The Brother and the Sister
Narrated by Tesfaye Chibsa
Once upon a time there was a man, his wife and his son. One day the man was leaving for war, although his wife was pregnant.
So he called his son and said, “I have a great task for you. While I’m away it’s your responsibility to look after your mother. But when she gives birth, I want you to do something for me. Look at the child and if it’s a daughter, if it’s a girl, kill the child and bring me her blood to the war front. However, if it’s a male child, I want you to kill the black sheep and bring me its blood.”
He made the son promise this and left for the war front.
After some time the mother gave birth, and she gave birth to a female child. Now the boy immediately liked his sister and didn’t want to kill her. So he cut the black sheep and took the blood to the war front and lied to his father, saying his mother had given birth to a boy.
Then he went back and lived with his mother and sister; the father stayed at the battlefront for many years.
But one day the father was coming back and the son heard about this.
So he went to his sister and warned her.
He said, “Be careful. When our father comes he mustn’t realise that you are his daughter. Therefore don’t call him daddy or dad to show your affection, simply call him father, like any of the village children would, so he won’t know you’re his daughter.”
So when the father came back he greeted him and called him father. Then he went back to the hut and put his sister on the back of a mule and rode away, saving the sister’s life.
And they went and lived in a forest which had lots of wizards in it. The brother killed a lot of the wizards, but some remained. So they lived in the hut in the forest for a long time. One of the wizards used to come over to their house.
Gradually, he began courting the sister, and he said to her, “Marry me.”
And the sister said, “You know that’s not allowed in our culture: you’ve got to ask my brother for my hand in marriage.”
But the wizard knew that nobody would allow their child or sister to marry a wizard.
So he kept coming again and again and saying, “You know your brother will never allow me to, therefore we must kill your brother and then get married.”
Eventually she agreed and asked him what she should do. He said that she should pretend to be sick and should say to her brother that she needs wizards’ food to become better. And then they would see what they could do about it.
So when her brother came home he found his sister sick and he asked her what he should do, and she said the only thing that would cure her was wizards’ food. So he got up and went looking for the wizard. But on the way he found another wizard. And the other wizard warned him that if somebody was asking for wizards’ food there was something evil going on, and they probably wanted to kill him.
So the wizard said, “Even if they do kill you, make them promise that they will tie you onto the mule’s back and let you go out into the barley field.”
In the meantime, the wizard had gone back to the sister and told her what to do.
So when the brother came back, the sister ate the wizards’ food and said, “Now I’m OK, let’s play a game.”
And the brother said, “What sort of game do you want to play?”
And the sister said, “First, tie me to the central pillar.”
Then she said, “Your turn.”
And this time she tied him to the central pillar of the hut.
And she called the wizard and said, “Here he is, now you can kill him.”
And the brother said, “First promise me that once I’m dead, you’ll tie me on to a mule and let the mule go free in the barley field.”
And they decided that once he was dead, there was nothing he could do. So they killed him and put him on to the mule’s back and let the mule go, with his rifle.
Now the other wizard saw the mule and the body and the rifle in the barley field, so he took them all home and he put the body back together and he breathed life into the brother’s body and the brother came back to life.
And he gave him his rifle and said, “Look, now I’ve saved you.”
And the brother took the rifle and killed the wizard. Then he took his sister on a mule and brought her back to his parents’ village and he said, “This is my sister – I saved her life but she killed me.”
This shows us that even though you do good to others, you might get bad in return.
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