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Truth and Lie Go on a Journey Together

This is a traditional Hausa story.

Truth and Lie, which were both walking their own way, met one day and decided to journey together. Truth was on her way to recover some old debts from her clients. Lie, on the other hand, had no business at all, she just roamed the land, bringing hope, illusions and deception. So, Truth took the lead, but in every village they passed, all they encountered were grumpy women and closed doors, with the occasional stick thrown at them.

“If it goes on like this, we’ll die of hunger and thirst,” Lie said. “Admit it, you’re not the best of guides. Why don’t you let me take the lead?”

And so Lie took the lead. They arrived in a village where Lie saw groups of women, with their backs bent, coming out of a house in complete silence. She realized there was a funeral there. It turns out that the only son of the mistress of the house had died last evening. They saw beneath a tree his freshly dug grave.

Lie put on a sorrowful figure and sat close to the grave.

“Why do you cry?” the mother of the child asked her.

“We have come to resurrect the dead child, my companion and me, but alas, it is impossible.”

“How so?” the mother asked, glimmers of mad hope flickering in her eyes.

“Because, you see, we haven’t eaten for days. My spirit harasses me, he wants his share of nourishment, regardless of how many children are dead.”

“My child is dead,” the woman cried. “If I give a good meal, can you bring him back to life?”

“It is but our job, to resurrect the dead,” Lie answered, while making a sign to Truth to remain silent. “This is why we have come. But our spirits are ravenous!”

The woman prepared a feast for the two. Afterwards, while they were digesting in peace, the woman told them that the father of the king was also dead. That explained the cries and laments that could be heard across the village.

“Ah-ah,” Lie said, “so the father of the king is dead…”

“Can you bring my son back to life now?” the woman asked her. “Did your spirit eat well enough?”

“Yes, he had his full,” Lie answered. “Take me now to the grave and let the king know that the resurrectors are in town.”

The news arrived quickly to the king, who was very intrigued by the presence of the two. His councillors hurried to tell him to call the resurrectors and bring his father back. As far as they’ve heard, Lie was just waiting for a sign from the king to come and resurrect the old man. A great turmoil swept over the court.

Meanwhile, at the requests of Lie, a tall fence had been raised around the grave of the woman’s child. When the time came, in front of a huge crowd that had gathered from all around the village and beyond, Lie went behind the fence all by herself. The sounds of a muffled conversation followed, which everybody listened to intently, but could not distinguish the words. Then Lie emerged alone from behind the fence, and spoke to the mother with a hesitant, sorrowful voice:

“Your son wants to come back, I have seen him, he is ready. But the king’s father is holding him by the hand. He says he will not let the child come without him. Go now, tell the king!”

The woman ran as fast as she could and told the king what she had heard. But what she didn’t know—and no doubt Lie had guessed, as she knew so well the hearts of men—is that the king and his wife had poisoned the old man. By no means did they wish for his return. Quite the contrary, they insisted that the old man must now remain with the shadows and rest.

Hearing this from the poor woman, Lie told her that to his great regret he was unable to fetch the child from the old man’s hand and bring him back to her.

Then she left, with Truth by her side. Truth was naturally upset by all that she had seen.

After a time of walking in silence, Truth couldn’t take it anymore. She said to Lie:

“Whoever buys with lies pays with the truth.”

“That might as well be so,” Lie replied.

After a few more days of walking together, Truth and Lie parted ways.

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