My Arabic is functional, not perfect by any means, so the story was somewhat simplified for them. For anyone who doesn't know this story, it is a staple for North American children in their pre-school years. Briefly, a red hen is walking around one day when she finds some wheat on the road. She gathers up the grain and decides to use it to grow more wheat so that she can bake some bread. At various points in the process (planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, milling, and baking) she asks various animal friends (cow, donkey, duck, dog, cat, rooster) to assist her, but each one has a sort of excuse as to why they can't help her....until, of course, the bread was baked and everyone wanted some, but the little red hen tells them that since they were too busy to help, they must be too busy to eat.
The guys all listened politely to the end and then at the end, one of them began to laugh and said, "See? She fooled them!" Another slightly more socially adept groom suggested that it was something else. I laughed and said that yes, if they wanted to eat the bread (or in our case, the vegetables) they needed to be there for the work and announced that I was the red hen. All very simple, you'd think, but the young man who took the story as the hen taking advantage of and then laughing at her neighbours then spent hours trying to figure out who among them was the donkey, the cat, the duck and so on.
Sometimes stories don't travel all that well.
copyright 2012 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani