Mother Ape and Father Monkey
Narrated by Yirga Ejigu
Once the ape and the monkey were married and were living together for a long time. As they lived together, one day they faced a very serious famine and they left their village and started travelling elsewhere. Ama ToteAma Tote = Mother Ape. has all her children with her (the whole family was migrating). As they were going, Ama Tote found a feather in the road while Abba ZinjarAbba Zinjar = Father Monkey. found a sharp knife.
Ama Tota said to Abba Zinjar, “Look, the one I got bends while yours is stiff.”
So he said, “Let’s exchange them.”
So she persuaded him and he grabbed the feather from her and she took the knife.
Again they went on, and on the way they found a donkey and a cow. The ape took the donkey and the monkey took the cow. But the ape was hungry so she wanted to exchange for the cow. So she started beating the donkey with a stick so that dust rose up from his coat.
She said, “Look, this dust shows that the donkey is fat, but yours is thin. Check. Beat your cow.”
He did so. Nothing happened. So he wanted the fat donkey.
“Let’s exchange! Give me yours and take mine!” he shouted and finally he took the donkey by force.
Now the monkey and the ape went on their way. As they went they found two huts. One has nine holes in the walls. The ape took that one. The monkey got the other hut with no holes and very well made. They went into their huts with their cow and donkey.
The ape said, “You see, my hut’s got nine holes. If the hyena comes in the night one way, I can escape through the other side, but your hut has no way out.”
“If a hyena comes in the night, what shall I do?”
“Oh, you are right. You must exchange with me.”
So they did.
In the night the hyena came and got into the monkey’s hut. As he caught the donkey, the monkey escaped through a hole in the wall and hid on the roof of the ape’s house.
It started to rain. The monkey was miserable because of the rain. Meanwhile the ape in the hut below has killed the cow with the knife and is enjoying the meat with her children.
In the other hut the hyenas are laughing, “Ha! ha! Ha! ha! We’re feasting on the donkey.”
Morning comes. Now the ape is worried.
“What will I say to the monkey? He knows I tricked him, so he will kill me. He will jump on my neck and strangle me.”
Then she had an idea. She heated a small round stone until the monkey came down from the roof. Then she buried the stone in some meat.
The monkey came into her house.
“Oh, my dear,” cried the ape, beating her chest. “You poor thing. I’ve got food for you.”
He opened his mouth and she put into it the stone wrapped in meat. And within no time he was dead.
Immediately she began feasting on the left-over meat with her children. She took away the dead body of the monkey and put it at the back of her house.
On the third day a leopard came to her.
When she saw the leopard she was very frightened and he said, “You ape! There are some goats around here and you must bring me the biggest one!”
She said, “Oh, don’t worry, dear leopard, I will bring the biggest one. But when the big goat sees you it will run away and I won’t be able to catch it. So what should I do? Turn your face and show him your back. So I’ll tie your tail to the tail of the goat, then you will run to your cave with the goat tied to your tail.”
The leopard agreed.
So she took him to the back of her house and said, “Turn your face.”
And she tied his tail to the monkey’s tail and said to the leopard, “Now run away.”
So the leopard ran to his cave, dragging the dead body of the monkey. As he reached his cave he turned and saw the monkey. The monkey’s mouth was open but its body was swollen. The leopard turned and saw it and was frightened.
“What’s this big animal?”
And started running away again into the forest, but stones fell from the hillside above and killed him.
Now the ape started to live alone in peace with her children.
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