ONCE UPON A TIME…
Agarwood, Aloeswood, Eaglewood or Oud are just some of the names given to what is one of the most expensive and rare natural raw materials known to man – the scent of heaven as it has been so enchantingly described.
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Original and creative storytelling infused with moral values of leadership and learning, trust and tenacity.
A great foundation for the success of life itself.
His face is tattered, wrinkled by time and effort. Yet his mind is still sharp and clear. He is traveling on the same tortuous road he’s been dozens of times before. His back is sore, his vision is blurry, his throat is dry. But he knows that the reward is worth the journey. The magical essence, the mystical scent that mesmerized him all his life is worth the toil and the trouble.
He Also knows that this will be his last journey to the faraway jungle. Thought his mind is still ravenous to find the precious agarwood and trade the oud, his body has had enough. “This will be my last journey, boy”, said the old man to his travel companion. “That’s what you said last time”, replied the boy who was in fact a full-grown man with a thick beard and sharp, lucid eyes. “This time, I really mean it”, said the old man looking ahead at the road. “My bones are tried”.
As he hears that, the young man knows it’s the turth. The man he admires has passed his age. He knows that this will be the last expedition for the old man. Looking back to where they came from, the old remembers how it all began. “You paid how much for some scented pieces of wood?” “You’re a fool!” said the other trades in his city. “You’ve ruined your family. Just how will you live?”, others asked with judgmental eyes. “Giving them all your money. You must be crazy!”, shouted voices throughout the city.
The old man, a man in his strength back then, still believed that he made the right decision. He still believed in himself and his trade, and he knew in his heart that those people needed the money. “This oud, as little as it is, will be the best in the world”, the old man said to himself. Soon enough, the others realised he was right. The oud extracted from those pieces of wood proved to be something the world has never seen before. “Welcome my friend and thank you for this oud”, said the king of the land to him one day. “From now on, I’ll only buy oud from you”.
The old man knew from the start that it’s not about the trade, the wood, the scent, although these were dear to his heart. It was about something beyond that. It was about offering more than receive. as the old man’s fame grew, so was his business. his foolishness to trade all his fortune was now considered wisdom, and his oud became a sought-after item throughout the entire desert. Yet, he was still fateful to his humble beginnings. He kept only one shop and did the hardest tasks himself.
This meant that it was soon time for a second journey to the village he once visited. He wondered if that place still existed or had faded away due to hardship and isolation.
Not little was his surprise when he was received back into the village as a savior, while the villagers paid back his kindness by offering him the best agarwood that the region had to provide. It was their way of thanking him for saving the village from past famine. The old men also remembered his first encounter with the young once, a mere boy back then.
“So you want to come and learn the trade?” asked the old man as he was getting ready for the trip back home.
That was the moment the friendship between the two started. A true friendship that grew stronger as the boy turned into a man, a friendship that became something more: a brotherhood that connected them until this last journey.
“What now?” asked the young man looking at the horizon and trying to guess the old man’s thoughts.
“We’ll have a family meeting at the end of this journey and talk about the future,” replied the old man as if just awakened from a dream. The young man had no reply to give. He considered the old man a father figure since they’d first met. The old man was the person he admired the most, and he was the one who taught him everything he knew about agarwood, and a lot more besides: trust and honesty. With this in mind, the young man finished the journey, and they both got ready for the family meeting, which was about to take place the second day.
At the meeting, everyone in the old man’s family was present – event toddlers too young to remember that the meeting even took place. But it was their right to be there. With the entire family beside him, the old man ruminated about the things he built from them with hard work and passion, knowing that without those, everything else is futile, since it would not pass the test of time.
“As you know, I am old. It is up to all of you to take over the oud trade and fulfill my dream. I’m too old to do it now”, said the old man looking at all of them. “But we need guidance!” shouted one of his sons. “You’ll have all the guidance you need in him”, said the old man pointing to the young man who was his travel companion the day before.
“Him?” said the others in dismay.
“Yes, him. His heart burns with the same desire for precious agarwood as mine did a long time ago. He may not be born in this family, but he is part of the family now”, said the old man looking at the shocked faces around him.
As he surveyed the room, reflecting on the atmosphere and what had been said, the old man held in his hand, something very dear to him. A small piece of Agarwood gifted to him by a village elder from his first expedition info that remote jungle. Gently he rubbed the piece of wood between his fingers, something he’d often do in contemplation.
And a beautiful vision came to him.
A vision of the future where the precious wood is harvested through sustainable methods.
A future where the ancient oud scent will be known and revered all around the world.
A future that happening now…
… to be continued.