“If you didn’t know by now you must know; we come from a long line of story-tellers. Long before my people sat around the first fire and whispered secrets of its origins; on nights like this they sat quietly; in a circle around a story-teller; huddled together for warmth and they listened.
Sometimes the story was told, sometimes the story was within another story; other times the story told itself; it was not hard to believe stories talked because back then even the animals talked…. The stories always begun the same way PAIVAPO (Once Upon A Time) ….”
I paused as I had seen my grandfather do; when he told his stories, first you drew in the crowd made them curious what story you would tell them tonight. I glanced at granddad, it was almost imperceptible but he nodded in approval. I held my hands to the fire as and then rubbed them together and begun;
“Once upon a time, when animals walked and talked like you and I. The lion was King of the jungle, and all the creatures would shiver when he roared; they wondered whom he would devour next, that’s what it usually meant when a beast roars. It was a difficult time to be alive living in constant fear of being eaten. One by one the animals all decided they had had enough, all of them that is except for the lion, who had an enormous appetite.
There was a meeting in the forest and all the animals were there; except for the ones already eaten and two others. Lion for obvious was not invited to this meeting and Tsuro the hare; did not attend because he was caught in a spider web and would shortly be making a special appearance at Lion’s table as the main course. It was agreed that it was a time for change; a hero was needed to save them from the hungry lion, someone whom could match wits if not strength with the lion.
Once upon a time Tsuro the hare was the fastest animal until he lost a race to a tortoise; he would have won if he had not stopped to nap, sometimes victory goes not to the swiftest but to the most persistent. All the animals had been happy to see Tsuro lose they celebrated for many days and many nights and long after would never let Tsuro forget it. You see Tsuro was clever; too clever for his own good; we wouldn’t call him wicked but he was definitely mischievous.
Once upon a time while playing with Mr Dovi The Peanutbutter Man; Tsuro said lets eat each other. Mr Dovi got eaten and was soon finished The End.
Not long from now Tsuro would also soon get eaten, but all the animals were in agreement that Tsuro was only one who could best Lion. They asked Spider who happened to be hanging around the meeting to tell Tsuro that if he could defeat Lion then they would crown him King of the jungle.
Spider noiselessly descended on his web right down to Tsuro’s ear and informed him of the animal’s decisions.
“Good” said Tsuro “I have a plan; first loosen the web trap around me then listen carefully” Tsuro told Spider his plan; just before lion arrived all set to feast on hare.
“Wait” said “Do you want to know my fur is always soft, why I never age, why I am the cleverest there is?”
“Tell me, what will you charge me for this secret; to be the strongest and cleverest” roared The Lion.
“For you, no charge, you can even eat me after I am done. Ok; every night I cut off my head so that I sleep soundly and recharge my soul; in the morning I stick my head back on and am as good as new. I will show you how; then you can try it also. Quick give me a knife”
“You are trying to trick me into giving you a knife” said Lion
“Fine then, ask Spider to come and cut my head off” You see Spider was the king’s henchman, he did what he was told and no more.
Lion agreed and Spider cut off Tsuro’s head.
Then Tsuro held his head and screwed it back into place.
Lion was amazed.
But of course he didn’t know Spider had only pretended to cut off Tsuro’s head and Tsuro pretended to put it back.
“Come and cut off my head!!” Lion roared to Spider excitedly
Lion died and Tsuro became king
Endings are always beginnings.
Once upon a time when Tsuro was King of the jungle; change had come and it was exactly the same; he declared that his name was now “All Of Us” He threw a feast in his honour. All the animals contributed in making the feast for many days and nights. Finally feast day arrived and they couldn’t wait to eat, but Tsuro stopped them and asked whose food this was, the animals all replied “All Of Us!”
“Yes!!!! and I am “All Of Us” and this food is mine; you will eat after I am done”
Tsuro ate and ate and ate and then he picked his closet friends to eat and then finally let everyone else eat what was left; which wasn’t a lot
This happened all the time; everything belonged to “All Of Us” and animals not close friends with Tsuro were growing thinner and thinner, they complained bitterly that life was better when Lion was King at least they never went hungry and food was always available, change they decided was bad. When they asked Tsuro about it he would have a clever words in reply words like did he not get them freedom from the hungry lion that oppressed them, should “All Of Us” not feast as a reward did they not ask him to be King, that is democracy. Democracy is for “All of US” and “All of Us” should make the Jungle great again.
Once upon a time; King Tsuro got caught in a spider web’s trap. He yelled for help but no one came. A hunter who was trying to find his way home came across Tsuro; he carried with him a snail’s shell and contained within it was a glowing ember. He thanked his ancestors and used his ember to start a small cooking fire, and after slaughtering the hare, he cooked and ate it; then when went on to have a nap. He had a dream that all the animals in the forest were celebrating and that a spider watched over him as he slept or maybe it simply waited….
I finished my story and took a deep breath and blew softly into an old snail shell, then I put it up to my ear and listened…. I picked up a red hot ember and placed it into the shell then I walked into the moonlit night.
Always leave them wondering; another lesson from my granddad. I did not say another word that night……
My blogbattle entry prompt Change.
PS Purely a work of fiction any resemblance to real life purely coincidence… loosely adapted from folktales I heard growing up and legends from my ancestors; also inspired by Anansi Boys a book by Neil Gaiman because all stories are Anansi’s:
“Stories are like spiders, with all their long legs and stories are like spiderwebs; which a man gets himself all tangled up in but which look so prettywhen you see them under a leaf in the morning dew, and in the elegant way that they connect to one another, each to each…”
“Much of what a spider does is waiting”