"An Easier Life" 

I was born in a new body in a land called Ur. My new name was ASHUR, and I was trader in cattle, sheep, and goats. 

Herder with livestock

I sold my animals at market to the surrounding villages. The cows and she-goats produced milk. The sheep produced meat and wool. The bulls were used to plow the fields each spring and sow barley seed. If the rains came, the barley grew and was harvested in the fall. If there were no rains, the farmers lost their crops. 

Of course I raised a little food, but farming bored me. Having to plow all that land? Depend on the gods to send rain? Harvest the crop? Selling animals was an easier life. 

Some farmers in the area worshipped the nature gods. The priests in their temples raised animals for sacrifice. Only healthy animals would please the gods. On holy days, these farmers would purchase a sheep or a goat to beg the gods for a good harvest or healthy sons. After the animal was killed and cooked, everyone would celebrate with a feast. 

Other people worshipped Mithra, the Sun god. Their priests were always telling us that Zarathustra said to worship the Light, not the Darkness, and to perform good deeds, not evil ones. I just ignored them. They didn't buy animals from me.

One of my customers was a farmer named GAMUL.  When his animals grew sick or died, he'd buy a replacement from me. 

I don't know when the idea first occurred to me. It may have been when one of my goats fell ill before market day. "I've got to find a replacement," I thought. "What if I sneak over to Gamul's farm and switch this goat for one of his? He has so many, he'll never miss one. Why he might even come to market tomorrow and buy his own goat back!" 

So that night I managed to switch the animals without anyone noticing. I even switched the bells around their necks so my goat would appear to be Gamul's. 

The next day at market Gamul did appear. He looked around but didn't buy anything. 

Later that afternoon he returned with DASTUR, the head priest from the Mithra temple. "This man says you stole one of his goats," he said. 

"Me? Steal his goat? I don't know what you're talking about." 

Gamul pointed at one of the goats. "See this animal here? She's mine. I've raised her since she was a baby." 

"Can you prove it?" I asked, and of course he could not.

"Ashur," the priest said, "The prophet Zarathustra asks us to commit only good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Are you being honest with this man?" 

"Of course," I answered. 

Gamul just stared at me.  "Well you just wait. I'll get even with you." The priest also gave me a long look as the two of them walked off.

A few days later Gamul appear at my doorstep with a dead goat in his arms. "Your goat has died. Take her!" he said angrily.

"You're crazy!" I answered. "You're just jealous that I have more animals than you do."

"No, you lying cheat!" Gamul grabbed my neck and started squeezing. I hit him again and again, but I couldn't break free. My eyes darkened....

I stood beside Gamul and my dead body. As Gamul stomped off, I saw the events of this life unfold. It wasn't fair! How dare this fellow kill me! Well...I was lazy, and I did steal and I did lie to the priest about it, but... 

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