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Part 3: On cageyness, caution, moderation, patience, and prudence


k tan-ni sj kn, fi rn sp ni.
The devious person goads one to confront a leopard and fills one's quiver with broken arrows.
(One risks danger if one follows a devious person's counsel.)

Eku t y pa olgnn n dr ly.
The mouse that attempts to kill a cat will not live long on this earth.
(It is foolhardy for one to take on powers that can destroy one.)

Eku gbd n j t olgnn d.
A mouse dares not visit a market established by a cat.
(One should not deliberately court disaster.)

mi l ln, mi l lla lmd fi dgbs.
Today belongs to me; tomorrow belongs to me is the attitude that pushes a youth into debt.
(Lack of foresight leads to disaster).

mi w ikn in agb fi jiyn; gbn bkn b y sn agb mi mo l fi jiyn.
I will not go looking for a squirrel in my gourd to eat with pounded yam; but if a squirrel falls into my gourd I will eat it with pounded yam.
(I will not steal, but neither will I refuse a lucky find.)

p- p ju ohun t n l; abr sn a gb r sta.
The curse is out of all proportion to the lost article; a needle is lost the owner brings out his/her magic wand.
(One should not overreact to events.)
Compare the following entry.

p- p ju ohun t n; abr sn wn l gb g.
The cursing is far in excess of what is lost; a needle goes missing and the owners invoke ng.
(One's reaction to a situation should be commensurate to it.)
This is a variant of the preceding entry.

Er-e k laj b kn e?
What sort of sport is it that the dog is engaged in with the leopard?
(One should know better than to court disaster.)

r k ; jw- Mo t tn.
The trader never confesses, I sold all my wares.
(People are ever loath to disclose the extent of their good fortune.)

Einin mk; jj ni tir.
The fly does not heed death; all its cares to do is eat.
(The fly will persist in attacking an open sore, heedless of death; nothing will keep an addict from the thing he/she is addicted to.)

ej; ni t t ej ml lb b.
There is no disaster stalking the snake; it is whoever steps on a snake that is in trouble.
(It is not the snake inadvertently stepped on that is in peril; it is the person who inadvertently steps on the snake.)

Et mta y or; yn mta dr n mj-mj.
Three ears are unbecoming for the head; three people cannot stand in twos.
(Good things are not good in all situations; one can have too much of a good thing.)

Ew logb; irngbn lgb; mam lfojdi.
Grey hair shows age; a beard shows maturity; a moustache shows impudence.
(One's appearance in a group sometimes indicates one's attitude towards the group.) [28]

Ewr j rel; gntn j rel; -j--wl l ba ld j.
The goat forages and returns home; the sheep forages and returns home; the pig's flaw is its habit of not returning home after foraging.
(There is nothing wrong with travelling, as long as one knows when to return home.)

Ewr k wl t kok.
A goat does not venture into the lair of a wolf.
(Never knowingly put yourself in harm's way.)

yan m-j-k-yn-k b nbmrn; b-le-k--k b nl-e wa.
Save-the-person-from-death type of people abounds elsewhere; let-the-person-die-if-he/she-wishes type abounds in our house.
(It is not our way to stop people bent on destroying themselves. Also, We do have evil people in our home.)

yn-n n un b j o n k t b; b b n o nd, ni ml lo ma f fr hn?
A person vows to disgrace you and you respond that there is no way he can succeed; if he spreads the word that you did not clean yourself after defecating, to how many people will you display your anus?
(No one is immune to malicious defamation.)

y ay e ng k e; bd- ma w d a br.
Whatever the rest of the world does I will not forswear; when a chicken wants to enter the porch it stoops.
(One should not violate established custom.)

y tf, y tf; fl mle- k ptk.
This is no great loss; this is no great loss; the muslim's cap dwindles to almost nothing.
(If one keeps dispensing of one's property only a little at a time, soon little will be left.) [29]


28. Mam, (ma m) the word here used for moustache, means keep drinking, a reference to the fact that when a moustached person takes a drink some of the drink clings to the moustache--for later drinking. The proverb presumably refers to the habit of drinking from a communal cup or bowl; in that situation a person who wears a moustache invites others to drink from a cup or bowl in which he has washed his moustache.  [Back to text]


29. The reference is to the skull cap associated with muslims. The idea is that once it was much larger, but then the owner raised no objection to successive requests for just a little piece of it. His response each time is that he can afford to give up just a little bit.  [Back to text]