One day, the two brothers were playing together in the field and one was building a small fort from stones. The walls would get so high but then at a certain point the stones would shift under their own weight and fall over. Every time he built the walls up to that level, they would fall again and again. The brother who was building began to get annoyed and in his frustration, threw a small stone as hard as he could. The stone almost hit his sibling, whizzing past his head and bouncing on the ground behind him, into a bed of root vegetables . His brother shouted
but in reply he screamed
as loudly as he could. The father, who had seen this, decided to walk across and set things straight. With a stern gate, he walked over to the angry brother and sat down beside him.
"Now listen son, we must never be mean and cruel, you almost hit your brother with that stone, he was right to warn you."
"I understand, father" said the boy softly.
"Now, about this fort. Sometimes it is better to think things through, and take your time a little more. If the same problem keeps happening at the same time, we need to think about what we have to change."
"I understand, father" said the boy again. And his father went off to continue his work at the other side of the field.
Later that day, the two brothers were playing outside again. The one building a fort continued, and began to build higher and higher. The other one of them didn't know what to do and so asked his father if he could help. Agreeing to let him, he gave his son a spade and asked him to dig a row of holes for the baby trees in the blue pots by the house. The brother took the spade and then looked at the ground. He didn't know where to start, how many trees or how big the holes. His father pointed to the patch of ground he meant and waited. His son just stood there, thinking. His father said
"Come on! slow coach!",
in a jesting tone but his son didn't find it funny. Wrapped in worry about the holes he threw the spade to the floor and screamed,
"I can't do it!"
The father didn't approve of this response from his own son and walked over sternly.
"Now listen son, it is not good to be bad tempered and mean, we must be kind to each other"
"I understand, father" said the boy quietly,
"And as for the holes, sometimes it is best to stop worrying and just try, we can always amend any mistakes and it's not very difficult once you get started"
"I understand, father" he said, and began to dig the holes in the right place. Once the first one was deep enough his father said
"that's enough, the next one just a couple of paces to the side".
In hardly any time, the boy had dug all the holes and the trees were planted just before dinner.
During their meal, the father addressed the family.
"I have some important news for you all"
His wife looked at him with caring eyes.
"I have been asked to do some important work, and it will take me far away for a very long time. I cannot deny my responsibility as if I do not go then the consequences will be much harder. I have taught you both well and I know you will be able to care for your mother until I return. I will leave in the morning."
Everyone ate their food in silence after this speech, as the two boys thought about what he had said. It made them very sad that he was going away but they did not question him. He was their father, and he knew best.
The very next morning, like he said their father went away and did not return. Time passed and the boys grew into men, and one day not long after, they moved into their own homes next door to each other. Many years passed and the two brothers had peaceful and fortunate lives, they grew their food on the family field and looked after their mother who day by day grew older. The sadness of their father leaving for his important work had taken its toll and she had become unwell. They continued to look after her in their own ways but one day they began to argue.
One said to the other
"I am forever cleaning our mother's house, it is always me doing it, and I am always picking her food from the field. I am still waiting for you to do it as well, you hardly ever do it"
The other brother looked angry and in his haste, spoke out.
"But that is because it never needs to be done, every time I look, you have done it! But when was the last time you listened to her, and gave her you time to talk. I am forever listening to her and comforting her when she is sad, I am still waiting for you to do it".
They began to fight, first with name calling and pulling faces, then they began to accuse each other of not caring about their mother. This continued for days every time they saw each other and as time went by they stopped talking all together. This went on for many months until one day the tension broke. They were both in their mothers house at the same time. One was washing the dishes and the other was helping her to sort through some letters.
There was an unopened one on the side.
"Why don't you open this letter, I had forgotten about it?" she asked.
"He can do it for a change" sang her son loudly, as his brother could hear. Suddenly, a china cup flew threw the air and narrowly missed his head. It hit the glass window pane and smashed it, and it too broke into several pieces. The brothers launched themselves at each other, in front of their mother who by now was very sick indeed. More things were broken including another window as one of the men was flung hard against it. Their mother ran out of the room and cowered in the kitchen, behind the dining table.
Just then, there was a sound at the door. It unlatched from the outside and swung open. After years of being away, their father had returned! But to his shock and dismay, he saw the broken home and the two brothers fighting and drawing blood from each other's faces. He saw the shattered windows and then found his wife hiding in the other room.
"What the Devil is going on in here?" he bellowed at his two sons, who he could hardly recognise. "Did I not teach you well?"
"Yes father, you taught me how to think before acting and make sure something is done properly, and that stability comes from time and effort. But my brother seems to have forgotten your wisdom, the stupid idiot!"
"No, he is the stupid idiot!" shouted the other son, "You taught me well, father, you taught me to act when something has to be done, not to wait around for it to do itself, my idiot brother has forgotten!"
They continued to look at each other with dirty eyes and with threatening body language only remained separated through respect for their father, who they had not seen in years. Then their father replied calmly,
"No, those words of wisdom were for you alone, I spoke only to you when I gave those gifts to you. it is what you needed to hear from me as you, not your brother". He looked at the both one at a time with disappointed eyes. "But what you have both forgotten is that it is wrong to be cruel, bad tempered and unkind. I taught that lesson to you both. You both knew this and you both did not listen. I cannot trust you to look after your mother, and as of this moment, I am taking her to live with me where I have my new job. You two boys can learn to live together first."
Then, in silence, he took his wife by the hand and led her out the door. It closed behind them with a deathly thud and the two brothers stood in the abandoned house, without their mother or father or a friend in the world.