Irit and Nurit

Before you read the story

This is a long and beautiful story in four parts. Answer the questions at the end of each part before you read the next one. Think about these questions before you begin.

  • There is a lot of magic in this story. Do you believe in magic?
  • What kind of magic do you believe in?
  • Why do you believe in magic?

Chat is a stimulating leaf that people chew.

A mesob is a brightly coloured basket that people use like a table.

Injera is a kind of flat bread made from tef, which is a species of grain grown in Ethiopia.

Now read Part One

Part One

In the city of Harar, long ago, a little girl lived with her father and mother. Her name was Irit. 

One day, Irit's mother died. At first, Irit's father was sad, but soon he married again. After a year, another little girl was born to the man and his new wife. They called her Nurit.

Irit and Nurit grew up together. Irit was a good girl. She was clever and kind. Nurit was not good. She was foolish and selfish. But the girls' mother only loved Nurit. She did not love Irit at all.

One day, the girls' mother said to them, "Go to the field, girls, pick some chat, then take it to the market and sell it."

So Irit and Nurit went to the field to pick some chat. They wrapped the chat in big leaves and made bundles. Then they took the bundles to the market to sell.

On the way to the market, they met an old man. He saw the bundles of chat, and he stopped and spoke to the girls.

"Please, girls," he said. "I'm very tired. Give me some of your chat. If you do, I will bless you."

Irit smiled at the old man. She took some chat from her bundle, and gave it to him.

"Take it, Grandfather," she said. "I hope it will help you."

"Thank you," said the old man. "May God bless you, my child."

He turned to Nurit. 

"Now, my daughter, give me some of your chat," he said.

Nurit laughed at him.

"There is no chat in my bundle," she said. "There are only cabbages. I don't want to give them to you. I'm going to sell them in the market and get some money."

The old man was angry.

"I do not believe you," he said. "You will not sell your chat. No one will buy from a girl like you."

The market was full of people. They were buying and selling everything. But no one wanted to buy the girls' chat. They tried and tried to sell it, but they could not.

"That old man cursed me!" Nurit said angrily. "No one will buy our chat because of him. I hate that old man!"

"Don't say that, sister. He was a good old man," Irit said quietly.

When the two girls went home, their mother was waiting for them.

"What's this?" she said. "You still have your bundles of chat? What happened? Why didn't you sell them?"

"An old man cursed us," said Nurit. "It was Irit's fault. She was rude to him. 'I don't have any chat. I only have cabbages,' she said."

Their mother was very angry.

"You are a bad, stupid girl," she said to Irit. "I don't want you in my house any more. Go away, and don't come back."

She tied a rope around Irit, and sent her out, into the street.


Exercises for Irit and Nurit Part 1