Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Three Drops of Blood. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Blood. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Blood. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
At the moment, in the UK, many universities are striking. A strike is when people decide to not work because their work conditions, their work life, is very bad. For example, people might strike because they are not paid enough, they might strike because they work in dangerous conditions, and so on. There were many miners’ strikes, so, many miners, many coal miners, striked in the eighties and nineties in the UK, and now many universities are striking.
The reason they are striking is two things.
First, pensions. So when you retire, when you stop working at around sixty-five or seventy, the government pays you pensions. So during your life you pay money into your pension and when you retire the government pays you your pension. But people working in universities, their pensions have decreased, and they also have to put more money into their pensions now. So they’re paying more and getting less.
Another big problem universities in the UK is bad contracts. So when you start your job you sign a piece of paper called a “contract”, and the contract says all of the conditions, all of the rules, of the job.
Many people who work in universities, many teachers in universities, are on “zero-hours contracts”. This means that they don’t have fixed hours. Normally when you have a job you have maybe forty hours a week or thirty hours a week, and this is in the contract. But many jobs now have zero hours and every week they tell you what hours you will work. The problem with this is that you don’t get many things that you would normally get with a normal contract. For example, if you take time off, because you are sick, you don’t get paid. So if people working in universities are sick, they don’t take time off, which is very dangerous. It’s very bad for their health. You might be working and you don’t know if you will be working there for a month, for a year, or more, because at any point they could lower your hours, they could take away hours you are working, or they could take away all your hours, and you would stop working there.
And this happens to many people who work at universities in the UK. Many lecturers who are very intelligent and very qualified, and they know a lot about their subject, they have to work in these very bad conditions. The United Kingdom has some of the best universities in the world but we treat the university teachers very badly. So this is another reason many people are striking.
The strike is for eight days. So when this episode comes out, it will be the second-to-last day, so it will finish on the day after this podcast goes out. Hopefully it will successful. We don’t know yet. I am supporting the strike. I think it’s very important to have good work conditions. I think this strike is going to hopefully make good change. I am also part of the union that is doing the strike.
So when you work in a place, you can join a union, where you work with other workers to get your rights, to get better working conditions. So the union is UCU, Universities and College Union. I don’t work in a university, but I do work in a college, which is like a school for adults. And these problems of pensions and zero-hour contracts are a problem in colleges, as well. So this past week I’ve been going to some events that the union has been doing, some educational events, and places for people to talk about strikes and talk about the situation in education in the UK.
So I just thought it was interesting to tell you all about this. Unfortunately, I think this is a problem with universities all around the world now. So we have to fight to make things better.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A cure makes a sickness better. For example, there are cures for many diseases, such as smallpox, mumps, and so on. Unfortunately, we don’t have a cure for the common cold yet, and we don’t have a cure for flu yet.
Heaven is an idea in many religions. So Heaven is a place that good people go to when they die, but only good people go to Heaven. Heaven is usually above us, in the sky.
To make a sacrifice, and “sacrifice” is spelt S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E, means to give something up. So you are giving something important up to get something else. For example, a mother sacrifices her time for her children. She has to give up her time for her children, for example, when she takes them to school. It can also be in a religious sense. So in many religions, cows and sheep are sacrificed to gods.
A drop is a piece of liquid. So liquid is like water, milk, blood, orange juice, and so on. A drop is a small piece of any liquid. When it rains, there are lots of drops of water coming down from the sky.
To pay a debt, and “debt” is spelt D-E-B-T, means you took something and you have to give it back later. So you might take money from a bank and then you will have a debt, and in the future, you will have to pay your debt. You will have to give the money back. Many people in America get large debts and then they have lots of money problems because of it.
Marry is when a man and woman, or a man and a man, a woman and a woman, join together forever, because they love each other very much. They put rings on each other’s fingers and hopefully they will live together forever.
A mosquito is a small insect, and it is a horrible insect! It bites people and drinks their blood, and it can cause many dangerous diseases, such as malaria, which kills many people, even today. Mosquitoes buzz around. So buzzing is a noise like bzzzzzzzz, and after they bite you, you get big spots and they itch a lot, which means you want to scratch them, and then you scratch them and they get very bloody. It’s just horrible. So this is what scratching sounds like, [scratching noise].
Luckily, we don’t have mosquitoes in the UK, but mosquitoes in other countries LOVE me! Apparently, my blood is delicious. So whenever there are mosquitoes, they bite me all over. One time, I was in Japan in the summer and I was in Tokyo, and I sat down in a park, and I was wearing sandals, so my feet were out. And there were some mosquitoes, but I didn’t think they were biting me that much, but the next day I woke up and I had fifteen mosquito bites on each foot! It was horrible.
And speaking of mosquitoes, today’s story is about the origin of mosquitoes. So this is a story about where mosquitoes come from. The story is from Vietnam, and I want to say a big thank-you to our listener, Huynh Bao Thi, from Vietnam, because Huynh sent the story to me and I just edited it for the podcast. So thank you so much, Huynh Bao Thi!
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5 you get an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
Thank you very much to our new patron, Ahlam Nana. I hope I pronounced your name right. Thank you so much, Ahlam. Your support really does help.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Three Drops of Blood
Once upon a time, there lived a husband and wife by the sea. They loved each other very much, and they wanted to stay together forever. The husband was a fisherman. Every day, he would go out and catch fish. Then he would sell the fishes to buy food in the market. Their lives were poor and hard, but they were truly happy.
But one day, the wife got sick. The husband was so worried that he spent all of his money to ask for the help of the best doctor in the village.
‘Doctor, there must be a cure!’
‘Of course! There is a cure for everything.’
The doctor gave her all kinds of strange plants and drinks, but she only got more sick.
‘This didn’t work, that didn’t work… but I can try something else. I just need more time… and more money.’
In the end, the husband sold all of his things to pay for the doctor. But still, his wife couldn’t get over her sickness, and finally she died. The man cried day in and day out. He had no one in the world to love anymore.
After she died, he put her body on a boat and sent it out onto the sea, as the fishermen of the village did.
‘Sleep well, my love. I will see you again in Heaven…’
Meanwhile, Buddha was sat high above, in Heaven. At that moment, he looked down and saw the man crying by the sea, and the boat with his dead wife on it. Buddha saw that the man loved her greatly, and felt very sad.
‘What can I do to help him?’ he said.
So he became an old man, and went down to the sea. He went up to the man, and said, ‘My dear man, I see that you are crying. What makes you so unhappy?’
‘Leave me alone! Go away!’ he cried. Then he stopped crying for a moment, and looked at the man. ‘I’m sorry… Please don’t go. I’m all alone now, and nobody will listen to me.’
‘I will,’ said Buddha.
The man sighed. ‘My wife died of an sickness. She is the one on that boat.’
‘I have travelled to many places,’ said Buddha. ‘I know a cure that could save her.’
‘No more cures!’ screamed the man. ‘That doctor gave me cure after cure, but none of them did anything.’
The old man took his arm and looked him in the eyes. ‘This one will work. But you must make a sacrifice.’
The husband answered at once, ‘I have nothing left to lose.’
‘Good. Go out to that boat. Cut your finger, and put three drops of blood on your wife’s mouth. She will come back to life. However, remember this: your wife will have a debt to pay. If you ever leave her, or she leaves you, she must give three drops of blood to you. Then the debt will be paid.’
The husband took a stone and jumped into the sea. He swam through the water to the boat, and climbed on. Then he cut his finger with the stone, and let the blood drop onto his wife’s mouth.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, her hands moved.
She opened her eyes and laughed. ‘Hello, dear.’
For a while, they just kissed and hugged, and said nothing. Then the man turned around, because he wanted to thank the old man, but he was gone.
The husband and wife returned to their home. Their lives were still poor and hard, but the man was just as happy as before. But something was different. As the months passed, the man’s wife became prettier and prettier. She was bright with beauty, and every fisherman in the village looked at her.
In particular, one fisherman heard the strange story about how she died and became interested. He was the richest fisherman in the village, and he wanted to marry her. He waited and, one day, the husband went travelling. Then the fisherman came to the house to visit the wife. She was amazingly beautiful.
He said sweetly, ‘You are such a beautiful woman. Why do you live such a poor and hard life here? I am rich. I could look after you and give you whatever you want. Won’t leave this man? Won’t you marry me?’
The woman thought for a while and answered, ‘You are right. I have lived a very hard life, and then I died. Now I live again, and things are harder than before. I will be your wife. But first, I must pay my debt, and give my husband three drops of blood.’
A week passed, and the husband returned home. His wife was quieter than before, but she did not say why. One night, they were walking on the beach. She fell on a rock, and a ring fell out of her pocket. She quickly picked it up and put it away.
‘Where is that ring from?’ he said. They had never had money for rings.
‘Somebody gave it to me.’
‘I… I wanted to wait—’
‘What is going on?!’ the man cried.
‘I loved you,’ said the woman, ‘but now I do not. I am sorry. You looked after me well, but we are so poor. I want a better life! Let us end this now.’ She picked up a stone, and cut open her finger. ‘Take my blood. I will pay my debt.’
She lifted her finger to his mouth, but the man moved away. ‘I won’t!’
A strong wind blew, and three drops of blood flew from her finger and went into the sea. Suddenly, she was not there anymore. She had disappeared.
The man looked all around him, and cried out, ‘Hello?’ But his wife was gone forever. All he could see was something small and black, flying over the sea. It was some kind of insect.
Weeks passed, and the other villagers spoke of the insect. It made a horrible buzzing sound, and it liked to bite people, and drink their blood. People called it the “mosquito”. Just as the mosquito flew around the village, so did the story of the two fishermen and the woman between.
‘It is a lesson,’ said the people of the village. ‘You must stay with your man.’
The poor fisherman lived without his wife, sad and alone. The mosquito never visited his home, and the debt was never paid.
If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.