Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why the Monkey Lives in the Trees

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a book of traditional Burkinabè fables, the kind parents in the villages tell their children to teach them lessons that will prove useful in life. The first one is a good one that I thought I’d share with you. It’s entitled “Why The Monkey Lives In The Trees”. Here it is:

One day, a mother crocodile fell ill and it was evident that her days were numbered. A traditional healer said that he could heal her, but required the heart of a monkey to do it. “How in the world am I going to get the heart of a monkey?” thought the mother crocodile’s son. He decided to at least go to the edge of the river to see what he could do. Once there, he spotted a monkey in a tree.

“What are you doing up in that tree?” he asked the monkey.

“Looking for karité fruit,” replied the monkey.

“I know where you can find lots of them,” said the crocodile. “Big ones too! If you like, I can take you there.”

The monkey quickly descended the tree, climbed on the crocodile’s back, and off they went. However, once in the middle of the river, the crocodile began to cry.

“Why are you crying?” asked the monkey.

“My mother is very sick and I need the heart of a monkey to help her get better,” explained the crocodile.

The monkey laughed out loud and exclaimed, “Hey, I can help you! I can give you mine! However, I left it back there in that tree because we monkeys never go anywhere with our hearts for fear of losing them. Just take me back to the shore and I’ll go and get it for you.”

Once back on shore, the monkey quickly climbed back up into the tree and stayed there. Since then, monkeys always live in trees for fear that a crocodile will catch them and take away their heart. End of story.

I don’t know about you, but I thought that was a pretty cool story! I loved the monkey’s reaction to the difficult situation he found himself in. He did the completely unexpected: He laughed! And then proceeded to dupe the crocodile like the crocodile had duped him with the result that he was able to get himself out of a seemingly impossible situation and save his life. There’s a life lesson in that alright :) Now, if only I could think that fast!

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