Once there was a talented merchant who was successful in his thriving business (God bless him). Any goods he purchased would bring him good fortune. He was blessed with good luck until one day when all the merchants in the market had had enough of his rising prosperity and began to cause him trouble.
The merchant gathered his fortune, sold everything he had for half its value, and travelled along with his wife and son to another country. He settled in a country where nobody knew him and he purchased a house to live in with his wife and son. First, he opened one shop and then, since he was skilled and fortunate in the trading business, he opened three more shops. His trade travelled in convoys toward Sudan and on ships toward Alexandria until his fortune reached its peak.
However, an outsider will remain one no matter how great he is. Those with no relatives in a certain country will always remain outsiders and will be avoided by people.
His wife passed away, but he remained loyal and never married again and continued to live with his son. Since nobody knew him, he would not be highly esteemed. But that’s another story.
When his son reached the age of marriage, he asked his father to arrange him a marriage.
– “Whose daughter is it going to be? Who knows our worth in this country? If we were in our country, I would choose for you the best and noblest, but here, who will accept you to wed his daughter?”
– “I have a friend from an upstanding family whose sister I want to marry.”
– “That man? Do we meet their standards? Will they know our worth and give you their daughter?”
This left them both silent.
The boy refrained from drinking and eating and his health deteriorated. The father was worried about his only son who was harming himself for the sake of love. So, he went to the girl’s father to ask her hand for his son.
The girl’s father asked:
– “Where do you come from?”
The merchant said he was from a noble family from another country.
– “What do you own?” asked the girl’s father.
The merchant described his fortune. Later, the girl’s father realized he didn’t even own one third of the merchant’s wealth.
– “What’s your son’s occupation?”
– “He is my son and heir.”
– “And what does it matter if he is your son if he has no skills? Did he not learn any craft? Hat maker, jeweller, or tailor?”
– “No, I didn’t teach him any craft because he is my only heir after my death.”
– “What if he wastes it all and it ends quickly, then I would have to take care of him and his wife and their son!”
– “We can’t just speculate about possible bankruptcy, problems or calamities, that way no one would get married and each person would just keep his daughter at home. This is unbelievable!”
– “In order to marry my daughter, you must give all your fortune to your son!”
– “All of it? Why? Is it not enough to do as others do and give him some money, open a shop for him, and buy a house and furnish it for him and his wife?”
– “No, you must give him all that you own!”
The old man thought about it for a long time until he realized that he wouldn’t lose anything if he were to give all his earnings to his son, after all, he is going to do it after his death, so why not do it now when he needs it most?
The merchant gave all his fortune to his son and kept nothing for himself. And as they say, “those who give away their fortune while still alive, God will not respond to their prayers”.
Since the bride was from a well to do family and since her husband was an outsider, she thought very highly of herself and considered herself to have done him a favour by marrying him. She was controlling and he obeyed whatever she demanded. She would also belittle her father-in-law, his very presence annoying her. Each time they dined together at the table, she would now accuse him of being filthy, of having bad manners and would even say that his presence was ruining their appetite. So, he started to eat alone and was frequently moved from one place to another in the house, until he eventually ended up in the stable.
His son was a hunter and he had a horse that he kept in the stable. The servant in charge of the horse would cover it with a blanket at night and would change it with a new one when it was old. The servants would bring the old man his food to the room next to the stable and he stayed there with nothing to do, in a room with only a rug to sleep on, staring at the horse who lived a better life than he did.
The wife got pregnant and gave birth to a boy. The boy grew up to be 10 or 12 years old. The wife’s hate for her father-in-law grew until she couldn’t stand to see him anymore even though he lived outside in the stable. Now, she couldn’t even stand his staying in the stable because she felt ashamed when people would come by and see him and the horse in the stable and wonder who the old man was and she would have to answer that that was her father-in-law.
One day, she had enough and told her husband: “I don’t want your father staying here anymore!”
– “What shall I do then?” asked the husband.
– “Kick him out!”
– “Very well.”
Being servile and blindly submissive to his wife’s will, he went to his father and said: “My wife does not want you hear anymore. You must go.”
– “How can that be? I am your father! I have given you everything that I have earned!” pleaded the old man.
– “That’s God will…”
– “How will I live?” asked the father.
– “There are thousands like you in this country. You can manage by yourself!”
– “Okay, at least give me some money to find a place to sleep.” he pleaded.
– “I can’t. My wife has all of the money.”
– “At least let me sleep on your doorstep!” begged the old man.
– “But I need a bed. You know I’ll be sleeping in the streets in this cold. At least, give me a bed!”
– “Where would I get that from? I can’t give you a bed from my house, my wife won’t accept that!”
– “You just bought your horse a new blanket, give me the old one!”
– “Very well.”
The husband called his son and ordered him to go to the stable and bring the horse’s old blanket for his grandfather. The boy went to the stable followed by his grandfather then asked him to wait while he ran back to the house. He came back with a knife in his hands, folded the blanket in two, cut it in half and gave his grandfather one half.
– “Why did you cut it in half? Didn’t your father ask you to give me the full blanket” the grandfather asked.
– “No. I will only give you half!”
– “The son is stingier than his father!” the old man exclaimed in wonder.
So, the father ran towards his son and said:
– “You gave me the full blanket, but your son cut it in two and only gave me half!”
The man was surprised so he called his son and asked him:
– “Why did you cut it? What will you do with the other half?”
– “I’ll keep it for you dad!”
– “For me?”
– “Yes, when you grow as old as him, I will kick you out as well!”
– “What? Kick me out? Is that so?”
The man fell to the ground crying and kissing his father’s feet: “Forgive me father!”
Then he ran to the house, picked the best room and said: “This room belongs to my father and those who disagree may leave the house!”