Irit and Nurit
Narrated by Zaineba Abibeker Deremo
There were two girls called Irit and Nurit. Irit is clever and she has a father but no mother. Nurit is not clever. She is foolish. She has both parents.
Now they go to a garden together. They gather chatChat (or khat) is a flowering plant found in East Africa and the Arabian peninsular. Chewing the leaves produces mild euphoria and excitement; it can also bring about a drowsy state. which they sell for themselves.
When they went to the market an old fairy man begged them to give him chat and said if they gave it he would bless them. Irit gave it to him.
She said, “Grandfather, it is good chat. Let it be good for you.”
He begged again to Nurit for some chat.
She said, “It is not chat, it is cabbage.”
So he cursed her, “Go! Let it be a cabbage!”
She tried and tried to sell her chat but she couldn’t sell it. And Irit could not sell hers either because of this curse.
Irit’s mother was angry, so she tied her up and threw her in the road. The one person saw her, and he was a holy, charitable person.
“What happened to you? May I take you to my house?” he said.
She said, “Yes. OK.”
And she started living with him.
The charitable man was going to sleep and before he slept he said, “When you see black water, don’t wake me up. When golden water comes, wake me up.”
Then he slept.
Black water came but she didn’t wake him up. Golden water came and she woke him up. Then he put her into the golden water and called the wind.
“Put her on her father’s roof!” he said.
After that, the foolish one, when she woke up in the morning to sweep the house, she saw the saliva which Irit had spit out and it was gold.
Then Nurit says, “Mother! I got some gold!”
Mother says, “Put it in a jar.”
Then again Irit spits out saliva and again Nurit said, “I’ve got gold.” Then Nurit looked upwards and saw Irit.
She called to her mother, “Mother, it is our Irit who is on the roof.”
Nurit’s mother says, “Which Irit? The one who has been eaten by the hyena?” (because she assumed that is what had happened to her.)
Then Nurit asked Irit, “How did you get this gift, to change your spit to gold?”
Irit tells her about the old man, but she changed the story.
She said, “You go to that old man and when he asks you where he can eat his lunch, tell him he can eat from the ground. Again, when he asks where he can pee, say he can pee on the ground. Then when he sleeps, wake him when the black water comes.”
So Nurit was happy and said, “OK” and woke him when the black water came. So he put her in the black water and called the wind and told the wind to take the girl to her mother’s kitchen and put her under her mother’s injera pan which is all black. [Injera is a flat, round bread usually made from tef, a grain cultivated in the highlands of Ethiopia.] In the morning her mother came in the kitchen and was about to light the fire when she saw something under the pan.
She thought it was a cat, and she shouted at it, “Pss! Go out of the house,” and she cursed it.
And Nurit said, “Mother, it’s me! Nurit!”
So the mother took her and hid her because she had become completely black.
Then a man comes to ask for Irit’s hand in marriage. When the mother discovers this, she takes Irit and gives her to a python.
The python swallows her and when the bridegroom and his best man came to the house the python comes up to them both and says, “I will give you a very beautiful and wise girl. If I give you this girl, what will you do for me?”
They say, “We will give you anything that you want.”
So the python spits Irit out.
So the bridegroom and best man took Irit and married her, but they cut out Nurit’s tongue because she told lies and they made her grind hot pepper in the kitchen.
The moral is: the one who doesn’t wish good things for other people will always end up like this.
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