Sunday, January 1, 2017

Apes and the caring pigeon (from Kalila wa-dimna)

Once upon a time in very old times, there was a group of apes who lived together on a mountain. They were living a happy life until there was a long winter. The apes were not prepared for the winter and long winter nights started to get unbearable for them. They had no home and were so cold all the time, so they started looking for light, hoping that the light would be a sign of fire, which could keep them warm.

Any small light was a trigger for them to move and stay next to it, even if the light was too small and had little heat. In their search for fire, one day they found a firefly; they got so excited to see the light coming out of it. They mistook the firefly for a small fire, so they started to gather firewood to initiate a big fire. They gathered a lot of firewood, put all of it on the poor firefly and began to blow in to the firewood with their whole strength to extend the fire. Although they were trying so hard, as there was no fire to begin with, their efforts were useless.

There lived a pigeon above a tall tree, close to where the apes were trying to make fire, and he was observing the poor apes and their fruitless efforts. He knew they would not be able to make a fire with a firefly, so he thought he should go to the apes and explain to them that they cannot make a fire with a firefly. He flew and sat next to the biggest and strongest ape and started to explain to him that a firefly is not fire. He said, “I can see that you have been trying too hard to make a fire with this poor firefly, but you should know that this creature only shines at night. It is only reflecting the little light existing in the environment, but you have mistaken it for fire. This firefly cannot give you any heat and you are wasting your time!”

The strong ape was annoyed with what the pigeon said and said to him, “You should mind your own business; we are making fire here!”

There was a jackal passing by which heard the conversation between the apes and the pigeon. He thought he should help the pigeon as he knew the apes, so he went to the pigeon and said: “if you were a wise pigeon, you would not be trying to educate the apes! These apes would not accept your logic and they would only hurt you if you continue your attempts to convince them.”

But the pigeon did not accept the jackal’s advice and still wanted to help the apes, so he went to another ape and said, “Listen! you cannot make fire with a firefly, it would make no heat and you will die from cold.” He talked to many apes, so finally the apes got angry and caught and decapitated the pigeon. The apes continued their efforts to make their fire with the firefly, but the night got so cold and none of them survived till the next morning. (Sahar Mihandoust)

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