By: Abdisalam Yassin
Somalilandsun – In the savannahs of East Africa, it was getting midday and a fox that had been hunting for food ever since early morning, but was unsuccessful up to now, came by a river.
This was a good omen and an opportunity to at least drink some water and restore the level of its body fluids back to normal. After it had quenched its thirst, the fox looked up and carefully surveyed its surroundings.
It saw a mule grazing not far from where it was. As it peered further away into the horizon, it saw sugar cane farms on the other side of the river. As it continued its inspection, it drew a conclusion by looking down on the river once again. To its delight, it saw a pool of fish near the other bank of the river. It thought to itself that it could finally get some food to relieve its burning hunger. But how could it get to the other bank of the river?
It pondered for a while. Then a clever thought dawned upon it. It said to itself, “I must convince the mule to partner with me to go to the other side of the river. And it will be easy to do that as I will show him the sugar cane farms, which he cannot resist their enticement.” Pleased with its unfailing plan, it had decided to approach the mule. When it came to the mule, this conversation and the following events unfolded.
Fox: Good morning, my dear Mule.
Mule: And a good morning to you, Mr. Fox.
Fox: What are you doing today, my dear friend?
Mule: I am looking for food.
Fox: I have an idea. I like fish, and they are available in plenty on the other bank of the river. …. What do you say, dear Mule?
Mule: Say about what?
Fox: On the other side of the river, it is lush and green. Why don’t we go over there? You can eat your fill of greens and I can eat fish there.
Mule: I am fine here with what is available. Why don’t you go across the river and find your food.
Fox: Oh, don’t worry about me. I was thinking about you, that you might like to try the sugar cane that grows there.
Mule: Sugar cane? Are you sure? I would love to try sugar cane.
Fox: Haven’t you been across the river before?
Mule: No, I haven’t.
Fox: Then you really must go. You will have plenty of this sweet stuff.
Mule: Won’t you come with me? Won’t you show me where the sugar cane grows?
Fox: Me? I cannot cross the river! The water is deep and I cannot swim.
Mule: All right then, climb on my back and we will cross the river together.
Fox: What a good idea.
Mule: Oh, this is such fun, jump onto my back and we’re off!
Fox: Here I come!
When they arrived on the other bank of the river, the Fox jumped off the Mule’s back.
Mule: Where is the sugar cane, Fox? I don’t see any sugar cane.
Fox: It’s over there, in the distant field. Go and see for yourself.
Mule: Ok…ok…I will go there by myself. And what will you do in the meantime?
Fox: I will stay at the bank of the river and eat the fish that I enjoy to eat so much.
Meanwhile, the Mule went to the sugar cane field. He had hardly chewed three delicious canes when the Fox returned, having eaten its fill from the river.
Fox: (thinking to himself) Well, I have had enough to eat and I want to go back home. How will I do that? Mule seems busy chewing and I don’t think he wants to return now. Then all of a sudden, the Fox began to howl.
Mule: (to himself) Why is Fox howling, I wonder?
Why are you howling, Fox? Keep your voice down or the farmers will hear you.
By now, the villagers heard the howling of the fox. Some of them began to grab stick and stones and ran towards the farms.
Mule: Do you hear the villagers approaching?
Suddenly, stones began to land around and on the Mule.
Mule: They are throwing stones at me! Fox! Help!!!
Villager: It is a huge Mule and he is eating all our sugar cane!
Mule: Please, stop throwing stones at me! Do not hurt me.
He received several powerful lashes and felt a piercing pain on his back. Being hurt and frightened, he ran and ran until he finally escaped from the beatings of the farmers. Frightened, hurt, and tired, he lied down on the ground to rest. Then the fox appeared out of the blue and came to him.
Fox: Why are you just lying here? Come on, it’s time to go.
Mule (struggling to his feet): This was entirely your fault. We can go back now, if I can get up. But now I know you well, Fox!
Fox: And how do you know me?
Mule: You are some friend! What made you start howling and calling attention to yourself and to me?
Fox (laughing): It is a habit of mine to start singing after I have eaten. As you know, I howl when I sing.
Mule: It is your habit to sing after you have eaten?!
Fox: Yes, yes, my dear Mule. Now, let us return home.
Mule: Yes, we should return. So you howled because it’s your habit to do so?
Fox: It also helps me to digest my food.
Mule: Jump on my back and we will cross the river.
Fox: Here I come.
Storyteller: The Mulel is halfway across the river with Fox on his back.
Fox: How did you enjoy the outing?
Mule: It was fine.
Fox: Did you eat well?
Mule: Well enough.
Halfway across the river, the mule decided that it is its turn to payback the deception of the fox.
Fox: I am happy for that. Why are you stopping in the middle of the river?
Mule: I am catching my breath. Fox, do you want to know something?
Fox: What is it?
Mule: I feel like diving into the water.
Fox: Oh, don’t do that, my friend, I would fall off and drown. What made you come up with such a ridiculous idea! Why do you want to dive into the water?
Mule (laughing loudly): Oh, it’s a habit of mine. I usually dive into the river after a meal.
Fox (very worried now): What are you saying?
Mule: Just as it is your habit to sing and howl after a meal, and cause the villagers to come after me and throw stones at me and hit me with their sticks, my habit is to dive into the water after a meal.
: Oh, please don’t… please….
As the mule dived into the water, the fox fell off and drowned. The mule reached the other bank, stared at the water, and saw no sign of the fox. Then he mused:
Mule: This is the punishment for selfishness, deceit, and breaking a partnership.