A Kabylie Berber folk story: The Ogres Oak
I hope that my tale is beautiful, and unfolds like a long thread.
They say there was a poor old man who stayed alone in his little cottage, for he was very sick and could barely move. His bed was near the door, which he opened by pulling a string. The old man had a granddaughter, called Aicha, who brought him food every day.
Aicha would sing out, "Open the door for me, oh papa Inoubba", and her grandfather would reply: "Make your bracelets jingle, Aicha my girl."
So she would jingle her bracelets and he would open the door. But one day an Ogre saw her and followed her to the cottage. He heard her sing out, "Open the door for me, oh papa Inoubba!" and her grandfathers reply. The Ogre said to himself, "Ill come back tomorrow, Ill say the words, and Ill get in and eat him!"
So he came the next day and in his gruff low voice he said, "Open the door for me, oh papa Inoubba!"
"Get away from here, Evil One!", said the old man. "Did you think I wouldnt recognize your voice?"
The Ogre tried again for several days, but without success. He decided to ask the advice of a wizard.
"Coat your throat with honey", said the wizard, "and then lie down in the sun with your mouth wide open. The ants will crawl into your throat and scratch it till your voice is high and clear!"
So the Ogre did what he said. Sure enough, after he had done this for four days, his voice was as high as a little girls. He went back to the cottage and said, "Open the door for me, papa Inoubba!"
"Jingle your bracelets", said the old man. The ogre had a chain, and he made it jingle like Aichas bracelets. The old man opened the door, and the Ogre went in and devoured him. Afterwards he dressed himself in the old mans clothes, and waited for Aicha to come.
When she came she saw blood running from under the door. She was very frightened, and sang out, "Open the door for me, oh papa Inoubba!" The Ogre replied, in his high, girls voice, "Make your bracelets jingle, Oh Aicha, my girl!"
Aicha heard that it wasnt her grandfathers voice. She put down the cake and the couscous she had brought and ran home to tell her parents what had happened. "What are we going to do?", she cried.
Her father went out to spread the terrible news. Everyone collected bundles of sticks, which they took to the cottage. They laid the sticks against the cottage and set them on fire. Inside, the Ogre threw his weight against the door with all his might in his attempt escape, but the door would not budge, and he burned to death. The next year, just where the burned cottage had stood, an oak tree grew. People call it The Ogres Oak, and show it to those who pass by.
My story is like a stream, and I have told it even to noblemen.
Adapted from a translation, courtesy of Michelle Duvall/WAAC
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