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Sunday, December 4, 2022

The thief of a thousand colors

By Manuel Ortiz and Anna Lee Mraz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P] .

Once upon a time, between two great mountains, there was a small village called Montañesco. And Montañesco was so small that everyone knew each other. One day some travelers arrived on horses. They were people who went from town to town selling things to make a living. One lady, who was always dressed in blue, as was proper of course, did not like the arrival of people from outside her town and began to say that bad things would happen with the arrival of those travelers.

-They are not like us," said the lady, "they dress differently. They're wearing black: that color shouldn't even be used for clothing, it's bad news for sure.

Just as the lady said that, things began to go mysteriously awry. The villagers wondered, Who will it be? We all know each other here. Then, the townspeople thought that those who were stealing or hiding things were the ones in black.

The lady in blue commented to her neighbor who was also dressed in blue: "I think they are the ones who come to sell things in town, they don't give me a good impression, did you see what color they dress in, because of the color I can think that they are the thieves".

-What color do they wear? -asked the neighbor.

- Imagine, they wear black. They must be.

-Well, well," replied the neighbor. Let's set a trap for them. Let's leave this money in the center of the square and watch them without them noticing.

The vendors set up their stalls in the mornings, and that morning the whole town sat and watched them all day long. As they watched them, one person shouted:

-AAAHHHHHHH! Someone has stolen my plant. It was here a moment ago and disappeared.

But the travelers had been watched all day, they could not be the ones wearing black. So a man in gray said:

-You are wrong, ma'am. It couldn't be the travelers, we were watching them. Those who are stealing are not the ones in black. They are the ones from the east side of town who dress in red. Yesterday they passed this way.

-But those people in red have been in town for centuries. They arrived long before you did," answered one of the neighbors in blue.

-No, because thieves always wear a pattern of black with white stripes," a small boy was heard to say in the crowd.

-Well, well," answered a neighbor also in gray, "Let's go look at the ones in red. They could be.

By then, more people from the town had gathered. Some people were watching those in black and others those in red. And while everyone's eyes were fixed on the suspects, someone shouted:

-The money disappeared from the center of the square.

-It wasn't the ones in red, I was watching them without blinking," commented a girl in lilac with her mom in purple.

-It wasn't the ones in black either, I didn't take my eye off them," said a lady in green.

-Thieves always wear a pattern of black with white stripes," a small boy in the crowd commented again.

-There goes one in black with stripes! Reach for it!

So, the whole crowd rushed to catch up with the person who was dressed in a pattern of black with white stripes. When they caught up with him, they grabbed him and began to question him.

-I didn't do it, I promise you," implored the man dressed in black with white stripes. They searched him and, indeed, he had nothing on him.

-Who can it be, then? -asked the lady in purple, frightened, as she hugged her daughter in lilac.

The carpenter raised his voice: -No, no, no, no. Here the problem of the town has always been caused by the yellows. They came here supposedly to work, but they have only caused problems in Montañesco.

-The ones in yellow? asked the girl in lilac.

-Those are them," said the lady in blue. I never liked them.

-Hey, the whole town! -shouted the man in grey. The people in yellow have cheated us! They've been stealing from us! They're causing chaos. Let's go get them!

Those in yellow who were working - they always worked hard making delicious rice balls for the people - were frightened. The whole village had gone to watch them, of course, without neglecting the black with white stripes, nor the red ones, nor the black ones.

But while everyone was trying to blame the people in yellow, there was a spectacular robbery. All the money had disappeared from the town's bank!

-Help, comrades. All the money in our local bank is gone. I checked this morning and it was intact. And now, minutes ago, it's all gone.

Who could it be? They were not the ones in black, nor the ones in red, they could not be the ones in yellow, nor the ones in black with white stripes because they had been under surveillance at the time of the robbery.

-Are thieves invisible? -asked a little girl.

-Let's have a meeting," said the man in gray. -Let's have a meeting of the whole town in the assembly kiosk, bring the most valuable things you own.

And so it was that everyone of all colors gathered that afternoon to try to figure out who was stealing things and money in town. Everyone placed their valuable belongings in the center of the room. -Let's put out the light! -was the common agreement.

They turned off the light.

-They counted in unison and when they turned on the light? there were all the things, nothing was lost.

So, what color are the thieves? -asked a young man.

At that moment there was a knock at the door. Knock, knock, knock.

When they opened the door to the living room they found the old wise man of the village that everyone knew well.

-I've been watching them. And you know what? This town has become a very prejudiced town.

-What is prejudiced? -asked a small child.

-Prejudicial is when a person thinks badly of another just because of the way he looks or dresses. Prejudicial is when you blame someone for something without having the evidence of what they did for what you blame them for, when you judge them by their color, by how they look and not by how they really are. And what do you think? I stole everything from them.

-You? So old and you stole everything from us?

-That's right. You'll find everything out here. They can get it all back. I only hid them from you to teach you a lesson: thieves have no color. Thieves can be white, blue, yellow, green, black. You don't have to judge by color. It never occurred to them to ask questions. You were all so preoccupied with blaming others for their color that you didn't pay attention to me. I would pass behind you, I would even wave at you, "eeeeeiiiii, I'm going to steal your plant! But you never turned to look at me. You didn't think that a little old white man would steal something from you. Because you were thinking about the other colors. Come on out. You'll find all your stuff outside, you haven't lost anything. I hope you have learned your lesson. It's very late for me and it's cold. I have my fireplace, my cat and a little chocolate waiting for me in the house. Excuse me and goodbye.

The old man left and the villagers went out to find all the things that had been lost. No one had stolen them.

That old man had taught them a good lesson: you should not judge anyone by their color. Colorín colorado this story is over.

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