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The Baboon and the Boy

(With Permission from book, Laughter of a Crazy Man)

Merma was the most beautiful woman in her country, and many men sought her heart, but she preferred Kai since he alone could bear her bad ways and nasty attitude. She was angry, her words were always bitter and she did not praise or love anyone. This was unexpected since her parents, especially her mother, were the kindest people in the world.

She hated anyone who mentioned her mother, Miatta. Miatta was a legendary beauty. Wild animals stopped in their tracks just to look at her; when she walked in the woods, the flowers bent their branches to touch her. Tales of her mythical beauty caused a rich prince from a distant land to come to see her. He was enthralled and wanted to marry Miatta, but she told him she was married. She was always kind and considerate, unlike her daughter.

Merma secretly prayed to leave the village. She could never understand why her mother stayed. The people were old-fashioned and poor, and she became dispirited when she became pregnant, fearing she may never leave. The baby had a small dark blemish on one side of his face at birth, and she hated him and hoped he would die. She gave the child poor care, and her husband did what he could, but the child developed a nasty skin rash.

Fearing she would get the rash, she avoided touching her child. The baby was left home when she worked in the field with her husband. She was amazed on returning to see the child cleaned and washed. Over the next days, when she left the baby home, the rash healed, and the baby looked well fed and cared for each time she returned. Curious, Merma sought answers to this mystery. One day, she feigned illness to avoid going to the field and stayed home but hid. When the baby cried, a baboon come from the nearby woods, rubbed healing balm on the wounds and nursed her son. She told Kai, her husband, when he came home and encouraged him to kill the baboon. This was not a problem since he blindly executed her commands.

The next day, Kai hid and attacked the baboon; the baboon was injured but managed to escape. When the baboon returned, the baboon clan was angry. The humans had rewarded good with evil. The baboons attacked and destroyed the village. This started a war known as the baboon war. For many years, man and baboon killed each other. It was difficult for people to farm, and people has to carry weapons on them all the time. Over the years, Merma’s son, Varney, became the greatest warrior in the land. He won many battles for his people but always refused to fight or lead when they fought against the baboons. He never really understood why, but he just could not get the spirit to join that fight and felt it was wrong. One day, as Varney walked to the riverside not far from the village, he had the surprise of his life. A group of large baboons made a ring around him. Varney was not scared but uncomfortable as he had no weapon except a cutlass. He slowly placed the cutlass on the ground and raised both hands, saying, “I have no baboon blood on my hands.” Slowly, an elderly baboon came forward limping and asked in a strange language that he understood, surprisingly, “Do you know me?” He was struck by the familiarity and knew he had met the baboon somewhere. The baboon explained how the war had started and how she had saved Varney’s life and told him that he was the only hope to stop the war. “We offered love but got hate in return. Let’s forget the past; we need to make tomorrow better than today.”

Varney went to the chief and explained what had happened. The chief called other people to find out the truth of the story and believed what the baboons had told Varney. A big celebration of peace was planned, and all the baboons and their leaders came to town. After the feast, a law was made that no one should hurt, hunt, injure or eat a baboon or his cousins, the monkey and chimpanzee.

Thousands of years have passed, but the peace between man and his friends, the baboons, still holds strong in the homeland of Varney. Never return evil for good and always love the animals because they loved us first. Today, it is still taboo to hunt, kill or eat monkey, baboon, and related animals among the ancestors of Varney.

©Michel Dioubate2019, Laughter of a Crazy Man