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  • Writer's pictureAnca

The man who lived in the here and now

Once upon a time in a village there were two brothers. The older brother was hardworking, careful, and prosperous because wherever he put his hand, God's mercy followed. The younger brother was poor. Often luck fled from him and he fled from luck because he was lazy and imprudent in his affairs. 

All the poor brother  had was a  pair of oxen, and what oxen: young, tall, sharp horns, sturdy and plump, as they were best suited for plowing. But, a plow, harrow, wagon, sled, cart, pitchfork, sickle, scythe, and other tools needed by a farmer were not to be found in his house. 

man holding a yellow bird
Man holding a bird

And when he needed such things, he always bothered others, especially his brother who had everything. Every few days, the poor brother would find himself at the door of his well off brother asking to borrow his wagon: to bring wood from the forest, flour from the mill, beets from the garden, and much more. 

"Brother," said the older brother one day, "You have oxen, why don't you imagine a wagon? You've worn mine out completely." 

"Well, then, brother," said the younger one, scratching his head, "what should I do?"

"What should you do? Let me teach you: your oxen are big and sturdy, take them to the market, sell them and buy smaller and cheaper ones, and with the money you have left, buy yourself a wagon, and there you have it, you've become a farmer." 

"Oh, you know you didn't teach me badly? That's what I'll do." 

Saying this, he went home, took his oxen by the rope and set out with them towards the market. The market was quite far away, and the fair was almost over. But a rolling stone gathers no moss, and once his mind was set up, he was not to be stopped.  

Walking with his oxen towards the fair, just as he was climbing a long and rugged hill, another man was coming down the hill from the market with a new cart he had just bought, which he was pulling by his own hands. 

"Stop, my friend," said the man with the oxen, who kept wriggling out of the rope, "Stop for a moment with your cart, I have something to tell you."

"I would stop, but my cart doesn't want to stop. But what do you want to tell me?"

"Your cart is moving on its own."

"Well, not exactly on its own, can't you see?"

"Listen, friend, do you want to make a deal? Give me your cart and take my oxen. I don't want to carry the burden of looking after them anymore - feeding them, protecting them from wolves, and many other things. I think I'm worthy of pulling a cart, especially if it moves on its own."

"Are you kidding me, man, or are you serious?"

"No joke, I'm serious," said our man.

"Well, then, I see you're a good bargainer, and I'm in a good mood. Let's make a deal, and may God bless us both. You take the cart, and I'll take the oxen!"

Then, he gave him the cart, took his oxen, and left into the forest. Meanwhile, our hero thought to himself, "Be quiet, this is too good to be true. I hope he doesn't change his mind."

Then he took his new cart and started back down the hill towards home. "Hey, crazy cart, when I load you up with bags of flour from the mill or hay from the fields, then you can behave like this!"

The cart almost got away from him, but eventually, they reached the end of the valley and began to climb a hill. "Come on, let's go up! Pull, come on!" But the cart rolled back, and he exclaimed, "This is what I get for my troubles - a cart that doesn't work!"

Finally, he managed to push the cart to the side and stopped. He sat down and thought to himself, "This is a strange situation. If I am me, I've ruined my oxen, and if I'm not, then I've found a cart. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not."

Down the road, a man came by hastily, with a goat for sale.

"Friend," he said "will you give me that goat in exchange for this cart?"

"How could I give it to you, man, this is a good goat, is not one of the jumping kind, and is good for milk." but after a moment's thinking, the man with the goat shrugged: "What am I saying? Good or not, give me your cart and take it!"

"Good bargain!" said our man "Take the goat with you, I know I've had enough of it!" said the other and sat down by the cart awaiting for other passers by so he could hitch his new cart to their wagons. 

So our man took the goat and started towards the fair again. But the goat, being a goat, kept wriggling around, and our hero was getting tired of it.

"If only I could get to the fair soon," he said, "to get rid of this pest."

As he went on, he met a man coming from the fair with a goose in his arms.

"Good day to you, my friend!" said our man. 

"God bless you!"

"Do you want to trade? I'll give you this goat and you give me the goose."

"You're out of luck, because it's not a goose, it's a gander; I bought it as a breeding bird."

"Come on, give it to me; but if not, good luck with the home geese"

And so, after some back and forth, our man sold the goat. Then he grabbed the gander and headed towards the fair again. When he reached the fair, the gander, seeing the geese, was screaming at the top of his lungs: "ga, ga, ga, ga!"

"There! I got rid of the devil and found his father; he's deafening me! But don't worry, I'll marry you off too, you rascal!"

Passing by a bag seller, he put the gander down on the scales and, with a long sigh, he chose a bag from the pile that the man was selling. He took the bag, twisted it, turned it, and then said:

"Here I am now, from a pair of oxen that I loved to look at, I am left with an empty bag. Well, well, well, well! I know it's not the first time I've been on the road; but it seems like the devil has taken my mind!"

He sat around with his mouth agape for a while in the fair, then shuffled his way back. When he arrived in the village, he went straight to his brother to share the joy.

"Welcome, brother! You stayed a long time at the market! What news do you bring?"

"Not good news, I'm afraid. My poor oxen were swallowed up by a disaster."

"Oh no! Did some disaster strike them or did someone steal them?"

"No, I was the one who sold them myself, brother"

He then recounted the whole story of where he had been and what had happened. At the end, he said, "So, here I am now, in front of you. I ended up with only a bag from a pair of oxen, and even this one is empty."

"Well, to be honest, dear brother,  you're quite a fool!"

"Well, until now things have been as they have been, but from now on I have learned my lesson. But what good is it when you have a mind if there is nothing else you have; Here, I'll give you this bag too, as I have no use for it."


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