Of Monkeys and Building a Pond by Maretha Botha – Part 4
Long, long ago, before their natural world was taken over by sugarcane fields, the Vervet monkeys thought that the only true beings around were they themselves. They had never seen a human until that fateful day when a child monkey, looking amazingly like our naughty monkey, saw an old man carrying a heavy, bulging load.
He followed him closely, because he just had to know what was inside the bag. He didn’t have to wait too long, because just a few yards further along his footpath, an old honey badger appeared, showing his teeth and making strange croaking noises.
He came closer and closer to the shivering old man, who had dropped his heavy bulging bag by then. The honey badger said, ‘Give me the bag, Old Man!’
‘Don’t hurt me. You can take everything. I want nothing,’ the old man cried, turning around and running as fast as his old legs could go, towards his hut in the forest.
The child monkey was curious. He hadn’t come this far to be disappointed and not find out what exactly the honey badger carried in the bag.
So, he followed him at a safe distance, never taking his eyes off the bag, which became more desirable the more he looked at it.
It must be tasty and worth the effort, the child monkey thought when he heard the honey badger’s kra-kraaes. ‘Oh, just for the taste of this. I can’t wait. It’s worth it.’
Meanwhile, the old man returned to the scene of the crime, bringing his sons.
They had every intention of taking the bag back. So, they made a lot of noise and began to burn the bush around the honey badger, closing in on him.
But the honey badger was no fool and when he saw no other way out, he dropped the bag, and escaped before the flames encircled him. The poor child monkey didn’t know what to do, so he thought that he should try to move the bag away from the fire. Thus, as quick as a flash, he darted over to it, but could not lift it.
So, he tore the bag open and could not believe his eyes! It was filled with a dozen jars, full of honey! He eagerly opened the first jar, jabbing his spindly fingers deep down, retrieving large pieces of honey comb. What a find!
Now I know why the honey badger wanted this bag. I might not be able to carry it, but I’m going to eat all the honey right now, he thought, forgetting all about the fires closing in or the humans who were about to cast a net over him . . . and then everything went dark.
When he woke up hours later, he lay in a small cage, tied up. He cried big tears, thinking about his mother and his troop, who was no doubt looking all over the forest for him. ‘Stop crying and eat some of this. You went through a lot to get it,’ the soft voice of a striped kingfisher cherrr-cherrred next to him.
‘Thanks to you, I have no pond for my daily plunge-diving. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to feed this honey to you every day and every night without stopping, and if you don’t eat it, I will call those humans to come and sort you out.’
And so it was that the poor child monkey sipped honey for many days and even more nights.
My days are over, unless I can persuade this pesky striped kingfisher to help me to escape, he thought. ‘I’ll do whatever you ask – just help me to get out of here,’ he pleaded and the striped kingfisher replied, ‘I thought you’d never ask.
Some good humans have built a pond, but it has no statue. I want you to stand there every day and let the water splash over you so that I can bathe and enjoy myself in the sun. If you ever relax, I’ll bring you back here.’
‘I’ll do it, King Fisher – whatever you want – I’ll do it,’ the child monkey promised.
And from that day on, many humans often stand at ponds and other places all over the world, admiring little baby monkeys standing upright, almost as if scared stiff while water splashes over their heads.
‘Your grandfather just made up that story children, but I see a delivery has arrived for us. I think it’s all the things needed for you to start building the pond there under the trees,’ Grandma says, smiling.
‘Hooray! Finally, we can forget about all this “Monkey Business” and build the pond. I see the striped kingfisher is also hanging about the backyard. I think he wants us to start, soon, don’t you think, Grandpa? Kate asks.
About Maretha Botha
Author, illustrator Maretha Botha admits to being addicted to black coffee and chocolate. She and her family loves the outdoors and hike on the moors whenever possible. Gardening and bird watching are favourite past-times. She has written and illustrated a series of children’s books for young readers 9-13 years, called “Fauna Park Tales” (See Below).
Books 1-4 are available in Kindle as well as black and white illustrated paperbacks, approximately 20,000 words each, and make excellent middle-grade chapter books.
African Adventure Books:
Book 1 – Flame and Hope: An African Adventure
Book 2 – Friends: An African Adventure
Meet Maretha Online: