Monday, February 11, 2013

A story told in tweets: The Magic Pot

Over the last few days I told another story in tweets; this means it was told 140 characters at a time in hourly posts, about 10 posts a day, over three days. I first did this a few months ago; you can read the first story here. You can also go to my twitter feed and search for #tweetale.

It's an interesting challenge, figuring out how to tell something this way. Each individual post has to be compelling unto itself yet make sense in the whole. I'm enjoying the challenge and it's a fun way to share stories.

This time I picked a folktale I read when I was a child. It's a story found throughout the Middle East.  I told the variant I know. The tweets are posted below, not quite in the form I posted them but in my draft version, so a few posts are longer than 140 characters. I also removed the hashtag for readability. I hope you enjoy it. And keep your eyes on my twitter feed for the next #tweetale!

And now, my dear friends and followers, let us begin another #tweetale!

Once upon a time there were two brothers. While they may have been related by blood they were as different as two people could be.

One was rich and the other poor. One was miserly, the other generous. One was convinced the world was a harsh place while the other found kindness. 

One day the poor brother's wife told him she wished to invite her family to eat with them. "But wife!..." 

"…Even if we had enough rice, we haven't a pot large enough to cook it in!"

His wife smiled. "Let's borrow a pot from your brother. Perhaps he will find it in his heart to be kind." 

With great trepidation, the poor brother knocked on the door of the rich brother's house. After a long wait he was invited in and told to not touch anything.

Finally, the rich brother sauntered into the parlor and settled himself into a chair covered with a fine carpet. "Brother," he said, "Why have you come to my home?" 

Gathering his courage into his hands, the poor brother explained that he would like to borrow a large cooking pot, so he could feed his guests. 

The rich brother considered his poor sibling. He never cared for him and didn't particularly want to help. But family was family. 

"Very well," he said. "But if it's damaged in any way you will have to repay me with gold or labor, I don't care which." 

The poor man thanked his brother and, cradling the pot like a baby, carried it home to his wife. When he told her the conditions… 

…the poor man's wife smiled. "Ah, how kind of him to let us use his pot. We will see how we can reward his generosity."

The poor man was confused but he knew his wife was wise. He trusted her. The fragrance of rice and the joy of family filled their home. 

The next morning the wife gave the pot to the man to return to his brother. Inside was a tiny pot, swaddled in soft cloth. 

The man looked at her in astonishment. "Why are we rewarding his greed with one of our own pots? We can't afford to give one away!" 

She smiled. "Tell your brother your pot gave birth and had a baby. Give it to him. See what happens." 

The poor man carried the large pot and the small back to his brother's home. Again, he waited a long time for his wealthy brother to grant him an audience. 

His brother draped himself in his chair and gestured for his poor sibling to bring him the cooking pot. He inspected it carefully, checking for the slightest flaw. 

The wealthy, cold hearted man gasped. What was this small pot doing inside his cauldron? He asked his brother, who explained… 

"You see, brother, while your pot was a guest in our home, it gave birth to this little baby pot. So, by rights, this small pot is yours." 

The greedy brother had never heard of a pot giving birth before. While it seemed odd, it was also in his favor, so he asked no questions. 

"You are correct, brother, both pots are mine." His greedy heart was filled with glee. 

The poor brother wandered back home, dismayed at both the loss of the small pot and at his brother's ungenerous nature. 

"Don't worry," assured his wife, "I have a plan." And soon enough, she again asked him… borrow the big cooking pot from his brother. The poor man was dismayed. His brother would surely think him a fool! 

When the hard-hearted brother heard his foolish sibling was again asking for his cooking pot, he grinned gleefully, seeing opportunity. 

He again gave his brother the pot, reminding him that not only must it be returned unscathed, any children it might bear would be his property. 

The poor man trod home, his heart heavy. How could his brother be so greedy? 

His wife listened to him and, once again, smiled. "Maybe we can help him learn that there is more to life than pots. 

That evening the man forgot his troubles as he shared his meal with friends and family, admiring his wife's laughter and eating from the cooking pot. 

The next morning his wife again swaddled a smaller pot into the larger. "Tell him it had another baby." The poor man sighed, but did as he was asked. 

This time his rich brother scarcely made him wait. As soon as the greedy man saw the little pot inside the big, he grinned. "Ah, my pot is prolific!" 

Once home, the poor man asked his wife why she was doing this. "You will see, my husband. Everyone knows pots don't have babies" 

And a few weeks later, she again sent her husband to borrow the big pot from his selfish brother. The rich man reminded his poor sibling of the rules. 

"Remember, what's mine is mine. If the pot gives birth then the baby is mine." The poor man wondered who was the fool as he walked home. 

This time, after the meal and the guests had gone home, the wife washed the pot and put it away. "Won't we give it back to my brother?" 

The wife smiled. "No," she replied, "Let's see what happens now." The poor man closed his eyes and sighed. 

A day passed, then another and a third. Finally, not too early in the morning, but not so late that he might be seen by his cronies, the rich brother knocked on their door. 

The poor man let his brother in. The rich man sniffed and looked around their simple home. He wrinkled his nose as if he smelled something bad. 

"Brother, you know why I am here. Where is my pot that I so generously loaned you?" The poor man began to shake. "Well, I… I mean my…" and his wife stepped forward. 

"Oh! Ooooohhhh!" she wailed. ""I'm so sorry, but our grief must be nothing compared to yours." And she collapsed on the floor weeping. 

The poor man and his rich brother both looked at her in astonishment. "The pot!" she cried, "That poor, poor pot. She tried so hard." 

"What is your wife going on about?" asked the rich man, "She seems half mad!" But before the poor man could answer the wife replied, "Your pot - she died!" 

The men looked at one another. "Died?!" said the rich man. "Yes," she replied, "She was giving birth, again, and both the big pot and the baby died!" 

The rich man began to sputter. He knew a pot couldn't die. But before he could say anything, the woman looked him in the eye and said… 

"Surely anything that gives birth to babies can die, can you dispute it?" And the rich man could say nothing in reply, thinking of the baby pots he had claimed for his own. 

The rich man stomped out of the house. The poor man helped his wife up off the floor and soon they were laughing in each others arms. 

And the pot, the man and woman all lived happily ever after. 

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. I loved this tweet tale! I kept waiting for the next!

  2. Not heard this one before! Love it! Now find an illustrator to illuminate it - as it is - and ePub it! Before the year is out.


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