CREDOS : Obstinate couple — I

Stories and fairy tales have the power to shed light on life, illuminating things that might be happening right in front of us but that we are, for whatever reason, unable to see. This is the insight of “Stubborn Husband, Stubborn Wife,” a Muslim story that fairy tale expert Allan B Chinen heard told by an old woman in Iran. Excerpted from “Sacred Stories: A Celebration of the Power of Story to Transform and Heal.”

Once upon a time, there lived a husband and wife in a far away country. Every morning, the husband would wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and sit on a bench outside his house. Then he would watch the world go by all day long. Meanwhile, his wife would wake up, fetch water, chop wood, light the fire, cook breakfast, sweep the floor, and wash their clothes. As you can imagine, the two quarrelled constantly about this.

“Why do you sit there like a bump on a log doing nothing?” the wife would ask. The husband would say, “I am thinking deep thoughts.” “As deep as a pig’s tail is long!” she would cry out.

The two would argue back and forth. One day, their calf broke out of the barn as the husband was sitting on the bench and the wife was rushing around doing chores. The wife turned to the husband and asked, “Why don’t you water the calf? You should at least do that. That’s man’s work.”

The husband replied, “I inherited a flock of sheep from my father. A shepherd takes care of them and gives us cheese, milk, and wool. That’s enough for us to live on. So that’s enough work for me. Besides, the ancient prophets say that when a man speaks, a woman should obey. I say you should take care of the calf.” —