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The hundred-knot bamboo

There was a rich devious landowner who used all kind of tricks to exploit his servants and laborers. He had a beautiful nubile daughter . Khoai lived as a servant in this household from the time he was a young boy. He had to work very hard. He is now in his late teens. The landowner was afraid that Khoai will leave the household and thus he would lose a very hard working helper. So, one day he called Khoai and told him:

"If you stayed in the household and work hard day and night, I will give you my daughter in marriage."

Khoai believed the landowner and was very happy. He redoubled his efforts to win the heart of the landowner. Three years have passed. The daughter is now grown. In the region, there is this very wealthy village chief, who eyed the daughter for his son. So, the village chief came and ask for the hand of the daughter. The landowner agreed and set out to prepare for the wedding.

When Khoai realized that he has been taken advantage of, he was mad and went to the landowner to complain. He asked the landowner:

"You have promised your daughter to me. Why are you going back on your promise now?"

The landowner did not like to be addressed in such a manner. He was going to beat him, but taking another look at the young man, he dared not. He told him instead:

"My son, you are mistaken! My daughter is now of age and the preparation for the wedding that I am undertaking now is actually for you. However, if you want the wedding to take place, you must accomplish the following task. You need to find a bamboo with one hundred knots. Then you will need to cut it up into chopsticks for the wedding feast. That is my condition for giving you my daughter's hand in marriage."

Khoai again believed him and went up the forest in search of the bamboo with 100 knots. He searched for days on end and went from one end of the jungle to the other without success. In despair he sat down in the jungle and wept in despair.

Suddenly he saw an old cheery man with all white hair but with rosy complexion. The old man approached him and asked:

"Son, why are you so sad?'.

Khoai told him his story. The old man told him:

"Go and cut 100 stems of bamboo and bring them back here".

Khoai went out and brought back the bamboo that the old man asked. The old man then gave the command

"Stick together! Stick together" (Kha('c nha^.p)

The bamboo sticks that were lying here and there on the ground immediately came together all in a row to make a bamboo with 100 knots. Khoai was filled with joy. He wanted to thank the old man, but he has disappeared. He realized that he has met Buddha. He set out to bring the bamboo back. But there was no way for him to load this long bamboo on his shoulder. He kept on running into other trees. He sat down again in despair and wept. Immediately he saw the old man reappear. Buddha asked him:

"Why do you weep?"

He explained his situation. Buddha pointed at the bamboo and said

"Unstick! Unstick!" (Kha('c xua^'t).

and the bamboo came apart in 100 stems. And Buddha disappeared. Khoai tied up the 100 bamboo stems and proceeded to take them home.

When he arrived home, he found the two families preparing to feast in the courtyard. The village chief family has come for the wedding. Khoai was really mad and ran to the landowner to ask for an explanation. The landowner told him

"I asked you to get me a bamboo with 100 knots, not 100 stems of bamboo!"

Both family stopped their feasts and laughed derisively at Khoai, and joked about his naivety. Khoai told the landowner that he has the bamboo and the courtyard and the landowner should come out and examine it. As the landowner approached the pile of bamboo, Khoai said in a low voice "stick together! stick together!". Immediately the bamboo stems came together and the landowner was also stuck at the end of the bamboo. The landowner tried to pull himself away but failed. The future in-laws came to his rescue. Khoai waited until the village chief has touched the landowner before he said "stick together! stick together!". Immediately the village chief became stuck to the landowner. The same fate happened to the village chief's son. The more they tried to pull away, the harder and more painful they became stuck. Both families were now in panic. Nobody dared to pull the three men away any longer nor joked about Khoai. They lined up and asked him to pardon the 3 men stuck at the end of the bamboo.

Khoai had the landowner promise his daughter to him and the village chief has to agree not to seek vengeance. Then Khoai said "unstick! unstick!" and they all became free.

The village chief and his party quickly left the festivities. And Khoai moved into the bridegroom chair and the celebration continued!

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