Tell me a story, she said. Her voice was sleepy and her eyes half-closed.
I began to tell a story.
In English, she said, as she did every night. I want to hear a story in English.
But you won’t understand.
It doesn’t matter. I want to listen to you tell me a story in English.
Very well, I said, as I did every night. Where shall our story begin?
Once there was a young man who grew up happy and loved, very much contented with the place that he called home, and the people he loved, his friends and his family. But like in the beginning of many stories, the young man reached a certain age and began to sense that something was missing, something he would not find at home.
And so it was that after much waiting, the young man bid farewell to his tearful family and friends, and promised to return once he’d found what he was missing.
After traveling many places, the young man eventually found himself in an incredibly beautiful place, far from his home. Everything about this place seemed quite perfect to the young man—the scent of the air, the way the clouds floated lazily in the sky, the radiant colors of the sunrises and sunsets, the lush landscape filled with majestic trees and rolling hillsides. Everything felt right about it, as if it was precisely the place he was looking for. The young man stayed in this wonderful place and came to know the people, their language and their culture, and felt himself very much at home.
Soon, he met a quiet young woman who smiled and looked away whenever he was near. Eventually the young man summoned the courage to talk to her, and soon they fell very much in love. She complimented him on his ability to speak her language, but each night she asked him to tell her a story in his own. She loved the way his voice sounded as he softly spoke words she would never understand. Each night the young man created a new story, but every story told of a young man and woman falling in love and growing old together.
The young man eventually began to wonder about his mother and father, as he had not been home for many years. He wanted to bring his lover to meet them, but before they could leave she became pregnant, and so they waited for the child. They had a son together, followed by two daughters, and their children grew up happy and loved, very much contented with the place they called home and the people who loved them, their family and friends. He thought often of returning home; first he was too ashamed to return because he’d waited so long, but in time the young man grew to become an old man, and he was too afraid because he thought his parents might be gone.
When the young man’s son reached a certain age, he began to sense that something was missing, something he would not find at home. He bid farewell to his tearful parents, promising to return when he found what he was looking for. The young man and young woman grew old together, each day missing their son more than the previous day, but grateful to have each other’s love as their source of hope that he would find what he was looking for.
Was it a happy story, she asks, as she does every night.
Yes, I answer. The young man finds what he was looking for.