September – It’s the Mercé!

I’m post dating this blog again but it will be my last one. I just wanted to add September and there are several reasons for doing so. I went to a storytelling event, it was my birthday and it was the Mercé in Barcelona. The Mercé coincides with my birthday and ever since moving to Barcelona I’ve been able to join in all the parties that the city has organised and pretend it was all put on for me! Years ago it was late night concerts in the various squares around the city, more recently it has been days out in the park watching street theatre and circus acts. This year what attracted me to the festival was a storytelling event that was to be held in a Moroccan tent. It was part of the Asian festival and included stories from the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan. So to celebrate my birthday this year my husband and I went to listen to some stories from the east and eat some spicy Indian food.


Here is one of the stories from Vietnam I heard that day…


Once upon a time there was a hard working farmer. As a reward for all his hard work in the fields, the king of water had given him a present; a magic umbrella. This umbrella was magic because it rained every time it was opened. During a dry spell the farmer would open his umbrella and the rain would fall on the land making his crops grow into fine harvests.


One day the farmer made it rain by opening his magic umbrella and soon his fields were filled with puddles. In one of these puddles he found a fish. Its scales were all the colours of the rainbow and they shone like the sun. The farmer liked the fish very much but worried that when the sun had dried up all the rain the fish would die. So he took the fish home and put it in a large bowl of clear water and looked after it every day.


But soon strange things began to happen. When he left in the morning to go to work in the field his house was always untidy and dirty, but when he got back in the evening, everything was clean and in its place. And there was always a delicious hot meal ready for him.


The farmer began to wonder what was happening in his house while he was out at work in the fields. So one day instead of going to work he decided to hide outside and then go back and look through the window. He was amazed at what he saw, the fish that was swimming in the bowl suddenly transformed into a beautiful girl. The girl then started to clean the house and prepare the food. The farmer decided to go and talk to her.

The girl was starled to see the farmer but she explained that she was the daughter of the King of the Waters. She told the farmer how she had seen the farmer work so hard and had fallen in love with him but as she was shy she had transformed herself into a fish. The farmer immediately fell in love with her and they soon married. They spent the next few years in complete happiness.


But one day some soldiers of the king came to their village, they were looking for a bride for the king and when they saw the beautiful girl they decided to take her to the place. The king was pleased with his future bride but the girl being taken away from her true husband was extremely sad and stopped smiling.


Meanwhile, her husband, who did not know what had happened, decided to look for her. He went across roads and villages, going past rivers and mountains. After walking so much and worrying, the farmer lost so much weight and his clothes turned to rags. He looked just like a beggar when he finally arrived at the city where the king lived. When he heard how beautiful the king’s future bride was, he went to the palace to see if it was his wife.


When his wife saw him, her face shone and for the first time in a long time, she smiled. The king, when he saw this he thought that the reason of her smile was the unusual vision of a beggar in middle of the magnificence palace. And he decided to change his royal clothes with the beggar’s so he could make her smile too. When he did this, the beautiful woman called the guards and said: – Take away this crazy man.  -. The guards who did not recognize the king, without his royal clothes thought he was a beggar and threw him out.


The farmer became king and the country was never dry again, because thanks to his magic umbrella, the new king made it rain when it was required. The villagers were never hungry again and the farmer and the daughter of the King of Waters lived happy ever after in the palace.



This story appears on the Casa Asia website. It is an excellent resource for teachers and parents, with Asian stories available in English, Spanish and Catalan and great pages on handicrafts, cooking, games etc.