In the African savannah, near Madagascar, there were plenty of baobabs they called “elephant’s feet,” since the trunk was as gray and wide as an elephant’s feet! These baubles were rolled up so thick that it looked like night at nine o’clock in the morning! All this amused the little monkeys of Africa who all played sneakily and blindly with the lianas. They were suspended by the tail and mimicked the Tarzan, clattering through the foliage, as if in a school playground.
One of the macaquitos, however, stood on the fringes of this racket. He had been born a little fragile and lay on a banana leaf all day. Never hungry, never thirsty. Needless to say, she didn’t even have time to be hungry or thirsty, because her mother did everything to him, even before he had an empty stomach or a dry mouth!
In the morning Mustik woke up with a well-peeled orange mango under his nose. And just open your mouth to sip, drip with your tongue, the milk of the coconut nut that the mother had put on a branch above him. Then he leaned against his mother, who ran her thin black fingers over her head to remove some lice and wash it. That is, thanks to such a mother, Mustik had absolutely nothing to do. Nothing.
Then, when he heard the other macaquitos around him, shouting, whining, angry, disputing a fruit of the bread-tree, he stretched his paws, wiggled his ankles on the soft banana leaf and thought: “My God… Life is beautiful. I, I have no friends, but I have a mother on my own.” How beautiful she was, how big she looked to her! His mother looked at him with her huge eyes, understood his littlest syllable, amused him, told him the last echoes of the savannah… Mustik saw no one else.
Still, in its little corner of the tree, bent over the banana leaf, didn’t even move, didn’t talk, just had to open its mouth, swallow… But what’s bizarre is that despite what he ate, Mustik didn’t grow… Absolutely nothing! He was now five years old, old enough for a macaquito to look for his breakfast alone. But Mustik was the size of a newborn kitten!
The day the mother did not return
One day, departing early in the morning for breakfast, the mother monkey fell off the hose, its branches bending under the weight of two large sleeves and pinned her foot to a vine. As he fell, he only thought of his son: “What a horror, Mustik will wake up and have nothing to eat…”
Mustik woke up as expected, opened his mouth as usual, but no coconut milk dripped into his mouth. He looked down: the morning sleeve was not there. Little Mustik felt his stomach tighten. I was hungry, so hungry! And that worried him, since it was the first time in his life that his stomach was empty.
He started screaming:
– My sleeve, please! A very ripe mango and coconut nut milk!
It screamed so loud and loud that a little monkey fell from the tree – a funny pointed-eared lemur holding a banana.
– Why are you opening your mouth so wide? Why do you scream? Why are you so small? Why do you feel like crying? asked the little primate, very curious.
– Because I’m hungry. Give me a banana! asked Mustik.
The little monkey walked away with a huge laugh. Laughter echoed across the savannah, from one baobab to another, from one coconut nut to another.
– You want me to give you a banana!
The little monkey was jumping, laughing at loose flags. Alerted by the risotto, a group of little monkeys quickly gathered around Mustik. They wanted to see the big shot who dared to order food in the middle of the jungle. Mustik dared not speak. Neither dared to do anything. I didn’t know how to do anything either! He felt very small. And above all, she wanted to call on her mother, to scream for help. His mother had always done everything for him…
The monkeys laughed for a moment, then left… except for the one with the pointed ears, which continued to chew the little green bananas looking at Mustik. Mustik wanted to cry: How could this idiot eat in front of him, who was so hungry?
“If I give you a banana,” explained the little monkey with his mouth full, “you’ll never know how to unravel yourself.” Do you want me to teach you how to pick mangoes, coconuts and bananas?
“I don’t know if I can,” whined the macaquito.
“Are you a monkey or a lazy man, as my mother would say?”
And that’s how Mustik spent the most wonderful day of his life! He learned to play among the lianas and gently pick up his sleeves and small bananas. By late afternoon I was tired but happy! The mother arrived very late, dragging her paw.
“I was injured because the sleeves were too heavy for me!” she said in a thin voice.
Mustik looked at his mother. How suddenly she seemed so small! It seemed to have shrunk in one day.
– Don’t worry, mom, look!
And with shining eyes, Mustik pointed with his tiny hand to a pile of fruit. There was a bunch of very golden bananas, three very fresh and very juicy mangoes, the color of the sun. She peeled one for her mother, who eagerly ate it, shaking her head a little sadly because she thought, “My God, how he grew up!”
Indeed, from that day on, Mustik began to grow suddenly. Every morning he would stock up with his other companions. On Sunday, he let his mother pick up his sleeve. But he knew that this only happened one day a week: because he realized that you could not grow up if you stayed all your life in the shade of the banana tree being served by your mother.
– Of course, there is no doubt! – your friend would say from the pointed ears. – The monkeys are not lazy. Sophie Carquain Petite Lions de Vie. Pour l’aider à s’affirmer Paris, Ed. Albin Michel, 2008 (translation and adaptation)