#FolktalesWednesday: Modupe The Orphan Girl

Hello folks, welcome to today’s edition of folktales Wednesdays, where we share stories of wisdom from the Yoruba of West Africa. Today our story is of Modupe, an orphan girl who becomes rich through her kindness. Read, learn and enjoy.

Once upon a time in a small town, there lived a man with his two wives Asabi and Asake. Each woman had a daughter. Asabi, the first wife, named her daughter Modupe, while Asake, the second wife named her own daughter Arike. They all lived happily until one day when Asabi suddenly contracted a mysterious illness. All efforts to save her failed and she lost her life, leaving her daughter, Modupe behind. A few years later the husband also died and left behind his wife and the two girls

Asake, seeing that Modupe no longer had anybody to defend her, became mean towards the poor orphan girl. She made Modupe do all the household chores and run all the errands while her own daughter Arike did nothing. She always made sure to buy the best clothes in the market for her own daughter while Modupe only had threadbare clothes and rags to wear. She also severely beat the girl and punished her for the slightest offence. Arike, her stepsister also took every opportunity to make Modupe’s life miserable. In spite of all this Modupe remained a gracious and good girl. She did not become angry or bitter, even towards her step mother and step sister. She remained friendly and cheerful and always willing to help others.

One day Asake sent Modupe to the market to buy ingredients for dinner. As she bought all the ingredients and was hurrying home so that Asake would not punish her for staying late in the market, she met a very old man who sat near a bag that was obviously too heavy for him to carry. The old man called out to Modupe “please young girl, can you help me to carry my bag, my house is quite a distance from here and I am very tired.” Modupe replied “Old man, I really wish I could help you to carry your bag, but my step mother will be very angry with me, and she will punish me severely if I waste time.” With that she started to walk away. However after walking a few metres, she looked back and saw that the old man was still there, sitting beside the bag and with no one to help him, she pitied him and went back to help him to carry his bag. And so they set off for the old man’s house

The old man’s house was very far away from the town, they walked through thick jungle and climbed several hills. Even though she was afraid as she walked through the forest with the sounds of various wild animals ringing in her ears, and her legs were aching from walking such a long distance but she did not turn back. She thought to herself “Both my parents are dead and I have no one to miss me if anything happens to me. Also I don’t have anything to look forward to in the house except suffering and punishment anyway. So let me help this old man who would otherwise have no one else to help him”

At last they got to the old man’s house, a large castle set atop a steep hill. Once they were inside, the old man thanked Modupe profusely and tried to give her some money The girl however refused, claiming she didn’t help him because she wanted to get paid but because it was the right thing to do The old man, surprised at such kindheartedness, said to her: “because of what you have done for me today, I will give you a gift. At the back of my castle, you will find a garden. At the centre of that garden you will find an orange tree filled with fruit. Some of the fruits will be ripe and fresh and will say pick me! Pick me! Do not pick those ones. You will also find some oranges that are dried and rotten and which will not say anything, make sure you pick only three of those ones. Then just smash them to the ground anytime you want. That is the reward for your kindness.

Modupe, being a respectful and obedient girl, went into the garden, she made sure to ignore the fresh fruit who were crying for her to pick them, and to pick three of the dried and the rotten oranges. By the time she got out of the castle she was weary and could barely walk, so she took the first orange and smashed it on the ground. Instantly a magic carpet appeared. It lifted her on itself and carried her to her house and put her down in the middle of her room. Surprised at that, she locked her room, and smashed the second orange to the ground, the room was suddenly filled with sparkling gold and diamond jewels, as well as the most beautiful and expensive clothes Modupe had ever seen. Then she smashed the third orange and many exotic cars and beautiful mansions appeared. In a matter of seconds, Modupe the poor orphan girl had become the richest woman in the town and the cities around.

Modupe, being a kindhearted and generous girl, told her stepmother the story of the old man in the market, and also shared some of her wealth with her stepmother and stepsister despite the fact they had been mean to her. However, Asake, being a greedy woman as well as a wicked one, was not happy that the orphan girl she loved to maltreat had become rich. So she shouted at Arike her own daughter “you stupid and lazy girl, can’t you see that Modupe is now rich and she will pay us back for the way we treated her. Also we need to make more money than her, so that we can continue to oppress her. So go to the market and find that old man, so that you can also bring home oranges that will make us rich.”

So Arike went to the market and looked around until she found the old man. However instead of being gentle and polite with him like her stepsister, she grabbed his bag rudely and cheekily commanded him to take her to his castle. As they went along she complained incessantly and abused the old man at every turn that his bag was too heavy or that he was walking too slowly.  At last they got to the castle and the old man told her the same thing he had told her sister about the oranges, but when Arike got into the garden, she thought to herself, “this old man must think I am stupid like Modupe. If Modupe can get so much wealth from rotten and dried oranges, then it means the fresh ones will bring at least double the wealth that Modupe got.” so she picked three of the ripe and fresh ones which were saying “pick me! pick me!” instead. One her way home, she smashed the first one on the ground, but instead of a magic carpet, the sky suddenly darkened with clouds, and a heavy rain began to fall, drenching Arike from head to toe. She had to walk the far distance to her house, cold, wet, and exhausted. It was dark by the time she got home. Her mother took her into their room and locked the door securely so that they won’t have to share their wealth with anybody. Arike smashed the second orange to the ground instead of a bunch of expensive clothes, all they saw were a bunch of rags and when they attempted to examine the rags a swarm of bees and wasps buzzed out furiously and stung both mother and daughter severely. Arike managed to reach the third orange and smashed it on the ground, instead of wealth it was a large number of wild animals and critters that appeared, they chased Asake and Arike out of town. They never came back

As for Modupe, she continued to enjoy her wealth and to be nice and caring to other people and the rest of her life was full of enormous enjoyment and fulfillment.

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