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Two sisters and an old man

A long time ago in a little village, there lived a man who had two wives and two daughters ? one daughter from each wife. Bisi was the daughter of the first wife and was only a few months older than the second wife?s daughter, Ranti.

The family lived together in the same compound so the girls often played together but Bisi was fond of bullying her younger half-sister just like her mom was fond of being mean to Ranti?s mother. Ranti would go crying to her mother and sometimes she would tell her mother how she wished to hurt Bisi just like Bisi had hurt her. But her mother would tell her ?never give bad in return for bad, nothing good comes of that?. So Ranti remained good and continued to show love in return no matter what Bisi did to her.

One cloudy day, Ranti?s mother passed away after a brief illness. Without her mother around, it did not take long for Bisi to crank up her level of meanness towards Ranti. Soon Ranti was doing all of Bisi?s chores while Bisi just lazed around, dressed up, ate, slept or visited friends. Ranti would wake up early in the morning before the cocks crowed, place a large clay water pitcher on her head while carrying another in her arms and walk to the river to fetch water for the family?s use. It required several trips back and forth before the huge water pot in the compound was filled. Then she would sweep the compound with a broom made of dried palm fronds before peeling yams for breakfast. Her list of chores stretched out until dusk by which time she would be exhausted and just collapse to sleep on her raffia mat. She was too busy to even feel sorry for herself. And everyday, this process was repeated.

One morning as she made her daily trip to the river, she saw an old man sitting by the river bank. He appeared to be covered in sores and he looked really pitiful. Ranti went to meet him ?Baba, are you alright, can I get you anything?? she asked. He wanted some water which she gave to him then she washed his sores. ?My child, you have a wonderful heart and you deserve wonderful things? he told her. He directed her to go to a garden just beyond the river. He told her she would find two trees ? one with golden fruit which she was not to touch, and the other one with rotten fruit. He told her to take one of the rotten fruits home and once she gets home, she should break open the fruit.

She did as the old man instructed. When she broke the fruit, riches beyond her wildest imagination appeared, filling every inch of her bedroom. When Bisi discovered this, she insisted that Ranti tell her where she got the riches from.

The following morning, after several cock crows, Bisi got up from bed. She hoped the old man would still be at the river as she picked up a pitcher and headed to the river. Luckily for her, he was there looking exactly as Ranti had described him. She went to him and asked ?Baba, which way to the magic garden??. The old man showed her and he also told her to pick the rotten fruit, not the golden one. Bisi dumped her pitcher and headed to the garden. She saw the tree with the rotten fruit and the one with the golden fruit and she said to herself ?That old man must think I?m stupid. These golden fruit are mine!?. She picked a couple of golden fruits, as many as she could carry in her hands and went on her way.

When she got home, she went into her bedroom and closed her doors as she did not want anyone stumbling in to discover her riches. She threw the fruits hard at the floor to break them, but instead of riches, snakes, worms, rodents and all manners of horrible things appeared.



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