I had lunch with a good friend on Sunday. During the lunch, he told me three legends. Here is the second:
“There was once a turtle that nobody liked. He was ugly and walked so slow, annoying everybody behind him and would take up space because of how large he was. The turtle was yelled, thrown mud and kicked at everyday. In the nighttime the turtle would ask the villagers for a place to spend the night. Thus, the turtle created a mud hut far in the forest to spend the night, no body knew that at night she turned into the most beautiful woman in the village. Nobody in the village knew that she could transform into a beautiful woman and kept the secret her entire life. In the morning, she would return to turtle form and would endure the same mistreatment as before. One day she asked for a place to spend the night and a castle guard felt pity for her and gave her a little room to spend the night. The room that she slept in just happened to be directly across from that of the prince’s. That night the prince decided to get fresh air, he stepped onto the balcony and saw the turtle transform into the beautiful woman. After the prince saw her they fell in love and married one another. Upon their marriage the curse was lifted and they lived happily ever after.”
Before my friend told me the actual legend, he made sure to tell me that this was his favorite. He distinctly remembers how his mother would tuck him and his siblings into bed before she would tell ‘The Turtle and the Prince’. In a way, this legend was a way for my friend’s mother to help integrate Congolese culture with American culture. My friend expressed thinking about this legend whenever he missed home or reminisced about his childhood.
I understood exactly where my friend was coming from because I also hold old bedtime stories close to my heart. Bedtime stories are truly the best way to maintain a connection to the past, especially childhoods. My mom used to tell me a story very similar to Swan Lake. I found interesting parallels between the two legends. For example, both stories include a beautiful woman who transforms into an animal (turtle or swan) at night. In both stories, the curse is broken by a prince and everyone lives happily ever after. In a way, my friend and I grew up in completely different cultures but we were raised hearing very similar stories.