A lesson based on a true story

It was 1927. The warm days of spring had arrived in the beautiful village of Bark. The fine weather brought visitors from distant lands. One special guest would enjoy the long tranquil summer. She would nest in a high chimney near the mosque and wake to the voice of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer and then recite her own long ballad. The sounds echoed through the hills. There was a longing sound in her voice. After mating and giving birth, the majestic visitor would normally have returned to her homeland to maybe come back the following year

The stork’s hopes were as long as her thin legs and protracted beak. She was young and beautiful and attracted the eye of a strong and handsome male. After their wedding, held in the deep blue sky, they flew away to build a new life together. The protective male proudly and jealously looked after her. She made her nest and began to lay her eggs one by one. The male counted them every day and protected them carefully. They anxiously awaited their chicks. But something happened. A mischievous hand interfered with the eggs. It was not a child. It was a cunning adult. He examined the eggs, and chose the best one. He stared at it and laughed through his rusty teeth. Holding his hat so as not to lose it to the wind, he climbed down from the tree, his evil prank completed.

He rushed to the coffee house and began to boast about what he had done. He had replaced the stork egg with a duck egg. With a cigarette in one hand and the egg in the other he bragged: ‘I took this egg and put a duck egg in the nest. Soon, we will see flying ducks’.

He returned home and showed off the egg to his children. They looked at it in astonishment. He put some butter in a pan and prepared to fry it. It sizzled as it struck the hot metal. At that very moment, the heart of the mother sizzled as she was struck by a burning desire to return to her nest. Like the man, they too returned to their nest to look after their young. Unaware of what had happened, the male sang his beautiful song and eased the worries of his mate.

Waiting for a new life is not easy. The male stork flew away early in the morning, and after searching near and far would return with all sorts of delicacies for his wife. When the chicks eventually hatched, cracking the shells one by one, she noticed that one was different. They were all cute and lovely, but one was different She looked at it again and again, but could not find any resemblance with the others. Her heart filled with compassion and took pity on it.

‘It grows up with the others,’ she said to herself. What was the difference apart from its short legs and beak? She could not throw it away. It would surely die and a soul would be lost. This poor chick would never survive. She dared not mention it to her proud and handsome mate.

As the chicks grew, the differences became more apparent. The male had not noticed at first and used to watch them all with great pride. Then, one day, he noticed the duckling. Everything changed. He frowned and became angry. He stared at his wife fluffing out his feathers. She understood what this meant and what he was thinking. She shrunk away and was unable to make a sound. She wanted to say ‘I pitied this chick and wanted to protect it.’ but she couldn’t.

The male stork fluttered his wings, rose, and came down on his wife violently this was an infidelity and an insult to himself and his generation. He could not bear it. He could not ignore it. He did not care that the others were not jealous. He was extremely jealous and very angry. Although he loved his wife a great deal, his jealousy turned to hate. A female is beautiful and beloved if she protects the honour of the male. As he struck her, his beak filled with her feathers. She would never leave the chick. She was a mother. She could never do such a thing. He struck her again, more violently this time. Her body bled. With the third blow she looked at her chicks, as if seeking help, but they could not understand what was happening.

He flew away to seek the views of the other storks. They decided. An unfaithful female has to be executed. She made no sound. She was at the mercy of the law. He got his revenge. They took her body to the village square and dropped it there as a kind of warning. The dead stork became a play thing for the children.

The man who had swapped the egg saw it. Now, he wasn’t laughing. A flame burnt inside. He felt a heaviness on his heart. It wouldn’t go away. He took to drink and couldn’t talk to his family. He was overcome by embarrassment at the way he boasted in the coffee house. The villagers became sad upon hearing the yelling of the chicks in the high chimney. No adult dared touch the corpse. The village felt sorry for its guest, but no one would remove her body

The cruel man could not leave his house. He pulled the curtains and took refuge in darkness. The pangs of conscience exhausted him. He could only go outside in the evenings. One night, with a bottle in his hand, he went to the village square. He was talking to himself. The beak of the stork stood upright like a knife. In his drunkard state he lost his balance and fell on it. The beak pierced his heart.

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