Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finding Your Fate

I've been teaching Turkish folktales this week, and I have a particular favorite.  It goes something like this:

There was a man who was a failure at everything he tried to do.  No matter what the job, he never seemed to be successful.  He decided there must be a problem somewhere, so he decided to find Fate and ask how to fix his life.

So he set out on a journey to find Fate.  Along the way, he met a wolf who constantly suffered from a terrible headache.  When the wolf found out that the man was going to find Fate and ask for help with his difficulties, he asked the man to please ask Fate how to cure his headache.

The man agreed and went on.

Along the way, he met a watchman who was guarding a vineyard.  When he told the watchman where he was traveling and why, the watchman said, "I took this job as a watchman, but I don't really like it.  Can you please ask Fate how I can find what I want in life?"

The man agreed and continued on.

He came to a river and saw a fish.  When the fish asked the man where he was going, the man explained his trip and its purpose.  The fish said, "If you'll tell Fate my problem, I'll carry you across the river."

The man agreed, so the fish told him that, all his life, he had been unable to close his mouth.  River water was constantly running through it, so he wanted to know what he could do to fix the problem.

The man crossed the river and found Fate sitting on his front porch.  He told Fate about his problem and Fate spun the Wheel of Fortune for him.

He then told Fate about the wolf.  Fate told him that to cure his headache, the wolf should eat the head of the stupidest man alive.

He told Fate about the watchman.  Fate told him, "Buried in the vineyard where the watchman works, you'll find two jars of gold.  If you work together and find it, you'll have enough for both of you to live on for the rest of your lives."

He told Fate about the fish.  Fate said, "Its mouth is blocked with two precious stones.  Take out the stones, and it will be able to close its mouth."

The man thanked Fate and started on his way back home.  He met up with the fish and told him Fate's solution.  He took the stones out of the fish's mouth and saw that they were diamonds.

"You keep them," the fish said.  "I have no use for them."

"I don't need diamonds," the man replied.  "Fate has spun the Wheel of Fortune for me.  That's all I need."

He arrived at the vineyard and told the watchman about the buried jars of gold.  "I don't know where to find them," the watchman said.  "Why don't you help me look, and then each of us can keep one?"

"Fate has spun the Wheel of Fortune for me," said the man.  "I don't need gold."

Finally, the man met the wolf.  He told the wolf Fate's remedy for his headache, and the wolf said, "I'm not sure how I'll know who is the stupidest man alive.  I'll have to give it some thought.  In the meantime, how was your trip?  What did Fate tell you?"

"Fate didn't tell me anything," the man said.  "Fate just spun the Wheel of Fortune, and that's all I needed.  But I did get some help for a watchman and a fish."  And he told the wolf about the other two.

When he finished, the wolf said, "Oh, I see."

And he ate the man's head and cured his headache.


  1. This reads to me like a snarkier Wizard of Oz (though I haven't the actual WoO book - is this how it ends?).

    1. Actually, the Wizard of Oz series of books is pretty interesting--there's more than just the one. And yes, this is how this particular folktale ends.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."