The tired traveller and the berber woman

Many years ago, in the Atlas mountains where the Berbers live, there arrived a traveller looking for lodging. A local man invited him to his home and, following the customs of his region, he plucked the feathers of a pair of hens to eat for dinner with his wife and their guest. He then went out to get some honey, leaving the traveller to rest.

The wife, with her baby son wrapped on her back, busied herself in the kitchen; it had been some time since they had eaten hen. Her baby woke and began to cry. But the mother didn't hear, as she was so enraptured by the great smells from the cooking pot. The child cried and cried. The traveller was unable to rest with the racket and got up and went into the kitchen.

“What's wrong with the baby? I can't rest with the noise.”

The woman didn't like the traveller's comment at all, asking herself if her child couldn't cry in its own home. And so the Berber woman answered the traveller who wanted to rest,

“Listen here, sir, and listen well: this child cries every time a traveller comes and doesn't stop crying until my husband arrives home with his knife to cut off the ears of the traveller and give them to the child to play with.”

And, although the traveller was very tired, he picked up his pack and ran out of the house of the young Berber couple as quick as his legs could take him. The woman then hid the cooking pot and when her husband arrived, she told him,

“The traveller has just run off with the hens”.

The young Berber, indignant, picked up a knife and ran after the traveller, shouting,

“You're not going to get away with both — let me have one at least!”

But the traveller, not wanting to lose either of his two ears, ran even faster.

And while the two men ran and ran, the young Berber woman and her baby son ate the whole pot of food.

Text: Koldo Izagirre

Translation: Joe Linehan

Voice: Tim Nicholson

This is the story about the tired traveller and his ears — fleeing all the way from the land of the Berbers in North Africa

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