How the Marriage Collapsed

Here is a story:

There was a man and a woman who lived together in marriage for many days. One day, the woman prepared a vegetable relish with a sauce made of pounded peanuts, cooked mush, and then she invited her husband for dinner so they could eat together. They began eating and they were eating and eating, when the husband said: This food is bitter, you added too much salt! The wife said: It’s very good! The husband repeated: But it’s bitter and the wife said again: It’s very good. Their argument sounded like a song that they sang together:

It has been bitter, it has been good,
It has been bitter, it has been good,
It has been bitter, it has been good.

Finally, they fought and the man ran back to his family. After a month passed, he returned home to his wife. In the evening, his wife said: What did I do so badly when I said it was good? The man said: I said it was bitter! And the argument started all over again:

It has been bitter, it has been good,
It has been bitter, it has been good,
It has been bitter, it has been good.

They fought again and this time the woman ran back home to her family. Since they couldn’t get through to each other, the marriage broke up.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: (1) what God has put together, let no man put asunder. Love one another as I have loved you. Relentless quarrelling leads nowhere in marriage; (2) it is better to separate than to stay in the same place and kill each other.

The Mambwe proverbs say: (1) First they quarrel but eventually they become reconciled (Zyati nkala nkala, zisuluka ziwezyanya). English equivalent: The course of true love never did run smooth; Lover’s quarrels are the renewal of love; The path of true love never runs smooth; The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love;(2) It is at Nkozwe where (the people) break up their relationships (Apali Nkozwe, apa malekano).

Subjects: marriage – quarrelling – inseparability – separation – safety


Written by Joseph Sicivula, 07th of September 1994.