camel Eritrean website featuring resources relevant to Tigre history and culture



God gave a man knowledge of the language of [all] the wild and domestic animals. But he said to him:" Whatever thou mayest hear of the language of all the animals, do not tell it to men; when thou hast heard it thyself keep silent; if thou tellest it, then thou shalt die." And the man said: "Very well." And the man knew the language of all the animals, domestic and wild; and whenever he heard it, although he knew the meaning, he kept silent. Then, one day, the man said to his wife 'Let us lie down that we may rest a little!" And when they had lain down two kids that where in the house said to each other: 'Let us lie down too; our masters are also lying down.". When the man heard their talk he smiled. And his wife said to him: 'Why doest thou smile? What hast thou perhaps done unto me that thou hast smiled?" He answered: "I have smiled at myself, not at thee." His wife said: "Tell me then why thou hast smiled." Now the man feared death if he should tell her; so he said to her: "I have smiled for nothing." His wife continued: "Either tell me about what thou hast laughed, or leave me!" The man, however, did not know, divorce, and he wanted, to tell her. But he said to her "Wait that I tell it to thee!" Then he prepared himself for his death: he shaved and bathed; and he brought the cows for his funeral sacrifice and tied them. But one cow of them he killed, that he might himself taste the meat of the cows of his funeral. And when the cow was skinned, the dog of the man took a piece of the vertebrae and ran with it into the side-room to gnaw it. Thereupon another dog came to that dog to gnaw the vertebrae with him. But the dog drove him off from the bone and snarled at him to scare him away. And the other dog said to him: "Of [all] the masters thy master is most despicable who ties the cows of his funeral, sacrifice instead of divorcing his wife. And of [all] the dogs thou art most despicable, who keepest away thy brother from the bone!" And after he had spoken thus, he went off. The man heard the words which the dog said, and he knew that it was easier to divorce his wife than to die; before that, he had not known much of divorce and chosen death instead. So the man divorced his wife and was saved from death. And from this time onward divorce became customary. [This is what] they say.