Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Advice is Worth a Camel

A  Syrian folk tale
Translated by: Fateh Kassab
© 2011 by THE BIRD(http://www.thebirdali.com/)

Long time ago, a poor man had bad conditions. He searched for a work to earn his living. He found a work when a Bedouin agreed to employ him for three years, for his food and drink, and three camels by the end of the period.
At the end of three years, he took the three camels, started his journey to his family. On his way back, he met an old man who looked wise. The old man asked him about his story and direction. The young man told him his story from beginning to end. The elderly thought a bit, and then said to him: Why don't you give the camels for three tips that will be useful for you in your life? The young man thought for a while, and then agreed and said:
"Give your tips and take the camels."
He said: The first advice was, "Do not sleep between two men that you do not know."
The man smiled and gave him the first camel; I lost the first camel "he thought."
Tell me the second.
The old man said:
 "Never sleep in a low place or in a valley."
The man laughed more and said
 "I lost the second camel."
 Then he thought for a little while and said: "Perhaps the third might be better"
The old man said: "It is better for you to be upset than regretful."
The man shook his head sadly when he heard the third advice and said to himself:
"I lost all I had for nothing"
 He gave the third camel to the man, and walked but feeling very bad.
After a long distance he sat down to rest and to have some food. Two men passed by. They were riding a camel. He invited them to share him his food. They accepted and sat down and ate with him. They thanked him and appreciated his generosity. When they finished their food, they talked until the evening. They wanted to sleep, so the man spread his mattress on the ground and slept. The two men slept on the sides. And so the man is in the middle now. At night, the man remembered the first advice which says:
"Don't sleep between two men that you don’t know"
 So he got up quietly and left his mantle in his place, and sat away watching the men throughout the night.
After midnight, the two men woke up, both drew their daggers and stabbed each other, thinking that they are killing the strange man who is sleeping in the middle. They killed themselves. The man sat there perplexed. He thanked God and said to himself:
"This advice is better than one hundred camels. It has saved my life."
Then he collected his things, rode the robbers' camel and continued his way until he reached to a huge valley. He found a caravan, so he joined  and camped with them. He stayed with them until midnight. They all slept. Before going to sleep, he remembered the second advice of the wise man which says:
"Never sleep in a low place or in a valley."
He got up, collected his things, ascended to the top of the hill and slept there.
In the morning he woke up and saw an amazing thing.  A flood swept away everything in the valley. The man survived and thanks to the advice of the old man. He said:
"Oh God, this advice is worth a hundred camels."
 While the man was searching in the valley he found a camel standing at the edge of the valley, and on its back there was a pannier full of money. He took the camel. Now he has two camels and the money. He continued traveling until he arrived home at night.
When he got into his room, he found his wife sleeping, and he also saw a young man asleep in the room too. He became angry. He drew a knife and wanted to kill them. But he remembered the third advice of the wise man which says:
"It is better for you to be upset than regretful."
So he left them and slept out. In the morning when his wife woke up, she was very happy and welcomed him. She praised God for his safety. He knew the young man who was sleeping in the room. He was her brother. He had not seen him since he got married. The young man came to visit his sister and when found that her husband was absent he stayed to help her.
He said to himself
"Oh God the third advice also deserves a hundred camels."
He sat with his wife and her brother, and told them his story since his departure until his return. They were amazed by what happened to him.  They lived happily ever after.