Once there was a very rich woman, the wife of a governor of a prosperous port city. Once a week she would take a very big basket and seal it with tar to make it waterproof. In the bottom of the basket she would write a line from a poem, 'Do charitable deeds even if they may be out of place, for no act goes unrewarded. ' Then she would fill the basket with food, water and clothing and drop it in the sea to be carried away by the waves and the wind. After some time, she and her family took a long boat trip to visit relatives in another port city. Heavy storms demolished their boat and many on board drowned. She also would have drowned had she not clung to a plank of wood. In time, she drifted to shore where she collapsed with hunger, thirst and exhaustion. She woke up in someone's garden. The lady of the house told her the servants had found her on the beach and thought she was dead. But then realized she was still alive and so they brought het to the garden. The lady of the house said she could stay with them as a washer woman and she gladly accepted.
One day the lady brought a very big bamboo basket full of laundry and asked the woman to wash them. When the woman reached the bottom of the basket, she saw the line of poetry which she herself used to write in the bottom of those baskets before dropping them in the sea. She had recognized her own basket. She sat down and began to cry. When the lady came to check on the laundry, she found the woman sobbing. Asking her why she was crying, the washerwoman explained that the basket was one of hers and went on to describe how she would fill them with provisions and drop them into the sea thinking that some shipwrecked people would find the baskets and use the food and water to survive. The lady was amazed and told the woman that once she and her husband were shipwrecked. They had lost everything. Then a big basket drifted by and they clung to it until they landed on shore nearby. When they revived, they walked to the city, found jobs and in time, prospered. Out of sentimentality, they kept the basket and used it thinking that some day they would learn more about it and the line of poetry written on the bottom admonishing blind charity.
The lady took the washerwoman to her own quarters and when her husband returned home, told him about the day's events. He suggested the woman live with them as a member of the family. They also decided to continue to fill baskets with provisions and drop them into the sea, hoping that some day a needy person would find them and survive.
© 2015 Helen Zughaib. All rights reserved. DG Web Design