The small rural village of Idlesborough was blessed with the gift of two excellent bakers.
The word was they had grown up together but had suffered a falling out in their teen years and become sworn enemies. Both had developed a passion for baking, gone abroad to develop world class skills and returned home in the same year to start a bakery.
The fact that they both wanted to start a bakery in the same town only furthered their hatred of each other. They raced to set up set up their shop each before the other but as it turned out they opened on the same day. Both first class bakers who, in the years that followed, kept the town more than satisfied with first rate pies and pastries, cakes and cookies, breads and buns, cupcakes and confections… you name it.
One day, so the story goes, God sent an angel to one of the bakers (Nadim was his name) with an offer, that at first, seemed too good to be true.
“Nadim,” the angel said, next week at this time I will return and give to you whatsoever you wish!”
“Anything?” Nadim asked.
“Anything.” the angel replied.
Nadim could hardly breathe so great was his excitement and he spent several minutes lost in a fantasy world before he realized the angel still stood beside his rack of cooling pies.
“…and?” Nadim hesitantly asked
“And,” the angel continued, “whatever you request will be doubled and given to your enemy.”
“Wait! So if I ask for $1 million he gets two and if I ask for $10 million he gets twenty?” Nadim asked slowly turning red with rage while shaking his finger towards the bakery across the way.
“Yes but you get the desire of your heart do you not?” the angel replied.
Nadim spent the week in a frustrated tumble of emotions. One moment he was ecstatic beyond words imagining what he might ask for… the next he would sink into a deep depression imagining what would be given to his sworn enemy…
When the angel returned the following week Nadim looked like a wreck. He had hardly slept, he couldn’t focus at work and was often seem shouting through the window even when no one else was in the room.
They sat and stared at each other across the kitchen for what seemed like eternity. The angel waiting, Nadim still fighting within himself.
Finally, with a look that belied an ancient evil he said, “make me blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Make my left hand useless and my right leg lame. Make me a halfwit.”
The story is actually about forgiveness.