In which today's story comes from far away, but belongs close to home
I first heard this story told by local storyteller Doug Banner. He told me to pass it on, so I have.
A Blind Man Catches a Bird (Zimbabwe)
A young man married a woman whose brother was blind.
The young man was eager to get to know his new brother-in-law, and so he invited him to go hunting with him.
They walked for several hours, until they reached a place where they could set their traps.
The next day, the blind man was excited at the prospect of having caught something. “I can hear birds,” he said. When he reached the first trap, the young man saw that he had caught a small brown bird. He took it out of the trap and put it in a bag he had brought with him.
Then they walked towards the blind man’s trap. "There is a bird in it,” he said to the blind man. “You have caught a bird too.”
But the blind man’s bird was beautiful. The feathers from a bird such as that would make a fine present for his new wife, but the blind man had a wife too, and she would also want the feathers.
The young man bent down and took the blind man’s bird from the trap. Then, quickly substituting his own bird, he passed it to the blind man, “Here is your bird,” he said to the blind man. “You may put it in your bag.” He put the beautiful bird into his own bag.
The blind man reached out for the bird and took it. He felt it for a moment, his fingers over the wings and the breast. Then, without saying a word, he put the bird into his bag, and they began to walk home.
As they walked, they talked about many things. The young man was impressed with the wisdom of the blind man, who knew a great deal. “Why do people fight with one another?” he asked the blind man. It was a question which had always troubled him.
And the blind man told him, "Men fight because they do to each other what you have done to me.”
The words shocked the young man and made him ashamed. He took the beautiful bird from his bag, and gave it back.
The blind man took the bird, felt over it with his fingers and smiled. “Do you have another question for me?” he asked.
“Yes” said the young man. “How do men become friends after they have fought?”
The answer was simple. “They do what you have just done,” said the blind man. “That is how they become friends again.”