That Story by Nusrat Angela
What stories are powerful in your community? We asked contributors from around the world this question. Nusrat Angela, a teenager from Bangladesh, responds:
Our community is strongly shaped by various morals and principles. Some are said to be as old as the Liberation War, ruling our lives even before we were Bangladesh. But for youngsters, one story that all of us have heard while growing up is the wood cutter and his axes. It is often referred to as oi golpota, meaning “that story” because of its frequent use.
Though a very common story, elders like to believe that there is no better example of good heartedness and the reward of having a noble spirit. Losing his metal axe in the water, the wood cutter refuses to take any other gold, ruby, or silver axes from the water fairy. His truthfulness is lauded when he finally receives some expensive axes.
The best part of the story, which is often highlighted, is that when you don’t feel like being a good person, then don’t be good. Be selfish and wait to get all of the axes. That is for your own good. Seen in another light, if you act well, you will get much better things than what you want to wrongly take for yourself.
So in the end, it’s not always about being a good person, it’s about being diplomatic! This strange perspective of the story always seems to have a powerful effect on younger kids. They seem to accept this lesson that there’s a lot more than the importance on being tactful than being good. Either way, as long as they are taught to do the right thing, that is the only thing that matters.