The Lazy Family

A Gurage Story

Before you read the story

  • Do you think you are a lazy person, or are you hard-working?
  • Do you feel ashamed when you don't work hard?

The word inset in this story means a kind of false banana plant that Gurage people eat.

Now read the story

Once upon a time, there was a foolish, lazy man. He was a farmer, but he never worked on his farm. He never cut down the weeds, or dug his field, or planted inset. All day, he sat beside the fire, or lay on his bed and slept. In the evening, he went off to drink with his friends. 

The man's sons were lazy too. They watched their father, and they copied him.

"You must work," his wife said to them. "What are we going to eat?"

Her husband laughed.

"Work?" he said. "Why? I don't like pulling out weeds. I don't like digging or planting. I like going to see my friends."

"Then you must work," the woman said to her children. "Go to our field, and dig it."

"Why?" her children said. "Our father visits his friends. We want to visit our friends, too."

Her husband laughed at his wife.

"Don't worry," he said. "My friends and my brothers will give us food."

In the morning, he went to see his friends. 

"Oh, I am so unlucky," he told them. "Yesterday, the birds came and ate all my sorghum. My children are hungry. Please give me some food for them."

His friends gave him a bag of sorghum. 

When the sorghum was finished, he went to see his brothers.

"What can I do?" he said. "Wild animals came to my field and ate all my inset. Can you give me some food for my family?"

His brothers gave him some inset. He took it home to his wife, but she was angry.

"We can't live like this," she thought. "I must teach my husband and my children to work."

She took some of the inset, and wrapped it in leaves. Then she went to the field. She dug a hole, and put the inset into the ground.

At lunchtime, her husband and her sons came home.

"We are hungry," they said. "Where is our food?"

The woman smiled at them.

"I will show you," she said. "God has listened to my prayers. He has sent a miracle."

She went to the inset field. Her husband and sons followed her.

"Look at this," she said.

She dug the inset out of the hole, and showed it to them.

Her husband and sons were very surprised.

"This is wonderful," they said. "God put this inset here. He will give us our food. We don't need to work at all."

They ate the inset together. It was delicious.

The next day, the woman dug another hole in the field, and buried more inset. Then her husband and her sons came home.

"Where is our inset today?" they asked her. "Show us the place in the field."

"I don't know where it is," she said. "Go and look for it."

So her husband and sons went to the field and began to dig. They dug, and dug. After a long time, they found the inset. They were happy. They ran home to the woman.

"Look! Here it is!" they said. "God gave us more inset today."

The woman went to look at the field. She smiled.

"Today they dug a quarter of the field," she said.

The next day, she buried more inset, and her husband and sons dug half the field. The day after that, she buried more, and the day after that, even more. 

Her husband and sons liked digging now.

"It's easy," they said. "We feel strong."

The woman went to look at the field again. She laughed.

"They have dug the whole field!" she said.

She gave them seeds, and they planted them. They learned to pull out the weeds, and water the field. They liked the work.

"Our mother is clever," they said. "She taught us a lesson. Work is good. When we work, we are proud. We become men."


Exercises for The Lazy Family


Listen to the story: