A Show of Hands

rewritten by Phillip Martin

There was no water, running or otherwise, at the Kamina Children's Home since the well was broken.  To get clean water for the paint brushes, someone had to go across the road to a neighbor's backyard and drop a bucket attached to a rope into a well.  Little kids were very willing to help me, but they always came back drenched.  The bucket was just too heavy for them.  I learned to ask teenagers, who were never as willing to help.

It's not so easy to clean latex paint from brushes, but it can be done with water.  The problem is multiplied enormously when oil based paint is used.  You need soap, turpentine, and a lot of water.  And, alas, I had oil based paint.  It dripped, ran, splattered, and got on all sorts of little hands and arms.

There were several times when I sat by the water bucket cleaning my brushes as well as little arms and fingers.  As I rubbed away splattered paint from the children's hands, they in turned cleaned me up from fingertips to elbows.  It was the closest I've ever come to a foot-washing. So, when I found a tale about hands, I knew it was the one I had to share.

One day the Husband-Hand (right hand) declared to the Wife-Hand (left hand), "All the meat that we have is mine.  I am the one who kills the meat.  I am the one who brings it home.  I do all of the work.  What do you do?  Seriously?  Why should I share any of this?  It is mine."

Now, the Wife-Hand knew how to handle her hand, er . . . man, er . . . Husband-Hand.  Sometimes it is right to argue, and you have to take a stand.  This was no time to bite the hand that feeds you.  It was no time to hand in the towel in defeat.  Sometimes you just need to stand by, watch your Husband-Hand set a trap, then sit back and let him fall right into it.  It's the only way he will learn a lesson.  You know, firsthand experience.

"Very well, Husband-Hand," declared the Wife-Hand, "you killed the meat and you alone shall eat it.  But, put your hand up to your ear and hear me well.  I will not lift a finger on my hand to help you at all.  When you cut up the meat, I will not hold it for you.  You can gather up the firewood all by yourself.  There will be no helping hand.  Chop the wood.  Weave your own basket to carry it.  Start the fire.  Prepare the food.  Cure the leather.  Clean up your own mess.  I wash my hand of this situation.  Do all of this work by yourself and then eat your meat.  I hope it is finger lickin' good because from now on the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."

And, that is just what the Husband-Hand did.

Well, it is what he tried to do anyway.  It was a handful of work and he just couldn't do it without a helping hand.  Even when he did manage to kill some meat, the situation was out of hand.  He couldn't get it home. Husband-Hand threw up his hand in frustration and went home empty-handed.  And, just as Wife-Hand expected, he raised his hand for a little help.

"Wife-Hand, I learned my lesson," declared Husband-Hand, "and you didn't even have to wave your finger at me and give me any handy advice."

Now, the Wife-Hand knew she won this battle.  There was no need for any "I told you so's" and no need to overplay her hand.  This was a time to lend a hand.  So she took her Husband-Hand by the hand and directed him back into the forest.  Husband-Hand knew he was in good hands (or hand).

They worked together like hand in glove.  Hand in hand, they found more meat.  Like old hands, they knew how to weave a basket to carry it. Together, they moved as one hand to gather the firewood and start the fire.  Because each of them was there to lend a hand, neither of them had their hands full.  But, both of them did have to dig in and get their hands dirty.

You have to hand it to the Wife-Hand, she knew how to handle the situation.  There was nothing heavy-handed in the way she treated her Husband-Hand.  Hands down, the best way to teach him a lesson was with a gentle hand.  She knew that two hands are better than one.  And, when she took her hand off, and let her Husband-Hand fumble around on his own, he realized that life is better when one hand washes the other.