The Monkeys in The Fruit Tree

Posted on 22 January 2015

Once upon a time a tribe of monkeys lived in a fruit tree. The fruit tree was large, and since the weather had been clement for many years, it bore much fruit. So much fruit dangled from each long woody branch that the entire tribe had all they needed and more to feed themselves.

Most of the monkeys would eat until sated and leave the rest of the fruit to whatever other birds, animals, and insects had need of it. A few were greedy and hoarded more than they could possibly consume. However, since the tree was so incredibly fecund and the monkeys were only few, it didn’t really matter. The monkeys lived in peace with one another.

Then one year a giant storm blew through the the little monkeys’s forest. The branches of their tree swayed and whipped around until most of the fruit was shaken to the ground. At first they still had enough, since the fruit on the ground continued to be edible…yet, only enough if they agreed to share. The greedy monkeys could no longer take more than necessary.

At first the greedy monkeys screamed and wailed at having limits put onto their gathering. “This is unfair,” they cried, “We have always taken this much.” Or grunts and hoots to that effect. Some came to realise that too much for them meant suffering for the other monkeys. Some found they could not live without the grooming and companionship of the other monkeys, keeping food from them meant loneliness and suffering for the greedy as well. Some would not cooperate and had to be chased from the tribe.

As fruit on the ground rotted and the fruiting season was nearly done, the monkeys had to live with less and less. One day one cunning monkey had the good fortune of coming upon a hole beneath a bush where many good fruit had rolled and were as yet undiscovered. A couple of the cunning monkey’s siblings wandered over to see what the monkey had found. They were very hungry.

“You have found fruit! Can we have some?” ooked the furry creatures.

The cunning monkey thought about it and asked, “What will you do for me if I give you the fruit?”

“We will give you extra grooming!” said one monkey.

“I will give you my favourite shiny pebble,” said another monkey.

The cunning monkey didn’t care whether it had one piece of fruit or a hundred pieces of fruit. Just so long as it had enough to fill its belly. Nevertheless, it liked the idea of being able to tell the other monkeys what to do. So the cunning monkey agreed to the trades, but only gave each of the siblings one fruit each and kept the rest in order to make other such trades.

The cunning monkey knew that soon the nut bushes that fed the monkeys when the fruit tree became dormant would have ripe nuts. When that happened the cunning monkey could no longer tell the other monkeys what to do. The cunning monkey liked its position of power too much to let that happen.

The cunning monkey found the strongest monkeys in the tribe and gave those monkeys extra fruit to do as they were told. The cunning monkey had the strong monkeys build fences around the nut bushes. When the nuts on the bushes were ready for eating, the cunning monkey gave the strong monkeys first pick. When the rest of the tribe came to the bushes eager to once again know what it is like to be satisfied, they were surprised to find they could not get to their bushes: the bushes they had all planted in previous years.

The strong monkeys were at first happy to keep away the rest of the tribe. They were receiving all they needed and more by following the cunning monkey. When the other monkeys found they no longer had the strength to take back their bushes, in desperation they were willing to do anything, anything at all, that the cunning monkey could possibly want.

The cunning monkey at first had the self control to give the other monkeys enough to keep them coming back for the nuts it now owned. The monkey also came to realise that the other monkeys no longer liked it. The monkey found that whenever the others had a chance they would steal a nut or throw a pebble at its head when its back was turned.

The cunning monkey moved to a nest in a high tree and set some of the strong monkeys around the bottom to guard the nest. Others of the strong monkeys brought the cunning monkey everything it needed, so that it never had reason to leave the tree.

As the cunning monkey started living further and further away from the other monkeys, it forgot what their lives were like and how the tribe functioned. It decided to keep more of the nuts, believing that the new level of desperation the monkeys would feel would convince them to stop throwing pebbles.

The little monkeys did become more desperate, but also realised that appealling to the cunning monkey was no longer going to work. They had to look past their fears and their desperation. They had to stop doing what the cunning monkey said. They had to find food they could once more share.

The monkeys put together what little they had and left their beloved fruit tree to find another equally fecund tree. The strong monkeys, missing their mothers, their fathers, their sisters, brothers, and children, soon decided it was no fun hanging out with the cunning monkey and left to find their families.

In the end the cunning monkey was all alone.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

(originally published 2014 January 14)


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