Parricide is Self-Defeating
Narrated by Utura Boru
Once upon a time there was a man who had ten sons. He was a very well known hunter and he thought all of his sons would become hunters. Hunting was a very respected tradition in that tribe and all of the village knew they were great hunters. But he had one problem. The eldest son was not a hunter. In fact he couldn’t kill anything and this was a sign of weakness.
The father decided that he had to train his eldest son in killing. So one day he took just his eldest son out to the hunt. And in those days a hunt would last a week or so out in the fields. So he kept stalking animals and telling his son to stab them or kill them. But his son completely refused. So, when his son couldn’t kill any of the animals, the hunter got fed up and decided to go home. So he himself killed one of the animals and went home with his son.
As they walked along he was singing songs of victory at his great kill.
Then his son stopped him and said, “Father, an evil thought has come into my mind – shall I commit it?”
And his father said, “Of course not. If you do evil things you yourself become evil.”
And he continued walking in front of his son, singing the songs of victory and carrying the animal.
Now the son took out his spear and stabbed his father in the back. Then he started singing songs of victory and carried back the animal.
Now, when there’s been a big hunt, the whole village comes out to see what you’ve killed. And the son came singing his songs and carrying the kill.
And everybody asked him, “Where’s our father?” and the son said, “I don’t know, he disappeared in the hunt.”
So they waited and waited, but nobody came. And immediately the son became very sick, he had a problem with his intestines and he was going to die. And his brothers became very sad.
They said, “Our father has probably been killed by an animal and now our brother is going to die too – therefore what should we do?”
One of the brothers always used to listen to his father’s advice and he said, “Look, Father always used to advise me on three things. The first thing he always warned me against was building a house on a river bank because eventually the river would erode the bank and you’d lose everything. The second thing he always warned me was not to go into enclosed spaces where you can be ambushed, or where wild animals can attack you. And the third thing he always advised me was to go to the elders and consult them whenever I had a problem – therefore let us go to the elders.”
So the nine brothers left the sick brother and they went to the nearest elder’s home. They were surprised to find the elder actually lying under a cow, suckling her udders.
So they said, “This man is senile, he is completely useless. He should either get his wife to milk the cow or somebody else. How can he suckle the udders?”
So they left him and went back.
But the son who’d remembered his father’s words said, “Maybe even this old man has some words of wisdom.”
So he went and asked the old man why their brother was sick.
The old man looked at him and said, “The old man who suckles the udders of a cow is completely useless – and so is the son who kills his own father. Go back and tell this to your brother.”
So he caught up with his brothers and went home.
And they asked him what the man had said, so he told them, “He said that the old man who suckles a cow’s udders is completely useless, and so is the child who kills his own father.”
On hearing this, the sick brother confessed to killing his father and immediately died himself.
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