ONE MAN AND HIS PRECIOUS COW

There was a man with three sons
and a precious cow. The man was very proud of his cow because she gave birth
to a healthy calf every year. One day, the man asked his eldest son to take
the cow grazing.

The son took the cow to the fields where green grass grew
and then to the water-hole for a nice long drink.

Later, the man asked his cow,
“Cow, did you have enough to eat?”.

“Hmm”, the cow replied. “Your wicked son took me to the
wilderness where no grass grows. Then he tied me up and went to sleep.”

The man was angry with his eldest son and sent him away from home.

The eldest son wandered through green meadows, parched lands and waded across
little ponds until he arrived at a farmhouse. There he met a kind farmer who
taught him how to farm in both dry and wet seasons.

The farmer told the boy, “One day I will have to send you back to your
father, so you can teach him how to farm. Then he can depend less on that
wicked cow.”

Meanwhile, the boy’s father had called his second son. “Go and graze the
cow. She must be well fed and washed.” The second son took the cow to
the green fields where she grazed. Then he gave her a bath and tied her to a
tree to dry. As he waited for the cow to dry, he dozed off.

The father came by to see how his cow was doing. “Have you eaten?”,
the man asked the cow.

“Hmm”, the cow replied. “Your wicked son took me to the
wilderness where no grass grows. Then he tied me up and went to sleep.”

The man was again very angry. He grabbed a big stick and woke his son up.
Then he chased him away.

The second son wandered for days until he came upon the house of a
blacksmith. The blacksmith taught him how to make hoes and matchets for
farming as well as bows and arrows for hunting. The blacksmith told the boy,
“One day, I will have to send you back to your father so you can teach
him how to make these tools. Then he can depend less on that wicked
cow.”

The father had now called his third and favorite son. “Go and graze the
cow. Be sure to take good care of her for it will break my heart to send you
away like your brothers” he warned his son.

The son took the cow to the green fields where she grazed and bathed. Then he
tied her to a tree to dry. Just then the father arrived.
“Cow”, he asked. “Did you have enough to eat?”

“Hmm”, the cow replied. “Your favorite son is just as wicked
as his brothers. He took to the wilderness where no grass grows. Then he tied
me up here to die.”

The man was very sad to hear this but he wouldn’t listen to his son’s pleas.
He sent him away just like his brothers before him.

The third son wandered for many
days until he reached the house of a great scholar. There he learned to read
and write.

The father who was now alone took the cow grazing. He took the cow to a
pasture where she ate plenty of lush grass and drank plenty of water while
the man dozed under a tree. When the man woke up, he asked the cow, “Are
you full?”

The cow laughed. “You’re a hypocrite like your sons. You took me into
the wilderness. You gave me no food and no water. Then you ask me if I’m
full?!”

The man couldn’t believe what he heard. “Ahh, you’ve been lying to me
all along”, he wailed. “I sent my sons away because of your
lies.” He beat the cow with a stick then he tied her up to a tree and
left her to die.

The man wandered from village to village looking for his sons but with no
luck. After many years, he returned home a sad and tired old man.

One market day, he decided to go to the market to buy himself some food. When
he got to the edge of the market, he was tired that he slumped and fainted.
People ran to help him. The noise attracted everyone. Everyone, including the
eldest son who had come to sell some of his farm produce, the second son who
had come to sell the tools he made and the third son who had accompanied his
teacher to the market to buy some food. The boys noticed that that was their
father who had fainted and at the same time, they found one another. They
were overjoyed.

When the old man was revived, he wept with joy at seeing his sons once again.
He asked for their forgiveness and pleaded with them to come back home.
“My eyes were opened long ago. You are more precious to me than a
cow.”

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