Although I currently do have more pressing issues on my mind, such as how I have kicked myself in the teeth by agreeing to go to school...
I thought I would tell an iraqi fairy tale.
Once upon a time lived a king. he was old, and his greying hair was falling onto his thick robes, which were filled with glittering jewels. One day, when he counted that his 99th hair had fallen, he called his son, the prince.
Now, the prince was spoilt in material wealth. Not only was he an only child, but his mother's death meant that he had little emotional support through his life. His father was generous, and all lands were at peace with his country. The prince would often watch his father shower gifts among his people. But the King's one shortcoming was that he never taught his son the gift of love.
As the prince stepped into his father's court, the father thought of how brave and handsome his son was. After a moment of silence, the King stepped down from the throne and held his son. " Son, I am old and grey, and your time on the throne approaches. However, first I ask of you one thing. Before I hand you the crown, I ask you to find a wife, so that I may live to see my grandchildren before I lie dead in the cold embrace of death".
The prince smiled. All could see that the King had many years left on the throne, but it was clear that he only wished for his son to take the throne. "Yes father".
That night, as the prince lay awake, he thought of all that he had. He thought of all the fine carriages, of the robes spun with threads of the finest fabric. What would a wife bring he thought? I need nothing. So he resolved that he would marry the woman who offered him that which he did not have.
The next morning, the prince rode into the city. He declared his intention. Soon, the news spread like wildfire.
The entire evening, the prince spent sat in a tent where the women would present their gift. They came from all over the land. Spices, Silk, and coins lay at the feet of the prince, scattered as if they had no value.
Outside, only three girls remained. They had been friends since childhood, and each gave the other encouraging words.
The first girl came in. To the prince she offered cake that would never finish. The prince thought. It had been the most interesting thing all day. the prince replied:"But why would I need cake that never finishes, if I have a kitchen that is so full of food, there is barely place to walk? Soon I would tire of the taste of the cake". He rejected her.
The second girl offered the prince a embroidered rug that changed its pattern every day. The prince sat up in his chair. "Every day? There is no doubt that this rug is fine, but something that changes its skin so often cannot be relied upon". With that she too was rejected.
Finally, the third girl came in. The prince asked her what she had to offer. After thinking for some time, the girl replied " I will bear you twins. One a boy, and one a girl. One will have silver hair, and the other will have gold hair. When I wash their hair, the water will turn to silver and gold."
The prince's eyes lit up. This would mean that his country would never run out of supply of coins. And having children? He had often envied his friends who spoke of their 'angels'.
"Yes. I will marry you. Do you have anything you wish to ask?". The third girl remembered her friends outside in tears. She asked that they be brought to live in the palace. It was agreed.
10 months after the prince's marriage, his wife was heavily pregnant. The princess was loved by all. her innocence and kindness won the hearts of all the palace and the people. However, her friends had watched in envy for many months. Although her friends were given the finest rooms and clothes to wear, their hatred burned brighter and brighter as the princess's stomach grew.
The day of the coronation of the prince came. The king wiped away a tear as he saw the happiness in his son's face. The news came that the princess was giving birth on the same day.
As the princess was in labour, her two friends cloaked themselves, and visited a poor pregnant widow. They spilled precious gems and silk into her hand, and carried away two silent bundles.
Soon cries of babies were heard, and celebrations rang throughout the land, not only for the coronation, but for the two new royals. Meanwhile, in the palace, as the midwife carried away a boy and a girl, she was met menacingly by the two friends of the princess. They snatched the babies out of her hands and placed the two silent bundles. They then paid the midwife all the money that they had hoarded, for her silence.
When the prince, now king, asked to see his children, two lifeless bodies lay before him. Rage and anger consumed him.
The two friends carried the actual children of the princess far away. At the coast, they saw an old wooden barrel. They placed the golden haired boy and silver haired girl into the barrel, and threw it into the raging sea. Evil smiles were stretched in their treacherous faces.
Back at the palace, the King felt betrayal. He stormed into the chamber of his wife. She had lied to him. As he looked at the two bundles, he shouted and cursed. Where was the silver and gold hair that she had promised? He told her, that if only they had the silver and gold hair, he would forgive their deaths. The princess wrung her hands in despair. "Those are not my children!" she cried again and again, but to no avail. Why were they dead? The princess was sure she had heard their tears!
The next morning a solemn crowd had gathered outside the palace. It was rumoured that the King was going to kill his wife...
The king marched out, accompanied by his old father. He addressed his people. As an example of how he should never be betrayed, he sentenced his wife to be buried neck deep in sand for the rest of her life. Tears silently streamed down the princess's face, as they dug her living grave.
The babies in the barrel had by some miracle survived the grave that the 'friends' of their mother had devised for them. Waves brought the barrel to the coast safely, where an old poor married couple lived. They heard the cries, and rescued the children.
Through the years, the children grew. One day, after receiving a good pay, the elderley man declared to his golden and silver haired children of the sea, that he had brought water, with which they could wash with. Before, they had been too poor to have such a luxury. As the children washed their hair, the couple watched in terrified delight, as they saw the dirty water transform into liquid gold and liquid silver. As the water cooled, the elderly couple were left with a black of pure silver, and a block of pure gold, both too heavy to move.
The couple started selling and buying more goods, and before long, they found themselves in the highest cirlces of society.
One day, at a party held at the palace, the elderley couple arrived. They didn't bring their children,but they spoke openly of where their wealth had come from. Many of the upper class had laughed at them, and proclaimed them to be mad, but they ignored them all. The rumours of this 'mad couple' and the cause of the wealth was gossiped all around the party, until it reached the king's ear. With urgency, the king rushed to the old couples side, and fell to his knees. "Tell me, please, can I see your children?". The old couple looked at the sadness in the King's eye, and told him the story of how they found the children. The king listened in dumb shock. Stuttering, he asked them the date that the couple found the children. They replied to the king "the day of your coronation".
With almost fear the king jumped up and ran to his buried wife. He started to dig her out of the sand with his bare hands. Soon, he carried his aged and weakened wife. Crying, he told the whole palace of his mistrust and hatred, as he sentenced his wife to a fate worse than death. the couple cried and immediatley called for the children. As the king and his wife saw their real children they hugged. The king stooped to his knees and begged forgiveness from his wife. The queen replied that she had her children and she had the love of her husband. That was all she ever wanted out of life....The End
Even at the time when I was told this, I wasn't sure of the moral of the story, but I was told, that the moral of the story is forgiveness and patience. Although secretley, I hoped that the queen wouldn't forgive the King. Being buried in sand for ten years, then forgiving in a minute?
My ending would have been, Queen says to king " I'm filing for divorce, and I'm taking the children.".
Hopefully though one day, I hope that part of my pessimism washes away, and I would believe in fairy tales and happy endings, but right now, I prefer the bitter taste of reality.