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《Chinese Tales for Everyone__ Real and Imaginary: (14) The Way We Were》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Tales Real and Imaginary
(14) The Way We Were

Long ago, a mid-aged couple lived on the plateau of the Yellow River. They worked hard and remained poor because the land was arid. Every night, they prayed that they might come across a big fortune.

A fairy appeared before them one starry night. She told them: “I will grant you anything you wish. You may express them in three wishes.” The couple was overjoyed. Their thoughts ran wild.

“Let’s have a thousand gold coins!” the wife whispered to her husband.

“We should have something practical.” countered the husband, “We should have lots of fertile land, servants, and maids to serve our daily needs so we don’t have to work any more. May be also a carriage drawn by horses….”

“Not a chance!” exclaimed the wife, “you are infatuated with having maids to pamper you. No! You dirty man! I want beautiful clothes and jewels. I want people to respect me. I want to be young forever.”

They continued with their greedy wishes and could not agree. They asked the fairy to let them sleep and tell her their wishes in the morning. The couple woke up at dawn hungry. The wife went half a kilometer away to a neighbor to share the exciting news. There, she saw a newly baked cake. But she could not ask for a piece of it, since she was now a potential wealthy woman.

The minute she came back home she told her husband about the cake. She whispered: “I wish I have a cake like that to eat.”

Instantly, a most delicious cake appeared before them. The couple looked at it in awe. They realized that they had used a precious wish, just for a cake.

The husband was furious. He shouted at his wife: “You big fool! I wish this cake will stick to your big mouth so you will say no more foolish wish again.”

Behold, the husband’s wish was granted. The wife’s face turned white with fear. Her mouth was sealed hard by the cake. She tried to express her anger and fear by jumping and waiving her hands. Her face was washed with tears.

The husband was shocked too. He realized what he had done. But he did not know how to reverse things. He was disappointed that their good luck had turned into a disaster. He loves his wife who had toiled with him for years and comforted him. He regretted that he had done her this big harm. He promised in his heart that he would do anything to undo the damage.   He shut his eyes for a long time, took a deep breath, and reached out to grasp his wife’s hands to comfort her. He then said in a determined voice: “I wish we may return to the way we were.”

They looked and found everything was the same as before.

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Note: This is a narration of a story in the book《寓言述集》. It taught us to enjoy what we have and not to wish for sudden fortunes. It also taught us the value of sharing happiness rather than greed.

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