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Stories from Home Series: Sudanese Folklore

True Friend by Majdi Ahmed (ESOL L1)

Once upon a time, there was a Sultan in a faraway country. This Sultan had a son, Abd Al Salam, whose face was as distinguished and glorious as the full moon. The Sultan fell ill, and God decreed his passing away. Abd Al-Salam thus became an orphan. But his mother was intelligent and wise. She told him, "Your father was the Sultan and a Sultan you must be. So be careful about the companions and friends you choose. Most of those who seek your company do so because of your wealth and power. Very few will seek your friendship because they love you." "Then what shall I do, mother?" asked Abd Al Salma to his mother.

She advised him, "order three hard-boiled eggs and, whoever you choose for a friend, invite him to have breakfast with you and serve the three eggs. If the new companion takes only one and leaves the other two for you to eat, do not befriend him anymore, for he is an obsequious and sly one who wishes to show that he prefers you to himself, which is false. If he eats up two eggs and leaves only one for you, likewise shun him, for he is selfish and greedy. Only befriend him who seeks a fair division of the eggs.

Firstly, Abd Al Salam chose the vizier's son for his friend, and he was pleased with him. He invited him and placed the three boiled eggs ready for breakfast according to his mother's advice. Then he shelled one for himself. The son of the wazir did likewise. Then the son of the Sultan said, "Please eat this one." The son of the wazir swore he would not eat it. So, the son of the Sultan ate it, but he stopped his relationship with the wazir.

Secondly, he befriended the judge's son and invited him for the prescribed breakfast. The judge's son did not hesitate to eat all three hard-boiled eggs leaving nothing for Abd Al Salam. And that was the end of their friendship.

Then he befriended the son of the chief merchant and invited him for breakfast. The merchant's son looked with disdain at the three eggs and said, "What sort of breakfast is this?" and refused to partake of what appeared to him as a mean meal. So, Abd Al Salam did not befriend him anymore.

Afterwards, he asked the woodcutter's son to be his companion and friend. The woodcutter's son said, "I am the son of a woodcutter, and I am not fit for the company of the great, O son of the Sultan." However, Abd Al Salam answered, "You will be my companion and friend."

The son of the woodcutter went hunting with him. He taught Abd Al Salam how to use the stick to kill dangerous snakes and fight with it. Every day Abd Al Salam returned to his mother with his clothes dirty. Abd Al-Salam loved the woodcutter's son and learned many valuable skills from him. The woodcutter's son invited him several times to breakfast and offered him ordinary "kisrah" with salt, chillies, water, and cobs of corn toasted on charcoal.

One day Abd Al Salam invited the son of the woodcutter for his examination breakfast. Seeing there were only three boiled eggs, the son of the woodcutter shelled the three eggs and then, with his knife, he cut the third egg into two halves. He said to the son of the Sultan, "Here are two equal portions, one for you and one for me."

Abd Al-Salam was pleased. He told his mother about what the son of the woodcutter had done. His mother said, "This is a true friend. Let him always be with you."

The woodcutter's son became Abd Al Salam's trusted friend. Abd Al-Salam made him his vizier, and they ruled the land in true harmony ever after.

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