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The Stolen Soup Aroma
From the All Folk Tales website. Used with permission.
A long time ago in the village of Ipetumodu, there lived a poor woman. This woman was so poor that she did not have any soup for her eba. The eba is a starchy paste made from cassava flour and it is rather unappetizing to eat all by itself. Across the street from this poor woman lived another woman who cooked egusi soup everyday. (Egusi soup contains protein rich egusi seeds, vegetables and sometimes meat.)
One day, as the poor woman was sitting down to her only meal for the entire day, a small bowl of eba, the aroma from her neighbors cooking wafted down through her window.
"Perhaps she will be kind enough to let me have a little soup for my eba" she thought. So she took her bowl of eba and headed over to her neighbor who was busy stirring a big pot of egusi soup.
"Please, may I have a little soup for my eba?" the poor woman asked.
The woman stirring the egusi soup looked up to see her raggedy-looking neighbor and replied, "If you can't make your own egusi soup, then you don't deserve to have any."
The poor woman went back to her own hut and sat outside her doorsteps where the aroma from her neighbor's egusi was very strong. She would scoop some eba with her hands, inhale a big dose of egusi soup aroma while she swallowed the lump of eba.
The egusi woman, seeing this destitute neighbor eating her soup's aroma got very angry. She ran out and yelled at the woman "Stop eating the aroma from my soup!" But the poor woman did not stop, she kept inhaling the aroma from the egusi soup while she ate her eba. She found the aroma from the soup very satisfying.
Everyday, whenever the rich aroma of egusi soup wafted into the poor woman's hut, she would quickly make a little bowl of eba and go outside to inhale the pleasant aroma. The egusi woman was getting very furious and she decided to take her case to the oba, the king of their village.
"This woman steals the aroma from my egusi to eat her eba. She must be punished," the egusi woman told the oba. The oba heard the story and agreed that the poor woman should indeed be punished for stealing soup aroma and he ordered the egusi woman to carry out the punishment.
"She stole your aroma therefore you shall flog her shadow," the oba told the egusi woman. "You shall flog her shadow forty times." And she was given the big stick with which she would carry out her justice.
The egusi woman, wielding her big stick to beat the poor woman's shadow felt very foolish. She felt so foolish that she asked the poor woman for forgiveness and offered to give her real egusi soup from that day on.