A few days back, appreciating somebody, I found myself quipping, "May his tribe increase". I stopped with surprise, for it had been years since I used that expression.
I learnt this phrase from a poem, "Abu Ben Adhem" by Leigh Hunt, which we had learnt and memorized sometime in school.
At first read, the first line "Abu Ben Adhem (May his tribe increase)" had seemed a very funny thing to say. I had assumed that Abu Ben Adhem was the headman of a tribe in the forest, and the poet is just hoping that his tribe prospers. Until our English teacher explained what it really meant. We kids, of course, used it at every opportunity, regardless of context, over the next couple of days.
The dreadful thing is that, now, after all these years, when I tried to recollect the name of this poem, I desperately tried to remember the name that preceded the phrase under discussion, and the only name that kept popping into my head was "Abu Bin Laden". Ugh!