How the Monkey Became A Trickster
A retelling of a Brazilian folktale
There once was a beautiful garden where many animals lived. The garden was a wonderful place, filled with brightly-colored fruit trees. And each tree had its own special fruit-beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.
The animals could eat the fruit but they had to obey certain rules. Before taking fruit from a tree, they must bow, say the tree’s name twice, and ask, “Please give me a taste of your fruit.” If they forgot any part of that, they could not pick the fruit from the tree no matter how hard they tried.
The animals could not be selfish about the fruit. They had to make sure that plenty of fruit was left on the tree for other animals and to allow seeds of the tree to grow into new trees.
One day, Monkey was very hungry. He walked up to an orange tree and bowed.
“Oh, orange tree, orange tree, please give me a taste of your fruit,” he said. He reached up, plucked an orange from the tree and bit into it. The sweet juice dribbled from his mouth. What a marvelous, mouth-watering taste!
Monkey looked around the garden. He had tried the fruit of all the trees in the garden except one. In fact, none of the animals had eaten the fruit from this tree. It stood in the corner of the garden. It was the finest tree of the garden-tall, with magnificent branches loaded with large, ruby-colored fruit.
The name of this tree was very long and hard to remember. The animals often went to the old woman who lived in a small cottage at the edge of garden to ask her the name of this tree. She always told them, but not one of them could remember the name by the time they got back to the tree from her house. It was just too long to remember!
Monkey looked at the gorgeous fruit and licked his lips. How could he remember the name long enough to get a piece of fruit? He thought and he thought. He came up with an idea.
Monkey ran home, grabbed his guitar, and ran to the old woman’s cottage. Monkey was an excellent guitarist. Many of the animals loved to listen to his music and dance and sing along.
When the old woman told Monkey the name of the tree, he made up a song about it. He played his guitar and sang the song over and over to himself as he walked back to the tree.
“What is that new song of yours, Monkey? Can you sing it louder so we can hear it?” said the animals he passed on his way to the tree.
But Monkey never answered. He just kept walking and singing the name song to himself, over and over.
Finally, he reached the tree. He bowed, said the name of the tree twice and asked if he could please have a taste of its fruit. He pulled one of the large, ruby-colored fruits from the tree and took a big bite, anticipating its wonderful taste.
“BLAH! BLECK! YUCK!” said Monkey. The fruit tasted horrible-it was sour and nasty flavored. He threw the fruit on the ground and never tasted it again.
But, from that day on, Monkey got a big kick out of telling the other animals the long name of the tree and watching their reaction when they bit into its sour, bitter fruit!
Hope you enjoyed today’s folktale.
Have a great day!