A Garden for the poor
There were two great friends. Rahim, the elder, was a farmer who grew corn in a fertile valley while Arif tended his sheep on a lonely hill. Both were widowers, Rahim living with his daughter and Arif with his son.
They often sat together talking about the good times when they were young and life was easier.
Winter was approaching and Arif said worriedly, "The winters seem to be getting worse each year. Last year, the grass was less dense that my sheep had barely enough to eat."
"I'm sure the weather will change for the better, " said his friend, trying to comfort him. But it did not get better. It became so cold that whatever grass was left on the the hillside died and snow fell for days without an end.
Arif lead his sheep to other fields and found that the Shepherds elsewhere fared no better. He went to his friend to ask for advice. "What shall I do?" He asked a sadly. "my sheep will die, and so will I. This may be my last winter!"
Rahim was a generous man and decided to help his friend by offering him of his field of corn, saying, "I have lots to spare, and it will take care of both of us through this terrible winner."
With tears in his eyes, Arif could not thank his friend enough. So he became a farmer and worked very hard from early morning till late at night, on his part of the land. With the help of his son and rahim's advice, the corn grew tall and strong. Years passed and both the friends lived working side by side.
One day as Arif dug happily into the rich, dark soil, he heard a sound. His spade had hit something hard and he dug even deeper till he found a huge part. When he opened it, he saw lots of shiny diamonds! He started speechlessly and pinched himself to see if he was dreaming. But it was no dream, and he rushed home to bring his friend to see his precious find.
"You are a rich man now; Rahim, " said Arif happily.
"No," said Rahim firmly, "it's yours, because this land belongs to you."
"Nonsense, the land rightfully belongs to you. You only let me work half of it when I run into bad times. So whatever is found on this land is yours."
They continued arguing because both were good men and wanted to be fair to each other. Finally Rahim suggested that they could give it to their children.
"Arif, I've noticed how close my daughter and your son have become, so let's arrange a grand wedding and give them these gold coins as a wedding gift."
Arif thought it was a good idea and they carefully buried the pot where it was. Some weeks later, there was much feasting and dancing at the wedding. The " Five hundred diamond pieces."
"I'll pay you double the amount if you free them," said the young man who did not look rich at all. But when the caravan owner saw the diamond pieces, he set the birds free and they flapped their wings happily as they flew away.
The youth started walking home with his empty bag. Despite his good deed, he felt sad that he now could not plant an orchard for the poor in his village.
He was so upset that he cried himself to sleep. Then he had a dream in which the birds came to him and said, "Thank you for setting us free. We cannot replace the diamond's you have used on our account, but we can help you plant your orchard."
When he works up and looked out of his window, he found that it was not a dream after all. The birds were there, using their claws to dig little holes and burying seeds in the holes and burying seeds in the holes they made.
The leader of the birds came over and said, " You helped us once. Now it's our turn yo help you."
Before his eyes, a magic garden began to appear. Young green shoots sprang from the ground and turned into young trees. These soon became mighty trees spreading out their leafy branches.
As the young man watched with wonder, blossoms appeared and as they dropped, golden apples hung from the branches. "I must tell the wise teacher about this, " he thought, and he ran off to bring the man who could scarcely believe his eyes.
Surrounding the fairy garden was a high iron fence and the gates were closed. As news of the magic garden spread throughout the land, people flocked there to see it. But they could not enter the gates.
" This garden is grown for poor people," sad the leader of the birds. " The rich not may enter, and those who try to steal the golden apples will die."
The young man opened the gates for the poor people to come in, but the Khan's soldiers arrived very quickly and said, "Everything in this orchard belongs to the khan!" They tore open the gates and the fence and rode into the garden.
" Do not pick the apples, or you'll die," the young man warned them. They took no notice of him and they started collecting the apples. As the people watched in horror, one by one, the soldiers fell down dead. The villagers quickly warned their children not to touch the apples too, for the garden might be under the spell of a wicked witch.
" I cannot believe that, " said the young man. " This garden was grown specially for us. Look, I will eat this apple myself." He took a big of the golden apple, chewed on it and smiled as he said, " It's delicious!" He stood there looking perfectly well.
The poor people started pouring into the orchard. They ate the fruit, drank from the stream and strolled through the avenues full of fragrant flowers. The birds flew about and sang on the trees.
The poor people now had a place to call their own- the Fairy Garden, with its peace and plenty, and everything was free!.
Shafrin on April 07, 2021: