The Magic Gourd

The 24-year-old informant is originally from Rhode Island, but currently resides in New York, NY. Her parents are both from China, making her a first-generation American Born Chinese. This story was one that she heard as a child and has been engrained in her mind ever since.

“A long, long time ago, there was a boy who was fishing at the lake, and um, his classmates walk by and laughing at his fishing poles like, ‘Oh, so ugly, and so cheap!’

And they showed him, like ‘See, look at our fishing pole. We can fish biiiig fish! And so big and strong enough to pull them up.’

And on the other hand, his poor, very weak fish pole–even one fish can broken his pole. So, after the left and he was quietly sitting there, still fishing, fishing, fishing—and suddenly, he fished not a fish—it’s a gourd! He was very, very angry like, ‘I don’t want a gourd—I want a fish!’

However, the gourd, because it’s magic gourd, and talk about, ‘Please, ok save me! You can do whatever you want and I can satisfy you.’
And the boy’s not really wanting to bring the gourd back home, but he’s casually put him into the school bag. After he came back home, and he said, ‘Oh gosh, I have a lot of homework to do.’

The gourd, of course, tried to please him because, after all, he brought him back, and said ‘I can do whatever you want! I can satisfy you!’

The boy said, ‘Ok I have a lot of homework. Please do it for me.’

And pretty soon, ‘His homework was done in front of him.’

And also, he said ‘Oh I want to read certain books from our library but I forgot to bring them back home,’ and wow, suddenly, many, many books were full on his desk and another thing he said was, ‘Tomorrow, I want to eat a lot of good stuff like chicken, duck, and other things.’

Wow, a huge pile of money appeared on his desk. He was so satisfied he went out and bought all the food he wanted.

He went to school the next day and suddenly, there was a math test that he wasn’t prepared for. The gourd sensed that the boy needed help and helped him by copying a classmate’s test—but the test ended up having the classmate’s name on it too—and the girl’s test became blank. Of course, the boy was embarrassed and the teacher was not happy. So, the boy learned his lesson and did everything by himself from that point on to avoid embarrassment, and he learned humility and accountability.”

This story about a magic gourd is a very old story with Chinese origins, according to the informant. It represents Asian values of humility, honesty, and accountability– which Chinese people, especially, hold very highly.