March 27, 2008

Khmer Folk Tale: 6- The Seller of a Donkey (Part I)

Long ago, there was a man named Khek. He had a son and a calf of a donkey as well.
When the donkey-calf grew up, it became a handsome and plump donkey with brown and smooth hair.
On seeing the grown-up donkey, the man said to his son, “Now our donkey has become fat and nice; if we sell it now, we can get a good price for it. But here, there is no one who needs a donkey and the village where someone needs it is very far from here, how can we then get a good price for it? If we make it walk to that far away village, it may get thin by fatigue, and its price will go down. Now, what are we to do for getting a good price for it? ”
The problem arising from this finally found its solution. The man and his son caught the donkey and fastened each pair of its feet tightly together and passed a pole between the pairs of feet and shouldered its two ends. Thus they began to carry it to the far a way village for getting a good price.
While going on their way, they were seen by villagers who were very much amused to see such a sight.
They burst into laughter and said, “Hey what a strange thing! The two men carrying a donkey” And then they accused the man, “Old man, do not do so. The horse, the ox, the elephant and the donkey have never been carried. It is they, which have to carry men on their back”
On hearing this, the father and the son took down the donkey and untied it. The father then said to the son, “We cannot ride all at once, for our donkey is not strong enough to carry both of us. So, ride alone on it, and I will follow you” And so the young man did.
As he was passing through another village, he was asked, “Where are you riding, boy?” “I ride to a village called Kompong” answered the young man. And pointing out the old man, they asked, “Who is this old man behind you?” “He is my father” the young man replied.
On hearing this, the villagers became angry and said “What an ungrateful son you are! You are strong enough to walk while your old father is not so; you would better get down at once and let your old father ride the donkey.
On hearing this sharp remark, the young man at once got down from the donkey and the old man took his place. And then they continued their journal. The young man walked behind the donkey carrying his father.
After some time, they came near a well at the end of a certain village. Around this well there was a throng of young women who came to draw water from there. Some were noisily pouring water on their body for a bath.
Looking at the handsome young man walking slowly behind the donkey, they felt a great sympathy for him. They envied the old man who was riding so comfortably on the donkey while the young man walked behind him with much hardship….

To be continued