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103 38 The Children of the Brave Woman A bachelor was living in his village. During this time he married a young girl who only gave birth to daughters whereas all of the other women in the village gave birth to sons. The woman, unhappy at having only girls, insulted her husband, her family, the entire village. An old man of the village, aware of this, decided to give some advice to the woman who was insulting everyone. He had her come to him and told her not to take it out on the population. If she had no child at all, it could be said that it was because her husband was sterile. But if she had only girls, it was God’s will. In spite of the old man’s advice, the woman spoke badly to him. He told her this: ‘‘What you see there before you is a shrine1 . If you ask it for something, you will receive it. If you want to go see it, go in the morning or in the evening, but not at noontime whatever you do, for that is when its children are out.’’ Deep down, woman did not believe the old man’s words. She said to herself: 1. Tenkugri, a sacred place inhabited by the souls of the ancestors. 104 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) ‘‘Why will the shrine’s children be out at noontime, instead of resting?’’ She decided to go see the shrine at noon. She took a chicken and asked that it be offered as a sacrifice so that she would give birth to sons. A few months later she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. She became pregnant a second time and gave birth to a boy. Unfortunately, both of them were retarded. One day, their father sent them to get his goat which was at their uncle’s house. The uncle put a rope around the animal’s neck and gave it to them. Before they arrived home, the goat was lost. This is what they said to each other: ‘‘Where is the goat?’’ ‘‘Weren’t you the one leading it?’’ ‘‘Weren’t you the one pushing it from behind?’’ This teaches us that we must not doubt the words of an older person. There is in fact a proverb which says: ‘‘An old person’s mouth may smell, but his words do not.’’ ...


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