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109 40 There Is Always Someone Cleverer Than You, Somewhere T here were two childhood friends. The wife of one of them gave birth to a daughter that he gave away in marriage to the other. This one decided to move to a different village, for he said: ‘‘I don’t wish to remain in the village where she was born for fear that someone else might desire her.’’ So he went away and he built a new house where he put the girl. He did not want another man to see her. He even dug latrines inside of the house so that she wouldn’t have to go outside to relieve herself. But the young girl had a suitor in her village. One day, the young man decided to go look for her. He made inquiries and started off for the village where his beloved was being held. When he arrived there, an old woman warned him that his job wouldn’t be easy, and she demanded the sum of fifty thousand francs1 . The young man immediately gave her the amount she asked for. The old woman told him: ‘‘Go into the bush and build a canoe big enough for you to fit inside and bring it back to me!’’ 1. Or 76.3 euros, a considerable sum locally. 110 Alain-Joseph Sissao (Translated from the French by Nina Tanti) The young man did as he was told. The old woman put him into the canoe and packed him tightly in with ropes. Then she asked for help carrying her fêdo2 which she wanted to entrust to someone. So the old woman had the canoe brought to the house of the young woman’s husband and said to him: ‘‘Since I must go away on a short trip, I have come to entrust you with my canoe. Store it in your house!’’ The man had the canoe brought into his house. Soon afterwards, the young suitor untied his ropes and got out of the small boat. He thus found himself in the company of the man’s wife. Three days later, the old woman returned for her canoe. She had help bringing it home. The young man climbed out and went home. About ten days later, the young man came back. He again befriended the old woman. She again put him into the small boat, which some children carried to the home of the jealous husband. When they arrived at his house, the man had them set the canoe down on the ground outside. He told the old lady that he would later store it inside his house. When the old woman was gone, the husband’s young brothers told him that they found her strange, and that they didn’t trust her. They wanted to unpack the canoe to see what was inside. The man didn’t see the need for this, but his brothers insisted. As soon as they opened it up, the lover jumped out and ran away. They chased after him in vain. The old woman moved to another village. This is why one mustn’t sequester one’s wife, for that could bring bad surprises. 2. Empty container. ...


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