||Issue Date: 11 / 2012
Three Pieces of Advice
Yolanda Calel Tecum (Translated by Tommie Sue Montgomery)
A young and very poor man and wife lived on the edge of a village in the mountains. One day the husband talked to the wife and made this suggestion:
Dearest, I am going to leave and travel very far in order to look for work. I will work until I am able to return and give you a more comfortable and dignified life. I do not know how long I will be gone or how far I will travel. I ask of you only one thing: that you wait for me and, while I am far away, that you be faithful to me. I will be faithful to you.
So, being young he walked for many days until he came to the foreman of a ranch who needed someone to help him. The man asked for a job and was hired. He also asked for a contract:
Allow me to work for the time that I want to and when I must leave, the owner will free me of my obligations. I do not want to receive my salary. I ask that the owner open a savings account until the day I leave. On that day, you will give me the money I have earned.
The two men agreed. The young man worked for twenty years, without vacation or rest. One day he went to the foreman and said, “Boss, I want my money because I want to return home.”
The boss answered:
Very well. We made an agreement and I am going to honour it. Before I do, however, I want to propose something, OK? I will give you your money and you will leave, or I will give you three pieces of advice instead of the money, and you will leave. If I give you the money, I won’t give you advice, and vice versa. Go to your room, think about it, and then give me your answer.
The man thought about it for two days, then went to his boss and said, “I want the three pieces of advice.”
The boss told him: “If I give you the advice, I will not give you the money.”
The employee said, “I want the advice.”
The boss then said:
1. Never take shortcuts. Shorter and unknown roads can cost you your life.
2. Never be curious about that which represents evil, since curiosity about evil can be fatal.
3. Never make decisions in a moment of hatred and pain because you can repent too late.
After giving the man this advice the boss said, “Here you have three loaves of bread, two to eat during the journey and the third to eat with your wife when you arrive home.”
The man began his journey, twenty years and very far from home and the wife he still loved.
At the end of the first day he met a person whom he greeted. The person asked, “Where are you going?” The man answered, “I am on a road that will take me more than twenty days to travel.”
The person then said, “Young man, this road is very long. I know a shortcut by which you will arrive in just a few days.”
The young man, satisfied, headed down the shortcut—when he remembered the first piece of advice: “Never take shortcuts; they can cost you your life.”
So, he returned to the main road and continued his journey. Two days later he met another traveler who had taken the shortcut and had been attacked. He had been beaten and his clothes had been stolen. The shortcut included an ambush!
After a few more days, extremely tired, the man found an inn at a curve in the road. It was very late at night and it appeared that everyone was sleeping. An ugly woman opened the door and, as the man was obviously very tired, gave him a room and allowed him to pay the bill. After using the washroom he lay down to sleep. In the middle of the night he was rudely awakened by a scream of terror. He got up and went to the door, intending to find out where the scream came from. As he opened the door, he remembered the second piece of advice:
“Never be curious about that which represents evil since curiosity about evil can be fatal.”
He returned to bed and to sleep. At daybreak, after drinking a cup of coffee, the owner of the inn asked him if he had heard a scream during the night. The man said that he had. The owner asked him, “And you weren’t curious? The man said “no.”
The owner told him: “You are lucky that you are leaving here alive because every night an evil, crazy woman who screams horribly, waits to ambush whatever guest goes out to investigate the scream. She kills him and buries him in the field. Then she disappears.
The young man—now no longer so young—continued his long journey, anxious to get home. Near sundown he saw among the bushes smoke rising from the chimney of his small house. He walked through the bushes and saw the silhouette of his wife. It was becoming twilight but he was able to see that she was not alone. He walked a little further and saw that she had a man on her lap who was brushing her hair. When he saw that scene his heart filled with hatred and bitterness. He decided to rush into the house and kill them without mercy.
Breathing hard he began to run…. Then he remembered the third piece of advice:
“Never make decisions in moments of hatred and pain; you may repent too late.”
So, he stopped to think, and decided to sleep there that night, then make a decision the next day. At sunrise, with a clear head, he said, “I am not going to kill my wife. I am going to return to my boss and ask him to hire me again. Before that, however, I want to tell her that I was always faithful to her.”
He went to the door and knocked. When his wife opened the door and recognized him, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him fiercely. He tried to break away but couldn’t.
With tears in his eyes he said, “I was faithful to you and you betrayed me.”
His wife, shocked, answered, “How? I never betrayed you. I waited for you for twenty years.”
The man asked, “And who was that man you were hugging yesterday afternoon?
She said, “That man is your son! When you left I discovered that I was pregnant. Today he is twenty years old.”
The husband entered his house, met and hugged his son. He told them the entire story while his wife prepared dinner. They sat down to eat the last loaf of bread together. After the blessing, with tears of emotion, he broke the bread and found all his money—his salary for twenty years of dedication.
Yolanda Calel Tecum in finishing her fourth year in the school
of social work at San Carlos University in Quetzaltenango,
Guatemala. She is trilingual in Spanish, K'iche, and English.
Tommie Sue Montgomery, Ph.D., has traveled, lived and conducted
research in Latin America and the Caribbean for 35 years. She
has lived in 5 countries, and visited another 18.