Hello, folks, you are welcome to another edition of Folktales Wednesday, our regular column where we bring you interesting and moral stories from the Yoruba of West Africa. Today’s story is the second part of Ajantala and The Three Brothers, the story we started last week. For those who have not read Part 1, we have it here for you to enjoy. Go on and enjoy the story
“Ah! Ah! But Tiger, why are your eyes and face swollen up like this, and why is blood dripping from every part of your body? ” the lion and the he-goat shouted, astonished.
“Hmm, I fell into the ditch by mistake,” the tiger replied sluggishly. Ajantala had fastened his sulky eyes on him lest the tiger should tell them that he had slapped and thrown him into the ditch.
Ajantala treated the lion and the he-goat badly in the same way when he followed them to the bush on different occasions. Now, the tiger did not know that it was Ajantala who had wounded the lion and the lion did not know that it was Ajantala who had wounded the tiger and so too the he-goat. Thus Ajantala, with his cunning, wounded the three brothers.
At last, however, the three fellows knew that it was Ajantala who had hurt each of them. And they also knew that Ajantala was the most clever noxious guest that they had ever received into their hut.
By this time, Ajantala was the great fear of fears for the three brothers, tiger, the lion, and the he-goat. One night, when they thought that Ajantala was fast asleep, they sat down and began to plan how they would escape to save their lives.
“Ajantala is a cruel person,” the tiger whispered painfully to the lion and he-goat.
The lion supported the tiger, “he is exactly like that. But we must try one way or the other to escape to somewhere now.”
“But how can we escape from him without his seeing us? ” the he-goat asked confusedly.
“If he sees us when we are escaping, he will follow us and then he will hurt us even to the point of death,” the tiger said, for he was afraid.
“I suggest that as he is already fast asleep, it will be safe to pack all our food into the big basket and cover it with the rest of our belongings,” the he-goat said. “And then we can escape with it to somewhere in the faraway forest.” He glanced at Ajantala just to be sure that he was still asleep.
“Your suggestion is good,” the lion and the tiger whispered.
“Let us pack our food and our other belongings at once,” the tiger whispered.
“And when we have got everything ready, we shall have a short sleep before we start our journey,” the lion whispered fearfully.
They stood up, they packed all their food which they had wrapped with leaves inside the basket and they put also all of their clothes on top of the food. After they lay near the basket and they were fast asleep at once.
Unfortunately, Ajantala who they thought was asleep, was not asleep at all. But he heard all that they had planned to do. Ajantala was very cunning as well as noxious. As he was as small as a baby one-year-old, it was quite easy for him to enter the basket and hide himself at the bottom of it. Then he expected them to carry the basket together with him to their proposed hiding place.
It was hard after midnight when the three brothers woke up and were so impatient that they did not bother to see whether Ajantala was still sleeping or not. And Ajantala was speechless and motionless inside the basket when the tiger and the lion hastily put the heavy basket on the he-goat’s head. Thus, the three of them started their journey without knowing that Ajantala was inside the basket.
“Yes, we are quite safe now from cruel Ajantala!” shouted the tiger happily, as soon as they had traveled a bit far from their hut.
“Ajantala is so noxious!” the lion added with a smile.
“Perhaps Ajantala is not a human being as we were before!” the he-goat said with suspicion.
The lion said, “I am afraid, Ajantala must be a noxious immortal being. His strange bushy beard and long bushy moustache and his small size prove him to be so!” The lion spoke loudly and he was fairly correct.
“But I am sure he is one of the evil spirits who live inside the trees!” said the he-goat quite loudly. He had reconsidered Ajantala’s appearance, and he was very correct.
Now, the three of them were of one opinion that there was no doubt, Ajantala was an evil spirit who lived inside the tree. But all of them were so afraid even at that moment that they looked behind with half an eye, just to see whether Ajantala was coming.
When the three brothers had traveled till twelve noon, the he-goat who carried the basket of food, stopped suddenly and said:
“Now, my comrades, l must stop here to relieve myself. You go along and l shall catch up with you soon!” He-goat put the basket of food down. He stole from the food and ate it to his satisfaction. After, he put the basket back on his head and then he walked faster and caught up with them.
“Ah, woe unto Ajantala, the Noxious Guest and the son of the evil spirit!” The he-goat cursed Ajantala with a relieved voice when he remembered how the spirit had hurt him badly. But Ajantala heard him as he hid inside the basket on the he-goat’s head.
“If Ajantala is a mortal being, he will not die better!” the lion shouted painfully as he examined the spots where Ajantala had hurt him badly. He did not know that Ajantala heard him.
TO BE CONTINUED