The Handsome Boy’s Dream
Narrated by Abdul Hakim Abdulahi Jibril
Once there was a boy who was very handsome, but he was very poor and worked as a porter. Sometimes he had food and some days he had nothing to eat. One day, when he was very hungry, he was working in a store, carrying the goods, and he begged for some money to buy food.
The storekeeper said, “You’re so handsome, you don’t need to work like this. I wish I could buy your good looks. You could use your good looks to get money from women.”
“What? Is that possible?” said the boy.
“Of course it is,” said the storekeeper.
“Anyway, will you give me money for food?”
“No. Find a woman who is rich and spend the night with her and get money like that.”
“Are you really encouraging me to do such things?”
“Yes. Help yourself as best you can, but don’t beg like this.”
So that afternoon, the storeman’s wife called, “Porter! Porter!”
And the boy came with his barrow.
The wife said, “Take these goods to my house.”
The boy did so, and as soon as he brought them to her house she said, “You are a handsome boy and I like you. Come this evening and I will give you some money.”
Then the boy went back to the storeman and said, “You were right. This very afternoon a woman called, ‘Porter!’ and when I went to her house she gave me money and told me to come back in the evening.”
“Who was this woman? Where’s her house?” said the storeman.
The boy told him, and the storeman realised that the woman was his wife, but he didn’t say anything.
“Do as she says,” he told him. “Go to her house.”
So the boy went. The woman was ironing clothes. But as soon as the boy had gone in, the husband knocked on the door. At once the woman hid the boy under the box on which she was ironing and she opened the door. The husband, suspecting the boy was there, hunted everywhere but he couldn’t find him.
“Someone’s here! Someone’s here!”
But he couldn’t find him. At last he went out and the boy came out from under the box and ran away.
Early the next day the storeman called the boy and said, “Did you go to that house like you said you would?”
“Yes,” said the boy, “but as soon as I went in, before I had the chance to do anything, the husband knocked. At once she hid me under the box on which she was ironing. Her husband hunted and hunted, but he couldn’t find me, and as soon as he’d gone I came out and ran away.”
“Are you going again?”
And the boy told him when.
The same thing happened again but this time the wife hid him in the barrel of water, and on top of it she put the tub in which she was washing the clothes. Then she opened the door and the husband hunted and hunted, but couldn’t find the boy.
And the woman called all her neighbours and said, “My husband’s gone mad. He did this last night and now he’s doing it again.”
No one found the boy and at last the husband went away and the boy jumped out of the barrel and escaped.
In the morning he saw the boy.
“Did you go there?”
“Yes, and the husband came and she shouted to all the neighbours and there was a terrible quarrel, but I was hiding in the water barrel.”
“Are you going tonight?”
So the boy went again, and this time he was hidden in her mother’s clothes box. The man hunted everywhere but he couldn’t open his mother-in-law’s box.
“I’ll burn the whole house down,” he said.
His wife said, “Go ahead and burn the house down. It’s yours. But you may not burn my mother’s box.”
“Let me open it and look inside.”
“No, the keys are with my mother.”
“I’ll break it open then.”
“Break it? Of course you can’t break it.”
So he went out, and the boy escaped.
In the morning the man asked the boy, “Did you go last night?”
“Yes. I was in the box, and they were quarrelling and all the neighbours came, and he said he would burn the house.”
“Are you going tonight?”
“No. The woman was angry and she left her husband and she’s gone to her parents’ house saying, ‘ I cannot live with this man.’”
The storekeeper said, “Come with me. I have a job for you.”
So the storekeeper took the boy to his wife’s mother’s house to bring back his wife. The boy waited outside and began talking to the people there. He told them all the amazing things that had been happening to him up to where he was in the box. Then the woman came out of the house and he looked up and saw her. And she knew he was talking about her, and she gave him a sign.
And as soon as he saw her, he understood, and at once he said, “As soon as she shut me in the box, I woke up.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was dreaming!”
“Really? Is it possible to dream all these things?” they said.
So they went to the man, and said, “Listen, this boy has told us everything and it was all a dream. How could you take it so seriously? You are a mad man.”
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