Aleka Gebre Hanna and the Wise Lady
Narrated by Worku Alemu
In our country, once upon a time, there was one wise and famous man, called Aleka Gebre Hanna. This person always looks for another person who is wiser than him. He usually couldn’t find one, so he thinks he’s the wisest person alive. Eventually he heard about a lady who is supposed to be wittier and wiser than him and he went to her village to meet her, and he found her house and was received as a guest there.
It was her parents’ home. According to the tradition of our country, to be hospitable to a guest, such as washing his feet, preparing dinner, making a spread and so on, is very common indeed. And accordingly every treatment was given to Aleka Gebre Hannah by the wise and witty woman and her parents.
Finally the lady was told to take him out for excretion.
And she, leading him, went around the house many times and finally he was tired and forced to go at the gate of the residence and her family said, “What happened? Why don’t you go to the field?”
And the lady replied, “He refused and did it here.”
And everybody laughed at him, and Aleke Gebre Hanna was very upset by this and went to his bedroom and the lady was ordered to make the bed for him.
And she first put on the bed a small skin of a sheep, like a sheet, and was about to leave the room, so Aleke asked her, “Why don’t you make the bed well? Is that enough for a person to sleep on?”
“OK,” she said, “Finish this first and I’ll give you some more.” (As if he was a hyena.)
So he slept on it because he had no choice.
On the second morning he went back to his house planning vengeance. He sent her two sacks of tef on the back of two donkeys and asked her to tell him the number of the tef. If she tries to count it he will have won – and she will look foolish.
She replied by saying, “I have counted the tef. It is as much as the number of the hairs of the two donkeys. Count the hairs on the donkeys and you will know the number of the tef.”
So he realised she was the most witty lady.
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