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The Clever Man and the Old Man

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 17.03.2006:

Once there was a woman whose husband died while she was young. She had a son, so clever that she became tired of bringing him up. When her son was grown-up she wanted him to get married. However, the son only wanted to marry a girl who was brighter than him.

While looking for a girl, the son met an old man. The son greeted him saying, “Will you carry me or will I carry you?” The old man wondered: “How will you carry me, a heavy man, and how will I, an old man, carry you?” When they climbed up a mountain the young man looked down at the valley and saw a green crop. He asked, “Did the farmer eat this crop or not?” The old man was astonished and thought the young man to be crazy. They continued their road until they saw a hugh building with shining lights. The old man said, “What a beautiful house is this!” But the young man replied that the house was dark and had no beauty at all. After a short time they passed a dark house with no light at all, but there were children shouting, making a lot of noise. The old man whispered, “This house is dark, very old, without any lights.” The young man replied: “It is better and more beautiful than the big house we saw before.”

They continued their way until the old man reached his home. He asked the young man to come with him, but the young man thanked him saying that his mother was waiting for him. The old man returned home. He had a very handsome daughter who welcomed him. He took his supper after which they sat talking together. The father told his daughter that he met a crazy young man, and told her the story. The daughter replied that he wasn’t crazy, but very clever, and that she wanted him as her husband. Her father was highly surprised and asked her why he was clever. She explained that when the young man said “carrying each other” he meant talking so as to feel the distance to be short. And when he asked about the crop he wanted to know whether its owner had or had not borrowed money for its cultivation. When he said that the big house was dark, he meant that there were no children in it. And when he said that the dark house was beautiful he meant that there were children in it who made it more beautiful than that big house without any children.

Next day she sent him 30 eggs and a big loaf of bread with her servant, hoping that he would understand what she meant. The servant gave him the eggs and the bread. When the servant gave them he asked him who sent them. The servant told him that it was the daughter of the old man, and that she hoped that he would accept her gift. So he accepted it asking the servant to tell her that “your month and your bread are not complete.”

The servant went back and told her, so she understood that he would come after 29 days. When he came the old man asked to forgive him for his misunderstanding when he thought him to be crazy. The young man was relieved and said that the old man’s daughter was suitable to be his wife. They then got married happily.

Al Mawrid, Stories from Bethlehem. Manual for English language teaching. Ramallah, 1996

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