(adapted from a story from China)
Once upon a time there lived a king who ruled over a large kingdom. The king was becoming old, and wished to find a husband for his daughter, princess Sakimba... ( ‘Sakimba’ means ‘peace’ in the Maasai African language), so that they could rule wisely together to bring peace and happiness to his beloved people and all the living creatures in his kingdom. So he asked his daughter if she might like to find a good husband. Sakimba replied, ‘Father, I shall marry the man who will walk along the winding path to the sea, and bring back to me 3 things.’ The king was somewhat puzzled, but his daughter continued, ‘A silver pin, a twig which originates from the moon, and a golden key. In this way’, spoke Sakimba,’ we shall know whose heart is truly kind, and can thereby really bring lasting peace and happiness to all in our kingdom.
As Sakimba was a beautiful princess, it wasn’t long before the first young man appeared to take up the challenge. He was in such a hurry as he walked along the path, that he didn’t hear the cry of the wild bird, or the wailing children on the roadside, and returned even before he had reached the sea. Such was this young man’s haste and impatience that he returned empty-handed, frustrated and exhausted.
Another young man set out along the winding path leading to the sea. He noticed the wild bird and pushed it aside, likewise the children. ‘Stop bothering me, I have much more important things to do than to listen to you!’ Finding the treasures to bring to win the hand in marriage of the princess were all he could think of. When he reached the sea, he only found a fish, gasping, on the sand.
However he didn’t want to return empty-handed before the king and princess, so he asked someone to make him a silver pin and a golden key, and picked an ordinary twig from the roadside. When the princess examined these, she knew instantly what he had done, and that these were not the objects she had asked for. She could still hear the cries of the suffering of the bird, fish and children in her father’s kingdom.
After a while another young man set out to seek the treasures which the princess had asked for. He hadn’t gone very far when he heard a creature crying out to him. He stopped, listened and then went to where the cries were coming from. There, behind a stone. lay a wild bird, fluttering helplessly on the ground. The young man’s heart filled with compassion, and he asked the bird, ‘Wild bird, why do you flutter upon the earth? Why do you not fly up into the heavens?’ The wild bird replied, ‘Youth with the heart of kindness, I cannot move one of my wings. I am always in pain.’ The young man approached the bird quietly and gently so as not to frighten him. Then, upon examining one of the wings, he found that someone had fastened it with a pin. Gently the youth removed the pin, and the bird stood up, ready to fly off. ‘Thank you,’ spoke the wild bird. ‘Now allow me to give you this pin’. Then the young man watched as the bird flew off up into the heavens, and went on his way with his heart filled with happiness.
Further along the winding pathway, he heard some children wailing. The young man asked them what was the matter, to which they sobbed, ‘We’ve not eaten any food for days, and we have no money to buy any food’. The youth felt the suffering of these children in his own heart, and gave them his own purse. The children looked inside the purse and said, ’Youth with the heart of kindness, we shall keep the money, but here is your purse’. When the young man took the purse, it suddenly changed into a twig from the moon. He thanked the children, and watched them skip away to buy some food. Then he went on his way with his heart filled with happiness.
At the end of the winding path, the young man reached the sea. There on the beach was a fish, gasping. ‘Please’, gasped the fish, ‘put me back into the water’. Immediately the young man quickly and carefully picked up the fish and carried him into the water. The fish darted deep down into the sea, then re-appeared and spoke, ‘Youth with the heart of kindness, allow me to give you this’. Then, with a low bow, the fish placed a golden key at the feet of the young man. ‘Thank you, dear fish,’ said the young man, as he watched the fish joyfully disappear back into the sea. He picked up the golden key and hastened back to the princess Sakimba, carrying the 3 objects, his heart filled with happiness.
The princess examined the silver pin, the twig from the moon, and the golden key. She knew that these were the true objects. A clear, warm light shone from the young man’s eyes.
They married, and ruled together wisely over her father’s kingdom, bringing peace and happiness to all the people and creatures living there.
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