they
would lay eggs. By then, he would have at least five thousand eggs. And they
would grow up, and he would have five thousand hens. What could be more exciting
than five thousand hens! Well, what is more exciting is that it is time to change
business. Time to give up the egg business and get into the sheep business. Sell
all of those hens. They would keep him from sleeping with all of that cackling
and with the early morning crowing of roosters. That could be super annoying,
for sure.
So. Get rid of hens and replace the 5,000 hens with one
thousand sheep. The sheep will have lambs. Lots of lambs that would grow up and
have more lambs. It wouldn’t be long before the young man was the owner of several
find flocks of sheep.
Then, it would finally be time to enjoy life as a rich man.
Time to sell half of those sheep and build a great palace. A palace that befits
a king. But why stop with a kingly house? A man as rich as he would soon be
introduced to the king himself. And the great and magnificent king would want
such a profitable business man to be his son in law. Before long, the young
man would be married to the king’s prettiest daughter. But, alas, the daughter
was able to think for herself and she didn’t always obey the commands of her
new and very bossy husband. It was time for him to put his foot down to make
her obey!”
The lazy young man’s foot twitched and randomly kicked an
object. What the heck, he thought, as he woke up. What was in his way? He
kicked a little harder and then sat up, rubbing his eyes, just in time to see
the basket of eggs flying in the air and landing on the road, each egg landing
harder than the last. And not a single egg was left unbroken.
The young man got up sadly. His dream had been shattered. It
was, after all, only a dream. He had to clean up and return home, feeling sad,
because he had counted his eggs before they hatched.

This folktale was adapted from a story called “Dreamer.” You can find that story and others at: link to: Folktales from Tajikistan.

6 thoughts on “Life in these strange times: observations”

  1. Oh, dear! What a depressing story. But it's a perfect companion for this story we are living right now.

  2. Hello Alice.
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    Loved reading this tale–"Don't count your chickens before they hatch!"
    I like the fact that your mother read you fairy tales while you recuperated in the hospital.
    Wishing you a peaceful Sunday.

  3. I was taught early from my parents to not count my chickens before the hatched. I wonder if this story was true in today's settings if the lazy, tired son would learn anything.

  4. Where do you want to go today?

    Hi Alice,
    Will your next post be about not putting all of your eggs in the same basket?

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