The Monkey and the Honey
Narrated by Yirpa Kebede
The lion was going on a journey with a cup of honey.
The monkey, coming near to him, says, “I’m very tired. Please let me hold the honey for you and then you can carry me.”
So the lion did as she asked him. He carried her with the honey. Throughout the journey, she was eating the honey. As she was eating the honey all the way, a drop fell on the lion.
“Are you eating the honey?” he asked. “Because a drop fell on my shoulders.”
“No, it’s my tears.”
“Why are you crying?”
“My mother’s death caused me to cry.”
“Don’t worry. We all die – all animals die. It’s not a strange thing,” he says.
The honey was being eaten.
“Let me get off,” the monkey said, “and take your honey.”
While she was trying to get off the lion roared, “You must give me the honey!”
He tried to catch her and she leapt up because she was clever. But the lion caught her tail and cut it off. She escaped and ran into the forest. The lion was running after her. She mixed with a family of monkeys. She knew he was following her.
“Look how beautiful I am because my tail is cut off,” she said to them.
So with her advice they asked her to cut off their tails. She cut off all their tails.
The lion approached and, standing on a hill, asked, “Have you seen a monkey with her tail cut off?”
“Everyone has a cut-off tail, there is no difference between any of us,” they told him.
The lion kept on asking, “Come here, all of you.”
So the lion kept on asking them.
“All of us have out tails cut off.”
“What, all of you? Go past one by one, and vomit what you have eaten – liquid or solid. Get it out in front of me.”
So, one by one, the monkeys vomited wild berries, cereals, whatever they had eaten, except for the one monkey who vomited out all the honey she had stolen.
“So you are the one who has stolen my honey?”
Saying this, he took her away with him.
Then the lion got tefA grain grown in the highlands of Ethiopia. straw and gathered it to burn her. Foolishly, he went off to look for fire. The clever monkey meanwhile jumped up and climbed a tree. She gathered umboi – a wild, sour, acidic fruit that looks like a lemon. She put them in the straw and climbed the tree again.
So whenever an umboi exploded, the lion exclaimed, “Oh, that’s her eyes. Oh, that’s her ears, her heart, her kidneys. This is her hands. This is her feet.”
“The explosion of an umboi,
Do you think it is the explosion of a monkey?”
The monkey was saying the verse, and she was laughing at him.
He looked up and saw her in the tree.
“Haven’t I burned you? How did you get up there?”
“You put me in the straw and you set fire to it and I floated up on the smoke and here I am. The smoke carried me up here. You’re such a great animal, why don’t you realise this?”
“Really? Is it true that the smoke carried you up there?”
“Are you sure? The smoke carried you?”
“Can I do the same if I go into the fire? Can the smoke carry me up?”
“Yes, of course.”
“So I’m not inferior to you. Why can’t I do what you did? Bring straw and set fire to it.”
So she did.
And the lion died.
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