Narrated by Demelew Beyene
A man had two daughters. The mother of the first daughter was dead. He married again and had another daughter. The two girls were ready for marriage. The first daughter, whose mother had died, was brought up well in a decent manner. Her name was Jahiti. The second daughter’s mother was rich.
When the suitors were considering marrying Jahiti, the second daughter was jealous.
“Why don’t they marry me? Why do they look at my sister?” she said to her mother. (These questions in verse.)
The mother was also jealous. She dressed up her daughter in white clothes and necklaces, bracelets and jewelry and "chelle" – pebble like ornaments in different colours. So, having dressed her up in good clothes, she sends her to the market place where girls play and dance and say things in verse, so that men could see and choose her. She sent Jahiti in old, dirty clothes.
In singing and chanting, the suitors sang:
“Shall we marry the one in good white clothes
Or shall we take the one in dirty clothes?”
One came and sang after the other, “Shall we marry the one….”
So the second daughter told her mother, “They did not want me in good clothes, but they wanted my sister in dirty clothes.”
So the stepmother made the girls exchange clothes. She sent her again to try again.
But the suitors chanted:
“We don’t want the girl in dirty clothes.
We want the girl in good clothes.”
The girl went to tell her mother, “I changed clothes but they still don’t want me.”
So the mother said, “Go and bring leafy branches where brides sit. They must be torn off the tree.”
She advised her own daughter to send Jahiti up the tree to tear off the branches.
“And while she is preparing the branches, you prepare a place near a lake. Put on the ground a slippery bark, so that she will slip in the lake and drown. The bark is called ‘laga’.”
And so it happened. The sister told Jahiti to come down and she slipped or fell into the lake. She couldn’t come out because the devil caught her there and made her his captive.
The bridegroom’s friends had arrived to take Jahiti.
When the sister came out, the men asked, “Where is the bride?"
"She is not here. She has disappeared.”
“What can we do?” they said.
They were sad because they couldn’t find the chosen girl.
The wedding company went back.
The girl’s father was a merchant, who bought and sold gold.
When he came he asked his wife, “Where is Jahiti?”
His wife replied, “She is out somewhere. She is not here.”
“Jahiti must come,” he declares.
“I will not eat or drink
Until Jahiti comes,
Because I love her.”
Jahiti being in the lake replies, “The mother of another girl has drowned me in this lake, so tell him to go ahead and eat and drink.”
The stepmother distorts this and goes home and tells the father, “Jahiti says, ‘I am busy in the neighbourhood. Tell him to eat and drink. I will come.’”
He refused and repeated, “Jahiti, Jahiti, my daughter. I won’t eat or drink until she comes.”
Again the village girls went and called to the lake like the mother did.
Jahiti answered the same way:
“A brutal woman,
Not my mother,
Has done this.
Tell him to eat and drink.”
The bridegroom loved her and missed her because she wasn’t there. While he was herding cattle he saw her in the lake. She couldn’t come out.
“How can I save you?” he asked.
“I can’t come out because the devil took hold of me.”
He had some food with him, but he throws it to her. So he comes daily to ask her to come out.
“How can I help you and release you?”
She answers, “You can’t. The devil has bewitched me.”
He throws his food to her every day and becomes thinner and thinner because of his love for Jahiti.
His father is affected by this.
His father said, “There is a lot to eat and drink, why are you getting thinner and thinner?”
“It’s no use telling you,” says the son.
“Please tell me,” he urged him.
Eventually the boy said, “My fiancée is in the lake. I always meet her but she can’t come out. I always give her my food, and that’s why I look so thin and skeletal.”
“You must go and ask her, ‘How can I save you? Is there any way you can come out?”
So the boy asked her.
She replied, “Slaughter a bull and throw the biggest slice of meat into the river and the devil will see it and let go of me.”
So they did. He went with his friends, slaughtered a bull and threw the back leg into the lake.
When they threw the slice in, the devil rushed to get hold of it. Another blind devil who did not see the meat, and thinking it was the meat, caught hold of the girl’s breast. So she came out, but the blind devil tore off her breast.
They were married. They lived happily ever after, bearing children, even with one breast.
This is what we heard from our forefathers.