The Leopard’s Child
Narrated by Metekia Libri
A leopard had children and so did a woman. The leopard killed any animal that she could get and brought the meat to feed her child. Even human beings also. She was doing that. One day, while she was looking for some animal to feed her child, she entered the woman’s house and saw the child lying on the bed alone, as the mother wasn’t there. She wanted to take the child to feed to her own child and took him to the forest.
The woman, on returning home, found that her child wasn’t there and she cried and cried, but in vain. The leopard, while she was going to give the baby to her child, saw the baby’s eyes were so beautiful, just looking at her.
“What lovely eyes, like my own children,” she said to herself. “I would rather bring him up with my children because I love him.”
So saying, she looked after him like one of her children and led him and brought him up.
The leopard’s children, as was their custom, hunted and got food for themselves. But the human child remained dependant on the leopard and she went on hunting and bringing him food. This was a burden for the leopard. Besides, the leopard had to hunt for herself, but she gave to the child what she had.
She said to the boy, “You can’t hunt for yourself like my children. You always depend on me, and I spend my time getting food for you. Therefore, you are a burden to me. I will take you to your parents’ home where I brought you from and you will live with them like the other humans.”
And the child wanted to go.
She took him to his parents’ house and put him at the door and went back to the forest. When his parents came, the boy had grown up and looked exactly like his father.
When they gave him food he didn’t eat because he wasn’t used to it. His parents suspected that something must have happened to him.
“What can it possibly have been? What has gone wrong with him?”
They gave him meat, and he ate it just like an animal, voraciously.
“Oh,” they said, “our child must have been taken away by the leopard because he loves meat like they do.”
But the leopard’s heart was with this human boy. She came at night and put a bushbuck at the door for him, every day.
And the boy at last learned to speak the language of his parents. He told them that he had been brought up by a she-leopard.
“Well,” the father asked the boy, “The leopard who brought you up, how was she? Do you like her?”
“How did she bring you up?”
The leopard, as usual, was at the door with a big bushbuck which she was about to leave for the boy.
“Well, it was a good life. I had no work. I had plenty of meat. There is nothing bad about her and she loved me. But she stank.”
The leopard heard this and she was angry and sad.
“I really loved this boy.”
“She had a stinking smell, really bad, unbearable,” the boy said.
The leopard said to herself, “It is not the son that gave me this bad name, but the parents, because why did they ask all these questions?”
And, having a grudge, she wanted her revenge.
In the morning she bit the father to death and left him uneaten at the door to show that it was revenge.
After the father was buried, that same day she came and killed the mother and left her uneaten also as a sign of revenge. She wanted people to know she was insulted.
The boy was sitting crying in agony at the door of the house.
The leopard came and said to him, “You are not the one who gave me that bad name. It was your parents. What a pity that I brought you here and they insulted me. I killed them in revenge. I wouldn’t dare touch you, let alone kill you, because I brought you up and my heart would not bear it. Whatever you said, you are still my child.”
She hugged the boy and touched him.
The leopard said, “When you bring up someone’s child, not a relative, you will somehow be offended by their ingratitude.”
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