Learning Outcomes for All is Connected: A folktale from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Prepared for the Annual Children’s and Youth Services meeting of Public Librarians in North East Zone NSW, Australia, 2014

Previously I have told this folktale as a story of empowerment. However, in the context of the Children’s Librarian’s meeting with it’s focus on developing links with their communities in their literacy and learning activities, there are a number of ideas the story suggests that Children’s and Youth Librarians may want to consider. As community leaders, initiating, facilitating and mentoring community members, they also have to consider funding requirements, statistics, local politics, library policies and lobbyists in their work. It is all too easy to be swamped by bureaucracy and lose sight of the importance of advocacy work. Here is the story, and following is what the story offers up to those who want to promote a harmonious community.

All Is Connected

There was once a chief who brought his people to camp on the edge of a swamp. They lay down to sleep that night to the sound of the frogs’ song. The array of rhythmic croaks and calls brought great comfort to the people because it signified the harmony in which they all lived. But the chief was outraged with the ribbitting racket of the swamp dwellers and screamed for them to shut up. They were disturbing his sleep. But the frogs paid no heed to the rantings of the chief and continued their song. The chief tossed and turned and bellowed his fury at the frogs, but they continued their song well into the night. At dawn the chief had worked himself into a state of rage not only at the frogs’ song but their refusal to be silent. He called his warriors together and demanded they bring everyone before him. When all the people were assembled the chief proclaimed that the frogs were to all punished for disturbing his peace. Everyone was given a large stick and ordered to enter the swamp and beat the frogs to death. If they refused to carry out the chief’s orders they would be beaten instead.
With great reluctance the people took the clubs and trudged into the swamp. All except an old woman who refused to take a stick and remained steadfast in front of the chief.
“Why do you defy me?” demanded the chief.
“Because all is connected,” she answered.
“What do you mean?” asked the chief.
“You will find out,” she replied.
The chief glared at the old woman, then shouted for her to leave him before he beat her himself.
Later that day the people sat around their camps, disheartened by the dreadful deed they had carried out. That night an eerie silence filled the air. The people found it hard to sleep, knowing that the frogs were no longer their companions. The chief however slept soundly, that night and the next.
It was the third night that he was awakened by an annoying hum. Swarms of mosquitoes descended on the camp. The mosquito larvae no longer eaten by the frogs had all hatched and the swamp was infested with millions of mosquitoes. The night air was filled with the drone of mosquitoes punctuated by the sounds of people slapping their bitten skin.
“Enough is enough,” they cried, and quietly gathered their belongings and moved away from the swamp and their chief.
At dawn the following day the chief, who had barely slept a wink, stood up and looked around. He was all alone, except for the old woman who had refused to kill the frogs. She stared at the chief’s bite ridden face and body and shook her head.
“Now do you understand what I said about all being connected?” she asked. Then she turned from him and walked away, leaving him with no one to rule over but the mosquitoes.

Story Suggestions for the Promotion of a Harmonious Community:

– The actions or inaction of one person can impact on a whole community.
– It is the moral duty of the most powerful to respect and protect the least powerful in a community.
– Silence is not consent.
– The dispossessed, displaced and disenfranchised also have voices that need to be heard.
– Those with the loudest voices are not always right.
– A tolerant community means that even if you don’t like someone else’s song, or choose not to sing it yourself, that you still respect their right to sing.
– Rule by fear will always have a bad outcome.
– Momentary gratification should not be at the expense of ancient wisdom.

Story Source:
Eleven Nature Tales: A multicultural journey by Pleasant DeSpain
August House, Little Rock Arkansas US copyright 1996

Picture by Roman W Schatz of Morgan conducting a storytime at an Australian preschool

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THE UGLY DUCKLING’S BIRTHDAY

On April 2. 1805 the Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen, was born. Since 1967 the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) have assigned this day to celebrate International Children’s Book Day, the theme for 2014 is Imagine Nations Through Story. As a child I have fond memories of watching Danny Kaye playing HCA in the 1952 film, but even more potent than the cinematography are the emotions evoked by my own reading of his fairytales, for these speak to both the mind and the heart. 

‘My life is a beautiful fairytale. So eventful has it been and wondrously happy.’ 

So begins the autobiography of Denmark’s most famous writer, and undoubtedly the world’s most well known exponent of the literary fairytale, Hans Christian Andersen. 

Born in Denmark on April 2nd 1805, this year marks the 209th anniversary of his birthday. 

HC Andersen wrote over 350 stories in his lifetime and those tales are still being told to children all over the world today. Stories like The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor’s New Clothes have not faded into oblivion but become more popular than ever before. These simple stories combining both folktale elements and Andersen’s own imagination have been made into films, plays, operas, puppet shows and games. Yet the two simplest ways of  communicating them to children is to read them aloud or tell them. In an age where kids are bombarded with gimmicky toys, new fads and computer technology, the acts of story reading and storytelling have survived. How is this possible? 

There are two things to consider here. The strength of the stories themselves and the power of the spoken word. Andersen wrote his stories for both adults and children and many of them reflect his own experiences of growing up in a poor family. His mother was a washerwoman and his father a shoemaker who died when Andersen was still a child. The boy was sent to work and did not receive a formal education until he was 17. A gangly youth, he felt very out of place with the 11year old students, but succeeded in gaining entry to university where he completed his education and wrote until he died. Anderson’s identification with the unfortunate and the outcast makes his tales very compelling, especially to children. Who has never compared themelves with the ugly duckling? The fact that the ‘duckling’ grows into a beautiful swan is a comforting story for every child who has felt ‘less’ than their counterparts. 

Reading this story to children is an affirmation of their inner beauty and intrinsic self worth, a celebration of difference and also a challenge to bullying behaviour. Such a simple tale can offer wisdom, healing and joy to all who hear it. As a told story this tale is even more powerful because it becomes a specific act of love from the teller to the listener. There is no book between them, just a direct communication.

Andersen’s mastery of the fairytale genre is such that many of his tales have assumed the status of ‘traditional’. Western culture has absorbed his stories into its social, cultural and psychic fabric so when we allude to the ‘ugly duckling’ we know what it means even if we don’t know the story itself or the name of the author. But how much richer are our children’s cultural lives if they have been told the story and know that when Andersen was a child he felt just like the character he created, the ugly duckling? 

In 2005, to mark the bi-centenary of Andersen’s birth, a few children enjoyed his stories being read to them by Australia’s only ‘real’ princess, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. But you don’t need to be royalty to bestow the precious gift of story to children. Most kids are thrilled if their parents, carers and teachers are their storytellers and story readers. 

Happy International Children’s Book Day.

Photo by Roman W. Schatz

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The Head and the Body Must Serve Each Other

Today I had my blood taken by a woman skilled in the practice of blood extraction. No she wasn’t a vampire. There was no fear or horror engendered by her actions: it was quick, painless and accurate. I related my mother’s positive experience of having blood taken by the pathology nurses, and her dread of ever having a doctor perform this fortnightly task on her. For each time a doctor had performed this task, she invariably ended up with multiple jabs and bruising on her arms, as they couldn’t find her veins. This was never the case with the nurses.

The phlebotomist smiled and said that she recently had a doctor who needed his own blood taken, and had proceeded to tell her how to go about her job. Needless to say she was not amused by his condescension. 
Our discussion reminded me of a story from the Wolof people in Senegal; a tale I have read but not told, because the right audience had not appeared in my life. However, if called upon to choose an appropriate story to tell to those people for whom humility is a stranger and arrogance second nature, or perhaps as a reminder that we all serve humanity, whatever our position in society, then this is the tale to tell. It was collected by Harold Courlander and can be found in his book, The King’s Drum and other African Stories (1962) Harcourt, Brace and World, New York.

THE KING OF SEDO  A story from the Wolof Tribe, Senegal

In the town of Sedo in northern Senegal there was a King named Sabar. His armies were very powerful and they conquered many towns, and the people of these towns paid tribute to him. Neighbouring chiefs who passed through Sedo always bowed down to King Sabar and gave him gifts. And the King enjoyed the obedience and respect everyone accorded him. But as he grew older he would proclaim his greatness and boast that there was no-one to contradict him because his word was not only law in Sedo but and all the surrounding land.

One day a griot came to Sedo and he entertained the King and his entourage. He recited a story of praise for King Sabar and and his ancestors. He then sung a song:

The dog is great among dogs,

Yet he serves man.

The woman is great among women,

Yet she waits upon her children.

The hunter is great among hunters,

Yet he serves the village.

A griot is great among griots,

Yet they sing for the King and his servants.

After the griot has finished the song, King Sabar asked him to explain the meaning of the song. The griot replied, that the song meant that all men serve, no matter what their station. But King Sabar was adamant that this was not so, because although he  was a man, he was the King of Sedo and he did not serve anyone. Others served him. When the griot did not speak, the King demanded to know whether this was the truth. The griot humbly bowed before the King and asked, “Who am I to say the King of Sedo speaks what is not true?”    

At this moment a holy man wandered through the crowd of people. The griot seeing him, immediately asked the King’s permission to feed him some of the food from the King’s bowl which he had not eaten. The King acceded to the griot’s request, eager to return to their discussion. The griot then asked the King to hold his harp while he took some food from the King’s bowl to give to the holy man. The King took the harp and held it while the griot fed the holy man. When the holy man had finished eating, the griot once again stood before King Sabar, and he spoke. “You have said that all men serve the King of Sedo and that he does not serve others. Yet you have given a wandering holy man food from your bowl, and you have held the harp for a mere griot while he served another. How then can one say a king does not serve. It is said, ‘The head and the body must serve each other.” The griot then took his harp from the hands of the King and sang:

The soldier is great among soldiers,

Yet he serves the clan.

The King is great among kings,

Yet he serves his people.” 

Photograph by Roman W. Schatz

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The Mischief Maker

In a time when people are traumatised, shocked and particularly vulnerable, the mischief maker comes to the fore and sets about causing as much distress, confusion and fear as possible. They spread misinformation, create and inflate rumours and cause unrest. To what purpose? Their own enjoyment of of course. You can be sure that whenever there is a natural disaster, they will surface, like cockroaches scuttling out of a drainpipe. In the recent floods in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, warnings were consistently issued by the media to check the sources of information, particularly on social network sites, where rumours and misinformation abounded.

I was reminded of the Burmese folktale about the mischief-maker’s tree, or the ‘gon-bin’ and I think it a most appropriate tale in light of understanding the power of the mischief maker. This is my retelling of this tale.

The Mischief Maker

Many centuries ago a raft carrying three people washed up onto the shore of the Burmese coast. They had all been banished from their country for the following reasons. One man was a thief who had stolen food, a woman was accused of witchcraft and another man a mischief maker who told lies about people.

When the King heard of the new arrivals he ordered hi ministers to give a thousand pieces of silver each to the thief and the witch and the mischief maker was to be executed immediately.

The King’s courtiers were shocked and asked the king why he had decided thus. The King replied.

The thief stole because he was hungry and if he is given enough money to grow his own food, then he will have no need to ever steal again. The witch too is poor and was envious and unhappy. If she is given money she too will have enough to live on and be a good person. But the mischief maker will always be a mischief maker.

So the mischief maker was taken to a beach and beheaded. The next day one of the King’s courtiers saw the head on the beach, its eyes and mouth wide open and it spoke.

‘Tell your King to come and bow before me or I will knock his head off.’

The courtier was so shocked, he ran back and told the King. But the King did not believe him and accused him of making fun of him. The courtier convinced the King to send another courtier with him to witness the mischief maker’s words. The King agreed to send another man, but when he appeared before the head, it said nothing. The courtier returned to the King and the King in anger, ordered the first courtier to be taken to the execution grounds and be dispatched for lying.

When the mischief maker saw that he had caused the death of another he laughed at the executioner and said.

‘I may be dead but i can still cause trouble.’

The executioner reported what he had heard to the King, who was filled with remorse for what he had done.

He ordered that the only way to stop the mischief maker was to bury his head deep in the sand. the executioner did that, but the next morning a strange tree grew in the spot. It grew and grew and finally it produced a most unusual fruit. It was shaped like the mischief makers head, complete with two eyes and a mouth. The King took the fruit and shook it and to his surprise he heard a gurgling sound inside, as though the mischief maker’s spirit was inside whispering his lies. 

The ‘gon bin’, which is now called ‘ohn bin’, in English is known as the coconut palm. 

Source: http://www.pitara.com/talespin/folktales/online.asp?story=69

Photograph by Roman W. Schatz

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Visions and Illusions

My daughter related a tale of her friend having a series of visions. One such vision was of a character from a computer game she played, being present in the room with her. When her friend told her mother of these visions, the mother immediately began researching biblical interpretations of them! My daughter’s response to her friend’s confession, was to tell her that she was spending too much time playing games on the computer. 

I thought her pragmatic approach was possibly a more useful one for her friend to keep a handle on reality. It also challenged me think about what I see, how I perceive it, and who shares my vision. 

Late last week a tragedy took place in Australian waters when fifty Iraqi, Iranian and Kurdish people drowned. They were passengers on a small boat heading from Indonesia to Australia. Refugees. Could their deaths have been prevented? Ian Rintoul, founder of the Refugee Action Coalition, an Australian refugee advocacy group sees that the Australian government contributed to the deaths of these people in the following ways: Australia pressures Indonesia to detain asylum seekers, regardless of whether they are mandated refugees under the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Seekers are held in detention centers sometimes funded by the Australian government. Until this year, Australia did not routinely resettle UNHCR refugees from Indonesia. This year, the Australian government said it will take 500 refugees from Indonesia, although, so far, fewer than 100 have been resettled, and the government has not guaranteed numbers for the future. It sometimes takes months for UNHCR to register asylum seekers and then more months for those claims to be processed. Once determined to be refugees, they can wait years for the UNHCR to find a country willing to resettle them. Understandably, other resettling countries consider asylum seekers in Indonesia to be Australia’s responsibility. The lack of any guaranteed resettlement is another powerful incentive for asylum seekers to take the boat journey from Indonesia to Australia.

If Australia were willing to process asylum seekers and guarantee resettlement, far fewer asylum seekers would want or need to take the boat journey. Yet Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government takes proportionally fewer refugees than was the case under the conservative John Howard government. 

Third, the Australian government’s move to criminalize people-smuggling (and by association asylum seekers themselves) in Indonesia and Australia also provides a powerful disincentive for asylum boats to contact Australian authorities should they require assistance.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/12/20/rintoul.island.tragedy/

But how do we see tragedies like this? Can we convince ourselves that it is awful but inevitable, or of no concern to us, because there’s nothing we can do anyway? Do we look for a justification of our response, or lack of one, to what we see? Or do we simply interpret our experience to suit our beliefs?

Truth tellers and whistle blowers; those people who have had the veil of deception lifted from their eyes, are punished and, or ostracised. Witness the demise of the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. They can also suffer the curse of Cassandra, the Trojan princess, a visionary, but doomed never to be believed. 

Once you ‘see’, you cannot ‘unsee’, but you can choose whether to speak about what you see.

This brings me to a folktale of Celtic origin, that assumes the existence of parallel worlds; that of mortals and the mystic world of fairy folk. Just because you can’t see them, does that mean that they’re not there? I value this tale, not because I’m an exponent of the world of fairy, but because, like so many folktales, it offers a vision for us to understand our lives and the lives of others. It also serves to show both the power and vulnerability that comes with having ‘the sight.’

Pali the midwife, was preparing supper when she heard a knock at the door and before stood one of the fairy folk, begging her to come quickly to the assistance of a fairy princess who had need of her presence to safely deliver her baby. 

Pali immediately took her bag and climbed onto the back of the horse the fairy man brought. Off they went at a gallop, and Pali felt as though the horse’s hooves barely touched the ground as they rode into the night. Finally he stopped outside what appeared to be a grand palace. He led Pali through a torch lit hallway that opened into a chamber where the Fairy princess lay in childbed.

In due course the fairychild was born and the fairy princess bade Pali to rub the child with a special ointment, but to be wary of getting the ointment anywhere on her own self, except her hands. Over the next few days Pali looked after the mother and child. It was a strange place she had been brought to. She saw no-one but the princess and her baby and yet food appeared each day. One morning after she rubbed the newborn with the ointment, she felt her eye itch and without thinking, rubbed it. Some of the cream on her fingers went into it. From that time on, she saw the fairy folk. They came and went, chatting with the fairy princess and bringing her tasty morsels of food to eat. That evening Pali said to the fairy princess that she should sleep early today because she had so many visitors.

The fairy princess turned to her and flashed an angry look.

‘So you disobeyed me and rubbed your eyes with the ointment,’ she accused.

Pali was embarassed and nodded.

‘Quit by accident, though,’ she said apologetically.

‘Then it is time for you to go,’ said the fairy princess, and she deposited a purse filled with gold coins into her hand.

Pali was escorted by the fairy man back to her house. The following day she told the village people about her adventures and come market day, she was able to see the presence of the fairy folk trading amongst the stalls of the villagers. Often she would see the fairy folk going about their business, and she would let the villagers know if they were ever up to mischief. One day, while at the market, she saw a grand procession. There in the centre was the fairy princess herself. Pali ran up to greet her.

‘How lovely to see you here,’ said Pali.

‘You have no right to be seeing me at all,’ hissed the fairy princess, and spat in Pali’s eye.

When Pali rubbed her eye, the fairy folk had vanished. And though she looked for them day and night, she was never able to see them again. 

 

Sources: Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx, by John Rhys  (1901) e-text at the Internet Sacred Text Archive

www.sacred-texts.com/ neu/ cfwm/ index.htm

Stories of Wales: Forty-one tales from the Celtic heritage told for children by Elizabeth Sheppard-JonesJohn Jones Publishing Ruthin, North Wales © 1997

 

Photo ‘visions and illusions’ Roman W. Schatz  
Vision

 

You will reap what you sow

What is a human being worth? Who is worthy and who determines worthiness?  Who is more worthy? Blackskin, Brownskin, Whiteskin, Oldskin, Newskin? Are all human beings worth saving?  Is some life more sacred than others? It is necessary to contemplate these questions to understand why the Western world has been so slow and parsimonious in its response with aid to the devastation of Pakistan by floods. Here is an opportunity to show the people of Pakistan that we really care about their plight, and that we will support them not only in their time of urgent need, but in the years to come. For we will reap what we sow. If we are to sow the seeds of democracy and freedom then we must begin with the action of humanity and respond swiftly and generously with aid. 

A Good Deed – A Pakistani Folktale retold by Morgan

There was once a young man whose time had come to journey from his village and collect the young woman he was betrothed to. He dressed himself in his finest clothes, mounted his horse and set off. He soon found himself in the midst of a jungle and it was there that he came upon a fight between a snake and a mongoose. He dismounted and watched the scene before him. The creatures were in fierce contention and he thought that if he could separate them, then it was possible that neither would be too badly hurt. However, every time he intervened the mongoose fought harder and looked to be overcoming the snake. Finding that his peace making efforts did not prevail, he drew his sword and with deep regret slayed the determined mongoose. He then continued on his journey, but not very far, before the snake had intercepted him. Thinking that the snake was going to thank him for saving its life, he was quite shocked when it announced that it was going to eat him. The young man protested, saying that he had just saved his life and for this good deed he was going to be killed.                                                    “Surely,” he said, “one good turn deserves another. Where I come from this is what we believe.”                                                            

  “Well in this country, the customs are different, and good deeds are returned with evil.”                                                                        

The young man argued for a long time with the snake, but to no avail. In the end the snake agreed to the young man’s request to go about his business and return to this spot in eight days, to be eaten. So he was allowed to continue his journey and after a week he and his new wife took their seats in the bullock cart and made their way back to the jungle. When they arrived at the appointed place where the snake lived, the bridegroom climbed down from the cart and announced his arrival.                                                                   “Snake, I have honoured my promise and present myself to be eaten.”                                                                                              

 His wife was surprised by her husband’s words, but climbed down from the cart and stood beside him. The snake slithered out of his hole and coiled himself around the young man’s leg.                                                                                                                                  

  “Why do you wish to eat my husband?” she demanded.                                                                                                                              

 The snake told the story of how the man had saved his life and explained the custom of returning good with evil. The young bride was outraged and asked how such a custom came to be in the first place. The snake answered.                                                            

 “Go to the five talli trees that stand over there and you will find out why.”                                                                                                  

The bride did as she was asked and addressed the trees. The first tree told her their story.    

You can see that there are five trees here, when once upon a time there were six. The sixth tree was the oldest of us and the trunk was hollow. One day a robber escaping from his pursuers came to our forest and seeing the cavity in the trunk, dived inside. He begged and pleaded to the tree to save him and the tree did, by closing the hole in the trunk, and there he passed the night in safety. The following morning the tree opened her trunk and released the man, so he made his escape to a nearby city. Wherever he went people remarked upon his scent. They could smell him, and a beautiful fragrance it was too. For the trunk of the tree contained sandalwood. One man went to the King and told him of the presence of a stranger who had brought a wonderful scent with him and that the king may wish to discover it. The king immediately summoned the thief and demanded to know where he got the fragrance from. The thief was anxious. The King said that he would not put him to death if he showed him the source of the scent. When the thief heard this, he told him his story and agreed to take the kings men to the tree. For in hiding inside the trunk, his clothes had been imbued with the fragrance and had never left him. The kings men set to work and chopped down the tree and carried it to the palace. Upon understanding what was happening the tree said,  “For saving the life of a man I am to lose my own life. From this time forth I decree that in this jungle whoever does good to another will be repaid in evil.”          

Having heard the story, the young woman returned to her husband’s side and sadly declared that she understood why the custom had come about. The snake smiled and advanced upon her husband with open mouth. The bride cried out in fear.                      

 “What about me? You will have to eat me first. I cannot live without my husband.”    

When the snake heard these words he stopped.                                                                                                                                            

 “But you have not done me any good turns at all, so I cannot do evil to you.”      

The snake was determined to solve the problem and crept back to his hole, and returned with two magic pills.                                        

“Here is your comfort for when your husband is eaten. Swallow these tablets and you will give birth to two sons who you can devote yourself to, and they in turn will care for you.”                                                                                                                                             

The bride took the pills and once more the snake opened his mouth.

 “Wait,” she said, “what about my honour. If I have two children and no husband then what will happen to my good name?”                    

 “Revenge is the best remedy for that,” said the snake. “I have more pills and all you have to do is crumble one between your fingers and when the powder falls on your detractor’s head, you will see them turn to ashes.”                                                                                    

 The young woman took the handful of pills offered by the snake and immediately crumbled one and let the powder fall upon the snake.                                                                                                            

  “Do you mean like this?” she asked innocently, and watched as the snake turned to ash.                                                                          

 Then with a smile upon her face the bride turned to her husband and said, “Who ever does good to anyone, in the end good will be done to them, but who ever does evil to anyone, then in the end, evil will be done to them.”                                                                                                                                        

And so they returned to their home together and lived in happiness and contentment with their children until the end of their days.

Source: Charles Swynnerton, Indian Nights’ Entertainment: Folk-Tales from the Upper Indus (London: Elliot Stock, 1892), no. 42, pp. 133-38

Photograph You will reap what you sow by Roman W. Schatz

Reap

 

Hans in Luck

On first appearances Hans im Glueck  appears to be the antithesis of the Indian folktale, The Drum. In the latter tale the wish is fulfilled but only when the seeker is prepared to relinquish everything he is given along his journey. Each gift increases in value until finally he has what he wants. Inversely the seeker in the German folktale, Hans im Glueck begins with his fortune and on his journey trades it away.  Both of these stories are in my top 10 all time favourite folktales to tell. Like The Drum which also has many African variants and undoubtedly provenance in European and other Asian cultures, Hans im Glueck also has many variants. A. Steven Evans has written a wonderful analysis of its Bhutanese counterpart  Meme Haylay Haylay and the cultural importance of this particular folktale to the Bhutanese people. Arne Thompson categorises the Hans Im Glueck tales as type 1415: Trading away one’s fortune. But what does a folktale about a boy (the archetype of the fool) who gives away his fortune, offer me, a middle aged woman living in the 21st century?
Like all folktales this one can be taken at face value. This is an entertaining chain tale about a foolish boy who gives away all he has worked for and ends up with nothing. It is easy to view the characters in the tale as charlatans, playing on the naivety of the lad and cheating him at each turn when he goes out into the world. And yet it is possible to also see this tale from another perspective; one where everyone gets what they want, especially Hans, who secures freedom from the burden of care and worry. He is happy. And that is ultimately what all human beings strive for. This tale serves me in two ways: to challenge the way I see  things and show me a path to experiencing happiness. In the words of the Dalai Lama,  Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
Hans im Glueck (Hans in Luck)

Hans worked for seven long years for the farmer and at the end of this time, went to him and asked for his wages. His employer was very pleased with the lad’s work and paid him handsomely. He have him a lump of silver as large as his head. Hans placed it carefully in a sack and swung it onto his back and began his journey home.

Hans trudged along burdened by the weight of the silver. When a horseman trotted towards him he watched in awe. To travel freely along on horseback would be a treat. He dropped the sack on the ground and the rider stopped to greet him.

“Oh to ride such a fine pony,” he said, “but I have to walk carrying along this lump of silver that makes my back ache. You wouldn’t want to swap your horse for my silver ?” he asked.

The rider climbed down and examined the sack. His eyes lit up as he lugged the sack on to his back.

“Why that would be a fine trade,” he said, and handed the reins over to Hans.

Hans mounted the horse, who immediately launched into a gallop. Hans hung on for dear life but when the animal jumped over a fallen log, Hans went flying through the air and landed on his backside in the middle of a ditch. The horse would have run off altogether if a shepherd leading a cow hadn’t stopped him and brought him back to Hans.

Hans looked at the docile cow and smiled. 

“Now there’s an animal who would never hurt anyone and what’s more she’s good company and useful. I would always have milk if i had a cow, and I could make cheese as well.”

Hans smiled at the shepherd.

“Would you consider exchanging your cow for my horse?” he asked.

The shepherd was delighted and handed over the lead rope of the cow and jumped up onto the horse’s back, gripped the reins firmly between his fingers, he trotted off.

Hans was hungry and took out a bread roll from his food bag. He would need some milk to drink with it. He took out his wooden cup and walked behind the cow and set about trying to milk her. But the cow was having none of it and gave him such a kick to the head that he lay dazed upon the ground. Luckily a butcher passed by pushing s pig in a wheelbarrow. He stopped and helped Hans to his feet and asked him if the cow grazing on the grass was his.

“Oh yes,” he said, but she won’t give any milk and certainly not any sausages like that fat gentleman you’ve got in your barrow. You wouldn’t consider swapping your pig for my cow would you?”

The butcher rubbed his hands with glee and handed the barrow over to Hans and led the cow away.

A little while later Hans met a man carrying a fat white goose. The fellow stopped and looked at Hans’ pig.

“Did you know that the squire on the farm over the hill had his best pig stolen?” he asked.

“Oh,” said Hans, “you don’t think that this is him do you?”

“Well, I know this beautiful goose is mine but where did you get the pig?”

Hans explained about the exchanges he had made and asked whether the countryman would consider exchanging the goose for the pig. The goose owner said he would be glad to take the pig off his hands and immediately gave him the goose and took the barrow and wheeled it away quick smart.

Soon Hans found himself in a village where he saw a grinder singing while he sharpened knives and scissors at his wheel.  He saw Hans and smiled at the fat goose he was carrying.

“You are a happy man with your trade. Why is that?” Hans asked.

“Because with a sharpening stone you will always have money in your pocket,” he replied. “People always want their tools sharpened.”

“Have you such a stone to exchange for a goose?” Hans asked.

The grinder reached into a basket and took out a large stone. The two exchanged goose for stone and Hans continued on his way, listening to grinder singing in a voice louder and cheerier than before.

Hans walked on till sunset and found himself on the banks of a river. He was tired from walking and carrying the stone, so set it down on the river bank while he cupped his hands and drank from the fast flowing torrent. When he had quenched his thirst he turned and knocked the stone which immediately tumbled down into the river. In no time at all it had disappeared. 

For a moment his heart sank, but unlike the stone it rose again, happy and light. Hans jumped up and dance a joyful jig. 

“My heart is light 

And my mind is free

There are none luckier

In the world than me.

Hans walked until he reached his mother’s house and told her how very easy the road to good luck was.

References and Sources:

Evans, Steve (2007). “An Analysis of ‘Meme Haylay Haylay 
and His Turquoise’ using Joseph Campbell’s model of the 
Hero’s Journey,” Journal of Bhutan Studies, Vol.15.  
Children’s and Household Tales ( Kinder- und Hausmärchen) 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm 
Artwork: Adrift by Roman W. Schatz
Adrift