The enchanted deer
Hello, This is Jana, and I’m here with another Hausa story from Northern Nigeria. Our friend, Umar Isa Dandago is on the line. Hi Umar, how are you?
Once upon a time, in a magical forest, a deer transformed into a lovely young woman. Then she left the forest, carrying a small, intricately woven basket, and headed for a nearby village, where she placed the basket down in the square.
She addressed the crowd in the square: "Whosoever can open this basket with a single toss of a stone shall win my heart."
One by one, men tried. Some nearly succeeded, but the basket remained shut. Until, with a twist of fate, a young villager's stone gently tapped the basket, causing it to open. Joyous cheers filled the air.
Smiling at the young man, she said, “I have found a perfect husband".
The two fell in love and were soon wed. The woman went to live with her new family. The young man's mother had always managed the household, and the newcomer was eager to help.
Sometimes the mother would send the young wife to the family's farm to gather fresh okra for the soup. But little did the family know what she got up to when she reached the farm.
With a whisper of an ancient spell, she transformed back into her true deer form. When she called out softly, her deer sisters emerged from the shadows of the forest, and together, they feasted on the okra.
As the sun dipped below the horizon and it was time to depart, they touched noses in farewell, promising to reunite soon. Then she changed back into her human form and returned home, but her basket would always be empty.
With a dramatic sigh, she would lament, "Why send me so far to the farm when there's nothing left? Someone or something seems to be enjoying our okra before I can even get to it."
The family was very puzzled by the tales of the phantom okra thieves. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
So one afternoon, the curious husband decided to observe his wife on her next trip to the farm. He set out early before her and hid himself among the branches of a lofty tree.
From his perch, he saw his wife arrive. Then he watched in astonishment as her form shimmered and changed. Before his eyes, his wife transformed into a graceful deer, her coat gleaming like gold in the sunlight.
Soon other deer emerged from the shadowy depths of the forest, and together, they feasted on the okra.
Unable to contain his shock and anger any longer, he leapt from the tree, landing with a resounding thud.
“Get away you thieves!” he cried out.
The deer scattered in all directions, their hooves beating a hasty retreat against the soft earth.
Only his wife, in her deer form, remained still for a brief moment, her eyes locking onto his. Those soft brown eyes spoke volumes - of secrets shared and now exposed. Then, with a toss of her head and a swish of her tail, she turned and gracefully bounded away, disappearing into the depths of the forest, never to be seen again.
The husband stood watching the place where she had vanished. Without a word, he slowly made his way back to their home.