Don’t Be Too Shy
Narrated by Hukun Hussein Fura
Once upon a time, there was a boy called Mohammed Hassan. His father and mother died when he was very young. They had had a hundred camels, a hundred and twenty goats and eighty cows. All this property came to the boy, but he had no father and mother. His uncle, who had the same name, Mohammed, and who was his father’s brother, became his guardian and took all the property. The uncle was poor with only two cows. The uncle’s wife was called Ambaro and he had four daughters. Mohammed had a problem with Ambaro. She always shouted at him and she was always angry, and he got a complex and never said anything about it to his uncle.
Mohammed helped his uncle’s daughters to herd his cattle, goats and camels. He helped the eldest especially. Her name was Deka. Deka, if she fell down, he would help her up. If she was hurt, he tried to make her better, or to put leaves on her wounds or cut her a stick. He helped her a lot. The other children didn’t like her or him but these two were friends. When she was older and started helping in the house, she would hide food for him and give him special food and creep out at night and give him food, because he had been starved by his aunt. And she was in love with him. He became happier and was no longer so angry with his aunt, although she still hated him and wanted him to go.
When he was old enough he told his uncle he was ready to marry. The elders came together and his uncle said, “Mohammed has the whole property, which has increased, and he wants to marry. He wants to choose a girl from the village. I am ready to marry him (that is, to find him a wife).”
So they agreed to find him a wife. But Ambaro shouted, “No! No!” and she quarrelled with her husband.
She said, “They’re not his now. You have looked after them and all the increase is due to you. He’s a child. How can he take all this?”
All the elders wanted Mohammed to marry their daughter.
“Oh! The boy who has all these properties! The child who has no father and no mother!”
Everyone wanted to have him.
The uncle reproved his wife angrily and said, “The property is his. If he wants it he can take it.”
At last the elders decided that half the property would be the boy’s, and he had to marry with it. So, because of the quarrel, the boy decided to take half of all the cattle to another village, to his mother’s relatives.
“I will marry a girl there. I’ll take it there and I can manage my own property and when I’m ready I will marry.”
So he went.
As soon as he left the village, Deka became very sick. For three years she was sick. Dying even. One day, the boy met someone who came from his uncle’s village.
“How are you?” he said.
“What about the village? My uncle and his family?”
“They are OK, but Deka is very, very, very sick. Since you left she has been sick.”
“Oh! That lady was very kind for me. I have to take two sheep and sell them.”
So he sold two sheep and took the money and went to the village to see her. He bought clothes for her. When he was near the village (she had been sleeping under a tree near the village) she saw him coming up the road. As soon as he reached her she was very glad and sat up and saluted him. He wondered at how thin and changed she was.
“How are you? My sister, are you well? I heard you were sick.”
Then he gave her the clothes and things.
“I will give meat to eat, special food.”
Deka felt better. She bathed herself and was normal again. So Mohammed stayed for two weeks. Then he went back to his mother’s village. At once Deka became sick again! Everyone noticed that when Mohammed is there, Deka is fine, but when he goes she is sick.
“Maybe this girl, since they grew up together, she wants to live with him. Let him take her, a new place will do her good.”
Deka was very happy when she heard this.
“She can stay with him,” the elders said. “Since he is alone and hasn’t married yet, she can help him as a sister.”
Because they didn’t suspect she was in love with him, and she didn’t tell her love. In Somalia, girls (daughters) cannot tell their love. It’s very shameful. Only a boy can tell his love.
It was far to Mohammed’s village and on the way were dangerous lands full of lions and other wild animals. They couldn’t go alone and had to have three boys with guns to accompany them. On the way she killed a small hare. She gave the meat to Mohammed and as she gave it she sang a poem but indirectly she told her love.
The other boys recognised that she loved him and said, “Mohammed, we will advise you. We have seen that this girl loves you, according to the poems, and how she has given you the meat. All this we have observed.”
He jumped up. “Oh! How can I love my sister and she can love me! It’s impossible. I am her brother. We grew up together. I helped her when she was a very little girl. We are brother and sister! Don’t say that again!”
As soon as he said this, she fell down and hit her head on a stone and was seriously ill and couldn’t talk. They took her to Mohammed’s village.
The elders came together and said, “How can this have happened? Maybe on the way these boys did something bad to the girl. We must question them.”
“No, no!” said the boys. “When we told Mohammed that Deka was in love with him, and he refused her and said, ‘How can my sister love me?’ she fell down and hit her head. We did nothing to her.”
One elder said, “Ah, I have understood. If she is in love as much as this, if we engage them together here, how would that be?”
So she woke up and said, “This man is very clever. He understands.”
All the rest became silent. Then the elders decided that the two must marry and they did. After their engagement, Ambaro heard the news.
“Oh! Oh! How can she do this without telling us! I don’t like that boy!”
Her husband said, “Don’t shout. Don’t disturb yourself. This boy has property and when he wanted to give it for another girl’s family you were angry. Everyone wanted him and wanted to take him and his cattle into their protection. If he marries Deka, all his property will come back to you, and even more, as his relatives will give more for the marriage. You will become very rich, and also he will be under you again.”
“Ah, you are right. I have not looked on that side,” she said, and thus she agreed.
So Mohammed’s mother’s relatives also gave cattle and camels to Deka’s family. So they became very rich and very happy. And all of these things the mother got because of her daughter. She liked boys, but she got more because of her daughter.