What would you do to the fish so that you can eat it for a long time?

Once upon a time a governor discussed with his wife about arranging a marriage for their son. He was a good behaved young man.

“We should find a suitable wife for our son so that his future will flourish.”
When the time was proper they discussed the matter with their beloved son.
“My son, now that you have grown up and it is proper that you marry someone suitable to your caliber, have you found anyone yet?”

The young man looked down and kept quiet, the governor then said:

“You need to be very selective, I will give you 7 days to go around and when you find girls that you like, you should ask them the same question i.e. if you had a big fish, what would you do to the fish so that you can eat it for a long time?”

While his son was thinking about the question the governor said,

“It is now time. Look around for suitable girls. I will give you only 7 days. You don’t have to do anything much, just ask them the same question that I asked you.”

The governess also reiterated these instructions.
Since the young man was good looking, polite and was the governor’s only son this task seemed easy for him to do. Whenever he met a girl they usually made advances to him and their parents were happy to have him as a son in law.
He asked the same question that his father instructed him to all the girls that he met. Most of them said:

 “It’s not difficult, just pickle it and it can be kept for eating for a long time”.

Some said:

“For the picked fish, the longer it takes the more delicious it is, some said you just sun dry it, this way you can have it for a long time”.

These girls gave him similar clues of how to prepare the fish and preserve it. The young man nodded his head and continued his search.
Finally he came to an ordinary house but it looked clean and well maintained with a herb garden out the back. He also noticed many healthy fruit trees with abundant fruits around the block.
He saw a pretty girl picking up flowers. He then asked her the same question. He was stunned seeing that she was smiling at him courteously and answered his question clearly and with a harmonized voice.


Her answer was:

“I will make fish soup and will divide it up into 3 portions, 1 portion for my family, I will offer a bowl containing the best part to monks and the rest I will give to my neighbors”.

He asked

“If you do this you only have one meal and how can you keep it for the following meals?”
“Well my family is important, I need to feed them. Once we finish the fish, we can get some more the next day”.

The young man then asked further question.

“Why do you give it to the monks”

The young woman replied:

“It makes me feel happy and hopefully I will have something to eat next life”.

The young man asked more question.

“And why do you give to your neighbors?

The young woman answered:

“That the way we will be able to eat fish for a long time. If you are generous and kind to the neighbors they will reciprocate that generosity and will be kind to us and therefore we can eat this fish for a long time.”

The young man appreciated her answer and happily chatted with her for a long time unlike with other girls. When it got dark, she then invited him in for dinner. But the young man refused and reluctantly said good-bye to her because he needed to go back to his parents. He had been gone for 7 days and didn’t want them to worry about him.
When he got home he told his parents about his encounters and hearing about the last girl, they immediately consented to arrange the marriage to her.
The wedding was arranged; both lived happily ever after through their kindness and their faith and were beloved by their neighbors.

From: a Thai tale

Translated by Chan

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