A parable

Once upon a time, at a time that never happened.

And somewhere, in a place that doesn’t exist.

Alem and Biruk go into a shop, for the first time ever. They’re very excited. After all, this is a fantastic shop. Because they have the tastiest biscuits there. Soft biscuits, and hard biscuits. Or soft biscuits with a crispy exterior. Biscuits with fruit, biscuits with chocolate, biscuits with sugar balls. And they come in all colors: light brown cookies, dark brown cookies, white cookies, yellow cookies, pink cookies,….

They are welcomed in the shop by the owners, two very kind owners, Nida and Haftu. They explain to them what to do: “Take a bag, and take a shovel, and scoop the cookies you want into your bag, but first look around. Then you can choose better.”

Alem and Biruk can’t believe their eyes. Their mouths are watering already. They look around first, and tell each other what they think they will have.

Then they begin. Biruk takes a biscuit, a pink one with a strawberry.  Nida and Haftu start to laugh loudly, and go to Biruk. “Sorry for laughing like that, but you can’t take this biscuit.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because you’re a boy. Boys don’t eat cookies like that.”

“But why not?”

“Then people will mock you.  You don’t want that, do you?”

“What cookies can I have then?”

“Well, all the cookies in that rack there.”

There was a rack in the corner of the shop. Biruk went there. His gaze became sad. There were only dry, brown biscuits. He looked at the owners again.

“What about Alem? Can’t she also eat all the biscuits?”

“Of course she can. After all, Alem’s a girl.”

Biruk didn’t understand a thing. He thought it was very unfair. He felt tears coming up, but he held them up. Boys don’t cry, after all. Alem had seen that Biruk was upset. She stood by him, and whispered in his ear “Don’t say anything. I’ll help you. Just buy some cookies from your rack.”

Alem went through the store with a radiant smile, filling her bag until it was full. Biruk put a few cookies in his. They paid, and greeted the owners.

“Come with me,” Alem said to Biruk.

They sat down somewhere in a corner, where no one could see them well.

Alem took a pink biscuit with a strawberry from her bag.

“Here, this one’ s for you.”

Biruk beamed with happiness. He took the biscuit very carefully. He looked at it first. He bit out a little piece. He closed his eyes. This was so good. Now a tear came out of his eye.

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