Friday, 23 December 2005

Une poignée de Poussière

Once upon a time in an African village lived a rich man in a huge beautiful house. Every morning as soon as he woke up, the rich man would open the curtains and the windows of his bedroom. He'd look at the sky, at the world marveling at the beauty of life.

Every morning, a poor man who lived in the village would pass walking by the gates of the rich man's mansion. Soon the rich man noticed him. He was curious our rich man. He would look at the passing poor man and speculate of the man's life, what he did, where he went, did he have a family. Soon started watching for the poor man's to and fro. Of course, he didn't know then that the man was poor. This unawareness did not last long. He investigated and was told that the man was poor. That he went every morning in the bushes looking for wood he'd sell at the market. That was his only mean of subsistence for him and his wife ad three children. Our rich man felt sorry for this brave poor man who carried himself around with so much dignity. He would never have guessed that this man sold wood for a living. He decided he had to do something to help.

The next morning, our rich man woke up early and went out in front of his gate to wait for our poor man. A little while later he saw him coming down the road.

"Peace my Brother!" he called. Our poor man stopped and answered likewise.


"Brother", started our rich man "I see you everyday going down this road. I've heard about you. They tell me you're an honest, God fearing and brave man. Brother, I would be very grateful if you'd allow the sinner that I am to do good by helping you."

"Help me?" asked our poor man "I gain enough to feed my family. There are many people who are more worthy of your help."

"Brother, I insist! Please do not refuse. Anything you ask for I'd give you. You're praying God for Mercy and Blessings on me and my family would be the greatest reward."

Our poor man thought a bit. Smiled. Looked hard at our rich man and said

"I accept!".

Our rich man beamed and hurriedly thrust his hand in his pocket lest the poor man would change his mind.

"Wait," said the poor man calmly, "you said you'd give me anything. What I shall have would be on my terms."

The rich man looked worried "yes?"

The poor man smiled again and said

"I shall be needing a handful of dust only. I'd be very much grateful if you'd give me a handful of dust."

The rich man brows furrowed. He knew the man was not crazy. A handful of dust? If that's what the fellow wanted,then be it. Still perplexed, he bent down, took a handful of dust and poured it into the poor man's raised palm. The poor man thanked him profusely and went to attend to his wood cutting then selling business.

The days went by, the weeks. Every morning the poor man would stop to claim his handful of dust. Less than two months later he stopped by. The rich man too. They stared at each other. "Peace!"

"Peace!" our poor man waited.

Our rich man stood staring. Our poor man raise an eyebrow inquiringly. The rich man, who now, did not look happy at all thrust his hand into his pocket and took out a handful of notes. He took our poor man's hand and placed in the money.

"Look here Brother, I proposed to help you. Here is some money. This I can help you with but am not going to bend down every morning and give you a damned handful of dust. You want your handful of dust, you bend down and take it yourself! Am not going to take this anymore!! Understood??!)"

Our poor man smiled calmly. Returned the money. Thanked our rich man and went to the bushes to collect wood.


The moral of the story? I have mine. Let me hear about yours!

[Source: Memory. A story I remeber reading when i was still at primary school. The author'sname is Amadou Hampaté Bah. The Title of the book - collection of short stories - Une poignée de Poussière]

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Saaya said...

Wow..Nice story, but the open ending leaves us with no fixed conclusion.
I think the poor man was testing the rich man...and taught him a lesson for the latter's personal growth.

The moral is probably that the rich man didnt want to stoop...He wanted to help, but without doing any special effort...His intentions wer noble, but his ego was more powerful than that.And as long as the ego lived, he wud never really be able to understand and help the poor man.

One cannot undertsand the suffering of someone else if he isnt in the same situation. What I always say is that you can never know the taste of salt, unless u actually experience it.

People can tell you that salt has a sour taste...They can describe the taste...But you will never ever really know and experience the taste just by listening to others' description of the thing or act, or by seeing them tasting salt!

Fitèna said...

Saaya, like I said, from every event, story, situation, you draw your own moral. I love yours and the way you've expressed it! I like the salt tasting theory!

Fitèna

Anonymous said...
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