An old Assamese folktale of the monkey and the fox takes a journey of two animals one known for their mischievous trait and another for its cunning wit. These two animals are said to be friends in the tale who like humans are said to be cordial and respectful of one another.
They, however, also have the tendency to out do or outwit one another. The monkey cheats the fox out of his fair share of food by taking advantage of the fact that the monkey can climb trees while the fox can’t.
The fox, in turn, makes the monkey attack a bee hive by telling him it is a royal drum. The monkey, at once leap at the hive without even thinking what it really was. His motive was to outdo the fox and knowing very well he could acquire something that the fox would only wish to have.
Instead the fox already knew what it was and knowingly ployed to make the monkey suffer. Perhaps he never anticipated what could have come next. The monkey ends up paying with his life.
This particular tale has been in circulation for a very long time in Assamese households who uses the symbolic representation of the monkey and the fox as anthropomorphised aspects of human beings- One of false friendship!
The consequence of the story was the monkey’s death. What the story was really speaking about was how every human has the capacity to be as mischievous and cunning as either animal and in the process we become baseless and inhumane.
Just another story from Northeast India which comes as a reminder to all of us of how easily one can cause injury to one’s friend(s) all in the process of outdoing them.
More folktales to follow soon…
NOTE: You can send in your stories or folktales pertaining to Northeast India at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish it with your name
By Auswyn Winter Japang for TNT- The Northeast Today
(Featured Images Sources: Internet/ Representational)