The Optimist and The Pessimist

This is my attempt at writing a Gambian parable.….

Abdou had twin boys, Soori and Souliman. Souliman and Soori. Souliman was an Optimist and Soori was a Pessimist.

They both knew nothing of the world. They both had fatherly lessons to learn. They were to shed their boyhood, to cloak themselves in maturity.

It was the end of Ramadan. They had completed their first fast. One boy had struggled through with resentment, the other with joy at reaching the adult summit.

The following morning, whilst one boy was beating his donkey and one boy was breaking his back in the field, Abdou came to give his sons gifts.

To Soori – the Pessimist – he laid out an expensive watch and a quality blue cotton asobi on his straw mattress, and propped a shiny bicycle beside it.

For Souliman – the man of Optimism – Abdou gathered up much goat dung and filled his sons hut with it.

When Soori returned he frowned and grumbled at his father

“The bicycle’s too small. Do you not know that I hate blue? That watches must be digital?”

When the chastised and beleaguered Abdou went to Souliman’s hut, he couldn’t see Souliman. All he could hear was the sound of frantic shoveling and heavy breathing coming from within. Pellets of goat dung rifled through the air.

“What in Allahs name are you doing?” shouted Abdou into Souliman’s hut.

A voice came from deep inside the dung filled hut.

“Well father,” Souliman said, “if there’s so much shit around, there has to be a goat somewhere.”

Souliman, the man, emerged from the hut goatless, tall and smiling. Soori, the boy, sat slouched upon his straw mattress.


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