Monday, November 28, 2016

Okinawan Folktale: Dividends of Kindness

river, trees, reflections

Peasant Mountaineer

A youngster climbed hills daily, in search of timber to be used for charcoal.

Since the passing of his father, he was the man of the household.

Demand for cooking fuel, provided income, to support his aging mother.

She, prepared a boxed lunch bundled up in a scarf, for him to carry every morning.

He would hang it on a branch of a tree, to keep ants from eating the meal.

One hot day, he decided to sit in the shade of the tree, to rest and relax.

Collecting firewood in the fresh air of the mountains, can be an enjoyable occupation.

Scents and sights in nature are a bonus, when you take time to sit and observe them.

Quite a few piles of firewood had been collected and bundled so, he decided to have a little picnic.

He smiled, stretched his sore muscles and, took off his shirt, spreading it over some pine needles.

It had been such a productive morning, he might get to go home early today.

When, he reached up to the branch his lunch had been tied to, something seemed strange.

It felt unusually light, as he lowered it to the ground. Soon, he'd know why.

Untying the knot, he opened the box of food and, it was empty. All his lunch was gone!

He shrugged and said, “Someone hungrier than, me must have taken the meal.”

Then, he got up and hurried, to finish his daily routine. And, never gave the food a second thought.

The next day was a repetition of the same events. No other humans were encountered.

All day the youngster was in the forest, never saw anyone yet, his noon meal would disappear.

Bring Two Lunches

Not to upset mother, the lad kept it a secret. No sense making her worry about him.

He just told her, they had plenty of food in the house and, his hard work made him hungry.

It would be nice if, he had two bundles of boxed lunches, to eat while working in the forest.

On the third day, he hiked up the mountain carrying two lunchtime meals.

Arriving at an area, he decided to harvest, he hung both meals on the branch of the same tree.

Noon arrived and, he discovered, all the food had been taken. He didn't get angry.

He simply said, “Whoever it is, must be awful hungry, to eat all those meals.”

Then, the youngster, went back to collecting wood out of the forest.

Out of the woods, came an elderly character with a lengthy white beard and, he had the meals.

I took them. To reward you for being a good hearted, charitable spirit, I'll do something for you.

Travel to Nanakijyai and, I will reward you with any three wishes, you may have.”

That sounded good but, the young chap, had no idea, where Nanakijyai might be.

The old man told him, it would be a three days and two nights trip, walking to get there.

He gave back all the meals, he had appropriated and, told the boy, to head south.

Each night, before sunset, he would find a house, where he could spend the evenings.

The Journey Began

The young boy, walked to the south and, at sunset found a home, where he was welcomed.

A beauty of a girl cooked him supper.

The homeowner asked, where the boy's travels would take him.

When he heard, Nanakijyai, he had a special request and, wanted the boy to help him.

His daughter, suddenly lost the ability to speak, a long time ago.

The man, told him that, the god of Nanakijyai, could remedy her problem.

The youngster promised, he would use one wish, to thank his gracious hosts.

The following night, having hiked south all day, the lad came upon another home.

He was given permission, to spend the night and, treated like royalty.

He thanked the family and, was prepared to continue his travels the next morning.

The man of the house, discovered where the youth was headed and, also had a request.

He was a well to do person, who had a tree, growing on his property.

It had failed to produce the colorful flowers, which usually blossomed, at this time of year.

He wanted to know, “Could the young man ask, the lord at Nanakijyai, how to fix that tree?”

The lad said, he would find out and, report back on his return trip.

Almost There

He had promised two of his three wishes as gratitude for others, helping him travel.

The unselfish lad, knew Nanakijyai, would be reached before sundown today.

Rounding a bend in the trail, he came upon a river. There was no bridge, to cross it.

The lad, couldn't swim. He looked up and down the river but, no boats were to be found.

He discovered a charming looking lady standing near the water's edge. She approached him.

When he told her, his destination was Nanakijyai, she became excited.

She said, “I'll take you there if, you can make a request, to the god, for me.”

She said she was a dragon, who crashed on earth and, couldn't reach the heavens anymore.

She took on the human form but, could transform, to fly the boy, the short distance.

If, he would ask the god of Nanakijyai, to restore her powers, she'd get him there.

His heart sunk. He would have to spend, his last wish, to help this dragon-lady.

It was the only way, he could get to Nanakijyai so, he agreed.

The woman transformed into a monstrous dragon and, flew him on her back, crossing the river.

Arriving, he walked a short way and, came upon the old man, who had been confiscating lunches.

The god, listened to the boy's three requests and, cracked a smile. He replied to the lad's favors:

1. The girl, who can't speak will regain that ability, after she meets a man suitable for marriage.

    1. Tell the guy, whose flowers won't bloom, to dig under the tree. There are two pots, one containing silver, the other, gold. If he gives, half of each, to another family, the tree will blossom.
    2. The dragon, who flew you here, is a greedy witch. She has two precious gems. If, she gives one, to someone else, she'll be able, to fly off this planet.

Those three wishes will be granted. Now git.”

The young man was saddened. He used all of his wishes, for others and, gotten nothing in return.

But, he was glad that, at least he brought happiness to other beings.

Return Trip

After recrossing the river, dragon-lady deposited the boy and became the woman, again.

He told her, what the god said, she needed to do, concerning the gems.

She gladly, gave one to the lad and, immediately became a dragon with, full powers.

After thanking the boy, she quickly flew off into the clouds, never to return to this planet.

Next in the circuit, he would spend the night at the home of the man with the tree problem.

The young guy, told the elder, what god had said about the pots, under the roots of the tree.

It was dark outside and had begun to rain. The homeowner decided to wait until morning.

There was no sense in rushing, to dig in the dark and, catch a cold in the chilly rain.

At dawn, they went out to begin digging. The earth had softened from the rainfall.

They carefully dug around the base of the tree and, discovered two earthen urns.

When the covers were removed, one was full of gold and the other contained silver.

Half the contents of each, were given to the boy and, the load would be heavy.

The grateful homeowner gladly gave the lad a horse, to take on his voyage home.

Arriving at the first home, he had visited days earlier, the family was anxiously awaiting his return.

The youth told the father, “When the girl meets her future husband, she will begin to speak.”

The lad was invited to dine, celebrate and spend another night but, he declined.

He wished to hurry home and share the story of his adventures with his mother.

They said goodbyes and the boy mounted the horse, to head on out the gate.

As he started to leave, the girl shouted, “Don't go. I want to marry you.”

The young man, married into the well to do family and, brought his mother, to live with them.

And, everybody lived happily.....


Folktales of Okinawa ISBN4-947654-05-8 P. 129

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