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The Girl who has holes in her basket

     O nce upon a time lived in a village, a poor fisherman and his wife. The woman carried the fish her husband caught in the basket, but the basket was full of holes and many of the fishes escaped. She was lazy and careless, and did not bother to repair the basket.

          One day, a rich merchant and his wife were passing along the river, they heard the fisherman scolding his wife. The merchant felt sorry for the woman and was struck by her beauty and demanded that the fisherman would trade wives. The merchant's wife went along with the plan because she was a virtuous and obedient woman. The fisherman's wife was overjoyed at the prospect of being a rich man's wife.

          The virtuous woman patched the basket and the catch increased significantly, so much that she asked her husband to share some with their neighbors, who decided that the fisherman had a fine new wife.

          One day, the fisherman came home from chopping wood, his wife recognized the particular wood as precious, she then asked her husband to find more so they can sell it. They made so much money that they prospered and became pretty wealthy.

          On the other hand, the new wife of the merchant, with her laziness and careless ways, had a baby, whom she wiped with silk clothes and threw them away in the river. In time, she managed to squander all the merchant's fortune and the couple was reduced to begging from house to house. One day, they came to the house of their former spouses, the virtuous woman recognized them and pointed out that for their greed, they had nothing, while she who was tossed away, had transformed a poor man into a rich man. The poor couple, greatly ashamed, ran away.

          This story is very popular and it draws on the fact that in Cambodian society, women are expected to be "ideally virtuous" meaning that they must know how to keep order in the household, be a great cook and of course, obedient. She must also be very intelligent as to advise her husband in his endeavors, these qualities are so important that all girls are raised to attain these virtues.

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Cambodian Folktales created by Ithara Phlong,

last modified: December 15, 2000