There lived a woman and her son in one village. The son’s name was Fue. The woman lost her husband in a fierce war which people claimed brought hardships in the land. Fue never knew his father because he was born at the time that his father went to fight in the war. The war brought a lot of bitterness because no one knew why the men were conscripted to fight.
As Fue grew older, he desperately wanted to know his father’s background and whether he had brothers or not. There was none. Since he could not find any role model on his father’s side, he became very close to his mother. He copied everything his mother did including plating his hair and applying make up on his face. The boys of his age thought Fue was very strange, especially that he never played with the other boys other than his mother. Fue’s mother was quite happy to see how close she was with her son. She told Fue that she would buy him a special present one day. Fue was quite excited and looked forward to the day that he would get his present. Being a good mannered boy, he never bothered asking his mother when his present would come. He knew in his heart that his mother would honour her word one day and that was enough to keep Fue happy.
One day, Fue’s mother became extremely ill. She knew in her heart that she would die. Fue was very troubled that he would have no where to go if his mother died. After all, he had no living relative. He decided to ask his mother what would become of him if she died. She smiled at him and told him that she was really looking forward to dying since she would be joining her husband who died in the war. She told Fue that there was nothing to be scared about since God looks after everyone. Still, Fue thought she needed an adult to run the house, cook food and look after the maize gardens and the animals. He didn’t think he could do all that by himself. His mother just smiled and told Fue that if ever anything happened to her, Fue should open the old trunk and get whatever was inside. That same evening, Fue’s mother died and Fue was devastated. He could not eat for weeks and he did not even think about the old box that his mother had mentioned. The pain was too much and he had no one to turn to. He was indeed a pauper.
Fue lived on by doing odd jobs for other people in the village in exchange for food. His clothes became worn out and people started shunning him. He could not understand why his mother passed on. Couldn’t she have taken him along? Was there any fairness in this world? One day Fue remembered his mother’s last words about his present. He quickly dashed into the old house and pulled out the trunk which was almost rusting. He thought he would find money and with it, he would buy some decent clothes and probably move away from the village. He badly wanted to start a new life. Disappointment greeted him. There was nothing of value in the trunk except a small clay flowery plate. He nearly threw it to the ground but changed his mind that he would keep it since his mother had looked after it so carefully for a long time. He didn’t know what to do with a plate.
Convinced that there was nothing left for him in the village, Fue decided to go on a journey to some distant country to look for opportunities and probably find a wife to marry. He gathered his few belongings including the clay plate and set off towards the east. He travelled for hours under the tropical scorching heat and around mid day, he decided to take a rest. He took out his clay plate and scooped some water from the stream with it. As he scooped the water from the stream, he saw an image of a very beautiful woman in the plate who looked just like his late mother. Was it some joke? He thought he was getting mad. He stood still and the picture was still there. Since he was so thirsty he decided to drink the water from the plate anyway but the image disappeared. He wasn’t sure whether to be angry or sad. He chose to be happy and so he began to sing a song:
Iyi nsani ehe
Iyi nsani yamaluba
Tekumona apo yikele kwati ni mayo wa mfyele yamaluba
Oh yamaluba, Oh yamaluba
(This plate sure
This flowery plate sure
It looks just like my mother
Beautiful and Flowerly
Beautiful and Flowery)
As Fue finished singing the song, something strange happened. A beautiful princess came out of the plate wearing the most glamorous gown ever imaginable. She also brought wonderful clothes for Fue as well as the choicest food. She told Fue that she wanted him to marry her. They shared the food and the princess told Fue that she wanted him to go with him to her palace. She asked him to jump into the tiny plate with her. They did so and found themselves in a beautiful castle. They lived happily thereafter.
Note: Most probably, this story’s moral is that misfortune can also be a source of happiness. The story comes from northern Zambia.
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