photo: Michael Foley

There was an old woman who came from a poor family, but it was full of love. In telling the story of her life to her children, she began her tale like this:

“As usual, I went to the animal’s house to milk the cows and give them food. My mother was sick and my father had died. We were living in a world full of problems and troubles.

“I, the oldest child of my mother, had taken on the responsibility to work and provide food, since my brothers and sisters were too young. We finished the days with problems and passed the nights with dread.

“In our village we had a tradition that girls should be married by the age of 12. I was the only one who was 18 years old; I was unmarried at home. Problems surrounded me from all sides of society.

“A short time passed, and my mother died, leaving us alone. My brother, who was younger, tried to help with projects around the farm. All of us were deprived of learning. We had to suffer the daily difficulties of our lives and travel the road of tribulations.

“Traveling that road was a hard, boring trip, but we had no other way. Everyone made fun of the fact that I still had not gotten married. Being single was reprehensible to them but abandoning my brothers and my sisters was reprehensible to me.

“It was a hot, summer day when my youngest brother got sick. I had to find the money to get him to the city to cure him—I eventually did. When my brother turned 15 years old, he became a great help for the family. He worked so hard for our comfort that my work lessened. I sewed and earned money for household needs. I was also able to save a little. We passed many years without any head of our family.

“One day I suddenly realized that my brother, smaller than me, had become like an older man; we were all very proud of him. Our life was improving; the fearfulness of the nights and the dread of the day to come were starting to fade. We were all able to work for our future. My brothers and sisters gained learning and knowledge through their jobs. I was no longer worried about the children of my mother because I could see that they were able to determine their futures. After many years, prosperity had opened its door to us. Day by day our lives became better and better.

“One day, my aunt (the only elder member of our family) came to our home and told me about a man she wanted me to marry. I was worried about my brothers and sisters because it was so difficult for me to leave them alone, but at their insistence, along with my aunt’s, I accepted the marriage.

“And so I married. My brothers and sisters were able to make their futures. We could all remove the shadow of misery from us and feel the brightness of prosperity.”

The old woman told her children, “I advise you to work hard in your life, work to improve your life, and don’t permit selfish and pointless pride. You should treat orphans and the poor in the same way that you treat me. Because in the past, your old mother was one of these people—and remember that a person in one condition may at another time be faced with a different condition of life.”

By Sabira